Jan 272015
 

We’ve reached it, the critical stage between cloud growth and cloud maturity. And there’s no need to deny that with cloud maturity come great opportunities. Just like Uncle Ben said, right? But more seriously, as a Managed Service Provider (MSP), how can you be sure that adding the cloud to your organization now is right? Did you at all consider the cloud as a more profitable model for your business in 2015?

Understanding recurring revenues

Try to think of an industry that generates billions of dollars and that is based on recurring revenues. Hint: most of us depend – and are highly addicted – to its services. We are so hooked that we’re willing to blindly pay high fees each and every month. And that’s just to access the service. Wondering what industry I’m talking about? Mobile network companies. Yes, cellphone companies are very profitable companies. May I kindly remind you of the billing model they’re using to bill us? The recurring revenues billing model.

Most MSPs are used to the traditional services model, which can be very lucrative when sales are booming, yet it can also be unforgiving if sales are not performing so well.

Quadrant recurring vs. traditional revenue

The beauty of the recurring revenue model resides in its long term profitability. The challenge for MSPs? Manage the rate of churn and keep down to a minimum the number of lost customers. An achievement that should not be too hard to accomplish if you’re offering great customer support.

The model’s fairly simple, each customer generates XYZ amount of profit per month. The more customers are on board, the higher profits are. These 3 charts from the IDC eBook “Successful Cloud Partners 2.0: What IT Solution Providers Need to Know to Build Profitable Cloud Practices” offer a good visual comparison between the traditional services model and the Cloud/Managed services model. You can notice that the recurring revenue model offers more predictability in terms of incoming revenues. Just imagine if you can’t close enough sales during a specific period and don’t reach the predicted profits. Well at least with recurring revenues, you have a safety net and money is still piling up in your bank account.

The eternal quest of a common denominator with customers

Adding the cloud to your offering does not mean you should stop selling on-premises solutions altogether. On the contrary! Offering both gives your end-customers the power of choice. Some are still scared by the cloud, therefore they might choose to stick with an on-prem solution. Others may choose to move half of their solutions to the cloud while keeping the rest in-house.

At the end of the day, you want to know the advantages selling the cloud has for you. Especially in a competitive market like the IT industry where you must stay ahead of the game.

We’re all customers. And as customers, we usually opt for products that are intuitive (just think about the popularity of tablets) and affordable. Basically we want as much as we can for our buck, and we won’t compromise quality. And we want it to be as simple as possible.

The quadrant below explains quite well customer behavior. Most of us fall in the top left category. And very few of us want to fall in the bottom right category. Why? Because cheap and easy is the way to go. If you run a business, your ultimate goal is to make profits. And to make profits, you want to cut expenses.

Quadrant simple affordable

How does the cloud fit in there? Well it’s affordable, especially for SMBs or growing companies, and it’s simple. How? Let’s say your clients already have in-house servers, which have been running for a few years. They probably have IT tech(s) in their team or are very dependable on their service provider. In either situation, this results in high costs and complicated in-house deployments. Plus, the servers need frequent maintenance and will most likely be obsolete in a couple years.

The cloud, on the other hand, grants the access to up-to-date software and services. Migration is seamless and easy: it’s taken care for by professionals. Plus, there is no need to worry about maintaining the hardware, it’s all taken care of. No more insomnia worrying about downtime, cooling of hardware, power outages, etc. Furthermore with the cloud resources are unlimited. You can sell as much as the customer asks for without having to worry about employee turnover and attrition.

Success in the cloud

The key is choosing the right provider. That’s it. There are many well-established companies selling the cloud right now. What’s the most important feature to take into account when you choose your provider? Reliability. When choosing a reliable provider, you offer peace of mind to yourself and your customers.

With SherWeb what you can expect is 24/7 support, well-trained and experienced technicians, North American Tier 3+ certified datacenters which are fully redundant. Paired with the best-in-class hosted solutions. See for yourself how adding the cloud will benefit your business as a MSP!

The post What can MSPs gain from linear growth and recurring revenue appeared first on SherWeb.

Jan 232015
 

In my previous post, I walked you through the installation of a SQL 2012 Server. Today, I’ll explain how to install SQL 2012 for Operation Manager Data Warehouse. This long-term data warehouse database is used by the OpsMgr 2012 SP1 Reporting Server. Once SQL installation is completed, we’ll configure the SQL Reporting Services and validate that it’s functioning correctly.

How to Install SQL Server 2012

This installation is similar to SQL Server installation: you select the same options you did for the SQL Server, and then select the reporting service. Once the service is installed, you’ll configure it.

Open a session with Administrator on MTLRS01 Server (or whatever name you’ve given to your server) and add the OMAdmins group in the Administrators local group of the server. You can also add any other groups or user that you would like to give admin rights to.

Administrators Properties - OMAdmins

Close the session and open a new one with the OMAdmin user or any user that is an administrator of the reporting server. Click Setup and Installation. Once you’re in the SQL Server Installation Center, click New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add…

New SQL Server stand-alone installation

In Setup Support Rules, click Show Details. Validate that all statuses are passed and click OK.

Setup Support Rules - show details

If you have an evaluation or a serial number, select Specify a free edition, then select Evaluation or Serial Number. Then select Enter the product key, type your product key and click Next. Select I accept the licence terms. If you want to send usage data to Microsoft, also select Send feature usage data to Microsoft and click Next.

Product Key

If you want to install the product update, select Include SQL Server Setup Update. The update will automatically download and install. Again, click Show Details to ensure that all statuses are passed before you click Next.

Product Updates

In the Setup Role section, select SQL Server Feature Installation and click Next.

This server will be used only by the Operations Manager Reporting Database (data warehouse) and is the long-term database. Select the following: Database Engine Services, Full-Text and Extraction…, Reporting Services – Native, Management Tools Basic and Management Tools – Basic. This will install all the tools required to manage the SQL Server. Replace the C: path by D: or any other disks and click Next.

Feature Selection

Click Show Details and validate all statuses are passed before you click Next.

 Installation Rules

In the Instance Configuration section, enter OpsMgrRS in the Name instance field. You can also install SQL without any instance. Change the Path to D: and click Next. You’ll then access the Disk Space Requirements window. Click Next.

Instance Configuraion

For both SQL Service Agent and SQL Server Database Engine, select SRVCSQL user. This is only a domain user and it has no Administrators right on the SQL Server. Make sure to set the Startup Type to Automatic for both services. For the SQL Reporting Services, select OMDWR user. Then select the Collation tab.

Server Configuration

You can use the default which is SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS, or choose another supported collation. Then click Next.

Note: The Collation cannot be changed after SQL installation: it‘s very important to select the collation that is supported.

In the Database Engine Configuration window, select Windows Authentication Mode click Add and select the OMAdmins group or admin user needed to install the reporting server. Click Next.

Database Engine Configuration

In Reporting Services Configuration, select Install Only and click Next. Click Next Again in Error Reporting until you get to the Installation Configuration Rules. Then select Show details. Once you’ve ensured that all statuses are passed, click Next.

Installation Configuration Rules

When you get to the Ready to Install section, click Install and wait until all statuses read Succeeded before you click Close.

SQL Server Completion

Validate that SQL is working

On MTLRS01 server, your session is open with OMAdmin user. Press the Windows Key and select SQL Server Management Studio.  Then select Server Name MTLSQL01\OPSMGRRS and click Connect.

Pop-up window - Connect to server

Once you are connected, expand the Server, Databases and System Database. Then validate that the 4 databases are created and mounted. The SQL Reporting Server Database are not created yet.

Expand Server, Databases and System Database

Configuring SQL reporting Services

In this section, we’ll configure and create the SQL reporting Service Database, which will be used to save all OpsMgr Reports.

On MTLRS01 Server, your session is open with OMAdmin user or any other user you used to install the Reporting Server. Press the Windows Key and select Reporting Services. If the Reporting Services is not there, ensure you pin it to the Start menu.

Start menu

Connect to the server and click Service Account. Validate that the current domain user is an administrator of the Reporting Server.. Click Web Service URL to accept the default URL and click Apply. Then validate that the URL was created and click Database and Change Database.

Web Source URL

Select the Create a new report Database and click Next. Double-check the Server Name field corresponds to MTLRS01 \OpsMgrRS and click Test Connection. You will get the confirmation message Test Connection Succeeded to confirm the connection is working properly. Click OK.

Report Database Configuration WizardDouble-check that the Server Name still reads: MTLRS01\OpsMgrRS and click Next. Accept the Default and click Next. Click Next again and you will access the Summary window. Validate that everything is OK and click Next.

Summary

In the Progress and Finish window, ensure that all statuses are Success before you click Finish. Select Report Manager URL and accept the default by clicking Apply.

Report Manager URL

To validate that the URL was created, double-click on the URL: http://MTLRS01:80/Reports OPSMGRRS01.

SQL Reporting Services - Home

The SQL Server Reporting Services Home will open. Return to Web Service URL and click on URL http://MTLRS01:80/ReportServer_OPSMGRRS. The Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services will open, validating that the SQL Reporting Services is working.

Web Service URL

In the Encryption Keys section, click Backup. In the pop-up window, type in the File Location of the Encryption Key: C:\Sources\RS Encrypted. Enter a password and confirm it. Ensure that this file is taken by your backup and click OK

Backup Encryption Key

Start by opening SQL Server 2012 Management Studio, and ensure that the server name and the instance are there. Here it’s MTLRS01\OpsMgrRS.

Connect to server - Pop-up window

Expand MTLRS01 and expand Databases. Validate that both ReportServer and ReportServerTempDB databases were created as we can see below. Install the Last Service pack and Cumulative roll up for SQL 2012 before you install OpsMgr 2012.

Expand MTLRS01 and Databases

Congrats, your SQL Reporting Server is now installed!

The post Installing SQL 2012 Server for Reporting Server appeared first on SherWeb.

Jan 202015
 

A new year is like a blank page. A fresh start with endless possibilities. Which is why most of us begin the year resolving to change for the better in some way or another. A new year is also a chance to look back on the milestones that occurred in the last months. What was achieved? What went wrong? How did things get this way?

New Year’s resolutions can benefit businesses, too. After all, employees are coming back to work rested and ready for new challenges. It’s the perfect time to make improvements. Stuck for ideas? Here are 5 must-make IT resolutions for 2015.

#1: Focus more on total cost of ownership (TCO)

Sure, it may not be the sexiest exercise out there, but it’s worth it because it alone could save your business thousands of dollars.

The secret to calculating TCO properly is taking into account ALL costs: direct, indirect and hidden. For example:

Direct costs

Direct costs are linked to the actual hardware necessary for an on-prem solution—from the hardware itself to the physical space where you keep your servers. These environments have many requirements: square footage, electricity, HVAC, ventilation, redundancy, etc. All of these are direct costs.

Keep in mind that hardware is considered a capital expenditure, so related costs are depreciated over several years versus cloud-based solutions that can be deducted right away.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs include any spending that is not for material in itself, but rather caused by the hardware. At the top of this list? Human resources. The salary of Sys Admins and any other staff members who spend time maintaining hardware, fixing bugs, etc., rather than working on core activities, are considered indirect costs. Other direct costs include lifecycle, disk magnetic management and security (including insurance, anti-spam and antivirus tools and more).

Hidden costs

My personal favorite! So easy to overlook, yet hidden costs end up having the greatest impact on your business. Every time an employee has to fix your on-prem solution rather than focus on his or her actual job, it costs you double: one charge for doing their actual tasks, and another for taking care of support. Lost productivity due to downtime is another hidden cost. How much downtime can your organization afford each year? 1 week? 1 day? 1 hour?

#2: Minimize downtime on your infrastructure

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, downtime is frighteningly expensive. And extremely frustrating. Having available resources that cannot work because applications are down is simply unacceptable. But building a solid infrastructure with minimal downtime entails many key components.

Redundancy

For a network to be redundant, it must be able to still function even if everything fails. You’ll need a backup for all primary resources: Internet, electricity, HVAC, ventilation, etc. Big datacenters even have one (or more) generators that will start at a moment’s notice in the event of a power outage. They also get their electricity from various providers. The same applies for the internet.

% Availability  Downtime per year Downtime per month Downtime  per week
90% (“one nine”) 36.5 days 72 hours 16.8 hours
99% (“two nines”) 3.65 days 7.20 hours 1.68 hours
99.9% (“three nines”) 8.76 hours 43.8 minutes 10.1 minutes
99.99% (“four nines”) 52.56 minutes 4.32 minutes 1.01 minutes
99.999% (“five nines”) 5.26 minutes 25.9 seconds 6.05 seconds
99.9999% (“six nines”) 31.5 seconds 2.59 seconds 0.605 seconds
99.99999% (“seven nines”) 3.15 seconds 0.259 seconds 0.0605 seconds

Multi-site

Having a second system ensures that if one system crashes, the other one will take over. Chances are you won’t even notice that a crash occurred.

Disaster recovery

Having clear, practiced and polished disaster recovery policies and procedures in place will save you endless headaches and trouble if a natural or manmade disaster should occur.

Having all of these components in place is important. But it also doubles the costs of a regular on-prem infrastructure. The truth is, this type of investment just isn’t feasible for most SMBs. That’s where the cloud becomes a smart option.

#3: Commit to an effective backup strategy

Whether you’re on-prem or in the cloud, you should ALWAYS have a backup strategy. And it ought to be effective. Otherwise you might as well not have one. Offsite backups are the most effective, and there are countless online backup solutions available, so do your homework and find the one that meets your needs. SherWeb’s Online Backup, for one, backs up both workstations and servers. And if you ever need to restore lost data, you simply reinstall your apps and you’ll be able to access data instantly (an important feature for businesses).

#4: Prioritize data safety

Safety is a top priority. I’m sure – and hope – this isn’t a shock to you. Don’t we all remember the notoriously named iCloud leak from last August? Or more recently, the Sony hack of the movie The Interview? Well what if your organization’s data is at risk? Hint: everybody’s at risk.

That’s why you need protection for all your users: anti-spam, antivirus, firewall, IPS, etc. However, efficient and secure in-house systems come with a salty bill for SMBs, especially if you have few users.

Hosting companies are at risk, too. The difference is they have powerful software and dedicated, specialized resources working full-time on protecting their data and systems.

#5: Comply with industry regulations

Most businesses can skip this resolution and have a great year. But if you’re working in an industry where governmental regulations apply to the data you work with, you’re required to comply. Take law firms and medical organizations for example. They deal with sensitive client information such as health and legal records on a daily basis. Regulations like HIPAA, SOX and GLBA are becoming increasingly stricter, and so are non-compliance penalties. Just check out the penalties for HIPAA violations on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ website. Settlements range between $250,000 and $5 million. Now that’s a hefty indirect cost!

That should get you started for 2015. Were there any resolutions that we missed? Wanna get a head start? Jump right into resolution #1!

Download our eBook with TCO calculator now

download_button

The post 5 Resolutions You Can’t Afford to Overlook in 2015 appeared first on SherWeb.

Jan 152015
 

There’s no denying it: the cloud industry has reached maturity. And businesses are lining up to make a move to the cloud. According to Gartner, organizations will store 36% of their content in the cloud by 2016, a big jump from the meager 7% they stored in 2011.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) who want to tap into this growing market will have to decide how to approach the cloud. They’ll have to assess their customers’ needs, what kind of offering they can deliver and what kind of strategy will ensure their success. What kind of MSP are you? Here are three common profiles.

The Risk-Taker

This type of MSP likes to be in control. To make sure he has complete ownership of the infrastructure, he won’t go with any public cloud provider. He’ll build his own cloud. The biggest benefit? 100% control. Guaranteed. From the infrastructure’s components to updates and maintenance, everything will be in the hands of the service provider.

But at what cost?

If you’re thinking about deploying your own cloud, consider these facts:

  • The initial investment is high.
  • It’ll take about three years before you see a Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Competition in the market is fierce and your cloud cost won’t be able to match what the big providers are offering.

You should also account for time spent on maintenance and updates. MSPs who take this route should also know that it can’t be sustained forever.

The Conventional

Next is the conventional MSP. Unlike the risk-taker, this guy will trust another provider for his cloud needs. And that provider will be a big brand that everyone knows: Amazon, Google, Microsoft…

This route has some benefits. The MSP will be able to build his own bundle to resell. He’ll also find it easier to convince customers to move to the cloud. After all, who doesn’t know Amazon or Microsoft? The risk? Almost inexistent.

What’s the catch? Well, competition in this market is brutal. There are a lot of other players out there reselling the same cloud. Your customers can get cloud offerings from almost anyone, and probably at a lower cost!

Can you make a lot of money? If you want to sell, you’ll have to go cheap. Or, you’ll have to develop a value proposition that will be unique in your market.

The Trailblazer

Last but not least, we have the trailblazer. This type of MSP will be looking for a white-label provider to get the best of both worlds.

Relying on a white-label provider will help the MSP build his credibility. He can offer an enterprise-grade infrastructure without investing a lot of money to deploy his own cloud. And he can benefit from the latest hardware updates and maintenance and still be in control of server usage. Scalability will never be an issue. Adding or removing servers can be done quickly, ensuring that you pay only for what you use.

The best part of this model? You can sell it as your cloud to your customers. It gives you all the flexibility you need to tailor your offer and sell services that cater to your customers’ specific needs. The end result? A boost in your credibility.

The only thing you’re not getting from this model is a hands-on approach to the hardware. But since you can choose and configure your servers, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker for someone who wants to increase profits in the IaaS market.

What’s your strategy for 2015?

Will you be a risk-taker, a conventional MSP or a trailblazer? While there’s a model for every type of MSP, we encourage trailblazers to take a look at SherWeb’s Partner Network. Our complete white-label offering for performance cloud servers is one of the best values on the market today.

Conventional MSPs are also fit for SherWeb’s cloud offering! Our co-branded program helps you grow your profits while relying on a proven service vendor!

Built with enterprise-grade hardware (all-SSD storage, Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2, CPUs, RAM and chipsets from INTEL, etc.), SherWeb’s infrastructure-as-a-service offering is scalable, flexible and adapted for our partner network. Plus, you get all the benefits from our reseller programs: a dedicated account manager, full technical support and access to all of our live training and sales collaterals. Become a partner today!

The post MSPs and IaaS: What to Do in 2015? appeared first on SherWeb.

Jan 122015
 

Microsoft SQL Server databases are used by over 68% of sites that use one or more database technologies. Surpassed by only Oracle databases, it means most DB admins will have to install or manage SQL servers at one point or another.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the installation of an SQL Server 2012.

How to Install the SQL Server 2012

Setting up the SQL Server is pretty straightforward. Follow these steps:

First, on MTLSQL01, open a session as an Administrator. Add the OMAdmins Group or any other group/user that will be used for this installatio in the Administrators Local group of the MTLSQL01 Server and then close the session.

Note: The server name is an example. You can use whatever name fits your needs.

admin_properties

Open a new session with the OMAdmin user. Click Setup and then Installation. Then click the New SQL Server stand-alone… and Show Details.

sql_server_2012_setup

Validate that the status for all rules displays Passed. Click OK once it’s done.

setup_support_rules

Select Specify a free edition if you have an evaluation version or Enter the product key if you have a serial number. After entering your serial number (or picking the free edition), click Next.

product_key

Select I accept the Licence terms. Also, if you want to send usage data to Microsoft, you can click that box too. Click Next to get to the Server Setup Update screen. If you want to install updates, click the Include SQL Server Setup Update and click Next. The update will download and install. Once it’s done, click Show Details and validate that the status for all rules displays Passed.

setup_support_rules2

Once you’re done with the update installation, continue to the Setup Role screen. Select SQL Server Feature Installation and continue.

This server will be used only by the Operations Manager Database (the short time database). The SQL Reporting Service will be installed on another server.

Select Database Engine Services and Full-Text and Semantic Extractions for Search (the latter is not mandatory). Change the path from C: to D: or any other disk.

feature_selection

Select Management Tools Basic and Management Tools – Complete. This will install all tools needed to manage the SQL Server. You can then continue to the next screen. Once again, check the Show Details to validate that the status for all rules displays Passed.

feature_selection2

Select the Named Instance option and type OpsMgrOM. If you want, you can also install SQL without an instance. Once again, change the path from C: to D: and continue to the next screen. In the Disk Space Requirements screen, just click Next.

instance_configuration

Select a domain user for both the SQL Service Agent and the SQL Server Database Engine. This user is a Domain User and doesn’t have any admin rights on the SQL Server. The Startup type must be Automatic. Then click on the Collation tab.

server_configuration

At this point, you can choose the default collation (SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_Cl_AS) or choose another supported collation. Click Next.

Note: The collation cannot be changed after the SQL installation. It is very important to select the collation that is supported.

server_config2

Now, select Windows authentication mode. Click Add and select the OMAdmins group. Click Next. All user from this group will be a SQL SysAdmin.

database_engine_config

Click Next on the Error Reporting screen and then Show Details. Once again, validate that the status for all rules displays Passed. Then, click Next.

installation_config_rules

Click Install to begin the SQL Server 2012 installation. Validate that the status for all rules displays Passed a final time and click Close. The installation is complete.

ready_to_install

Validate that you can open SQL

We will now validate that you can open the SQL database. On MTLSQL01 server, make sure your session is open with a user member of the OMAdmin group. Press the Windows Key and select SQL Server Management Studio.

Select MTLSQL01\OPSMGROM and click Connect. This is your SQL instance that you define during installation. If you did not define any instance, just select the server name.

sql_connect_server

Expand the Server tree and then the Databases. Validate that the 4 databases are created and mounted.

SQL_object_explorer

Note: Install the last Service Pack and Cumulative Roll Up for SQL 2012.

Your SQL Server 2012 is now correctly installed. In my next article, we’ll be installing the SQL Reporting Services. Stay tuned!

The post Installing SQL Server 2012 appeared first on SherWeb.

Jan 082015
 

There’s a lot to like about Office 365: low upfront costs, rich features, a familiar Microsoft Office experience, and always available, always up-to-date versions of the applications you need to keep your business running smoothly. So the fact that we recently added Office 365 to our cloud services portfolio probably won’t come as a big surprise. But what might surprise you is just how much our Office 365 solution differs from that of Microsoft.

If your business is thinking of switching to Office 365, here are 5 good reasons why you should compare our offer to that of Microsoft’s before signing up. It can save your business a bundle in a very short amount of time.

Same plans. Same uptime. But with FULL service and support

We offer the exact same Office365 plans as Microsoft. That means all the same great features and apps, and the same uptime of 99.9%. However, we include all of the added-value services and immediate support businesses need to remain fully productive.

FULL needs assessment

Before you sign up, our team can help you, at no extra cost, to:

  • Identify your needs and help you determine which plan is best for you.
  • Evaluate your existing IT infrastructure, offer suggestions on how it can be improved, and help you get ready for Office 365.
  • Choose the right mix of Office 365 services to achieve your business goals as cost efficiently as possible.
  • Develop a roadmap for future IT investments if needed.

Note that Microsoft will help you with your Office 365 purchasing decision, but it does not offer a full needs assessment.

FREE A-to-Z migration & onboarding

Once you’re ready to move to Office 365, our dedicated Office 365 migration and onboarding team will:

  • Handle the entire migration from A-to-Z to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Schedule the migration around your availability and needs.
  • Remain in constant contact with you until you are 100% up and running to your satisfaction.
  • Help you configure all of your services to meet your needs.

Note that with Microsoft, you only get access to migration self-help guides and online trouble-shooters unless you pay for an additional service plan.

Immediate support for ALL issues

Once you’re up and running, you’ll always have our experienced technical support team at your beck-and-call:

  • 24/7/365 free support for all issues, no matter how small, by phone, email and chat.
  • Calls answered within 40 seconds.
  • Tickets resolved within 1 business day.

Note that this level of support is only available from Microsoft if you pay for one of their service plans.

A trusted one-stop shop for all your needs

25,000 businesses around the world choose SherWeb because we focus on meeting needs rather than pushing products. With SherWeb, you get:

  • A full range of additional cloud services: Performance cloud servers, Hosted Exchange, email encryption, archiving, compliance, online back-up and more. Our role is to help you work smarter in the cloud.
  • The freedom to mix & match our plans according to the needs of individual users.
  • A single control panel that allows you to easily manage & modify all of your SherWeb services. Our control panel is designed to be simple enough for those with little to no IT experience, but powerful enough for seasoned pros to specify advanced configurations.

Note that Microsoft does not offer such a wide range of cloud services.

Get the Office 365 plans you need with full support

Phone numberAfter 16 years as a cloud services provider supporting businesses around the world, we cannot overstate the value of having access to immediate round-the-clock support. Anyone working in IT knows that downtime is extremely costly and that issues often happen at the worst possible times. As one of Microsoft’s most trusted partners globally, we can give you Office 365 with all the support and customer care you need. Our expert team becomes your expert team—at no cost—so that you can stay focused and productive at all times.

Talk to our team. You’ll be surprised by how much value our Office 365 plans offer. Call us (1 844 575-8510) or email us to get your price today.

The post Office 365 — 5 Reasons Why SherWeb is a Better Bet than Microsoft appeared first on SherWeb.

Dec 192014
 

Awesome. That’s how one employee described SherWeb’s annual Christmas party this year.

We celebrated the success of 2014 and looked ahead to all the exciting things that are coming up for SherWeb next year. Employees and management alike showed their appreciation for a job well done. Everyone was happy to spend time together, meet their colleagues’ significant others and simply have fun. There were also some great moments of just goofing off.

“This Christmas party was awesome” – Jayson-Micheal Roy, customer support

The event started out with cocktails, courtesy of SherWeb, in a winter wonderland on Mount Orford. Nicolas Massé, a local artist, set the tone for the evening with a light show set to a resounding dubstep beat. Next up was a beautiful homage to the company founders, Peter and Matthew Cassar. Several SherWeb employees had been secretly working on this presentation since July. Even their immediate superiors didn’t know what they were up to! Obviously, Peter and Matthew didn’t know what to expect. You can imagine their surprise when they saw their mentor Paul Gobeil and close associates on the screen! Christmas Party 2014

Then came the Gala Reconnaissance, which highlights exceptional employees for their work and efforts throughout the year. The gala has four categories; Peer Appreciation, Appreciation from Your Immediate Supervisor, Work Performance and Years of Loyalty. Prizes are handed out to the winner of each category in each of the company’s departments. The prizes are designed to reflect the work done in a specific category. For example, the winner in the Work Performance category won a spa getaway weekend for two. For Peter and Matthew, this is an opportunity to underline the work done by SherWeb employees throughout the year. It’s important for them to take a few minutes to personally congratulate nominees and winners every year.

“I was very moved when I got on stage to receive the Peer Appreciation prize. It is a beautiful mark of recognition.” Renée St-Pierre, financial operations

The white snow was glistening in the moonlight as employees ate their supper and later visited the photo booth. After the meal, a special gift draw was held with prizes such as a 55-inch intelligent television with integrated Wi-Fi offered by SherWeb. The social committee also had a few surprises up its sleeves, which were mischievously disguised in fruit-snack boxes!

Then the dancing started complete with a light show and DJ who played great music. Good times ensued and continued until the wee hours of the morning.

SherWeb’s annual Christmas party is organized by the company’s Social Committee and the executives. The members on the subcommittee this year were Amélie Codère and myself. We would like to thank everyone who helped make this event a success.

Take a look at the party photos here. And, if you want to join our team, visit our career page from time to time! Maybe we’ll see you at next year’s Christmas party!

The post Partyin’ à la SherWeb! appeared first on SherWeb.

Dec 152014
 

A few years ago, Microsoft’s Network Access Protection (NAP) solution was proclaimed a leader in the top category by “The Forrester Wave: Network Access Control, Q3 2008” report. Using 12 different scenarios, Forrester evaluated various vendors and reported that “Microsoft has the strongest NAC product for managed endpoints; [it] has the overall highest score among the 12 scenarios.”

Some organizations later built their internal network security using Windows Server 2008 NAP. NAP involved a Network Policy Server that acted as a NAP health policy server, NAP enforcement points (computers, actually), and Remediation servers inside the Active Directory domain. The aim of NAP was to control the access to the intranet through DHCP for LAN/WLAN, VPN, and RDP Gateway connections, making sure the computers are compliant to a set of System Health Validators (such as approved Windows updates, antivirus definitions and antispyware installation). It powerfully plugged itself with System Center Configuration Manager, WSUS 3.0 SP1 and later, and PKI to achieve a strong network security design. Microsoft’s NAP was particularly suitable for Windows domain-joined computers that are connected directly inside the intranet or from the Internet.

Since I was hoping this feature would be maintained for Windows Server 2012, I must say I’m sad hearing that Microsoft will not continue to develop the Network Access Protection feature, starting from Windows Server 2012 R2. I think this was one of the best features of Windows Server introduced with Windows Server 2008.

As I have been trying to find reasons why this feature is being dropped, I found that many other people are also concerned about this issue. For example, a blog post on the WindowsITPro.com website suggests that Microsoft is now spending much more resources supporting BYOD scenarios, a fact that probably had an impact on the decision to stop developing the NAP feature, as it may not be responding adequately to BYOD specific needs. Another reason may be that it was not fully adopted by organizations. My personal opinion is that NAP importance has been fading with the recent rise of public clouds. Why was it so imperative to protect intranets then? Because of the sensitive data that is managed and stored in them. Currently, the new trend is to manage data in public clouds. It’s not so much about securing the organization’s intranet anymore, it is about securing the access to data in the cloud from anywhere. Security is the top priority on all CSPs’ to-do list, and of course this applies here at SherWeb.

So, the time has come to review your data network strategy, and even your IT management model. Do you still host your infrastructure, applications, and storage fully on-premises? Are you running a hybrid cloud model? Are you planning to move all your services to public clouds? And if you currently have Network Access Control (whether it is Microsoft’s, Cisco’s, HP’s, Symantec’s or other) at the core of your combined intranet and remote access solution, is it still worth it? It is true that many organizations’ data are still stored on PCs and that they’re at risk, but there are certainly other ways to secure them like encryption, strong security policies like GPOs or online backup solutions.

You should keep in mind that even if the NAP feature is still available with WS 2012 R2, Microsoft will certainly stop supporting it in a not-so-far future. As for as alternatives go, only the future will tell us what’s in store for network access protection.

The post Is Network Access Protection Still Worth It? appeared first on SherWeb.

Dec 112014
 

Should you let your employees use their personal devices for work?

Now that’s a hot topic. And one question most companies are asking themselves these days. Some answer with a firm no, raising the obvious security questions this practice involves, while others answer “Sure!” as they joyfully hop on the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Cloud bandwagon. After all, why decline potential gains in productivity and happier employees. Although these are 2 very enticing benefits, a proper Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution is a necessity, otherwise bringing personal mobile devices into the office environment could turn out to be very risky.

The origins of MDM

Before we go further into details, we should begin by understanding where the need for MDM comes from.

Companies that want their employees to use their own mobile devices for work-related tasks will notice significant benefits as they allow BYOD: decrease in expenses on company-provided mobile devices, lower management overhead with telecommunication companies, in addition to happier – and more productive, yes you read that right – employees.

Why does resistance still persist then? Well, just like anyone who has been in IT long enough would tell you, if you can’t manage it, don’t let it live on your network.

Skeptics, stay put! Yes, there is still room for compromise. In order to make the idea of using personal devices in the workplace a reality, companies must manage them as they would any other company asset. The question then becomes: how to reconcile this with IT security concerns of the organization’s infrastructure and information?

Finding the right solution

This is where tailored MDM solutions come in with a wide variety of flavors that can be either on-premises or Cloud-based, depending on the company’s needs. Pricing options can be scaled to match the features required.

For example, SherWeb offers the possibility to remotely wipe mobile devices through ActiveSync integration (either by the users themselves or by an administrator, directly from the control panel for their own devices). Furthermore, we can integrate this component to full-featured third-party providers for customers that demand a larger set of MDM features.

Ultimately, it’s up to our customers to decide their specific MDM requirements when it comes to safeguarding their information. The key takeaway: if company information is allowed to transit to personal devices, the process should be reflected in the information management policy and communicated to employees. This will not only highlight the need for an MDM solution, it will also demonstrate its value.

We believe companies should be able to choose how far they take their MDM policy, regardless of whether their productivity services are hosted on-premises, or in the cloud.

The post Mobile Device Management – Bridging the gap between security and productivity appeared first on SherWeb.

Dec 082014
 

It can be helpful to know how your server is doing over time. For one, it lets you know ahead of time if you need to add additional resources. This article will show you how to schedule a simple PowerShell script that will send you an HTML email with the server’s average CPU usage, memory usage and free disk space.

First, you will need to make sure you have Windows PowerShell installed on your server. If you don’t, you can download it here.

Next, copy the following script and save it into a file called ServerHealth.ps1. In my example, I created a folder named C:\admin to store the script and the output. If you choose a different folder, you will need to update the script with the correct folder name.

## This is the location the script will save the output file

$OutputFile="C:\admin\ServerStatus.htm"

 

## Replace these values with valid from and to email addresses

$smtpFrom = "sender@domain1.com"

$smtpTo = "recipient@domain2.com"

 

$CPU = Get-WmiObject win32_processor | Measure-Object -property LoadPercentage -Average | Select Average

$Mem = gwmi -Class win32_operatingsystem |

Select-Object @{Name = "MemoryUsage"; Expression = {“{0:N2}” -f ((($_.TotalVisibleMemorySize - $_.FreePhysicalMemory)*100)/ $_.TotalVisibleMemorySize) }}

$Disk = Get-WmiObject -Class win32_Volume -Filter "DriveLetter = 'C:'" |

Select-object @{Name = "CFree"; Expression = {“{0:N2}” -f (($_.FreeSpace / $_.Capacity)*100) } }

 

$Outputreport = "<HTML><TITLE> Current Server Health </TITLE>

<H2> Server Health </H2></font>

<Table border=1 cellpadding=5 cellspacing=0>

<TR>

<TD><B>Average CPU</B></TD>

<TD><B>Memory Used</B></TD>

<TD><B>C Drive</B></TD></TR>

<TR>

<TD align=center>$($CPU.Average)%</TD>

<TD align=center>$($MEM.MemoryUsage)%</TD>

<TD align=center>$($Disk."CFree")% Free</TD></TR>

</Table></BODY></HTML>"

 

$Outputreport | out-file $OutputFile

 

## Send the email

$smtpServer = "localhost"

$messageSubject = "Current server health"

$message = New-Object System.Net.Mail.MailMessage $smtpfrom, $smtpto

$message.Subject = $messageSubject

$message.IsBodyHTML = $true

$message.Body = "<head><pre>$style</pre></head>"

$message.Body += Get-Content $OutputFile

$smtp = New-Object Net.Mail.SmtpClient($smtpServer)

$smtp.Send($message)

 

Once you have the file created, make sure that you edit the From and To email addresses. Also change the output file line at the top if you are using a different folder.

Now try running the script manually from a PowerShell prompt to see if it works. If you receive the following error message:

Powershell Script Prompt

You will need to run the following command in a PowerShell prompt:

Set-executionpolicy remotesigned

Now run the script again. It should complete and send you an email with the current server status.

The next step is to use task scheduler to have the script run daily or on any other schedule you would like.

Open the Windows Task Scheduler, click Task Scheduler Library on the left, and choose Create Task in the actions bar. Enter a name for this task and then click the Change User or Group button. Enter the name System in the box and click OK. This will allow the task to run even if you are not logged onto the server.

Create a Windows Task

And that’s it. The task has been created and will run on your schedule. If you would like to test it, you can right click on the task and choose run.

On the Triggers tab, click the New button. This is where we will set the schedule for when and how often the task runs. In my case, I want to run the task every day at 2 pm when server activity is high.

Trigger task

Once this is set, click OK and go to the Actions tab. This is where we tell the task what to run. Click New and when the New Action window opens, click Browse. Browse to the folder C:\windows\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0 and choose PowerShell.exe. On the Add arguments line, enter the script we want to run: c:\admin\ServerHealth.ps1. Click OK to save the new action.

Edit action

Finally, click OK on the Create Task window.

Done! Now you have a functioning PowerShell script that will send you an HTML email with the server’s average CPU usage, memory usage and free disk space according to your chosen schedule. Now you can put this information to good use and keep your servers running optimally.

The post How to Send a Server Health Check by Email appeared first on SherWeb.