Hybrid cloud approaches have seen a steady rise in popularity among organizations. A hybrid cloud approach refers to incorporating the benefits of company-owned private clouds, public cloud services, and the more traditional dedicated hosting services. Each of these has its pros and cons, and companies are starting to take advantage of what each has to offer while also minimizing the potential risks that come attached.

It was the concern over the security of public clouds that have led many to turn to hybrid models, in the first place. For instance, businesses will make use of the privacy and security that private clouds have to offer, while still benefiting from the flexibility and easy scalability of public clouds. Below are some of the main reasons why organizations are steadily moving towards hybrid cloud methods.

More Flexibility

One of the most immediate benefits of such a hybrid system is that it allows companies to manage their applications and databases more effectively. On the one hand, they can host their important data on private clouds and/or dedicated servers, where they will have absolute control. On the other hand, they will use the available public cloud space for faster and easier scalability. They'll be able to test out new applications on the public cloud, determining their feasibility, among other such benefits.

So, as you steadily reach your limit, you can easily and seamlessly migrate entire services and applications to the public cloud. If you do need to scale down, you'll be able to take the same action in reverse. This enhanced flexibility and the ability to mix these functionalities based on your own needs is what draws so many companies to hybrid clouds.

Enhanced Security

When you are using a third-party, public cloud system to store all of your sensitive data, you are leaving yourself exposed to all sorts of possible risks. You will need to take into account all security problems, compliance issues, and performance requirements, which indicates that private clouds are also a good alternative. When using a hybrid cloud, you can choose which services will be on the public cloud and which will remain on the private one. In addition, when you're also using a public cloud, you're not overcrowding your private and secure space.

Lower Costs 

An organization that uses a hybrid cloud approach will almost always experience lower costs than a company that is exclusive with either one or the other. Hybrid clouds allow you to pay-as-you-need, meaning that you will have complete control over your IT expenses. You'll still have your backups in the cloud, which further reduce the costs. And with public cloud services, such as Azure or AWS, you can accurately determine your exact requirements without having to overpay for something you won't use.

Innovation Opportunities

With the ability to test and develop new applications on the public cloud, you can focus more of your efforts of this process without having to worry about ever exceeding your limits. This will reduce your potential costs of failure and give you access to an immense potential for scalability. In such an environment, the probabilities of innovation are greatly enhanced without having to sacrifice privacy or security in doing so. You'll not have to rearrange your infrastructure to test out a new service when using a hybrid cloud.

If you're wondering if you should migrate your digital operations to the cloud, you've come to the right place. If you don't know what the cloud is, you'll probably be surprised to know that chances are you're already relying on it to solve many of your day-to-day tasks. If, for instance, you're sending emails on the move, using a bunch of apps to manage your workload, or checking your bank balance on your phone, everything is done via the cloud.

Simply put, cloud computing is computer-work based primarily on the internet. In the past, people would install programs and applications on their physical computers or servers located in the building. Cloud computing allows people to use that same software directly on the internet.

The reason why many businesses are moving to the cloud, and why you're also probably considering it, is that cloud computing will help increase your company's efficiency, improve your cash flow, and reduce your expenses, among other benefits. Migrating your data to the cloud will provide you with unprecedented levels of flexibility and scaling opportunities without having to worry about any on-premise datacenters. One such cloud service is Microsoft Azure.

Why Use Microsoft Azure As Your Cloud Service?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service used for creating, testing, and deploying applications. It provides software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (Iaas) capabilities.

Below are some of the benefits of using Microsoft Azure for your cloud computing capabilities:

Seamless Scalability - One of the major benefits that Azure has to offer is its flexibility to scale. With Azure, scaling is simpler from a logistics standpoint, as opposed to traditional hosting since primary servers don't need to be taken down. Also, companies don't have to add physical infrastructure every time they are looking to scale.

Improved Security and Compliance - When it comes to on-premise data centers, companies have a fair degree of control over their security measures, which is also one of the main reasons for worry for when migrating to the cloud. With Azure Security Center, businesses can rest assured that they have access to 24/7 unified security management across all hybrid cloud networks. Azure not only presents itself as a secure cloud network, but it can also act as an added layer of security for all company data centers.

In terms of compliance, however, it's important to note that Microsoft holds more certifications than any other cloud provider, particularly in terms of security and privacy, such as for GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and more.

Disaster Recovery Capabilities - A comprehensive disaster recovery plan can be quite difficult to achieve on-premise. With Azure, such a model comes standard out of the box. It provides both regional and global fail-over options, rolling reboot capabilities, as well as hot and cold standby models.

Cost-Effectiveness - In terms of costs, Azure will be able to save companies up to 72% compared to pay-as-you-go pricing with one-year or three-year terms on Linux or Windows virtual machines. Also, companies can choose to go hybrid, meaning that they can still maintain their on-premise data, while also benefiting from Azure's overall flexibility and security.

Azure Migrate - Azure doesn't only focus on storage. You'll also get access to an integrated delivery package for sourcing, testing, and delivery. One such service is Azure Migrate, which assesses the migration sustainability of your on-premise devices, provides cost estimates, and utilizes performance-based sizing. This tool is perfect if you're in the early stages of migration or are thinking of a lift-and-shift-style migration to the cloud.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about voice and internal communications is Skype for Business. For years, Skype has been the go-to tool for business communications, be it internally, externally, or globally. To date, Skype has around 300 million active users. Nevertheless, it's popularity is slipping. Other tools are starting to replace Skype, one of the most popular being Microsoft Teams.

What Is Microsoft Teams and How Does It Relate to Communication?

Microsoft Teams is a relatively new offering as part of the MS Office platform. It is a unified communications platform that combines several features such as chat, video meeting, phone calls, file storage, and application integration. The service can integrate with all other Office 365 suites and extensions, as well as non-Microsoft products.

In broad terms, it's similar to Skype for Business but with several additions. Besides, Microsoft is planning on steadily phasing out Skype in favor of Teams. The main reason for this, as we've mentioned, is the Teams' capability to be fully integrated into the Office 365 environment. As such, team members can exchange files, edit and write notes in shared documents, and collaborate more efficiently with each other.

Also, Microsoft Teams provides a series of easy-to-use communication channels to better organize inter or cross-departmental processes. Team members can choose to communicate with the entire team or one-on-one by using text, voice, or video chat. The added benefit is that both voice and video can be used within the platform, itself, supporting a large number of individuals at the same time.

Moving Your Business Phone Into the Cloud

Businesses that already have Office 365 and groups know that they can use Microsoft Teams to make voice calls over IP (VoIP) to other team members using desktops, laptops, or mobile devices running the Teams app.

Nevertheless, this Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls act more of an intercom system within an organization since Team apps don't connect to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Because of this, the Team app cannot be assigned a dedicated phone number, which means that nobody outside of the organization can use this feature to connect.

Something like this is only possible when a business connects to the PSTN by using Private Branch Exchange (PBX) hardware installed somewhere on the premises. The Phone System feature, part of Office 365, provides businesses with a cloud-based PBX system. Instead of having that PBX hardware installed in the office, companies can subscribe to this cloud-based service. The Phone System makes it possible to use Teams to make calls precisely as you would a regular telephone. You can make and receive calls from anywhere in the world and from any device that runs Teams, as long as there is an internet connection.

Furthermore, you can also add Calling Plans to better fit with your business needs. You can, for instance, have your finance team only make domestic calls while the sales department does both local and international. Some of the other features of Calling Plans are things like call answering and initiating based on name and number, call holding and retrieving, simultaneous ringing, call forwarding, voicemail, call history, emergency calls, etc.

Most importantly, however, you can do all of this from the Teams app that's on your phone, tablet, or laptop, as well as a range of other Teams-compatible devices and hardware such as conference room speakerphones, or headsets, among others.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][grve_single_image image_type="image-link" image="31471" link="url:http%3A%2F%2Finfo.managedsolution.com%2Fteams-quick-start-guide|||"][/vc_column][/vc_row]


4 Ways Stratogator Outshines Cloudyn in Cloud Comparison Tools

Cloud solutions are revolutionizing the tech industry. But how can you figure out what solutions work best for you?
Compare all cloud platforms and find your best match with Stratogator.


Is Stratogator Right for You?

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1) Stratogator Recommends The Best “Match” Based On Your Needs.

With Stratogator, you can search for the Azure stack that meets your specific needs, narrowing down your options by what you want to focus on. Choose from Performance Match, Price Match, or Geo Match for a personalized Azure solution.
While Cloudyn does compare Azure and other cloud solutions, only Stratogator tailors each search for your personal preferences.

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Find the Azure stack that meets your performance needs. Search based on vCPU, CPU Speed, RAM, Network Ingress Speed, Network Egress Speed, and Storage.

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Narrow your results by choosing a min/max for hourly price.  Your results will also show an estimated monthly price, so you can easily see what fits in your budget.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title="Geo Match"][vc_column_text]

Find solutions that will work best in your desired location. Select a region, such as Europe or Western US, to limit results to exactly what you want.

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2) Stratogator Sends Instant Pricing Update Alerts.

Adapt at a moment’s notice with instant price change alerts from Stratogator that enable you to migrate the the best environment at the best price.
On Cloudyn, you spend more time searching and finding the best price. That's time that could be used in other areas of your company. Let Stratogator do the work for you.

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3) Stratogator Helps You Migrate To The Cloud In Minutes.

Stratogator's automated guide helps you map your current hardware to an optimized cloud cluster. In the past migrating to the cloud could have taken a week…now, you can move to the cloud in minutes!
Getting a grasp on what resources you need to replicate your system is easy - contact us or fill out the infrastructure template and send it back to get started.

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4) Stratogator Analyzes Your Current Infrastructure. 

Right size your cloud. Upload your system resources and we’ll match your current infrastructure to the best set of Azure cloud systems. All you need is the Server name (Excel file upload), CPU, memory and disk space.

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Microsoft's Acquisition of Cloudyn

Microsoft recently acquired the Israeli cloud start-up, Cloudyn. Microsoft is excited about the capabilities of Cloudyn to manage cloud billing and services for companies (Source: techcrunch.com).  Despite the acquisition, Stratogator remains the over-all leader in cloud comparison tools, with more focus on finding cloud solutions and matches for companies with the ability to derive reports and manage billing.

Stratogator can reduce overhead by 30-40% with centralized marketplace for Channel Partners.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


skype4b enables - managed solution

Skype for Business drives digital transformation

By Ron Markezich as written on blogs.office.com
Office 365 is a universal toolkit for collaboration with more than 85 million monthly active users, designed to address the unique workstyle of every group. Through integration with Outlook for email, SharePoint for intelligent content management, Yammer for networking across the organization, and Microsoft Teams for high-velocity, chat-based teamwork—Skype for Business is the backbone for enterprise voice and video meetings in Office 365.
As communication and collaboration become increasingly vital to the way work gets done, customers are turning to Skype for Business in Office 365 for all of their conferencing and calling needs. People around the globe conduct over one billion meetings per year on the Skype network, and usage of Skype for Business Online has doubled in the last year.
Today, as the annual unified communications industry conference Enterprise Connect kicks off in Orlando, we’re pleased to announce several new enhancements and partner solutions for Skype for Business in Office 365, which advance our goal of putting communication at the heart of productivity with Skype:
  • Availability of Auto Attendant and Call Queues, two new calling features in Skype for Business Cloud PBX.
  • Preview of the new Skype for Business Call Analytics dashboard, which provides IT admins with greater visibility to identify and address call issues.
  • New meeting room solutions from our partners, including Polycom RealConnect for Office 365, which enables customers to connect existing video conferencing devices to Skype for Business Online meetings; and the new Crestron SR for Skype Room Systems, which seamlessly integrates with the Crestron control and AV systems.
  • Availability of Enghouse Interactive’s TouchPoint Attendant, the first attendant console for Skype for Business Online.
“Skype for Business Online is becoming part of our DNA.”
—Menakshi Sehwani, regional IT business partner for J. Walter Thompson Europe

A complete, enterprise-grade communications solution

This week, we’re releasing Auto Attendant and Call Queues, two new advanced calling features in Skype for Business Cloud PBX. Auto Attendant provides an automated system to answer and route inbound calls using dial pad inputs and speech recognition. Call Queues enable incoming calls to be routed to the next available live attendant in the order they are received.
This continues the rapid innovation over the past six months we have released into the service including:
  • iOS CallKit integration.
  • Skype for Business client for Mac.
  • Expanding PSTN Conferencing to more than 90 countries with dial-out to 180 countries.
  • Extending PSTN Calling to France, Spain and the UK, with preview currently available in Netherlands.
  • Enabling thousands of customers with hybrid deployments.
  • Skype for Business Server Cloud Connector edition to connect their on-premises telephony assets to our cloud voice solution.
With Skype for Business, companies can replace their legacy meeting and phone systems, and enable their employees to join meetings, as well as to make, receive and manage calls right within Office 365—all on any device. Skype for Business Cloud PBX also provides central management within the Office 365 admin console, making it seamless for IT admins to manage communications alongside email, content and collaboration.

Simplified manageability and control for IT

Today, we are also announcing a preview of Skype for Business Online Call Analytics—a new dashboard in the Office 365 admin console that gives IT admins greater visibility to identify and address user call issues, such as network issues or headset problems. Customers tell us some of the greatest benefits of moving their communications to the cloud are the ability to consolidate all their meeting and calling systems into a single solution and streamline provisioning and administration. Customers have also asked for more visibility into calling data to help address user support inquiries. Call Analytics provides rich telemetry data in real-time to help IT admins troubleshoot issues and improve the user experience.
In addition to investing in IT management capabilities like the Call Analytics dashboard, we also released new authentication capabilities to enhance security in Skype for Business Online, including multi-factor authentication for PowerShell, certificate-based authentication, and custom policies for client conferencing and mobility.
“We want IT at Henkel to be an enabler for the digital world of the future,
and with features like Cloud PBX in Skype for Business, we live up to that role.”
—Markus Petrak, corporate director of Integrated Business Solutions for Henkel

Making meeting rooms more effective

For meetings to be as effective and engaging as possible for all participants—no matter their location—groups need web and video conferencing with features like screen sharing, IM and whiteboarding. At the same time, organizations want to take advantage of the full Skype for Business experience while leveraging their existing conferencing assets. Today, Polycom announced their RealConnect for Office 365 video interoperability cloud service will be generally available in North America in April. The RealConnect service enables customers to connect existing videoconferencing (VTC) devices to Skype for Business Online, at a low cost of ownership, and with ease of provisioning for IT and simplicity for users.
“Polycom RealConnect for Office 365 simplifies the video world by connecting Skype for Business online users with those using other video systems,” said Mary McDowell, Polycom CEO. “This cloud service protects customers’ investments in existing video systems as it allows these users to join a Skype for Business meeting with a single click.”
In addition, this week Crestron is introducing its SR for Skype Rooms Systems solution. As a next-generation Skype Room System, the Crestron SR will deliver a full native Skype for Business experience and has been designed from the ground up to seamlessly integrate with the Crestron control and AV systems. These Skype Rooms System solutions transform conference rooms of all sizes by providing rich audio and HD video and content sharing in the room. Remote participants have quick and easy join-meeting functionality and the ability to make phone calls. Customers are already seeing benefits from the Logitech SmartDock that was shipped in October of 2016.
“User adoption is critical for our IT success, and Logitech SmartDock with
Skype Room Systems makes it easy to collaborate over video.
The fact that it is highly affordable enables us to light up multiple rooms
for the price of a single traditional video conference room.”
—Franzuha Byrd, director of IT for Morgan Franklin Consulting

Business solutions on Skype for Business

Just as Skype for Business powers communication across Office 365, our partners and customers are taking advantage of Skype for Business APIs and SDKs to develop custom apps that bring real-time communications capabilities into line of business applications and enterprise solutions.
At HIMSS, we announced the availability of the Skype for Business App SDK and Office 365 Virtual Health Templates.Today, we’re pleased to announce that Enghouse has released its TouchPoint Attendant, one of the first attendant consoles tailored for Skype for Business Online.
From Enghouse, which is using Skype for Business to more efficiently route inbound customer calls with its new attendant console, to Smartsheet, which has incorporated Skype for Business into their collaborative work management platform, companies are making Skype for Business the backbone of custom communications scenarios.


Outlook 2016 for Mac adds Touch Bar support and now comes with your favorite apps

As written on blogs.office.com
Last week, Outlook for Mac released two highly requested features designed to help you get more done, quickly. First, we added support for the Touch Bar for MacBook Pro users. Through the Touch Bar, we intelligently put the most common inbox, formatting and view commands at your fingertips—all based on what you’re doing in Outlook.
Additionally, we’re bringing your favorite apps to your inbox with add-ins for Outlook for Mac. Whether it’s translating emails on the fly or updating your notes or project board, you will now be able to accomplish all this and more right from your inbox. These add-ins are also available across Outlook for Windows, iOS and the web, so your favorite apps are always there to help you accomplish tasks quickly.
Here’s a look at what’s new!

Intuitive commands at your fingertips with Touch Bar support in Outlook for Mac

The Touch Bar in Outlook intelligently provides quick access to the most commonly used commands as you work on email and manage your calendar. When composing a new mail or meeting request, the Touch Bar displays the common formatting options. When viewing your calendar, you can switch between different views. And when viewing the reminders window, you can join an online meeting with one tap on the Touch Bar.

Support for Touch Bar in Outlook for Mac is available to all Office 365 subscribers, as well as all Office 2016 for Mac customers.

Accomplish tasks quickly with new add-ins

Add-ins bring your favorite apps right inside Outlook, so you can accomplish tasks quickly without needing to switch back and forth between email and other apps. Last year, we announced the rollout of add-ins to Outlook 2016 for Mac in Office Insider. We are now making add-ins available to all Outlook 2016 for Mac customers who have Exchange 2013 Service Pack 1 or higher, or Office 365 or Outlook.com mailboxes. Use these add-ins to translate emails on the fly, edit a record in your CRM system, update your notes or project board, or set up a meeting over coffee and more—all without leaving Outlook. Outlook for Mac customers can take advantage of all Outlook add-ins available in the Office store, including:
  • Get business intelligence and track emails quickly with the Dynamics 365 add-in. Use the Nimble add-in to get real-time insights about your Outlook contacts.
  • Collaborate effortlessly with your coworkers using add-ins from EvernoteTrelloMicrosoft TranslatorSmartsheetand Citrix ShareFile (coming soon).
  • Add email reminders and schedule emails with the Boomerang add-in for Outlook.
  • Say thanks to your friends and co-workers by giving them the gift of Starbucks through the Starbucks for Outlookadd-in.
  • Make emails more fun and visually expressive with GIPHY, when words aren’t enough.
To start using add-ins, just click the Store icon on the Outlook ribbon to open the Office Store. Next, search for the add-in you are looking for and turn its toggle to On. You will then see the add-in command appear in your inbox and can start using it. You just need to install add-ins once and they will be available for use across Outlook on the web, Windows, Mac and iOS.


Better business needs better business tools. Successful companies are using Managed Service Providers to increase profitability without out-of-control IT costs.

A Managed Service Provider advises in the selection and design of Cloud, mobile and on premise environments.  With our flexible management service models your infrastructure becomes agile, secure and cost effective with a pay-on-a-per user model.  Check out these four reasons modern businesses are choosing Managed Service Providers: 

1) Cloud Strategist guides to the RIGHT CLOUD strategy  

  • Decreased Operational spending increases asset utilization
  • Full access and control of  your DATA
  • Instant access to enterprise level services

2) Flexible CHOICE to integrated layered support services 

  •  Predictable “pay-as-you- go-model”
  • Technology Advisors available  anytime 24/7/365 days
  •  Service plans designed to fit clients business needs

3) Secure Data access from anywhere, any device

  • Capitalize on mobile technology for increased user productivity
  • Enterprise authentication to secure and protect your data
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model with application management

4) Trusted Technology Roadmap Advisor & Partner

  • Build Cost to Serve technology & support model
  • Rationalize reasons for technology performance Gaps
  • Preparation of Business Continuity Plan to plan for the worst



Order in the court: digital justice

By Kirk Arthur as written on enterprise.microsoft.com
From my previous 19 years in law enforcement, I’ve spent a lot of time in courtrooms. When I think about all the courtrooms I’ve seen, they’re more or less the same as they were 200 years ago, except for adding computers and monitors.
Court systems around the world traditionally have run on paper-based processes—and the vast majority still do—yet that’s beginning to change. Judicial systems in the United Kingdom generated a million pages of documents a day before moving to a Microsoft cloud-based digital justice platform. In addition to saving significant costs of producing, transporting and storing large quantities of paper, the best outcome of going digital is the data becomes easily accessible, free from paper silos, and available for analysis and interrogation to find relevant judicial hearings and decisions, case law, legal trends and more. (See more details in my blog on e-justice.)

Digital justice—a trend around the globe

I’m pleased to see digital transformation is a growing trend in courts around the globe—and producing results. After just 12 months, the U.K.’s digital justice platform has reduced more than 18 million paper documents related to 100,000-plus cases involving 18,500 registered users. In addition to moving from paper to a digital environment, courts also are innovating with other modern technologies:

Cybersecurity: the foundation of Microsoft court solutions

Court IT systems and legal records need to be protected from cyber-attacks just the same as court buildings, staff, attorneys, case participants and visitors need physical protection. Microsoft takes cybersecurity very seriously, investing a billion dollars each year to make sure our cloud ecosystem is secure. Our cybersecurity experts in the Digital Crimes Unit and the Cyber Defense Operations Center monitor information to identify real threats, and they also develop tools and techniques to track and catch cybercriminals, and share with law enforcement from around the world.
Microsoft is enabling digital transformation across government priorities while helping to ensure that organizations, such as the courts, have the trust, security and compliance they need for sensitive data. We build security into Microsoft products and services from the start. Here are a few examples:
  • Microsoft Azure is the global, trusted, hyper-scale cloud, providing the most comprehensive compliance coverage of any cloud provider.
  • Office 365, which is widely used by courts for scheduling and communications, provides control over data security and compliance with privacy, transparency and refined user controls built right in. Advanced Security Management also offers enhanced visibility and control.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps manage and visualize the judicial process work flow—one of the biggest workloads for courts.
  • Azure Media Services, which is part of the Buenos Aires solution, delivers content more securely.
It’s exciting to see courts around the world embracing digital transformation to become more efficient, productive and cost-effective while delivering a better experience to citizens.

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