The tech that should shape your business in 2022

technology trends

All the way back in January 2021, I wrote an article about what technology trends would shape your business in 2021. Looking back on those predictions, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that for many of our customers these technologies certainly did just that. If the pandemic continues to rear its ugly head some of what I said last year will still echo very true this year. You can read that article HERE.

However, the show must go on. For 2022 I am looking forward to what the new normal has become and how the technology we leverage every day can and must adapt to fit this need. Alongside this, I am exploring the tools, advancements and innovations that will change the way your business operates.

I always want to take these opportunities at the start of the year, to introduce or to develop your understanding of the technology trends we as a leading IT provider are seeing coming over the horizon. Ultimately these are what your business should and will be looking into and adopting to keep your business is safe, secure and able to compete in today’s busy market.

 

Cloud Services

Here we go again… Another year, another year of the cloud. I may have said this last year, and for that matter the last 2 years before that. Cloud Services, be that in the form of IaaS (Infrastructure as a service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) or SaaS (Software as a service), will change your business in 2022 regardless of if you want to let it.

The reason I say this is because we are no longer in an IT landscape where as a consumer you can choose how to run many of the platforms or software your business uses. Your ERP or MIS, most of these platforms are or have completely moved to SaaS or PaaS offering in 2022.

Take Sage for example, the development of this product as nearly completely killed-off on premise or as a standalone. The focus is on the delivery of the cloud hosted version. That may be with Sage directly or one of their key partners.

cloud technology trends

The bad news for IT managers who are cloud adverse or cloud sceptical?

Now is time to change your mind and move with the industry or risk getting left behind with systems and solutions that will only age and cause you greater issues down the road.

Continuing on the vain on SaaS, Microsoft continue to also drive services across to Microsoft 365 in favour of the cloud hosted, forever updated version of their tools vs the previous on premise products, I’m looking at your Endpoint Manager (Intune). This product is going from strength to strength. However it is doing so off the back of SCCM and ultimately galvanising the features from this well-established platform but developing them on Microsoft’s Cloud service. This leaves the on premise version to simply hook into the cloud and co-exist rather than get any substantial upgrades itself.

With businesses that implemented cloud services in 2020 and 2021, they saw an decrease in running costs of up to 50% and an increase in uptime and productivity up to 99.99%. This makes the cloud space one that from a CFO point of view cannot be ignored and from the position of the wider business can only make day to day IT services better.

If you take anything from this about Cloud service, let it be this; They are here to stay. They are the key focus for all software vendors and it’s a case of be onboard or be left behind.

 

A New World for Back-Up and DR

Building off of what I have said above about Cloud Services, the world of back-up and Disaster Recovery is also dramatically changing. This is twofold; you no longer have all your data sat locally on servers, storage and systems, which a local back up can collect and protect. Also, the fact that now, if your data is in a public cloud provider with a 99.99999% uptime guarantee, are you really going to move this data from them to a private datacentre or back to on-premise?

This change is making many businesses have to rip up their back up and DR strategies. For many IT Managers, Business Owners and Businesses, this is causing some hard conversations.

My take on the situation is simple.. Look at what you have now and where your business will be at the end of 2022. If your data is mostly moving to PaaS and SaaS solutions then you need to ensure that as data is moved that each of these providers or systems has a solid separate back up in place. Now for a platform like Microsoft Azure this does not need to be off platform but it needs to be in a different location. So with Azure we would look at Geo Redundancy or even multi-Geo Redundancy leveraging the technologies and services of Microsoft to back up your data to their other datacentres across the globe. If the system is 3rd party hosted like Sage, which I mentioned above, then you need a tool and a location which is away from this provider to store your data. For this I would always recommend looking at AWS, GCP or Microsoft Azure as the level of protection and guarantees you get from these providers is 10 fold that of a private or local storage solution.

If we look at wider IaaS and Infrastructure backup solutions and DR these also need to change. The first thing I will say on this is that tape back up’s are going the way of the dinosaur. (To be honest they should have gone a few years ago). While the logic of having a removable magnetic tape sounds like the right decision for all businesses. In the past few years we have seen that these devices don’t hold up in a DR situation and if they do, they are often too slow to react.

The best solution a business in 2022 can implement is to have an immutable back up in place. This is based on technology and tools that allow for near instant recovery. As we have seen time and time again businesses cannot support multi-hour or day outages in a disaster. Traditional back up technologies and techniques are beginning to leave business’s vulnerable to large periods of downtime in a true disaster situation.

If you are thinking about how your business should be protected in 2022, why not reach out to the team and we can talk you through in detail the cloud era back up approach to support your business.

human firewall

The Human Firewall

I said it last year and I will say it every year until I go blue in the face! We need to invest as much time into training our staff to ensure they can be safe and secure when using the systems and solutions that as a business we expect them to use. That is why in 2022 The Human Firewall continues to be one of the key areas of development we believe all business should be investing heavily into.

By this we mean training your staff to know what is safe and is not safe in the digital world and how to prevent risks to the business.

Now with this there has never been a one size fits all approach. There is however a logical approach which will prevent your business being open to risks that exist on your doorstep. We can teach our staff in 2022 to stop, deal with and report these problems. By doing this, then we increase the ability of a business to be robust and secure and remove the guesswork from the technology we need to ensure a business is safe. This coupled with MFA massively reduces the risk of account credentials being compromised.

For me as we enter 2022, the Year of the Human Firewall (2021) continues and I am now campaigning for the decade of the Human Firewall! So please go and train your staff and protect your business!

 

Silicone…. Oh Silicone

For some reason I have left the doom and gloom to last, but it has to be said that what ultimately will shape many businesses in 2022 is the continuing silicone and chip shortages. We are now 2 years into this problem and it is not getting better. We have all felt it. Consumer devices like the PS5 and Xbox Series X which where like gold dust for another Christmas. Servers and Laptops which are still being delayed by months at a time. We will all continue to feel the pain while the chip making industry rushes to fix the supply and demand issue.

As a cautionary tale for 2022, if your organisation is looking at a large refresh or even a big project this year which is time critical, think and act early when it comes to device purchasing.

We have seen wireless access points being delayed by 365 days from certain vendors in 2021. If your new office space or move is critical then this could cause you serious issues. Alongside this you have to think that every business will be in the same boat in 2022 so don’t be the one who gets caught out by lead times. I would also say don’t hold your breath for a new car any time soon as it seems the motor industry, with its love hate relationship with technology providers, has finally realised it’s not good to be at the bottom of the queue!

 

To stay ahead of the trend…

In conclusion 2022, like 2021 and 2020 before it is going to be a very different year to the 10’s that proceeded it. Cyber criminals and the threat landscape changing everyday, new vulnerabilities and risks appearing on a daily basis, for systems which are integrated in all of our lives and with potentially dramatic effect. However as business owners, technical professionals or employees we need to switch our approach and ensure we are using these changes to make our business ready for this continually changing landscape as we move forward. Think forward, think ahead and don’t get caught out by 2022 as I believe it will be a huge year for IT change.

 

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you in 2022 then please call 01235 433900 or you can email enquires@planet-it.net or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via LinkedIn or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

2021 – The Big Technology Winners & Losers

2021 Best and Worst Technology

Just over a year ago, I sat down to write a technology review of 2020. We had just seen the single biggest transformation that had happened to global businesses in the last 20 years!

The digital acceleration forced upon businesses as COVID-19 hit and government lockdowns continued changed the way that businesses needed to operate. Those who had failed to invest in their IT systems very quickly came unstuck. Businesses looked at their IT teams and demanded their systems be brought up to date.

(If you missed it, you can still read last year’s article HERE)

Entering 2021, I knew it was going to be the year of the cloud, and it very much has proven to be. The global silicone shortages impacting chip production alone assured this. For many business the only choice has to been to go to public cloud and leave the traditional on-premise infrastructure behind. Because of this, and what has turned into a challenging year for different, but somewhat the same reasons as 2020, here is my list of the 2021 winners and losers…

Winners

 

Public Cloud

Both Microsoft and Amazon have this year continued to gather businesses in their ever growing datacenters. This proves that business are finally coming around to the fact that some things can be done better if you let the industry giants do it. I have long believed the future was public cloud. 2020 proved this point with 2021 then accelerating this at a rate that was far beyond anything we thought possible. Business who were steadfast against the cloud removed barriers to get into Microsoft, Amazons and Google’s systems.

Public cloud will in my option continue to be one of the biggest drivers in 2022, with many businesses having an approach of either on-premise with hybrid cloud or full public cloud in 2022. The focus on compliance and data security by the big three continues to make private cloud a challenge to uptake for many businesses as they struggle to complete with the tools and level of protection that Amazon, Microsoft and Google can invest in. Just remember, when moving to Public Cloud that it is a shared responsibility model!!!

Public Cloud

 

Intel

What a difference a year can make! 12 months ago Intel was a shell of its former glory and was looking like a Marvel hero at the end of Infinity War (*Spoolers the hero’s don’t do well in that movie).

With the desktop processor being stuck on an architecture which AMD and Apple had long since surpassed limited to core counts and feeling like it could be a tough 2021 for big blue. Well this all changed with the return of a titan in Pat Gelsinger, after his stint with VMware. Pat returned to put Intel back on the path that he had started them on some 8 years before and successfully accelerated the new chip design out the door.

Dubbed “Alder Lake” the new Intel desktop processor line-up moves away from the traditional design to mirror that of Apple with E and P Cores (Efficiency and Performance). The focus being that E cores can use less power and thus make your laptop battery run for longer. The P cores can be activated to drive the system forward when it needs to complete some heavy compute tasks. These processors were released under the 12-Generation banner and have received praise from across the technology landscape. Windows 11 has specifically taking advantage of the core design and then have shown an experience well above that of the AMD processor with their all power core design.

This has been a good year for Intel and with Pat back in charge, I think we are likely to see them continue to battle Team Red for years to come.

 

Microsoft Windows 11

Windows 10 will be the last operating system you ever need, said Microsoft in 2015.

Well, 6 years later we are all upgrading to Windows 11, a very well thought-out and great overhaul of the Windows operating system. We now have some of the best features of MacOS and Linux with the trusted platform of Windows 10 providing its core.

I am a massive advocate of Windows 11, even if the naming convention is getting a little stupid (but then they could have called it Windows 21 then we all would have been in a much worse place).

In my review of Windows 11 I warned that early upgrades for business can be risky and that Windows 11 offers some challenges. Well I am glad to say, 3 months on my daily driver still remains on Windows 11 and my home device has even been given the upgrade with no real issues to speak off.

I think Microsoft have placed Windows 11 in a great position to be the operating system for businesses and home users in 2022. Hopefully by the later part of 2022 most devices will have moved from Windows 10 and we will finally see the death of Windows 7 (well, a man can dream right?)

windows 11 launch

Losers

 

Private Datacenters

On the exact reverse of the rise of public cloud we continue to see the need for private data center hosting reduce.

Many businesses are asking the question; “what can you do better that AWS, GCP or Azure?”. In the past, this difference was a clear winning feature for private cloud, however as time moves on the realisation that what are ultimately smaller players in the hosting market aren’t able to compete with the uptime, security, financial protection and costs that public cloud offers.

While I still strongly believe there are use cases for private cloud, I think the salesman’s arguments of it being “safer” than the public cloud have all been proven to be subjective and businesses should ultimately choose the best solution for them.

Apple

Second year in a row for Apple in this category, and no it’s not Apple Hate!

Apple have been hit pretty hard this year by two factors: the chip shortages and then a lack of interest in the products in a year where many people upgraded midterm.

2020 has seen Apple’s shares drop quite heavily against the backdrop of a lack of device production and thus device sales. Hopefully for Apple this gives them a kick to invent something new or dramatically different in 2022. As the company that coined the phrase “Think Different” it’s about time they did exactly that.

Apple macbook

Onsite Infrastructure

The downturn of on premise infrastructure continued in 2021 with devices being hard to source due to the chip shortage. Add this to the move to the cloud and we can easily see the onsite infrastructure requirement drop down to a new low. However, we expect this to come back with a vengeance in 2022 as kit becomes available and business adjust to a hybrid approach.

Unfortunately for on premise infrastructure this is being held back considerably by the global supply issues and less so by peoples want for the technology.

 

There has been many more winners this year, with business firing on all cylinders in 2021. However, we have also seen that this year some of the losers have taken a much bigger hit than expected.

I think the major take away for 2022 is that the IT landscape was changed by 2020 in a major way. The needs and wants of business have adjusted and now, as IT professionals, we need to fit around the needs of 2022 and onwards and stop looking to legacy for the solutions.

Whatever 2022 brings I am excited to be at the forefront of matching our customers to the latest and greatest technical solutions.

Virtual Roundtable Recap: Facing and Overcoming IT Challenges In Education

Education IT Event

This week, our panel of special guests came together for an educational virtual round table event. Our panellists discussed the challenges they have faced in their education provider and how as IT professionals, they overcame these challenges.

We also opened the floor up to our selected guests so that the panel could try to help them with their challenges.

Our panel included:

David Higgs, Security and Service Experience Centre Lead at Imperial College London

Mike Pearce, ICT Network Manager at St. Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Academy Trust

Graham Rivers, ICT Network Manager Moulsford Prep School

James Dell, Head of Technical Architecture and Education specialist at Planet IT

 

Discussion Points included:

  • The challenges encountered when delivering IT solutions to their organisation
  • How our guests overcame these challenges and turned them into successes
  • New trends & technologies critical for educational IT in the next 12 months
  • The ever increasing threat of cyber attack
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
  • Hiring and building a team on a budget

 

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

Remember, if you you have any questions or challenges that you dafe in your Education IT career, then please reach out to James Dell and he would be more than happy to talk you through the solutions he found to any similar obstacles. Call 01235 433900 or email james.dell@planet-it.net

 

Backup Webinar Recap: The Uncomfortable Truths

Backup webinar recap

This week, we hosted a Live Webinar based all around the Uncomfortable Truths about your Backups.

Our resident Backup guru, Michael Davey was joined by Arcserve expert, Steve Butterfield and between them they covered

✅ Microsoft 365 data protection

✅ Immutable storage & Ransomware Protection

✅ How are you storing your data & the 3-2-1 rule

✅ Scaling your infrastructure with Backup & DR

✅ How to combat storage creep

 

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

Your Questions, Answered.

We received lots of questions throughout the webinar. Unfortunately we weren’t able to answer them all during the live session so we have compiled them all and asked Michael and Steve to answer them again.

Remember, if you you would like to find out more about backup in general or speak about your own backups specifically, get in reach out to your Planet IT account manager, call 01235 433900 or email enquiries@planet-it.net

 

Would cycled tapes not be immutable being out of the drive most of the time?

Tape and especially WORM tape were the original air-gapped / immutable storage

While out of the drive then tapes are largely immutable outside of extremes involving strong magnets, But you do have to put them in the libraries to use them which brings two issues,

1. They are available to be overwritten while in the library.

2. They require manual intervention to remove/replace.

However, definitely a big improvement over no airgap.

 

What is the licensing model? Is it based upon per user for 365 and per source TB for onsite storage?

Universal licensing which runs on your own hardware or VM covers all data sources including O365 and so is

licensed per TB of protected data, no limits on retention and can be any mix of Physical machines, Virtual machines and O365

Per user licensing is also available and may be of interest if you are adding it to existing Arcserve licensing.

Per user or per TB licensing is available from our cloud (SAS Offering )subject to a max of 100 users per TB for capacity based licensing )

 

The reason people do Full backups is because incremental backups all depend on the previous ones , isn’t that a disaster waiting to happen with incremental forever ?

Our Incrementals act and restore like Full backups, they do not depend on any other incremental backup therefore one “Broken” incremental affects neither the incremental before or after it.

 

What is the most common security breach you see that can also impact backups?

I think Michael answered this but a stat for you from Sophos “The state of Ransomware 2021”

37% of the 5400 respondents surveyed were hit by Ransomware in the last year

Ransomware is still the major threat

 

 

A pretty bold statement was made “Completely Ransomware Safe” Can you back this claim with something factual?

Like Unsinkable ships, Completely ransomware safe is conditional on the type of attack i.e. Nothing is completely safe if Physical access is allowed for instance , however we believe that our Ransomware capability is the strongest and most complete in the industry and we are the only backup vendor to offer a Money Back Guarantee.

For 0365 backup only do we need an onsite appliance?

You have choice, You can purchase Arcserve UDP and have it protect O365 in the following ways

  1. An Appliance running on Prem or in hosted Colo
  2. Software running on your own hardware, VM or in your own public or private cloud instance
  3. Software as a service running from our Cloud based from our Datacentre in Manchester or AWS in London ( Other Geo’s are available )

While On-Prem may seem an odd choice to some for a cloud based service, do remember the 3-2-1 rule and the fact that even in the event of an Internet or Azure outage you could still access your data locally. The main thing is it is held elsewhere so we would always caution against any service backing up O365 which is hosted in Azure

 

 

Microsoft Teams Webinar Recap: A record attendance & your questions answered

Microsoft Teams Demo

This week, we hosted a Live Demo Webinar based all around using Microsoft Teams as a Unified Communications Platform to replace your existing phone system. We have never had more interest in the build-up for one of our webinars, and the actual event did not disappoint!

We had well over 100 businesses join, many with multiple people to see the power of Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams.

Our experts, Farah Nazir-Chapman and James Dell demonstrated the platform to show just how powerful this tool it. Not only can it completely replace your existing phone system, but they also showed how it can save your business money too.

Did you miss it? Or would you like to watch it again? Well, the good news is that we recorded it and you can check it out here:

Your Questions, Answered.

A sign of a good webinar is the quality of the questions asked at the end. We had 65 questions before we had to call time, otherwise we would have been there all day! What’s more, sometimes on these webinars, you see a drop off towards the end. 98% of the attendees stayed until the last question was answered.

Did you miss some of the answers? Good news. We have compiled them all, merged a couple and got James & Farah to answer them again.

Remember, if you you would like to find out more about Microsoft Teams, or if your questions are not answered below, please visit our Direct Routing For Teams webpage. You can also reach out to your Planet IT account manager, call 01235 433900 or email enquiries@planet-it.net

 

If I get a call to my mobile from someone dialling my company number rather than my mobile direct is there a way of ID’ing this?

If I get a call to my mobile from someone dialling my company number rather than my mobile direct is there a way of ID’ing this?

 

We have a switchboard where we have on the 1st level with 9 option then on some of them we have another menu can the team PBX do this?

Yes, it can do two levels of an IVR/ Automated attendant

 

Voicemail – can you receive the voicemail on an email?  (So you can forward it to somebody else)

Yes, voicemails come in via the Teams app and you can set them to also be delivered to Email in the form of a WAV attachment. Which can be forwarded on.

 

Can you set up hunt groups on teams and can you setup timer so if one department don’t answer within 1 min it will auto call the next group

Yes, You can configure the call queues to fail over to another queue should the one they enter not be able to take the call.

 

Hello – thank you for this very helpful introduction! Do you have guidance available on a document? Looking for something that could be made available to our employees about all the features available. Thanks.

We do have documentation we can share, if you reach out to your Planet IT account manager, they will be able to assist you with getting access to our documentation.

 

Can we configure automatic message for Unknown or Hidden number to say we’re not answering call from them?

Yes we can route the call to a message.

 

Hi, is there feature parity between Teams on Windows and macOS? We are exclusively macOS, are there any caveats to note?

Between the desktop versions of Teams there is now very little in the way of feature difference, with most updates hitting both MacOS and Windows on the same day or same week. The major differences are between Windows and iOS and Android, however this game is also reducing.

 

Does the caller get notified that the call will be transcribed? Do you foresee any privacy issues with this feature?

The caller does not get notified when the call is being transcribed, however there is no legal obligation to do so as it does not fall under call recording as its purely a record of the call and not a live recording. If you wish to record a call a user would be notified.

 

I’m mainly interested in how this would integrate with our current DDI’s etc. is this something you are going to cover?

Planet IT work “port” your existing DDI numbers onto the direct routing for Teams platform.

 

Are Teams physical handsets available?

Yes you can get a range of physical devices that are Microsoft certified for Teams and your account manager can share additional information on these and which versions would suit your needs including the Teams Rooms equipment.

voip and microsoft experts

 

CLI – what options are there for the numbers I can present?  (Rarely in a call centre environment do you want to present the ddi of the agent.)

We activate SIP CLI flexibility, so during the set up we liaise with you and ask which telephone numbers you would like to be presented, this can be either the “bearer” (main number) or a DDI

 

Are you able to choose the data residency for data such as the transcribed calls (to be in the EU)?

Yes as with Microsoft 365 data residency is chosen at a tenant level as is set for the whole of your Microsoft 365 estate, adding Teams voice does not change this.

 

Can existing DDIs be moved over to the Teams phone system?

Yes, your existing numbers can be ported onto the direct routing for reams platform. This does depend on your contractual status and porting agreements being in place.

 

Can you transfer calls to people who exist in a different 365 tenant?  Plus, can you block premium rate, international and other expensive services?  Thank you.

Calls can be transferred out to any number however Teams to Teams tenant calls require both sides to have a valued voice licence.

 

Can the system cover hunt groups and overflow groups?

Yes, you can have hunt groups and these can overflow to additional groups or voicemails

 

Can you record calls?

Calls can be recorded via our call recording partner.

 

Hi all, are you recording the webinar?

Yes, you can view the recording HERE

 

Numbers – Are there any restrictions to numbers you can port into the teams PBX?  How many countries are there local numbers available in?

We can port in international numbers and we have the ability to offer new international DDI numbers. Due to the different porting process and some country restrictions please contact us to discuss this further to ensure that the porting agreements and number availability can be provided for the specific locations required.

 

Are there other additional costs? Call recording?  Office 365 add ons?

Call recording is sold as a separate system, we can provide you quotations for these systems based on your specific needs. In terms of the Microsoft 365 licences their is a single add on which can be added to any Business , E or F Plan.

 

Is the voice license on your system effectively a bolt-on to Microsoft 365 E3?

The system is an add on licence to Microsoft 365 subscription, there are several options for the bolt on depending on your use case and business type.

 

Are there any additional paid options for multi-tiered IVR

There are options available, please contact us to discuss this requirement further.

 

What if our organisation has the full MS 365 integration? Would we still be able to use Planet IT for this phone integration?

Planet IT’s Microsoft DRFT can be added to any existing Office 365 subscription

 

Are offices in different countries all covered under the same system and can we have different phone numbers for each different office location?

Yes

 

What is the teams mobile app version experience like?

The Mobile application of Teams has near feature parity with the desktop version and allows you to make a receive calls seamlessly while on the move.

Microsoft Teams Dial Screen

 

Mobile app – is there a separate Teams PBX app or is it built into the normal app?

The application used on the Mobile side of Teams is the same all that happens is the dial pad is added to the call screen.

 

Another way of asking that is what is required for your system by way of additional Microsoft licensing if we have MS 365 E3 licenses already?

If you already have a E/Business of F licence you need to add the Microsoft Voice licence, which is provided as part of the service this is then backed off by Gamma for the SBC and voice access

 

If I get a call to my mobile from someone dialling my company number rather than my mobile direct is there a way of ID’ing this?

The incoming call will be received via the Teams app and therefore will present as a “teams” call rather than a normal mobile call.

 

Can we configure automatic message for Unknown or Hidden number to say we’re not answering call from them?

Yes we can route the call to a message.

 

Does the caller get notified that the call will be transcribed? Do you foresee any privacy issues with this feature?

The caller does not get notified when the call is being transcribed, however there is no legal obligation to do so as it does not fall under call recording as its purely a record of the call and not a live recording. If you wish to record a call a user would be notified .

 

Are Microsoft Teams physical handsets available?

Yes you can get a range of physical devices that are Microsoft certified for Teams and your account manager can share additional information on these and which versions would suit your needs including the Teams Rooms equipment.

 

Are there published rates for international calls to landlines and mobiles?

A SIP international tariff is available, please contact your account manager.

 

Is it possible to pick up a call from a team members phone? When they are away from their desk?

Yes this is possible via either a quick pick up command or via delegation.

 

How do hardware desk phones integrate?

Microsoft Teams requires a Teams certified handset , we can provide you information of the ones currently on the market. Reach out to your Planet IT account manager for more information.

 

Can existing DDIs be moved over to the Teams phone system?

Yes, your existing numbers can be ported onto the direct routing for Teams platform. This does depend on your contractual status and porting agreements being in place. We require a customer letter of authority (CLoA)

 

Can you describe the process for arranging current numbers and DDI’s that are in use to be ported to Teams please?

Depending on your incumbent provider, we request that you complete a CLoA (customer letter of authority) and providing that a porting agreement is in place we simply port the numbers onto the direct routing endpoint.

 

Numbers – Are there any restrictions to numbers you can port into the teams PBX?  How many countries are there local numbers available in?

This is subject to the range required and the countries requested. Please contact your account manager to allow us to investigate this for you.

 

Are there other additional costs? Call recording?  Office 365 add-ons?

Please contact your account manager regarding call recording costs as this is costed based on the number of users required and whether you require just audio recordings or to capture screen sharing/meetings and chat

 

Are offices in different countries all covered under the same system and can we have different phone numbers for each different office location?

This is achievable, you can have one platform for all users and select different geographic telephone numbers.

 

Are there published rates for international calls to landlines and mobiles?

Yes, please contact your account manager for a SIP international rate card

 

Is it possible to pick up a call from a team members phone? When they are away from their desk?

Yes this is possible via either a quick pick up command or via delegation.

 

Is there a minimum requirement of broadband speed, as some users that live in rural or poor broadband areas might be affected?

2.5Mbps is the recommended minimum connection speed for a user on Microsoft Teams.

 

Can Teams be plugged into CRM systems for caller display?

Yes There are many API based integrations with CRM systems.

 

Is there an option for a reception console, like Mitel 5500, to have a real person filter/direct calls?

You can have an operator type handset if required, alternatively the receptionist can configure speed dials based on the users/ departments for ease of use and transferring

 

Be Internet Safety Awesome … Start Them Young!

Internet Awesome

I, like many others, am currently home schooling. I have two gorgeous boys, but my god it’s tough working, especially with it just being the three of us…

In the muddled, jumbled up world of working and schooling, security (funnily enough) is still high up on my list. And something I thought I would share, to not only keep the small ones entertained, but also secure is a fantastic online tool that yours will love!

Interland is a game from Be Internet Awesome and Google. It helps make the most of the Internet, where kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. It teaches the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence.

Check it out HERE

Internet SafetyI mean, it’s an awesome training game by Google, hats off. And Eddie, the one with the Nerf gun in the pic, loved doing it. So, now, pride of place on the fridge sits this certificate. You can’t start them too young!

With the many different balls I need to juggle to try and keep ahead of the curve in security, ensuring the end user is tested and trained on their cyber security knowledge is key.

Something that is a little more for the grown-ups is the KnowBe4 training platform. The market leader in cybersecurity training. It has millions of training videos, tests, articles and advice… the list could go on.

And then there are the phishing campaigns….. All in one central portal, and easy enough to set-up yourself, or if you prefer some more guidance and assurance, we can do it for you.

Training is key to any company, please speak to me if you have any requirements – kelly.ilbery@planet-it.net

Digital Acceleration for businesses. Why 2020 was just the start

Digital Acceleration

We all saw the scenes in March 2020 as lockdown across the U.K and most of Europe was announced. At a moment’s notice, businesses across the globe scrabbled to build vital communication and digital strategies that could support their business operations.

This for many included the mass roll out of new digital devices, communication tools, work place and data management tools and virtual telephony. At the time many businesses made these changes as a knee jerk reaction, simply to combat the “in the moment” problem. However, this dynamic shift in our approach to working, the working environment and our forms of communication has enabled leaders in business to accelerate IT strategies in a way they never would have been able to if 2020 had been “a normal year”. For many CIO, CTO’s and Technical Directors 2020 marked the beginning of a new chapter and the start of a very different IT landscape moving forward. 2021 is already beginning very much where last year left off we are seeing this continued trend of digital acceleration across the business landscape.

digital transformation Breaking through the red tape

Some businesses when asked about the effect of 2020 on their digital strategies have said they jumped through two years of red tape, internal approvals and cost benefit analysis in two days. This shows the systemic shift we saw almost overnight. This change has seen many business jump from traditional technologies (desktops / servers and onsite telephone systems) to cutting edge technologies emerging across the IT landscape with the likes of Public Cloud, Mix Media Devices and cloud telephony with unified communication.

This trend can easily be reflected in the numbers published by Microsoft in relation to the usage of their communication platform Microsoft Teams which jumped from 900 Million meetings held on the system per day in March 16th 2020 to 2.7 Billion per day by the end of March. That number is yet to drop and if anything will continue to rise as the pandemic runs in course and staff continue to be offered the flexibility of work space.

The Importance Of Being Ready

digital acceleration It is worth mentioning at this point for the business which unfortunately saw their trade days come to an end in 2020. Many had failed to adapt, grow and change before 2020 and where therefore unable to adapt in a way that enabled them to be flexible around the pandemic. For these business, the lack of development of IT systems lead to a perfect storm of spending requirements, insufficient time and a lack of business commitment to IT and digital development.

The importance all business must learn from the events of 2020 is that digital transformation in the modern age is imperative. A business without IT cannot function and the drive of CIO, CTO and Technical Directors has and will always remain in the development, expansion and overall success of a business. They above all others know how critical those systems are.

Unfortunately for many businesses, IT is often considered to be a “cost with little reward” which from last year we can see is ultimately the wrong way to approach the topic. IT is a business enabler and when used as such it can allow all business to overcome situations and circumstances which is never would otherwise be able to.

The right focus

As we move in 2021 with earnest, I am working with all of our customers to enable this continued business growth with the aim of removing the stigma around IT spending. The focus is on the benefits vs the cost rather than the costs vs doing nothing as was so clearly the case for many business in the years leading up to 2020.

If any business wants to strive and succeed in 2021 then the goal must be to continue the path of digital acceleration and put IT as a business focus for all. Remember, don’t just look at the short-term pains. It’s all about how we develop and implement strategies that protect businesses for many years to come.

If you want to discuss your business IT strategy or how Planet IT can help you to accelerate your growth using IT then please call 01235 433900 or you can reach out to me via DM or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

 

Technology that SHOULD shape your business in 2021

Tech business trends

While the world continues to turn day to day life upside down and “normal” is more of a relative word than ever before, I wanted to take this opportunity at the start of the year to look at the technology trends your business should be looking into and adopting in order to ensure that whatever the global or national situation, your business is safe secure and up to date.

Cloud Services

If 2020 didn’t already do this for your business you should be looking at moving services to the cloud, now this is bigger than just moving your email to Office 365 or G Suite. When we talk about cloud services in 2021 this is about moving as much of the infrastructure, it’s management and the associated risks away from your physical business location.

If we take a traditional office where you have your servers, storage, back-ups and user data onsite close to where your users where working, in 2021 this approach is illogical with staff working from home and in the office suddenly you have a single point of failure in your office environment as well as needing the equipment maintained , monitored and managed in a location which may be shut due to local restrictions.

With the move to Cloud services the aim is to push as many of these services to diverse, secure and robust providers which removes the inherent risks and reduces any downtime you might face. If done in the right way you can do this with the same level of latency that you would get in your office environment but accessible quickly for your users working from home.

With businesses that implemented cloud services in 2020, they saw an decrease in running costs of up to 50% and an increase in uptime and productivity up to 99.99% which is beyond what any onsite system can deliver and this is due to the scale and depth of the product line of some of the cloud services on the market.

work from home

The Human Firewall

The trends we saw in 2020 made it very clear that we need to invest as much time into training our staff to be safe and secure as we do into finding the right technology to support them. That is why in 2021 one of the key areas of development we believe all business should be looking at is the human firewall. By this we mean training your staff to know what is safe and is not safe in the digital world and how to prevent risks to the business.

We saw the effect that phishing can have on business with an increase of 667% in March last year when COVID first became a major issue for the U.K. and scammers took in their waves to try and use peoples vulnerabilities against the businesses they work for. These attacks continue today following trends of presenting vaccination options and emails about furlough schemes all designed to capture business information and defraud businesses.

Now with this there is no one size fits all approach but there is a logical approach which will prevent your business being open to risks that exist on your doorstep. If we can teach our staff in 2021 to stop, deal with and report these problems then we increase the ability of a business to be robust and secure and remove the guess work from the technology we need to ensure a business is safe, for me 2021 is the year of the Human Firewall.

human firewall

Zero Trust Networking

As we move to a more dynamic way of working, both now and post COVID, we need to think about how the new fleet of devices we operate as businesses are managed, controlled and protected. The physical borders of your office space are no longer 4 brick walls but unlimited by the connectivity we have in place. Because of this we need to look at how we secure and control our devices, users and data across such a wide spectrum of use cases.

Now this can start with the simple steps of Mobile Device Management, Cloud based anti-virus technology but very quickly we need to be thinking about virtual connections to datacentres, home broadband and wireless security and cloud access control.

This is why in 2021 I believe all businesses need to review their approach and look to embed a zero-trust approach into all aspects, and while some people will see this approach as intrusive and over the top, it has been proven time and time again to not be. You only have to look at the speed in which a home wireless network can be broken into to realise that you are not safe trusting peoples home set ups.

In conclusion 2021, like 2020, is going to be a very different year, with the cyber criminals and the threat landscape changing everyday. However as business owners, technical professionals or employees we need to switch our approach and ensure we are using these changes to make our business ready for this continually changing landscape as we move forward.

 

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you in 2021 then please call 01235 433900 or you can email enquires@planet-it.net or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at james.dell@planet-it.net.

Can I get rid of my phone system and just use Microsoft Teams? Of Course!

Can I use Microsoft Teams as my phone system

Struggling with your phone system while your team works from home? Still using a system that struggles with the modern way of communicating, transferring calls and staying connected? Then Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams might just be the solution you are crying out for!

Could it be the right solution… ask yourself these short questions…

👉 Do you already have Microsoft Teams? If you use Microsoft 365, you will.

👉 Are you looking for a straightforward voice solution? The fact that you’re already this far down the article means you probably are!

👉 Do you have a basic requirement to make calls? Receive calls? Transfer calls? … yes to all, right?

👉 Are you still using traditional digital lines? (ISDN?). Are you aware this is being phased out completely over the next couple of years?

👉 Do you require flexibility to add users quickly and effectively?

If you have answered yes to the above, then Direct Routing for Teams is the ideal solution! To help you get a better feel for what this can do for your business, I’ve put together a FAQ to explain.

 

What does Microsoft Teams provide when Voice enabled?

When Planet IT add SIP (IP/internet) trunks to Microsoft Teams, it simply gives users the ability to make and receive calls via the Teams platform.

Your staff will be able to transfer calls, forward calls to voice mail and implement a basic automated attendant, all through Teams. Essentially, it’s a straightforward, cost effective telephony solution for businesses of all sizes, who need to have the flexibility to change the way they communicate and work more collaboratively!

microsoft teams

Will calls be expensive?

In a word, no! Depending on the bundle and the contract term selected, you can reduce your costs overall, as your calls are routed via the internet! So, you get resilience and the call savings!

What about users who require handsets?

All you require is a USB or Bluetooth headset, however, if you have users who prefer a traditional handset on the desk, Planet IT can supply a wide range of Teams enabled handsets for you to choose from.

What about mobile phones? We use them a lot.

It can still be used on mobile, of course! all you need is the Teams App, easy!

It does sound easy, what’s the catch?

No catch. all that changes for you to move to Direct Routing for Teams, is that Planet IT need to move your numbers into the cloud. Just check your contractual status on your existing numbers and we do the rest of the work for you.

Microsoft Teams Training

What about training?

Although Teams is intuitive, if users require training, we can perform this via…. Yes, you guessed it, via Microsoft Teams, or we have a range of easy-to-follow video tutorials for you and your staff to access anytime.

Will there be down time?

It will be minimal. When you move onto any new solution there will be some service disruption, however our experienced Voice & Connectivity team will keep this to a minimum and transition you, hand holding you every step of the way.

Sounds ideal! What do I need to do?

Call our Voice and Connectivity team on 01235 433 900 or speak to your Planet IT Account Manager to discuss this further!

If you want to know more about Planet IT’s voice & connectivity service, READ MORE HERE, or if you want to see the power of Microsoft Teams, check out our tutorial videos HERE

Working From Home – Done Right

working from home done right

As we enter a second lockdown across England and the other parts of the U.K. go through their own local restrictions. It has never been more important to have the right working set up in your home office. Long gone is the “it’s only short term” justification. Working from home is here for the long term and with this latest wave of guidelines we look at what equipment you need to make home working successful.

A Decent Sized Monitor

Working on a laptop screen is fine for a few hours, now and again however if you are working for 8 hours a day for the next 4 weeks and possibly beyond on a 13 to 15″ screen you are going to be straining your eyes, potentially hurting your neck as you try to get into the right position to see the screen. The first stage of getting a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) safe working space is having a good size monitor, I find that a screen between 23″ to 27″ is ideal for working day to day, with bigger screens great if you have the space to accommodate it. Try to position your screen at eye level to you’re not looking up or down at it which will strain your next and upper back.

External Keyboard and Mouse

Laptops are an ergonomics nightmare where your hands are stretching over a trackpad onto a smaller keyboard. To reduce the strain on your hands the best option is to get an external keyboard, one that is either Bluetooth or uses a multi adapter like the range from Logitech which allows keyboards and Mice and other accessories to only need a single USB adapter. The keyboard and mouse you get should suit your working needs, if that’s a large marble mouse, an ergonomic mouse or a split keyboard it should reduce the effort you have to go through to use your device all day everyday.

Home working

A Wireless Headset

We are all so use to Microsoft Teams and Zoom now, however the number of calls I join where people are rocking the iPhone headset or even worse a wired set of cheap headphones they got for the gym, the sound is awful and it makes the disconnect of video conferencing worse. What I recommend from personnel experience is you look to get a decent wireless headset designed for video conferencing it will not only make your life easier, to prevents you leaning into the screen because the headphone lead is to short. These devices don’t have to be expensive but nearly all come with active noise cancelling in both the microphone and headphones, which will elevate your conferencing experience.

A good webcam

To pair with your headset an external web camera is always better that the small sensor on the laptops built in camera (if you have one), this allows you to position it above your monitor so that everyone is looking at your face and not up your nose. I have noticed a massive difference between using my web cam vs using my laptops built in device, I feel more relaxed on calls and it allows my posture to remain good throughout.

A Dock

So we are talking about plugging in a monitor, keyboard, headset and doing this in a easy way, well the easiest way to achieve this is by placing all your connections into an easy to attach dock. There are many of these devices from click and lock devices, to USB C and generic 3rd Party port replicators. Find a device that works with your laptop and has the inputs you need to support your monitor and other accessories, this will make it much easier to connect your device should you need to move it that much quicker.

Home working setup

A decent chair

Regardless of if you are working from the dinning room table or a dedicated desk, a key part of setting up a home working environment is the chair, get something that is supportive , adjustable and comfortable. Don’t use your dinning room chair or a breakfast bar stool. These are bad for your posture and could end up making your 8 hours feel like 80.

 

We are in unprecedented times and you may never have considered home working before this year, however the team at Planet IT are here to help. Get in contact today via contact details below if you need advice and guidance on how to make your home working the best it can be;

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

Talk to the rest of the team – Call 01235 433900 or Email : enquires@planet-it.net

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