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.

Dec 032014
 

If you’re like me, you like to get right down to business and would rather use script than a mouse and user interface to get things done. Here’s a step-by-step on how to quickly write scripts to start and stop your SherWeb Performance Cloud VM without having to go through the web interface.

First you’ll need to set up the following prerequisites to connect to your Performance Cloud through PowerShell.

Setting up the script prerequisites

1. Download and install the Microsoft Azure Powershell version 0.8.8.

Azure Powershell v.0.8.8

2. Validate that the cmdlets have been installed. To do this, start the Microsoft Azure PowerShell prompt and type the following command:

Get-Command *wapack* 

If everything is installed correctly, all the Azure cmdlets should be displayed.

Azure cmdlets

3. Add a Performance Cloud environment. Start the PowerShell prompt and type the following command:

Add-WAPackEnvironment -Name "Performance Cloud" -PublishSettingsFileUrl "https://performancecloud.sherweb.com/PublishSettings/" -ServiceEndpoint "https://performancecloud.sherweb.com:30006/" -ManagementPortalUrl "https://performancecloud.sherweb.com/"

Start PowerShell prompt

To validate the creation of the environment, you can list it using the Get-WAPackEnvironment Cmdlet

Get WAPack cmdlet

4. You now need to generate and download the certificate with the private key from your Performance Cloud subscription. To do this, log in to your Performance Cloud panel and access the Publish Settings screen. Save the file *publishingsettings.

Performance Cloud Portal - Publish Settings

5. Import the certificate. Start a PowerShell prompt and execute the following command:

Import-WAPackPublishSettingsFile “<FilePath>\<Filename>.publishsettings

You will need to replace the path and filename with the file you downloaded in step 3. For security purpose, you should delete the .publishingsettings file once you’re done with this step.

Import Publish Settings

6. List and select your subscription using the Get-WAPackSubscription and Select-WAPackSubscription command.

WAPack Subscription

You’re now all set up and ready to use your start and stop scripts.

Scripts to start and stop your SherWeb Performance Cloud VM

To start a VM you have already created, use the following script:

[[Begin Code Block Powershell]]
Start-WAPackVM -VM (Get-WAPackVM -Name "YourVMName")
[[End Code Block PowerShell]]

To shut down your VM, use the following script:

[[begin code block powershell]]
Stop-WAPackVM -VM (Get-WAPackVM -Name "YourVMName") -Shutdown
[[end code block powershell]]

Simply remove the –Shutdown argument if you want to do an unclean power off instead

Using the 2 scripts above allows you to easily start and shut down a whole environment of Virtual Machines in sequence. This means you can start your SQL server before your web server, for example.

If you have set up your VMs and virtual network to connect through Remote Desktop you could use your scripts to fire up your VM and access it remotely once it’s available.

To do this, download the Connect-Mstsc – Open RDP Session with credentials script and call it at the end of your Start VM script:

[[begin code block powershell]]
Start-WAPackVM -VM (Get-WAPackVM -Name "<YourVMName>")
." Connect-Mstsc.ps1"
Connect-Mstsc -ComputerName <YourIP> -User "Administrator" -Password "<YourPassword>"
[[end code block powershell]]

I hope this makes starting, stopping and connecting to your Performance Cloud VMs easier. In my next article, I’ll show you how to automate this process for even faster deployment!

The post How to Start/Stop Your Performance Cloud VM with PowerShell Automation appeared first on SherWeb.

Dec 012014
 

Ever heard of a company that doesn’t like to share good news? We surely haven’t. And I must say, we’ve been pretty lucky in the past few weeks: in addition to recently being added to the Cloud OS Network, we ranked 32 on Talkin’ Cloud 100, a ranking of the top cloud service providers.

And we’re still on a roll. We are releasing more good news today! Rather than a nod or a pat on the back from our peers, we’re excited to announce a new partnership deal with Arrow Electronics, Inc. This agreement means that Arrow, a global technology distributor with sales of $21.4 billion in 2013, will now market SherWeb’s cloud offering to its American and Canadian solutions providers.

Strengthening SherWeb’s presence in the channel

Boasting itself as a partner-centric provider, this latest agreement cements the reputation of SherWeb as a leader in the channel. With its strong value proposition, SherWeb has established itself as a reliable cloud service provider for managed service providers (MSPs), independent software vendors (ISVs) and value-added resellers (VARs) for quite some time now.

Offering free migration, a whole set of partner enablement tools and dedicated account managers, we pride ourselves on the level of support we have been providing our partners with. But in no way does that mean we’re sitting on our laurels, on the contrary.

The next few months will offer improvements and new services for our 4,000 (and counting) active partners. Starting with the global availability of SherWeb Performance Cloud to our channel, officially launching December 4.

Getting to know Arrow

With over 100,000 customers worldwide, Arrow is a global provider of services and solutions to commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions.  They are especially active in the vertical markets of telecommunication, information systems, transportation, medical, industrial and consumer electronics.

A Fortune 150 company with 16,500 employees, Arrow counts more than 460 offices, which are located in 58 countries.

The agreement with SherWeb means that starting today, Arrow’s partners will be able to resell SherWeb’s cloud services – including Hosted Exchange – through the Arrow-Sphere online marketplace.

Join us on December 3!

Join Arrow and SherWeb on December 3, at 2:00 PM as Matt Wight (Arrow) will be hosting a webinar on this particular agreement. The webinar will cover SherWeb’s cloud offerings, which cater to customers in business, government and education. Register now.

Just like Arrow’s resellers, you would like to benefit from the industry’s best margins and the most reliable cloud services to cater to the needs of your customers? Sign up today to SherWeb’s Partner Network. We have the right partner program for your business, whether you prefer white-labeling, co-branding or becoming an advisor. We’re here to guarantee your success in the cloud.

The post Arrow Expands Its Cloud Portfolio with SherWeb Services appeared first on SherWeb.

Nov 242014
 

The topic of SMTP servers is far from glamorous. In fact, it could probably put an insomniac to sleep. Most people simply put SMTP in a black box and expect it to work. If you have your own cloud or physical server, though, this can lead to problems because most servers aren’t initially configured to send email.

Chances are that if you have a Windows cloud server, you’ll want to send email from it. Fortunately, Microsoft includes a free SMTP server. Unfortunately (at least for most people), it’s not installed by default!

The good news is that installing a SMTP server is a simple process. Here’s how.

Installing Microsoft SMTP Server

Server Manager

Open Server Manager and select Manage -> Add Roles and Features in the upper right menu. This will start the Add Roles and Features Wizard.

Select the installation type

Keep clicking Next until you get to the Select Features page.

Select features for SMTP server

Scroll down and check the box for SMTP Server. This will open a new window informing you that other features are needed. Make sure the box is checked to Include management tools and click Add Features. Continue through the wizard and click Install at the end. Wait for SMTP server to be installed then click Close.

Configuring Microsoft SMTP Server

Adding logging to the SMTP server

Next we want to configure the SMTP server. Open up Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 Manager and drill down to SMTP Virtual Server. Right-click it and choose Properties. The one property you’ll definitely want to change on the General tab is to check the box to enable logging. If you don’t enable logging there won’t be any logs to check if you need to troubleshoot something after the fact.

Leave the IP address as (All Unassigned).

NOTE: One limitation I have found using Microsoft SMTP server is that it will send the email from the server using whatever IP address it wants to. If you have more than 1 IP address you may want to consider installing a different mail program to use as a SMTP server.

Advanced Logging Properties

Click the Properties… button in the logging area and then click on the Advanced tab. You will see that even though you enabled logging there is nothing selected. Just checking the box to enable logging will still not provide anything helpful. Go ahead and check all the boxes. When someone doesn’t receive an email and you need to troubleshoot, you want all the logs you can have at your disposal. Click OK once you have checked all the boxes.

Relay Restrictions

Move over to the Access tab and click the Relay… button. You can see that nobody is allowed to relay through this computer by default. Click Add and enter 127.0.0.1 for localhost under single computer. After clicking OK your Relay Restrictions should look like this. Click OK to get back to the SMTP Virtual Server Properties and OK once again to exit back to Windows. Your basic configuration of Microsoft SMTP server is now complete.

The DNS side of sending email

If we stop here, though, you are still likely to have problems with email sent from this server. There is a good chance that some of the email to your recipients is going to end up in their junk mail or spam folder. Why is that, you ask? That is because many mail servers do a reverse lookup during the initial handshake.

What is a reverse lookup? As you may know, DNS helps make the Internet human friendly. Without DNS, we would have to remember to go to 74.125.228.226 instead of going to google.com, for example. So DNS maps a domain name to an IP address. Conversely, a reverse DNS maps an IP address to a domain name. Mail servers use this as a step to help combat spam. If you are setting up a mail server (which includes a simple SMTP server like this), you will need a reverse DNS PTR record. If you manage your DNS servers, you can add this. If your DNS is managed somewhere else, contact their support department to help you get a PTR record setup.

What about POP3?

Many Internet users are confused by the configuration of their client mail programs and think that mail is sent on SMTP port 25 and received on POP3 port 110 when mail is actually sent and received by mail servers across the Internet using SMTP on port 25. POP3 has nothing to do with mail flow other than it is the protocol (Post Office Protocol – POP) used by mail clients to connect to their Post Office – i.e. mail server. POP3 serves no other purpose for mail routing.

We have no POP3 settings to configure because the SMTP server is used for sending mail from your applications to mail servers on the Internet. This article is not intended to be used to setup an actual client mail server that receives email.

Testing 1..2..3…

Testing your SMTP server

No setup is complete without a test. The best method I’ve found to quickly test an email setup is to telnet into the mail server and try sending an email. Here are those steps for your reference.

  1. Open a Command Prompt on the server.
  2. Connect to the server using Telnet by typing telnet localhost 25 and pressing enter.
  3. Type helo
  4. Type mail from:youremail@domain.com using your actual email address
  5. Type rcpt to:testemail@domain.com using a test email address
  6. Type data
  7. Type something that will serve as the body of the email then enter a period ‘.’ on a line by itself to send the email
  8. You should receive the email at the test email address confirming that everything is setup properly.

Final Steps

With most programs or features that you install, the services are not always configured the way you may want them to be, so you should always verify those settings. Open up the Services MMC and scroll down to Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).

Services MMC - SMTP

Double-click it to open the STMP Service properties. The first thing you will probably notice is that the service is set to manual. Chances are that you’ll want the startup to be Automatic.

SMTP Properties - Recovery

Lastly, click on the Recovery tab. You will see that service failures are set to take no action by default. However, if the server crashes, you will want it to try and restart the service, so set all three drop-down boxes to Restart the Service.

You should now have the Microsoft SMTP Server installed, configured, and tested on your server.

Happy hosting!

The post The Ins and Outs of Microsoft SMTP Server appeared first on SherWeb.

Nov 182014
 

You’ve been working for months on a revolutionary new web application for your company. The users have all been trained and your servers and applications have been boosted for performance. Everything and everyone is ready to go.

But just minutes after going live, complaints start pouring in. The app is simply not working. After a bit of digging, you locate the bottleneck: the company’s cashiers and service center reps have computers with a specific configuration that requires IE8. But your new web app only runs on IE11 or later versions.

What went wrong?

Most people would say this was a project management issue. The existing environment should have been carefully assessed at the beginning of the project and concerns like specific computer configurations should have been raised in a timely manner to orientate the project team.

I disagree. As someone who worked as a Change Manager for four long years, I’d lay the blame squarely on change management. Change management is responsible for controlling the lifecycle of all changes, and for ensuring changes are made with minimum disruption to IT services. When a company’s change management process is solidly grounded, situations like the one described should simply not occur.

8 proven ways to improve your change management process

  1. Ask for a detailed scope of work: The Change Requester should give details of how the work will be done, along with accounts, privileges, commands, scripts, screenshots, and expected results. All this should be documented in detail for evaluation by the Change Manager prior to being submitted to the Change Advisory Board (CAB).
  2.  

  3. Put technology experts on your CAB: The more competent your CAB is, the better able it will be to effectively analyze Requests for Change (RFC) and all related documentation.
  4.  

  5. Ask for test proofs: Before submitting the Request for Change, tests should be conducted in an environment similar to the existing production infrastructure with a successful documented outcome. This will guarantee that all steps of the scope of work have been proofed.
  6.  

  7. Manage human resources scheduling: Make sure the technical teams involved are not already overscheduled with other tasks or changes. The names of the working team members and consultants should be provided, along with their emails and phone numbers (plus an escalation list). Make sure each implementer individually approves the planned schedule. This is very important.
  8.  

  9. Collect the necessary approvals: Business and technical authorizations must happen prior to the CAB’s final approval. Invite business stakeholders (at the origin of the change) to the CAB meeting; you’ll be surprised by what discrepancies might be found between the expected delivery and the intended scope of work.
  10.  

  11. Regularly review minor changes: Since minor changes are pre-approved, regularly check with the requesters to see if they are still needed, and if there have been any specific modifications to the related scope of work.
  12.  

  13. Keep your IT Service Management tool up-to-date: If you have Change Management in your organization, you probably have an ITSM tool with the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). This has to be updated regularly based on the changes implemented (software versions, server IP addresses, associations between systems, DBs and applications, etc.). It’s hard to properly assess RFCs with an outdated CMDB.
  14.  

  15. Communicate: Always communicate the Forward Schedule of Change days or hours before the first planned change in the list. Send reminders every day if necessary. And keep the organization’s Service Desk in the loop at all times.

This proven approach will keep your IT infrastructure and customer satisfaction on the right track. And if you’re preparing your migration to our Hosted Exchange 2013, check out this article on how to put the end-user at the core of your change.

The post 8 Ways to Supercharge Your Change Management Process appeared first on SherWeb.

Nov 152014
 

The booths are now packed and suitcases are ready to go. Over a thousand peeps are flying home after another great edition of IT Nation with this year’s conference theme of reinvention still fresh in their minds.

But what does reinvention mean? And most importantly, how (and why) should a business reinvent itself? To answer these questions, we’re turning to Josh Linkner’s keynote from his Friday morning session. Linkner, a NY Times Bestselling author, is the founder and former CEO of ePrize whose presentation turned out to be the highlight of the show.

What’s Reinvention?

Compaq. Kodak. Blockbuster. Big names, big failures. Nobody would’ve thought that such successful corporations would someday fade away, or even cease to exist as a whole in some cases. According to Linkner, the reason these companies are no longer money-making players is the lack of will to reinvent themselves.

In a nutshell, reinvention is innovation. It is possible for small entrepreneurs to disrupt the market if they innovate. Take Dollar Shave Club, a razor company that decided to take on Gillette. How could one possibly disrupt the razor industry? With only four thousand dollar to rent a place, anda video that got 3 million views within a week, Dollar Shave Club founder was shaking up the market.

The 5 habits of innovators

  1. Don’t give up easily
    To win, you have to fail. Experimenting is the only way to go to achieve successful business. Let’s face it, no new trend was ever set by someone who is playing it safe. Innovators take risks and encourage their peers to do the same. New ideas need to be encouraged.
  2. Shed the past
    What has previously worked might not be working tomorrow. Going back to redesign what was successful before to improve it is an ability innovators have. Take a second look, your idea might not even be fully overrated just yet. Identifying flaws and correcting them before they actually become an issue is a way to reinvent your business.
  3. Defy tradition
    South African airline kulula labeled the sides of its aircrafts with labels like “kulula fans, the coolest peeps in the world” with arrows pointing down to the windows where passengers sit. The Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital window cleaners wear superheroes outfits to put smiles on the children’s faces.
  4. Any idea that outside the box has potential. Taking the extra step you wouldn’t dare to before might turn out to be what sets you apart from the competition and gives you the edge you needed.
  5. Be clever
    Be the MacGyver of business. Don’t whine about not having the resources, instead, figure out ways to get results. According to Linkner, greatness is achieved through adversity.
  6. Push boundaries
    Can you reinvent the wheel? A company built a wheel you can connect to your phone, instantly turning your bike into a hybrid bicycle. Who would’ve thought that it was possible to alter one of the oldest inventions?

    Think outside the box and generate new ideas. Test them to see how the market reacts to them. You might actually find success where you less expected it.

Reinventing the IT industry

The cloud opened up a wide new range of possibilities for innovation, like no other technology had in recent years. MSPs are now competing with a new force behind them: the public cloud.

The first step MSPs wishing to reinvent their business should do is to partner with a provider that offers them a solid infrastructure and efficient services. They should also make sure the provider they choose is also an innovator. MSPs should look no further than SherWeb for this. Our latest innovation? SherWeb Performance Cloud Servers: an infrastructure-as-a-service solution that offers the best value to the channel.

Resell a top of the line offering. It’s simple. All you have to do is sign up today to SherWeb’s Partner Network to access our Performance Cloud and other cloud services.

Innovation’s just a click away. What’s your excuse?

The post Reinventing Your Business – IT Nation’s Key Takeaway appeared first on SherWeb.

Nov 122014
 

They say you can’t judge someone until you’ve walked one mile in their shoes. That’s one thing Forte Computer Services has known for a long time, and the cornerstone of how it developed its business. Dealing with providers itself, FCS knows that although it takes good products, services, and solutions to draw customers in, it also takes flawless support and continuous follow-ups to retain them.

FCS became a SherWeb client a few years ago to fulfill its Hosted Exchange and Online Backup needs. It didn’t want to deal with just any provider and had specific requirements. Notably it wanted to do business with a provider that is willing to deal with all sizes of organizations, that answers questions within a strict time frame, and above all, that provides top-notch support. Shortly after becoming a satisfied SherWeb customer, FCS joined the Advisor Program and started referring its clients to also make a move to the cloud. Little did founder and owner Michael F. Forte know, that move now earns FCS recurring monthly commissions and attracts new customers. Forte’s business in the cloud is expanding faster than ever.

Tailored solutions and small IT budgets: Can clients have it all?

For FCS, a personal approach to meet each one of its clients’ specific needs is the only way to do business. It’s also how it managed to build a sharp reputation. The main challenge it faced is the same hundreds of businesses face all over America: it had to find a solution that can be tailored to fit each of its clients’ needs, without busting their tight IT budget.

Another important roadblock FCS stumbled upon was its clients’ fear of the cloud. Many were still storing their data in-house and their outdated servers were a disaster waiting to happen. With the numerous free online apps offering a quick fix to bigger problems, clients found themselves lost with a variety of tools that slowed down their productivity. Through its own experience, FCS knew how safe, reliable and cost-effective the cloud is. All it needed was its clients’ buy in.

Face to face interactions with clients are at the core of FCS’s personalized approach, therefore the consultant needs to be able to join support right away, even when he is on site at the clients’ facilities. Still, he needs to access support fast, and to find solutions quickly in order to keep customers happy.

Win-win results: Growing business and happy customers

Since joining SherWeb’s Advisor Program, Forte Computer Services is noticing on a day-to-day basis the benefits it brings to its business. Considering it doesn’t have to invest into infrastructure, the monthly margins are translated into pure profit. Also, FCS can rely on SherWeb’s expert 24/7 support, keeping its team focused on the personal touch that helped shape the company’s solid reputation.

For more insights on how joining the Advisor Program enhanced Forte Computer Services’ business in the cloud, read our case study:

Download

Want to grow profits while catering to your customer’s collaboration and productivity needs? Sign up to SherWeb’s Partner Network and start reselling our suite of communication and collaboration solutions.

The post From Happy Customer to Thriving Partner, One Move to Gain a Competitive Advantage appeared first on SherWeb.