Action Taken with LGfL in Response to Covid-19

An update from John Jackson, CEO of LGfL, The National Grid for Learning, on work with partners including AdEPT Education to help schools in response to the Covid-19 virus.

LGfL is taking measures to support schools during this difficult period with the full support of its partners Virgin Media Business and AdEPT Education as well as Google, Microsoft and a range of other partners. Our response is set out below and we will be publishing regular updates and changes to schools at https://coronavirus.lgfl.net 

Ensuring Sufficient Internet Capacity – LGfL is upgrading all schools free of charge to support increased levels of remote access and access to cloud services. This activity is well advanced with over 1300 schools already upgraded. We are currently scheduling visits in schools and would welcome help and support for these appointments. If you have any questions then please contact richard.hannah@lgfl.net and information on this initiative is at https://pledge2020.lgfl.net 

Remote & Secure Access to the School Network (Freedom2Roam) – LGfL provides a secure service that supports remote access from anywhere to your school network. The licences are unlimited, and the service is provided free of charge. The service is called Freedom2Roam and replaces RAv3.  If you need to set-up remote access to enable staff to access information whilst working at home and haven’t used RAv3 (or aren’t sure), then please contact the LGfL Support Desk. For helpful information about Freedom2Roam please visit https://freedom2roam.lgfl.net    

Unlimited Access to LGfL Content & Resources – LGfL is opening up its curriculum resources, wherever possible, so they can be accessible from any location. Some resources such as Busythings and J2e will require the child or the teacher to login. Further information about individual products can be found at https://homelearning.lgfl.net    

Turning Old Kit into Chromebooks – LGfL have partnered with Google to provide free licences for Neverware CloudReady software, which turns old laptops into fully functioning Chromebooks. This will be particularly helpful when children do not have access to a computer at home or if you have a shortage of devices for children.  To find out more visit http://go.neverware.com/lgfl  

Claim LGfL’s Free Licences including Adobe Creative Cloud – Please claim your free licences from LGfL for products such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Egress (for secure data transfer which may be needed when sending sensitive information) and many more that may prove useful to your school to function remotely. You can claim your licences by visiting https://savings.lgfl.net and logging in with your USO account  

Signposting to Useful Resources – LGfL has curated a list of key links and information that the school may find helpful to support its planning for a possible closure at https://coronavirus.lgfl.net   

Web Filtering and Firewalls – A number of schools have asked us to update the web filtering policies to make resources accessible outside of the LGfL network and also in different settings. LGfL is implementing considered changes to enable this to happen. If you need any help and advice regarding the filtering service, then please contact the LGfL Support Desk

Safeguarding Advice – LGfL has pulled together advice and guidance for schools to ensure children work safely at home. This information can be found at https://coronavirus.lgfl.net/safeguarding

Making Use of Google G Suite and Office 365 – Google, Microsoft and LGfL are committed to supporting schools with G Suite and Office 365 and ensuring that cloud resources are accessible. LGfL can co-ordinate with your partners to help you transition to G Suite or Microsoft

LGfL VoIP – LGfL is upgrading the service to ensure that there is enough capacity to support increased use of telephones during this period

LGfL Support Desk For any technical queries, call 020 8255 5555 and select option 3.

For any questions regarding any other LGfL services, call 020 8408 4455. 

Yours sincerely, 

John Jackson

LGfL CEO

Written by John Jackson

CEO LGfL, The National Grid for Learning

The Technology Essentials of Remote Working: All You Need to Know in Light of Coronavirus

The topic of remote working has never been so relevant as it is today; no thanks to the coronavirus.

Despite this global, frightening phenomenon, the popularity of remote working is ever increasing amongst businesses and their employees. This is partially due to the major shift in businesses adopting Cloud services or various forms of off-site infrastructure solutions; taking the onus of working away from being just office-based and instead, encouraging/supporting a distributed workforce.

This is reinforced by the vast improvements in web conferencing and collaboration technology, making it easier to communicate using voice, video and share content, from anywhere with a solid internet connection.

Many studies have shown that enabling a flexible remote working practice results in greater productivity and quality of work, more engagement, loyalty and reduced absenteeism. Outside of the office it also helps manage a work/life balance.

However, businesses are at various stages of their remote working strategy; some don’t even have one yet, whilst others are fully committed to it and have already enabled their workforce with the necessary tools to implement remote working.

No matter where you are on your journey, here are a few pointers to consider.

These will help those businesses and organisations who are at the early stages of a remote working strategy, to those who are already benefitting from remote working practises.

Connectivity

No remote working solution will work effectively if the connectivity foundations are not adequate and security measures are not fit for purpose.

Providing access to IT applications and resources remotely starts with connectivity to the Internet and the corporate network, mapping out how employees will securely interact to access what they need.

There is also the question of employees having reliable and fast internet access from their remote location. If staff are in areas that are not yet on the UK fibre network, you will find their experience of working remotely significantly diminished, having a direct impact on their productivity and morale.

It is wise to survey your staff in order to quantify how many are able to work remotely, as and when the need arises. For key staff or those in rural areas, you may wish to invest in new or upgraded Internet access from their remote location, or look into mobile Internet access, to ensure they are online.

The key to this is bandwidth. Quantifying how much bandwidth remote workers will need to replicate their in-office productivity is vital. This of course varies across sectors and industries depending on the nature of the data and how often it needs to be synced to the corporate network.

For media, design and production businesses, this requirement is high due to the volume of high resolution images and video that are pushed and pulled across the network. This can also have a significant impact on conferencing and voice services, if they are also delivered over the same connection.

Unified Communications and Collaboration Tools

The enhancement of reliable real-time collaboration tools, like Teams, goes a long way to alleviate the bandwidth issue, due to the reduction in frequent uploading and downloading of large files across the network. Teamwork is an essential part of any successful business, hence the need to support this activity despite the location, is a key part of any remote working strategy. This is where today’s modern workforce collaboration tools play a significant part in keeping workers connected, whether it is using Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, unified communications/instant messaging solutions from Avaya, as well as web conferencing/meeting tools like GoToMeeting and Zoom.

The collaboration tools you choose will have a direct impact on your remote workforce and their performance, hence it is wise to minimise the number of tools you throw at your staff. Where possible, take advantage of the tools that are available or bolted on from existing providers, to encourage the user adoption and also make tool management easier.

Security

Delivering remote access to the corporate network, data and applications in a secure manner is critical. This needs to be deployed both at the user end and also on the network perimeter.

For users, this can be done by creating an encrypted network connection from their device to the corporate network, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) software application. VPN technology is reliable and proven to work, if installed, configured and maintain correctly. If not, there could be a detrimental effect on the performance of the device and the upload/download speeds.

There are a number of VPN solutions available that deliver an additional level of security and safety for your remote workers, so it is important to discuss this openly with your IT partner, to ensure you apply the right product for your business needs.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) should also be considered for the users, to double check their login procedure. In addition to their username/ID and password, 2FA is now commonly used to verify that only the designated users are allowed access. Again, your IT partner can recommend which 2FA service is fit for purpose, which the likes of Microsoft now including this service within specific Office 365 licences.

For the network, a fit for purpose firewall solution is a must. Again, they vary in size, spend and complexity. A firewall system should be designed to prevent unauthorised access to or from the corporate (or private) network, whether in hardware or software form, or a combination of both.

The User

It begins and ends with your people, the most prised asset of any business and organisation.

Remote working is more than choosing the right technology, it is a cultural shift for many. Some may be against the idea and due to extreme circumstances, are forced to work remotely. What seem like trivial aspects of office life, like banter and the quick chat whilst making the tea or coffee, can have a major impact when missed.

Therefore it is essential that the transition from office based to remote working is made as simple and straightforward as possible….for the USER too!

It is critical that an equal amount of focus and emphasis is placed on user adoption when choosing the right remote working tools and applications, as well as being technically proven, cost effective and recommended from a trusted source (IT partner).

Having a detailed Remote Working Policy in place can make a big difference to act as a guideline for the business and staff when it needs to be implemented at short notice. It is highly likely that you already have remote workers in your business, hence the ‘power remote users’ can play a great part in making those new to remote working settle in efficiently.

Speak to a Trusted Partner

At AdEPT, we help thousands of businesses and organisations with their remote working needs, from designing networks and security solutions, to delivering Cloud services, hosted desktop and telephony platforms, to unified communications and collaboration solutions; all managed by our in-house IT support teams.

If you have any questions on how to tackle the current issues and get ready for remote working, get in touch today to learn more about our wide range of services.

enquiries@adept.co.uk

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

Sales & Lease Back Facility: Helping Cash-flow

A new scheme from AdEPT partner Clear Asset Finance for organisations who wish to retrospectively start leasing items they've already purchased out-right.

AdEPT are proud to announce with our partners at Clear Asset Finance an available scheme for our customers and any other business or organisation that may have recently purchased equipment from AdEPT or any other supplier, using capital expenditure rather than a finance facility, and now may now regret that decision due to unplanned cash flow shortages.

It is not too late. Organisations can now retrospectively lease those purchases and receive all the funds back into their business almost immediately, and replace with smaller, more manageable, periodic payments.

The scheme covers any purchase and is not restricted to who it was purchased from or what it was for.

It’s recently helped a business that bought £25,000 of office furniture and have asked if they could now lease that equipment. All they needed to provide was proof of payment and the original invoice, and then e-sign a standard lease document. Once signed the leasing company transferred the £25,000 into their account within 5 days from proposal; the lease agreement then commences as normal.

Purchases within the last 6 months qualify for 100% refinance. Older assets will also be considered taking depreciation into account. Subject to meeting credit criteria.

If this is of interest, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

enquiries@adept.co.uk

Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

A View From the Front

In this article, Richard Burbage, Divisional Managing Director for an AdEPT Communications division, discussed the impact of COVID-19 on our business, and how we're helping our customers in these unprecedented times.

As a business, AdEPT Technology Group are used to providing solutions to meet the demanding needs of our customers. Whether that’s to ensure their competitiveness, to improve efficiencies or to help them adapt as a business and grow.

The unprecedented times we find ourselves in with regards to COVID-19 have seen new challenges presented to AdEPT and opportunities for the team to provide real help and assistance to our customers.

In the past month, as the threat of business challenges resulting from the pandemic increased, more and more companies have approached AdEPT needing help – with a real focus on providing greater communication and collaboration for their staff, across multiple locations, especially given the meteoric rise in demand for home working.

We expected to see an upturn in enquiries and a demand for projects with short delivery times but what we’ve seen has been unprecedented. We’ve seen a 70% increase in customer requests for many things including licenses, greater bandwidth, new functionality and new hardware to cope with more data throughput. It’s been challenging, especially as in parallel, we’ve had obligations to our own staff in terms of working from home & self-isolation.  This has meant that AdEPT itself has had to modify its own business processes.

Fortunately we are robust enough to cope with whatever Government advice has come our way, and I’m pleased to say we’ve met the challenge and delivered – and will continue to deliver as the requests for help are continuing to flood in to our business.

AdEPT have seen a collaborative approach to the challenges through their partnerships with companies such as Microsoft and Avaya who have helped by providing additional licenses at zero cost or with flexible commitments to the contract term – in the hope that the situation is a temporary one. This has ensured customers have been able to take advantage of new technology to keep their businesses running whilst not suffering financially.

In these cases AdEPT have been providing the scope of works, project management and professional services needed for the deployment. But then AdEPT have always adopted a policy of ‘doing the right thing’ on behalf of clients during extremely stressful times.

Our objective during this time has been to deliver rapid solutions against a trying and fast changing backdrop, working on behalf of our customers with our key partners such as Microsoft and Avaya. Undoubtedly we’re helping our customers to address the challenges of these times, facilitating effective communication with both staff and their customers. It has been great to see how our team is able to step up during unprecedented times – the relationships we are building will stand us in good stead throughout this undoubted crisis.

For more information about anything discussed in this article, or any aspect of the AdEPT services portfolio that could help you or your business please don’t hesitate to get in touch at enquiries@adept.co.uk.

Written by Richard Burbage

Divisional Managing Director, Communications

Nebula: the streamlined way to treat your technology headaches

Look throughout the world, and you’ll find endless examples of how being streamlined makes something work a whole lot better. There are penguins, who switch from feathered space hoppers on land, to slick, torpedo-like assassins in water. There’s the motor car, which has evolved from a six-mph jolly little thing to the sleek, reliable machines we use every day.

And then there are consumer electronics and IT. Consider the first iMac from 1998 – its success is largely due to the way it veered from the norm of clunky, fiddly desktop PCs. The modern smartphone is, of course, its streamlined follow-up act – and we all know how that’s turned out…

So if streamlining is such a success story – and one that’s so widely repeated – why is the world of business IT and telecoms so slow on the uptake?

The answer to that is a blog or three in itself. In short, there are many complex reasons why. But none of them justify subjecting people to the agony of unwieldy and inconvenient business IT. You may have experienced this pain yourself. Let’s take a closer look.

The headaches of disjointed services

Every modern business uses voice, data and IT to varying degrees. And with that comes the first headache: a bunch of services and suppliers that do not necessarily work together as one. It’s a real problem, because none of these things work in isolation – they all overlap. And one area can have a domino effect on the other area.

Voice services, for example, are no longer limited to traditional on-premise PBX. Instead, there’s a wealth of Cloud options available – and many of those options make perfect sense for a lot of businesses. But such a route depends on strong connectivity and a secure infrastructure – and in such an instance, the Cloud voice setup becomes as much an IT issue as a ‘traditional’ telecoms issue. And so, having disjointed services just doesn’t fit with the way organisations work.

The second headache relates to the changeable nature of business. Irrespective of size, industry or structure, every organisation grows, shrinks and sometimes swings from one strategic goal to another. And so having disparate voice, data and IT services that are fixed in place and time just doesn’t work. They won’t grow with the business, flex to its inevitable changes or move with the needs of the workforce. And soon enough, the technology you adopted a matter of months ago becomes a real drain – or worse, entirely obsolete.

The final major headache is the one that’s most often the dealbreaker: cost. Having separate voice, data and IT services invariably means unnecessary outlay. This could be from the first installation, through to regular maintenance and upgrades, right through to the resources entailed in managing several suppliers. Nobody really wants to put aside an expensive chunk of the IT team’s time for liaising with multiple suppliers. But it happens all too often. And if you’re a small business owner, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have the time to do this yourself – you want to be running your business, not your technology suppliers.

A star is born

The reason I can write here about the headaches of business IT is because my whole career has been devoted to understanding them. So it made sense to develop something that eliminates these headaches in a simple, streamlined way.

I should say that when I’m talking about streamlining business IT and telecoms, I’m not necessarily referring to the hardware. Because it’s fair to say that the physical technology we use in our businesses has come a long way. Anyone remember the early mainframes?

Instead, I’m talking about how it all works together, for a seamless, frictionless experience. A setup that allows an organisation to concentrate on the day job – and tomorrow’s – rather than running and managing a million different technology services and suppliers. It’s precisely that situation that inspired Nebula, our own network environment that combines data, voice and IT services.

Like its namesake, Nebula is a cluster of lots of different things, which individually have their own unique qualities and beauty. And when combined, make for something rather impressive.

Obviously, with our Nebula, I’m not talking about astronomical objects and interstellar dust. But it does make me smile when I reflect on how nebulae are the birthplace of stars. Because I’d like to think that, in its own small way, our own Nebula has spawned experiences that are out of this world for our customers.

Here’s a few ways it does that…

Treating the headaches

Let’s look at the perennial headache of cost. Nebula bundles together voice, data and IT services into one package. On the surface, this sounds expensive – after all, in many areas, it pays to shop around. However, Nebula is very different in this respect. For example, within our networking infrastructure, we co-host our voice and IT services and so we manage it as a single entity. And that means you don’t have to pay the costs of the full environment, such as engineers, staff and management. You get a streamlined efficiency that invariably leads to cost savings.

How about the flexibility headache – where technology doesn’t adapt? Here’s where Nebula really helps. By combining voice, data and IT, Nebula allows total control that can be completely tailored to your needs.

An example of this: one of our customers wanted their telephone system to remain on site where they knew where it was, and where to turn to in case of a problem. But at the same time, they wanted the system replicated in a private network in case of any local problems. With Nebula, this setup was easy to deploy, and continues to be easy to manage. And it’s scalable and flexible to adapt to business changes.

It’s worth noting here that if you read the technology press, it’s always ‘Cloud, Cloud, Cloud’. In our experience, this doesn’t work for every business – and it really isn’t that simple. But Nebula goes a long way to serve the individual needs of every business in a simple way.

Finally, let’s think about how the lines between voice, data and IT have been irrevocably blurred – and the implications for business. Again, here’s where Nebula is the perfect fit. Taking an SME as an example, these organisations are the backbone of the economy. But often they have limited in-house IT skills or resources, and so it makes sense to use a service like Nebula that incorporates expertise in all areas of technology, with options that can be mixed and matched to suit the growing business.

A few other fixes for your technology pains

Beyond the main headaches I’ve described above, Nebula treats some other pains in a way you might find interesting.

First of all, although Nebula bundles together voice, data and IT services, it’s not necessary to take all of them. We’ve designed it that way because we know that every business has different priorities and needs for its technology.

Second, it’s designed to work for both commercial and public sector organisations, and for businesses of all sizes. We have a strong heritage in all areas, but we’ve found that Nebula has a particular appeal to SMEs.

Third, Nebula can improve your business data security. For instance, for one customer, we’ve incorporated a web-screening service that filters data before it even reaches the end user, protecting them from encountering harmful or malicious material.

Fourth, it works with all Cloud setups. So private Cloud and public Cloud – like Amazon, Azure, Google – can easily and simply be incorporated into Nebula.

The bottom line

I’ve intentionally avoided getting into too much techno-babble here. But I appreciate this blog is the tip of the iceberg. So…

  • If you’d like more technical information about Nebula, then find out more here.
  • If you’d prefer to talk, please don’t get hesitate to get in touch on 0333 400 2490.
  • You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. I’d love to answer your questions.

Written by Tim Scott

Chief Commercial Officer at AdEPT

WLR Withdrawal, is your school ready?

As BT accelerates its plans to migrate the UK voice network from copper to fibre, the pressure to change solutions becomes ever more urgent. BT will withdraw the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) service by 2025. It sounds an age, but it isn’t. Schools need to be thinking about their future communications solutions.

As BT accelerates its plans to migrate the UK voice network from copper to fibre, the pressure to change solutions becomes ever more urgent. BT will withdraw the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) service by 2025. It sounds an age, but it isn’t. Schools need to be thinking about their future communications solutions.

AdEPT Education provide specialist telephony services for schools, so we’ve outlined below a few ways you can prepare. If you want to discuss your options in more detail please don’t hesitate to book a review with one of our experts.

Have a look at one of your recent bills. Do you see any of these items listed?

  • ISDN30
  • ISDN2
  • Analogue Line
  • Business Line
  • Alarm Line
  • PTSN Line

If you do then you need to start thinking about your long term telephony arrangement. In short, anyone with an on-site PBX, telephone line, fax line, PDQ line or broadband line is affected and will need to make a plan.

What’s happening?

BT & Openreach announced some time ago the intention to switch off the ISDN services from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by 2025. They have also announced that they intend to switch off the whole PSTN service by 2025, with no new supply after 2023.

Although they’ve been the most reliable solutions to date, PSTN and ISDN are rapidly becoming out of date technology, and expensive to operate and maintain. Openreach plans to invest instead in fibre infrastructure rather than further invest in a new version of the PSTN (which is essentially Victorian technology).

This means that any individual or organisation still using these traditional voice services will need to have moved to newer SIP and IP voice solutions by then or, simply put, they won’t be able to use their phones.

What are our options? SIP and VoIP.

The terms SIP and VoIP refer to telephony based services delivered using IP signalling.  Historically, telephony based services have been delivered using technology and signalling which is now over 30 years old, such as ISDN30 and PSTN lines.

SIP services are generally used to connect lines to a telephone system and these are a direct replacement for the ISDN30 technology. VoIP is a general term used to describe routing voice calls over an IP network. The term is closely associated with hosted telephones, where a telephone system installed at a customer’s premises is replaced with a central system shared between many different locations.

What do I do now?

Essentially we all have 3 options.

  1. Ignore it all and do nothing

It should go without saying, but consider how important your phones are to your school. Though 2025 may seem like a long way off, 6 years can fly by.

Recent studies have concluded that a large proportion of UK organisations are unaware that the change is taking place. Don’t run the risk. Have a plan in place and be ready for the change. VoIP and SIP based solutions will almost certainly offer cost-savings if deployed correctly and they’ll offer more functionality for your school, and be future-proofed for years to come.

  1. Panic and rip it all out tomorrow

Though it is time to take action, that doesn’t mean now is the time to change – you may not be ready. It may not make economic sense, or you may not have resource available to manage the transition. You could make the wrong decision, and chose a solution that offers little or no additional benefits over your current service, or even worse, spend time and money implementing something that will only help you out for the next few years. Make an informed decision, you still have time and options to explore.

  1. Engage with an industry professional to better understand my options and make a self-paced evolution to the future.

AdEPT Education have years of experience providing communication solutions to schools, including SIP and VoIP solutions, refining our portfolio to best match their customers’ requirements. We have already developed a number of IP and VoIP services which are available to replace the current PSTN and ISDN services and would be happy to discuss the benefits of these over your current solution.

We’re offering both new and existing customers alike the opportunity for a free telephony audit. This audit will review all of the telephony services currently supplied to your business, providing a report on the services and a recommendation of the actions needed to prepare for the withdrawal of the PSTN and ISDN network in 2025.

If you’d like to discuss you telephony requirements in more detail or to book a free telephony audit please get in touch. To read more about our Voice solutions, please get in touch.

Get in touch

For more information on any of our services or to talk about how we may be able to help you, please get in touch with us using the form opposite or by clicking the link below.

Drop us a line

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Written by Ben Rogers

Group Marketing Manager at AdEPT

What are Cloud Services for Business?

If you are wondering what cloud services are, how they work or what benefits they can bring to your business, you are not alone. More and more businesses of all sizes, geographies, and industries are exploring this new frontier that is changing how businesses operate. However, this concept is still relatively new and many people do not yet understand what cloud services are all about. So, let’s try to expound;

What are Cloud Services?

To start, we must first understand what a cloud is. In general terms, a cloud is a remote storage space that holds data so that it doesn’t have to be stored on a local device such as a laptop, desktop computer, server or smartphone, all of which have limited storage space.

How Do Cloud Services Work?

Cloud services or cloud computing involve interactions between several devices and a common cloud storage space that are all connected through a network. The network allows you to access portals between the devices, storage space or platform supported by a cloud. This means that cloud services and cloud computing, in general, require a network connection to transfer data to and from the cloud and the devices. This network is typically an internet connection. However, depending on the type of cloud service, it can also be a local network.

In essence, cloud services offer an expansion of available storage in the form of a cloud, via a network that opens up limitless cloud computing benefits and possibilities.

Types of Cloud Computing Services:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This service involves a cloud hosting provider who acts as a central hosting space for software applications that they provide to users on subscription. Common types of SaaS include; document sharing applications, email services, and sales management services. Common examples include; Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This service provides users with outsourced computing infrastructure on a need basis. Common services include; virtual private networks, storage databases, and large scale data analytics tools. Common examples include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): This service is typically used by developers. It provides shared infrastructure and tools to build, test and deploy applications. Common examples include; Force.com and Salesforce’ Heroku.

What are the Benefits of Cloud Services to Businesses?

Cost Savings/ Efficiency

Using cloud services means that you do not have to invest in hardware, facilities, utilities and personnel to establish and maintain a large in house IT infrastructure. With a reliable cloud services provider, you only need a minimal number of in-house IT specialists. Cloud systems also reduce the risk and thereby the cost associated with downtime.

Data Security

Data breaches can severely damage a company’s brand, revenue, and customer loyalty regardless of size. Cloud services providers employ advanced security features that ensure your data is handled and stored securely. They also apply baseline protection such as access control, authentication, and encryption. Enterprises can also bolster these efforts for maximum data protection and security.

Scalability

Different businesses have different demands at different times of the month or year. Cloud services allow businesses of all sizes to quickly and efficiently scale up or scale down their IT function according to the prevailing business demands. For an e-commerce business, for example, the holiday season results in a traffic overload. Cloud services allow such businesses to increase their capacity without having to invest in physical infrastructure. This means you will always have high-performance resources at your disposal with professional solutions with no upfront costs. This agility and flexibility allows you to gain a competitive edge over your competitors.

Mobility

The business landscape is changing. More and more people now prefer to work on the go or remotely. Cloud computing allows mobile access to company data and solutions on any connected device from any location around the globe. This means that all your workers can easily access, store, retrieve or process information from anywhere, 24/7, provided they have an internet connection.

This mobility also means that your systems can be updated and maintained remotely, with minimal disruption to normal workflow thereby saving you precious time and money.

Disaster Recovery

Loss of data can cripple any organisation. Cloud services allow the user to store data on the cloud and also give them the ability to quickly recover this data even if their primary physical infrastructure is destroyed. Cloud storage also reduces your risk of data loss through local disasters such as natural calamities. In case of a disaster, all you need is an internet connection to resume operations.

Control

Information access control is very important in any business. Cloud services give companies complete visibility and control over their data. You can easily decide which employee has what level of access to which data at what time and for how long. This is also important in streamlining operations and easing collaboration.

Cloud services are the future of business. From cost savings to security and flexibility, every business stands to gain from using cloud services. The next step is to find a reputable IT support company offering reliable Cloud Services. At AdEPT, we have a highly experienced team of IT specialists ready to guide you through all the ins and outs of cloud services to help you decide which solutions will best work for your business. Talk to us today for more information.  

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

What is a Disaster Recovery Plan in IT?

A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a structured and documented approach that stipulates how a business or organisation can quickly resume normal operations after an unplanned incident. This a crucial part of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), and is applied to the aspects of a business that rely on a properly functioning IT department. A DRP is created with the aim of helping a business recover system functionality and resolve data loss that the business can in the least, resume mission-critical functions in the aftermath of an incident.

Understandably, no two disaster recovery plans are the same. This is because disaster recovery planning involves an analysis of individual business processes and continuity needs that are specific to an organisation. Typically, a business will premise a recovery plan with a risk analysis, a business impact analysis and also establish its own recovery objectives. Although recovery plans are specific to individual organisations, every plan should at least, include the following to give it the ability to handle incidents quickly, reduce downtime and minimise reputational and financial damages.

Communication plan and role assignments

Communication is extremely important during any disaster. It is important that everyone is on the same page during this time. Therefore, documents should all have updated employee contact information and employees should understand their specific roles in the days after the incident. If you do not have some technical resource to handle everything, roles such as assessing damage, setting up workstations and redirecting phones should be assigned to specific team members for seamless coordination.

Plan for your equipment

IT equipment can be very expensive and damage to it could cripple a business. Therefore, it is important to have a plan on how to protect your IT equipment locally for looming threats. Alternatively, you can create off-site redundancy if your budget allows.

Data continuity system

During disaster recovery planning, it is important to think about the minimum allowable resources that would allow your business to resume mission-critical operations after a disaster. These resources include what your organisation needs financially and operationally, with regards to supplies and communication to support core activities. This applies to all types of businesses including large consumer businesses that need to communicate with their customers and fulfil orders to small business to business organisations with just a handful of employees. Identifying and documenting your minimum requirements allows you to make effective plans for business continuity, backup and also have a full understanding of the logistics and contingencies surrounding these plans.

Backup check

Your data backup plan could determine the impact of any incident on your business and how fast you can resume operations. Therefore, make sure that your backup is running properly. Also, include a plan to run an additional full local backup on all data and servers in your recovery plan. Every business should maintain backups going back as far as possible. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the backup is located in a reasonably distant area that cannot be affected by a local disaster. You could also have a back up in an external hard drive that you can easily take with you off-site in case anything happens.

Detailed Asset Inventory

You should have a detailed asset inventory in your recovery plan. The inventory should be thorough and can include workstations, their servers, components, scanners, printers, tablets, phones and other technologies that you and your employees use in your normal day to day operations. This will provide you with a quick reference for insurance claims after an incident by providing your adjuster with a complete list together with pictures of any assets that have been damaged or are missing. The pictures will also help you show that the items were actively being used by your employees and that you took reasonable care to protect your assets from harm.

Vendor communication and service restoration plan

A power or internet outage can grind an entire business to a halt. The main goal of a disaster recovery plan is to help you resume normal operations as quickly as possible after an incident. Therefore, as part of your recovery plan, make sure you have a plan on how to communicate with your vendors. In case of power outages or surges, check in with your local power provider to assess how fast the power can be restored. Apply the same approach with your internet and phone providers on access and restoration.

Although no recovery plan is ever fully complete, the above considerations are a great foundation for a highly effective disaster recovery plan. However, its success relies on your ability to pay close attention to all detail and to tailor the plan to your specific circumstances and objectives. Additionally, it is important to create redundancies on top of your backups and to update the plan regularly as circumstances such as change of personnel or purchase of new technology occurs. If you need to make sure that you have covered all the necessary areas in your recovery plan, a managed service provider can help you do that and also provide additional services.

At AdEPT, you can trust our best-in-class Disaster Recovery services to protect your data. Our technical team will run and test recovery cycles every quarter to ensure that your data is fully restorable at any time. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your business.

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

What is Azure Cloud, and What Can It Do for Business?

If you are considering getting a new cloud solution for your business, you may have come across terms like ‘Cloud Azure’, ‘Azure’, ‘Microsoft Azure’, ‘Windows Azure’ and definitely ‘Azure Cloud’. Well, all these terms refer to the same thing.

As cloud services become ever so popular and continue to shape the future of technology and business, Microsoft has taken a leading role in this new frontier with the Microsoft Azure Cloud Services. In layman terms, Azure Cloud helps businesses find the right solutions to their challenges by giving them access to a large pool of computing resources in the cloud as opposed to maintaining expensive infrastructure and IT personnel in-house. Let us explore further.

What is Azure Cloud?

Azure cloud, or any other term you wish to use, is a cloud computing service that enables companies to build, deploy and manage applications and services wherever they need to. Businesses can choose to let Microsoft take charge of all their computing and network needs through the IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) approach or decide to add cloud capabilities to their own current network through the PaaS (Platform as a Service) model.

Additionally, Microsoft gives you access to a growing service directory to meet your various needs. These services include;

  • Virtual Machines
  • Active Directory Domain Services
  • Application Services
  • SQL Databases
  • Storage and more

What Can Azure Do for a Business?

One of the biggest misconceptions about cloud computing is that it involves relinquishing primary control of your IT function. As you will see below, Azure cloud not only gives you more control, but also adds confidence in your systems. Here are some of the ways that Azure can benefit a business.

  • Cost Savings

Using Azure Cloud has a low upfront cost and also continues to cut your expenses in the long-run. To start with, you will not have to worry about purchasing hardware or power consumption. Additionally, your cloud provider is responsible for security which means that you will not incur extra security costs even though you will get Microsoft-backed security measures to protect your critical data. Lastly, you only pay for the resources you use and can easily scale without having to purchase new hardware or employ more staff.

  • Scale on Demand

Business requirements change quickly and companies now prefer to have a platform that adapts to their needs as they change. Azure gives you the ability to scale data storage and capabilities instantly as well as to launch innovative new services as soon as there is a demand for more efficiency or during spikes in business. This ability to quickly adjust to your needs means that you maintain your efficiency and also keep your costs down.

  • Flexibility

As technology advances, businesses need a platform that makes adapting to these technological developments easy. Azure Cloud lets you make all the necessary adjustments from a centralized dashboard with just a few mouse clicks. You can even provision various Linux or Windows instances to give your business more flexibility on which applications it can support and run.

  • Fully Managed Services

Migrating to Azure Cloud will instantly free up your IT and development teams as their key roles such as redesigning or optimising your network, researching threats and implementing new security strategies are all part of your monthly managed services.

  • Disaster Recovery

Despite best efforts, every in-house and on-site disaster recovery plan has its weaknesses. Case in point, a fire at your headquarters would destroy the majority of your data. Azure Cloud offers a geographically decentralised disaster recovery plan that takes the stress out of securing sensitive company, proprietary and client data. Additionally, in case anything happens, Azure makes it possible to recover lost data quickly.

  • Remote Access

As more people continue to move away from the traditional 9-5 office set-up, companies have to accommodate employees who choose to work on the go or remotely at varying hours or different time zones. Azure empowers you to tailor remote login options as you deem fit.

  • Endless Options

Azure has hundreds of services to meet a whole host of IT requirements. This means that your team does not have to start from scratch every time you need an app or service. All they need to do is integrate apps into your existing frameworks and tailor them to your specific needs.

What do You Want Azure Cloud to Do for Your Business?

Azure offers the flexibility, scalability and capability of developing technical solutions that businesses could only dream about previously. At AdEPT, we help our customers reap the benefits by working smarter through our full Azure RDS environment at a fixed monthly fee. this allows us to deploy the minimum resources you require at any particular time for cost savings, while still giving you the full user experience and the liberty to scale when needs arise. Contact us today to learn more about this service and how it can work for your business.

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager

Digital vs. VoIP Phone Systems: Key Differences to Know

If you are looking for a new business phone system for your small or corporate business, you may find yourself trying to weigh between a digital and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system. Both systems have distinctive benefits and downsides. Therefore, instead of asking ‘What is the best business phone system?’, you should consider, ‘What is the best business phone system for my business?’. The choice can be very personal and depends on many factors that are specific to your business including; budget, current work environment, ease of use, functionality and integration with other key devices and technologies.

To help you make this decision, below are key aspects of both systems you should weigh alongside your business needs.

Cost

The first thing you have to think about, is how much each system will cost you to set up and run in the long run. Digital phone systems tend to have a higher setup cost due to the various types of hardware you need. On the other hand, VoIP systems are typically activated through software on existing hardware rather than having to add hardware. They also have more choices in endpoints than digital systems which are mostly proprietary. One striking cost differential is that international calls on a VoIP system cost 90% less than they do on a digital phone system.

With regards to maintenance costs, VoIP system maintenance can be easily handled by anyone with admin access to the system and can also be done remotely with minimal disruption to business operations. With hosted VoIP systems, software upgrades are done automatically which reduces the risk of failure and downtime. Digital systems require trained personnel to physically perform diagnostics, access the wiring and replace bad connections. This process is very disruptive and costs time.

Power

Typically, VoIP phones need to be connected to an AC power source or outfitted with a Power over Ethernet (PoE) injector. Digital phone systems require less power, compared to their analogue counterparts, since digital signal transmission using audio data is less power-intensive.

Bandwidth

Bandwidth determines the amount of data packets the VoIP system can transmit on the network at any given time. The system shares bandwidth among computers and phones in the office set up so if you have low bandwidth both the phone and computers will not perform properly. However, some providers offer backup internet connections which increases flexibility and lowers downtime. Digital phones do not connect via the data network and so there is no concern on whether to upgrade the broadband connection.

Mobility, Upgradability and Versatility

In the current business setup, business owners, leaders and employees prefer to work remotely or on the go. It is therefore important that your phone system caters for this modern work culture. As you can see from the phone you carry around, VoIP systems are very mobile. If you need to move your business to another location or work remotely from any location, all you have to do is have your data connections and VoIP phones in your new location to connect back to the phone system in minutes. All the VoIP extension numbers, features and capabilities automatically become accessible in the new location. The same case applies when you have new or temporary employees, a quick log-in and they are in the system for however long they are working in that particular location.

A VoIP system can also allow you to keep your existing telephone numbers since it is not tethered to traditional phone lines. Additionally, VoIP phones also allow you to forward calls to your mobile when you are out of the office so you can effectively manage your business calls on the go and never miss important calls.

On the other hand, digital phones, though convenient and practical are not particularly mobile. If you decide to move your office location, you need to call in a technician to physically move the phone and then rewire it in the new location together with supporting hardware. You also need to transfer information stored in the phones and set up new numbers. This can be very expensive for a company that requires frequent additions, changes and movements.

So, Which Phone System Best Works for Your Business?

When it comes to Digital vs. VoIP Phone Systems, the best choice is the one that best meets the specific needs of your business now and in the long-term. However, you quickly realise that ease of use, flexibility, portability, scalability and cost are important factors for businesses of all sizes moving into the future. As shown above, the VoIP system is better suited to meet these requirements than digital setups.

At AdEPT, we are one of the most trusted managed service and telecommunications providers offering proven solutions to thousands of businesses of all sizes across the UK. Contact us today to learn more about how our VoIP service can benefit your business, or to enquire more on which is the best phone system for you.

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager