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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Moving unified communications to the cloud

Migrating your organization’s unified communications (UC) to the cloud seems like a no-brainer: it’s practical, it’s cheap, it’s the future. Big-name companies such as Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Verizon now offer Unified communications as a Service (UCaaS), and it’s only a matter of time before it takes over the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) space. Despite that, IT departments of many organizations remain hesitant due to concerns about network stability, service performance, and over-reliance on legacy systems. To alleviate those concerns, here are five tips you can consider when moving your UC to the cloud.

Opt for a gradual transition

Migrating unified communications to the cloud doesn’t have to be done at one fell swoop. You can move UC for departments that can benefit from it, while those with no pressing need for a cloud-based UC, such as a company’s call center, can keep using on-premise systems. This way, users can ease their way into the new system without experiencing network disruptions, which could lead to reduced productivity.

Secure sufficient bandwidth

Issues on speed and performance will inevitably arise, so make sure to cover all the bases before migration. That means securing a reliable internet service provider, checking the stability of your internal network, and having a Plan B. This is a particularly critical point to ponder if you have operations in locations where unstable or slow networks could pose serious difficulties. Determine the level of bandwidth your entire business needs, and get it from an ISP that can deliver.

Test, test, test

Transitioning UC to the cloud may appear seamless, but there may be a few unexpected kinks that would need ironing out long after the migration is declared a success. To soften the potentially costly and time-consuming impacts, test the systems throughout the duration of the migration. Whether you’re testing voice, data, or video, conduct tests, set benchmarks for performance, and predict future usage patterns.

Go live and act on identified problem points

After going live with your cloud UC, consider the overall user experience and availability of support for devices, applications and other components. Are persistent connectivity issues going to cause troublesome conference calls? This and similar issues may prove detrimental in the long-run, so keep them in mind when deciding to keep, enhance, or discontinue a cloud-based UC. Cloud migration should be solving problems, not causing them.

Constantly monitor performance and quality

Don’t be surprised if you encounter a few issues even after extensive testing. Migrating to the cloud simply requires planning and a sustainable strategy, whether your organization is dependent on instant messaging, voice conferencing, or video calling. There’s also a good chance that you will be working with several vendors, so always demand for the best service.

Having your UC moved to the cloud may seem like a daunting move, but with our cloud technology and VoIP know-how, we’ll make sure your unified communications in the cloud precipitates just benefits. Contact us today for advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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How to switch securely to Office 365

It’s easy to see why Office 365 is an attractive solution for small and medium-sized businesses already familiar with the Office interface. More and more companies are making the move to the cloud, but many have yet to complete their transition and still rely at least in part on on-site SharePoint systems. When you’re ready to migrate, the move from SharePoint to Office 365 presents numerous security challenges to prepare for – not least because breaches are far more likely to be caused by localized issues than insufficient protection on Microsoft’s part. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you’ve got security covered when you make the leap to migrating from SharePoint to Office 365.

Identify your company’s sensitive data…

It’s so easy to create sites within SharePoint that businesses often have far more than they realize, covering just about every aspect of their operations. And it’s natural, of course, for at least some of the files housed within those sites to contain sensitive commercial or personal data. The key is ensuring that sensitive information is adequately identified and protected. Do this by conducting a security audit before you undertake your migration.

Your audit should identify the types of data stored in the various parts of your SharePoint network, including which specific information needs extra safeguarding. Be sure to consider everything from trade secrets and contract details to the personal information of your clients.

…and then restrict access to it

Once you’ve worked out where your most precious data lies, you can check who currently has access to it and whether their access is appropriate. After all, it’s not necessary for everyone to be able to get at all the data your company owns; it’s far better to operate on a need-to-know basis, with a reasonable level of flexibility.

Ensure that each of your employees has access only to the data that’s necessary for them to perform their duties. When you make the switch to Office 365, you’ll find that it allows you to conveniently set these different levels of permissions, including for external partners with whom you collaborate.

Trust nobody and suspect everybody

We say that lightheartedly, of course – it would be counterproductive to become so security-paranoid as to suspect everyone is attempting foul play with your company’s data. Nonetheless, it’s wise to consider everyone in your organization when it comes to auditing data access permissions – and that includes system administrators who might be assumed to have master access to every element of your network infrastructure.

A rogue administrator is the stuff of nightmares, since their elevated position gives them much greater leeway to siphon off valuable data without being noticed – or even to allow others to conduct questionable business and bypass the usual built-in security precautions. Overcoming the danger of an all-too-powerful administrator admittedly becomes easier if you have more than one on staff, but even in smaller businesses you can mediate some of the risk by regularly checking on your administrator’s usage and ensuring that their top-level system permissions remain justifiable.

Use machine learning to foresee security breaches

Every action performed by your staff within Office 365 is automatically logged, and with relative ease you can pull reports that allow you to analyze these. But the sheer number of events taking place within Office 365 in the course of your business’s normal operations means that even attempting to identify questionable behavior will be akin to the proverbial needle and haystack. That’s not to say it’s unwise to be on the lookout for anomalies in normal usage – the export of unexplainably large volumes of data, for instance, could suggest that a member of your team is leaking intelligence to a competitor, or that they’re about to jump ship and take your trade secrets with them.

Thankfully, it’s possible to leverage the developing power of machine learning to identify potential breaches before they happen – without the need to wade through unmanageable swathes of perfectly normal data. Graph API is incorporated into Office 365, and allows for the integration of machine learning tools into your security environment to achieve just that. The same tools can also help you avoid being caught out by hackers, by identifying system login attempts from locations that are out of the ordinary; you should bolster this protection by religiously removing inactive accounts and those of departing employees.

By covering these essential security considerations when it comes to your migration, you’ll be one step closer to ensuring you strike the right balance between the powerful collaborative features of Office 365 and the robust safeguards your business’s integrity demands. To find out more about how we can help your Office 365 migration run smoothly, or what other business benefits you can derive from cloud-powered technologies, just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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The keys to a successful Office 365 migration

Microsoft Office 365 is growing in popularity as more and more businesses make the move to the cloud. However, without proper planning and testing beforehand, you could get stuck in the middle of the migration process, end up with duplicated data, or even have to abort the transition completely. Needless to say, all of these scenarios could result in serious network downtime. But you can easily avoid a migration nightmare by considering these key points before making the switch to Office 365.

Do your research

Researching Office 365 can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it will certainly give you a good idea of how everything will work, and what you can expect before, during, and after the migration process. You should understand and anticipate how your business’s daily operations will change when you make the move to a cloud-based platform. You also need to be aware that traditional Microsoft Office programs and Office 365 applications are completely different in terms of functionality, features, and interface.

Create a checklist

Most businesses fail to create a comprehensive migration checklist, because they tend to focus on the technical aspects without addressing other areas that are critical to the migration’s success. These include elements such as training, informing users, and gathering adoption feedback. You can start by drafting a step-by-step plan that clearly defines the phases of the migration process, and then keep refining the plan until everything is covered.

Check email settings

For a seamless transition, you need to synchronize accounts between your active directory domain and Office 365, by using Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory Synchronization tool. Don’t forget to point your company’s mail exchanger record to Office 365, so new emails will be sent directly to the new mailboxes in Office 365. Misconfiguration of email sync during the migration could flag your organization’s email as spam, disrupting the communication process with your clients and partners.

Choose your migration

Each migration plan looks different, and you should choose the one that best fits your needs. Generally, Office 365 migrations can be divided into three categories:
  • Cutover migration - this is a single provisioning and transfer of mailboxes, users, contacts, and mail groups to Office 365. The cutover process can handle up to 2,000 mailboxes, and the migration time depends on the number of users and mail volume.
  • Staged migration - if you don’t want to migrate all your resources at once, staged migration is a good alternative. It allows you to move mailboxes in smaller batches over a much longer period of time.
  • Hybrid migration - this type of migration is perfect for organizations that need to move more than 2,000 mailboxes and wish to run local Exchange servers and Office 365 simultaneously.

Test everything

Once you have broken down the whole migration into various phases, it will be easy to design a testing procedure for each phase. Standard testing processes include migrating a small amount of data, sending and receiving emails, and application trials, in order to ensure that everything works as expected. The more components you can test before migrating to the platform, the less chance there is of your company facing issues afterwards.

If you’re considering an Office 365 migration, why not let our expert technicians do the job for you? We can migrate your resources seamlessly and smoothly without disrupting your business. Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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