Seamless IT Department with Managed Services

By Kelly Cronin
Every business is busy - creating unavoidable opportunities for mistakes.  Many departments can get overlooked, including IT.  The problem is, even if you don't quite realize it, your IT department is the very foundation of  your entire business.  All your company data, communication tools, and service platforms are reliant on a sturdy IT department.
IT departments can be tricky, with a lot of difficulty in hiring the right people and avoiding turnover.  That's where a Managed Services Provider (MSP) comes in. Whether you completely outsource your IT department, or simply collaborate and combine your IT with an MSP, having managed services can completely transform your business, without a lot of work on your end.

Worry-free Reliability

A managed services provider will never leave you in times of need.  With an outside IT department, there will always be an IT professional available to help manage your business needs. No need to worry about who will take over while your only IT guy is on a week-long cruise in Hawaii.

Growing Expertise

An MSP has IT professionals with incredible experience.  Working with multiple clients and industries, you can be sure they have dealt with the latest technology and the best practices for each different business.  Having an experienced professional working with your business can allow you to make knowledgeable decisions about your software and hardware, as well as other business practices and techniques.

Reduce Risk

If an individual employee has complete access to your IT, but ends up not working out, are you sure they won't create problems with your IT when they leave?  An MSP allows you to have more than just one or a few individuals manning your company data, meaning you can protect your company no matter who stays or goes. Reduce the risk of company damage by using an outside IT department to protect your company.

Managed Solution is a full-service technology firm that empowers business by delivering, maintaining and forecasting the technologies they’ll need to stay competitive in their market place. Founded in 2002, the company quickly grew into a market leader and is recognized as one of the fastest growing IT Companies in Southern California.


We specialize in providing full managed services to businesses of every size, industry, and need.


Learn more about managed services provided by Managed Solution


Contact Us at 800-790-1524 to Learn More!



5 project management tools that save time, money and energy

As written on blogs.office.com
Steering a project through the stressed and stressful waters of an always-moving organization can be a daunting proposition. These days, the average office worker is burdened by an untold number of deadlines, meetings, emails and tasks—and that means they probably don’t have the time or headspace to dedicate their full talents to you and your project. Luckily, you can help make things easier. To better ensure project success—whether what you’re making is for a client or an internal stakeholder—check out these five project management tools that save time, money and energy.

Gantt charts and scrum boards

In an era of infinite content—armadas of words constantly battling for our limited attention—a simple visual can be refreshing and highly effective. Gantt charts use basic horizontal bars to display project phases and progress. With a quick glance, your teammates will be able to see what work is currently getting done (or at least what work should be getting done) and when their contributions will be needed. They’ll also be able to see how much time each phase is expected to take.
Scrum boards function in a similar manner and work great for projects that are on a less rigid timeline and that involve multiple teams. The board displays different project phases—planning, execution, etc.—and markers for each team. As they complete phases and make progress, teams can move their markers across the board. This allows all involved to see the bigger picture and their place within it.


Task assignments

It’s easy to agree to do something, much harder to remember to do it. Especially when every stray message seems to come with a new request. That’s why an online tool for task assignments is so valuable. Those responsible for completing a portion of the project—whether that means designing a logo or crunching the final numbers—can log in and easily see exactly what they need to do. Depending on their account settings, they’ll also receive email notifications about looming deadlines.
On the flipside, project managers can keep tabs on their team and make sure all tasks are being completed on time without having to scroll through long email chains. This helps avoid costly delays and unnecessary frustrations.

Resource allocation

In an agency environment, resource allocation is key. Project managers need an effective tool to schedule and track hours for every member of their team in order to prevent overbooking, missed deadlines and unhappy clients. But this manner of organization need not be limited to the “creative” world. Wouldn’t it be helpful, even in a corporate office, to have a clear picture of team members’ availability?
Ask your team upfront to estimate—to whatever extent is possible—their availability through the course of the project. Have them mark down any days they’ll be out on vacation, days they won’t be able to put their heads down and work due to meetings, and days they have other deadlines. If you have a sense of hourly availability, you’ll be able to build realistic timelines. An online resource allocation tool will make it easy for you and your teammates to track actual hours against estimates and adjust accordingly, allowing for smoother future workflows.


Feedback tools

Giving feedback means different things to different people—some offer rigid and prescriptive edit requests, others vague feelings and reactions. Sometimes different stakeholders will present conflicting opinions. All of this makes it difficult for the person receiving the feedback to know how to proceed. Who are they supposed to listen to?
Feedback tools allow stakeholders to vote on and rank different versions of deliverables, making it easier for a group to provide cohesive direction in a fair manner. If a certain individual’s opinion should carry more weight—perhaps they boast significant relevant expertise—you can adjust their vote to count as two.

Out-of-the-box reports

Progress reports and post-mortems are crucial parts of any project—and they don’t need to be a time suck. Rather than spend valuable hours creating a custom report, choose an out-of-the-box option. You’ll be able to input relevant numbers and figures and let the program generate appropriate formatting and data visualizations.
That means you’ll be able to start planning your next project that much sooner.


Before & After: Server Room Refresh

Everyday our field engineers and technical support specialists face both challenging and rewarding experiences out in the field.  Recently, our team gave one of our clients, a Biotech & Life Sciences Company, a complete server room refresh.  Between untangling cables, figuring out the most optimal (and personal) color coding system, and configuring servers to meet the clients' business needs, our team was hard at work and now have the results to prove it! Check out the Sway below to see behind-the-scenes before and after shots of this server room makeover:

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Learn more about professional services provided by Managed Solution


To Learn More about Professional Services, contact us at 800-208-3617


August Power BI Desktop Update: Updated Drill experience

By Amanda Cofsky as written on powerbi.microsoft.com
In the August update of Power BI Desktop, we released the general availability of inline hierarchies. Inline hierarchies let you explore your data as you drill down in the context of your hierarchies. As an example, imagine you were looking at your Sales Amount by Order Date.

drill start visual

You start out looking at each year, and now you want to see quarters as well. When you expand down using inline hierarchies, we will carry the parent category down so you can differentiate the sales in each quarter for each year.

inline hierarchy drill

The previous behavior for drill wouldn’t split out individual quarters by year. It would show sales in each quarter across all years.

show levels drill

In the August release of the Desktop, we took inline hierarchies out of preview, and replaced this previous drill experience with the inline hierarchy experience. Since that update, we have heard feedback from you that while this new experience is very useful, you still have a need for the older experience, especially when using drill with unrelated categories in the hierarchy.
We listened to your feedback, and today we are releasing an update to the August Power BI Desktop release that gives you the ability to use both of these experience in one chart. Once you install this update, you will see two buttons on a visual that has a hierarchy in the axis. The double down arrow icon (show levels icon) will do the previous experience of showing the next level of the hierarchy, and the split arrow icon (expand levels icon) will perform the new inline hierarchy experience explained above. You will see this update in the Power BI web service as well.

drill icons on chart

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Microsoft to buy LinkedIn for $26.2B in cash, makes big move into enterprise social media

By Ingrid Lunden as written on techcrunch.com
Huge news today in the world of M&A in enterprise and social networking services: Microsoft has announced that it is acquiring LinkedIn, the social network for professionals with some 433 million users, for $26.2 billion, or $196 per share, in cash. The transaction has already been approved by both boards, but it must still get regulatory and other approvals.
If for some reason the deal does not go through, LinkedIn will have to pay Microsoft a $725 million termination fee, according to Microsoft’s SEC filing detailing the merger.
The $196 per share offer is a big hike on its closing price from Friday, $131.08. (And in pre-market trading, unsurprisingly, LinkedIn’s stock has nearly crept up 64 percent to reach the share price Microsoft is paying. Microsoft’s price is down 4 percent to $49.66 in pre-market trading.)
LinkedIn is keeping its branding and product, and it will become a part of Microsoft’s productivity and business processes segment. LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner will report to Satya Nadella.

How Microsoft plans to use LinkedIn

The acquisition is a big one for both sides.
For Microsoft, it’s bringing a key, missing piece into the company’s strategy to build out more services for enterprises, and give it a key way to compete better against the likes of Salesforce (which it also reportedly tried to buy).
Today, Microsoft is focused squarely on software (and some hardware by way of its very downsized phones business). But LinkedIn will give Microsoft a far bigger reach in terms of social networking services and professional content — developing the early signs of enterprise social networking that it kicked off with its acquisition of Yammer for $1.2 billion in 2012.
LinkedIn’s wider social network, pegged as it is to groups of employees and employers, will give Microsoft a sales channel to sell more of its products, and will serve as a complement to those that it already offers for collaboration and communication.
In a section called “Selling to Social Selling” in the deck below, Microsoft details how it plans to use LinkedIn’s social graph as an integrated selling tool alongside its existing CRM products (which are second to Salesforce in the market currently). Users of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM and other systems, it notes, will want to use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator “to transform the sales cycle with actionable insights” — essentially lots of background information about users that can help find leads, open conversations and close deals.
There are other elements of LinkedIn’s business that are interesting to consider in light of this acquisition. LinkedIn acquired Lynda.com, for example, to spearhead a move into offering online learning tools to users — expanding on their bigger hope of being the go-to place for overall professional development. Now, with Microsoft, you can see how Lynda might be employed to help sell Microsoft software products, and provide assistance in learning to use them. This is also an area that Microsoft is already highlighting as a positive in the deal:


There are also other areas where you will see lots of natural integrations, for example with Cortana and providing more professional networking tools to users.
“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said in a statement. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.” You can read Nadella’s full memo to staff here.
(And just as a side note, this puts some of Microsoft’s recent cost-cutting through layoffs and sales into some perspective, as well.)
For LinkedIn, it puts to rest questions of how the company would ever compete with companies that are building more software on top of their social graphs that would put it into closer competition against LinkedIn. For a while, it looked like this was the direction that LinkedIn hoped to develop, but more recent problems with user and revenue growth, and a subsequent dropping share price, has put the company on the defensive.
“Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn‘s network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works,” Weiner added in the statement. “For the last 13 years, we’ve been uniquely positioned to connect professionals to make them more productive and successful, and I’m looking forward to leading our team through the next chapter of our story.” Read Weiner’s letter on the deal to LinkedIn staff here.
But this is not at all a story about a failing company getting scooped up on the way down for parts. LinkedIn, even with a share price that is below its 12-month high point of $258 per share, is one of the better-performing tech companies in the public markets.
Microsoft has never been a massively successful company when it comes to social networking — although it smartly invested in Facebook before it went public, and as we have reported before it was apparently interested at one point in trying to make a bid to buy Slack for $8 billion. LinkedIn’s social network will give it a significant foothold in this area.
LinkedIn is active in over 200 countries and has 105 million monthly active users, with 433 million registered overall. The company has some 60 percent of all traffic on mobile, and — thanks to some strong SEO — a crazy 45 billion quarterly page views. It’s also one of the biggest repositories of job listings, with some 7 million active listings currently. While some parts of LinkedIn’s business has stagnated, specifically with MAU growth (which is up only 9 percent on last year) latter is a growing business — up 101 percent on a year ago.
LinkedIn’s core business is based today around recruitment ads and, to a lesser extent, premium subscriptions for users. The recruitment business (termed “Talent Solutions”) accounted for $2 billion of the company’s $3 billion in revenues in 2015.
And as you can see from the photo above, Reid Hoffman, one of the co-founders and current chairman, is behind the deal.
“Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn. I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business,” said Hoffman in a statement. “I fully support this transaction and the Board’s decision to pursue it, and will vote my shares in accordance with their recommendation on it.”
The companies are hosting a conference call at 8.45 a.m. PT.



Welcome to the Invisible Revolution

As written on blogs.microsoft.com
Think of your favorite pieces of technology. These are the things that you use every day for work and play, and pretty much can’t live without.
Chances are, at least one of them is a gadget – your phone, maybe, or your gaming console.
But if you really think about it, chances also are good that many of your most beloved technologies are no longer made of plastic, metal and glass.
Maybe it’s a streaming video service you use to binge watch “Game of Thrones” on or an app that lets you track your steps and calories so you can fit into those jeans you wore back in high school. Maybe it’s a virtual assistant that helps you remember where your meetings are and when you need to take your medicine, or an e-reader that lets you get lost in your favorite book via your phone, tablet or even car speakers.
Perhaps, quietly and without even realizing it, your most beloved technologies have gone from being things you hold to services you rely on, and that exist everywhere and nowhere. Instead of the gadgets themselves, they are tools that you expect to be able to use on any type of gadget: Your phone, your PC, maybe even your TV.
They are part of what Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research division, refers to as an “invisible revolution.”
“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

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Office365's Government Community Cloud: Benefits, Features, and Capabilities

Microsoft created Office365 Government Community Cloud (GCC) to cater exclusively to your federal, state, and local government's specific needs.

Safe, Secure, Separate

Microsoft is using GCC to make sure your government data is safe, secure, and separate. First, Office365 has data separation at the application layer.  For advanced security, GCC uses a completely different infrastructure than the infrastructure used for commercial Office365 customers, creating a second layer of physical separation for customer content.


 Data Won't Need a Passport

All the data you store in GCC will be stored in the United States only. This means you won't have to worry about where your data is really going when you upload something to the cloud.  All GCC datacenters are physically located in the United States, along with the Office365 services that come along with them.

Restricted Access

Microsoft personnel who have access to Office 365 GCC must be U.S. citizens, as well as undergo strict background investigations to ensure they are providing you with the utmost security.  Consider them as well screened as any other protector of government data.


Certifications and Accreditations

Office 365 Government complies with certifications and accreditations that are required for U.S. Public Sector customers by supporting the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (at a Moderate Impact level).  Support for CJIS requirements for law enforcement agencies can be found on Exchange Online (and Exchange Online Archiving), SharePoint Online, and Office Online. 

Learn more about how the Office365 Government Community Cloud can support your local, state, or federal government by contacting us today!



NASA tech could trim air travel delays

NASA tech could trim air travel delays

By Derek Major as written on gsn.com
When severe storms hit, air travel delays are all but guaranteed. Last month alone, more than 10,000 flights were cancelled in a three-day period after a snowstorm dropped up to 30 inches on the East Coast from New York to Georgia. But NASA is working on a software-driven solution that could ease the pain for travellers, airlines and air traffic controllers alike.
NASA's Ames Research Center, the Federal Aviation Administration and industry developers are developing and testing a system known as Dynamic Weather Routes. According to NASA, the system updates and compares weather and air traffic data to find alternate routes when severe weather is likely to impact planes already in the air.
The DWR system collects and updates weather and air traffic information every 12 seconds and uses the data to find alternative routes and resolve air traffic conflicts. (The traditional method depends on a teleconference held every two hours.) DWR can account for frequent weather changes and plot new routes to avoid traffic or airspace that is designated for special use.
A 10-person team has been developing DWR since 2010, and research shows the software could save 10 minutes per flight. “The [current] static weather avoidance routes may not be well tailored to the weather of the day,” Kapil Sheth, a NASA aerospace research engineer, explained. “Large buffers compensate for forecast uncertainty of up to four hours ahead. When weather changes, it leaves an opportunity to save time and fuel.”
The Ames Research Center was awarded a patent for DWR late last year, and an industry partner has been field testing the prototype system for more than two years. Dave McNally, NASA’s principal investigator for DWR, said that one aerospace company already has licensed DWR, and the system is currently being used for advisories on flights.

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