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If you are a small to medium sized business that has frequent e-mail problems including servers going down, slow performance, too many spam e-mails and high IT support and software costs, read on.

Hosted Exchange is often a much cheaper and easier way of getting rid of all these issues at a much lower cost to your company. Here’s how it works: Instead of you purchasing and maintaining your e-mail in house which can be costly and time consuming, your Exchange server is hosted (and maintained) in a high-performance, high-security hosting company “in the cloud” where you can access it securely from any device or PC. 

Best of all, you don’t have to make any changes in HOW you access your e-mail – your messages will simply be delivered to your inbox, phone, or other device faster and with fewer issues, and it will always be synchronized and up-to-date!

Here are just a few of the advantages:


-No more software, hardware or maintenance costs. YOU don’t have to purchase the hardware and software, nor do you have to maintain the system. This is all included in a low monthly fee.

-High speed, 99.999% uptime e-mail. The Hosted Exchange platforms we provide our clients are high-performance systems with multiple “fail over” backup servers, maintained and monitored like Fort Knox; something you wouldn’t need for your small business. However, since you are hosting on this platform, you get all the benefits of a high-performance system without the costs. Your in-house network could go down and you’d STILL have access to your e-mail, contacts and calendar.

-Fewer issues with SPAM and phishing emails – our Hosted Exchange system is configured in accordance with best practices which reduces SPAM, reduces risks of ransomware, and keeps your users productive.  And forget about constantly whitelisting email addresses, that is no longer an issue!

-Automatic backups and archiving. What would you do if your in-house e-mail server failed and erased your messages? Or what if a disgruntled employee deleted all their e-mails? If you were hosting your Exchange, these would be non-issues since your e-mails are backed up.

-Faster set up. Installing an Exchange server can take days. When you host Exchange, setting up a new user takes minutes.

-Access your e-mail and calendar from anywhere. You don’t have to remote into your office PC; now you can securely access your e-mail from any device or PC.

-Access to Office 365 apps – this can be rolled into your Hosted Exchange for specific users as desired

 

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When Dolce Vita initially engages with a potential new client, we take a hard look along with the management team on the different data repositories the business has in play. This breakdown varies depending upon the business vertical, but some categories are consistent regardless of the type or the size of business: 

 

- Accounting data 

- Public facing website 

- Email 

- HR 

 

With reference to email, when dealing with rapidly growing or relatively new businesses, it is common to see them with POP3 email hosted by Cox, or GoDaddy, or other low-cost providers. This can be a solution in cases where there is no need to recover email or when cost is the only item of concern. 

 

But every client we work with typically wants to improve collaboration, and this means email systems which allow for exceptionally easy sharing of calendars and tasks. We typically lean hard on Hosted Exchange to satisfy these requirements because it offers 99.999% uptime at minimal cost, provides all of the same functionality as on-premise Exchange with fewer maintenance headaches and less downtime.

 

Clients without IT staff like the ease of use and the painless migration from their current email system, regardless of whether it is on-premise Exchange or POP3 email. They also like the built-in functionality such as anti-SPAM and exceptional security features like anti-phishing which are available for protecting email flow before it arrives on the client site. 

 

Other features such as backup, archiving, and encrypted email are configured by Dolce Vita, so for environments where security and availability are important, Hosted Exchange is a convenient and cost-effective solution. 

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Posted by on in Managed Services

Do you feel like you spend way too much time putting out IT fires? Whether it’s a Monday morning crisis or the need to decide on the latest software or hardware, a business owner usually is more reactive than proactive when it comes to IT. Rapidly advancing technology can help your business continually improve when you identify and manage potential concerns ahead of time. 

Data and Network Security 

Any company can potentially be hacked be hacked, and small businesses are often targets. According to Ponemon Institute, half of all small and mid-sized businesses have experienced a breach in the past calendar year. Forty-eight percent of these security breaches happen because hackers target smaller businesses. The other 52 percent are related to human or system error. 

Prioritize the security of your systems and customer data. A suite of IT procedures and solutions is much less expensive than the repercussions of a security breach. 

Disaster Recovery 

Another one of the most common IT problems involves issues with data backup. Here’s why you need a good business continuity plan. 

  • If ransomware gets through your security, you can simply restore systems to the last backup. You may lose a small amount of data, but you won’t have to pay a ransom.

  • If users accidentally delete files, the power goes out, or you experience a server crash, you can restore what you lost while minimizing costly downtime.

  • Lost files are expensive. One Verizon report finds data breeches that lead to lost data cost on average between $18,120 and $35,730.

Employee Frustration

When your staff has access to user-friendly systems that work flawlessly, they are happy and productive. When they spend the day on slow machines and outdated technology, it impacts their productivity and frustration level. Keep technology updated for improved output and increased job satisfaction.

Hardware and Software Problems

Just because a computer still runs doesn’t mean it should be still in service. Older hardware and software which is not vendor-supported is more vulnerable to security exploits which raises the risk of data loss or destruction.  Many businesses expect to use computers between four and six years, and while they will probably function for that long, technology evolves so quickly they will most likely need expensive repairs to continue to function.

Obsolete machines cost money, time, and opportunities. Plan equipment updates into your budget so you have a plan for the regular updates. When business owners approach IT proactively, technology supports the buisness instead of being a maintenance struggle.

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We frequently get the question: "We've been thinking about moving our IT to "The Cloud"...does this make sense?

The response typically is "it depends".

It is exceptionally rare that moving all key IT infrastructure to the cloud is logical or cost-effective.  The vast majority of cloud implementations are actually hybrid systems with some infrastructure and processes remaining onsite and some offsite.

Lets talk about what "The Cloud" or "cloud-based" refers to.  Typically this means that rather than having the particular infrastructure for a system onsite, it exists typically across the internet at another location.  The services are available to users, but if they asked to see the equipment you would not be able to show them because its in "The Cloud" (the internet).

Cloud-based infrastructure has been around for many, many years.  Compuserve (bet you haven't heard that in a long time), AOL and Hotmail are examples of cloud-based services.  Outside of email, however, lets consider placing highly critical business processes in the cloud.  What would we be looking for which would make this an attractive option?

  • Cost - actually, no...cloud-based infrastructure is almost universally more expensive in terms of cost of ownership than in-house owned equipment when you look over time
  • Reduced management costs - this depends upon what is being cloud-based...if your are looking at Quickbooks Online you won't have to manage upgrades or manage the server on which it resides.  If you are cloud-basing a database server, you are typically still responsible for all management, backup, upgrades, etc.  In other words your IT management costs likely do not drop in this case.
  • Available from anywhere on the Internet - of course
  • Redundancy - part of the objective of critical cloud-based infrastructure is that redundancy should always be part of the deal.  Part of the premium which you pay should be that the system is always up, highly available
  • Investment is low - initial acquisition cost is extremely low, especially in comparison with building your own redundancy.
  • Someone else is handling the hardware and software upgrades, and in a way which prevents or minimizes downtime for your organization.

So what are some key ways that SMB's can use "The Cloud" to reduce their risk?  Dolce Vita has managed migrations to cloud environments for:

  • Accounting - moved clients from on-premise versions of accounting packages to cloud-based installations or to online versions
  • Specialized database servers - migrations of SQL servers from on-premise to either hosted servers or other cloud-based redundant environments - this was done in part due to environmental concerns for server equipment or because uptime was sufficiently important to require redundancy
  • Email - We have used hosted Exchange and hosted Sharepoint for our in-house email and have migrated clients to cloud-based email because of the critical nature of this for our businesses.  Having a server cluster for $10-12/month is a GREAT deal!
  • Business-specific critical databases such as client relationship management (CRM) or ERP - such as Autotask, Salesforce, etc.
  • Hosted VOIP phone systems - we use a cloud-based VOIP system without issues or regrets.  VOIP is very demanding in terms of infrastructure so it isn't necessarily for everyone.

What are the key "gotcha's" for cloud-based infrastructure?

  • Solid, redundant internet connection - if your critical process is cloud-based, and "The Cloud" has dried up and blown away what are you left with?  Typically a "Going out of Business" sign.
  • Use it mainly for processes requiring redundancy, typically we don't accept non-redundant services
  • Be sure to understand who is responsible for server or system management including system and database backups
  • For email systems, be sure you understand the costs and limitations of backups and archiving - in a legal action requiring discovery, the onus is ALWAYS on the business, not on the provider, to ensure email archiving is working and usable.
  • For any cloud-based VOIP infrastructure ensure that all internal IT issues such as bandwidth, traffic shaping, switching, and quality of service (QOS) are addressed, and be certain that at least a limited non-production test is done to ensure your environment will support VOIP adequately.

Call Dolce Vita today to talk about cloud based systems and to see whether this makes sense for your business.  We can promise answers, but not "smoke".

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Posted by on in Managed Services

How can organizations use managed services to control their IT costs?

Remote Monitoring and Management - Remote monitoring and management (RMM) services provide 24/7 tracking of server and workstation performance, and tracking of events critical to correct functioning of the network.  Critical services which stop or hard drive problems are reported on and even automatically corrected.  Software can be scheduled for automatic installation and regular maintenance tasks can be automated.

For organizations which have their own IT staff, Sempreon provides alerting and reporting on the network environment which is an enormously important task removed from their already full plate.  The IT staff can use Sempreon's integrated helpdesk functions to have users submit tech-related tickets and use the system to track their own remediation work, or they can escalate the ticket to DVITS for resolution.  By using Sempreon for larger organizations the hardware and software inventory as well as licensing and warranty renewals is automatically tracked and tickets can be tied to this inventory.  Sempreon allows chronic issues to be identified and eliminated.  This of course drives downtime lower and keeps your staff productive!

For organizations which do not have in-house IT, or who choose to use a staff member to handle IT as an additional duty (lucky person, that is!) Sempreon makes it possible to be alerted of significant issues and to have an exceptionally experienced resource to assist with anything from helpdesk issues to project planning.  Since Sempreon allows repetitive issues to be identified, a solution can be prioritized and planned meaning that staff can focus on their core mission for the business instead of handling tech issues.

The objective behind Sempreon RMM is to prevent problems early instead of waiting for issues to affect users. Sempreon allows DVITS to effectively act as an outsourced CIO and IT shop, with the ability to remote into a user's desktop within minutes...over 95% of our network management is handled remotely resulting in lower IT costs and higher technology reliability.  This can make any business more profitable!

Hosted Exchange Email - The key advantages to hosted email are the presence of redundant server services, simplified archiving, and reduction in management tasks.  Using Hosted Exchange 2010 for our clients has reduced hassles and provides great mobile services.  The archiving features have come in handy when clients have accidentally deleted critical email or folders. 

Sempreon DATTO Business Continuity - being able to automate the entire disaster recovery process is a huge load of any admin's shoulders, and it is even a bigger load off management's.  Our DATTO system allows for local appliance-based image backups of servers and workstations with local recovery of either data or an entire server in under 15 minutes.  In the event of a local disaster, within about 1 hour we can make the client's protected servers available from an offsite datacenter. 

 

Call Dolce Vita today to schedule a cost-free in-house demo of Sempreon RMM.

 

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