Saving Money with a Managed Service Provider – By the Numbers

In previous blog posts, we have explained that working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help your company save money. But what does that mean? Below we will prove how MSPs will help your bottom line by the numbers.

  1. A recent IBM research report states that almost 27% of organizations outsource to reduce costs. 
  2. A McKinsey Global Institute study states outsourcing IT services reduces costs by 60% in the US. 
  3. An MIT Sloan Management Review study witnessed a drop of $121.14 million in non-IT operating costs as IT outsourcing increased to $96.14 million
  4. As per a Deloitte study, 64% of the companies consider cost-savings as the primary factor driving them towards outsourcing.

Outsourcing is the way to go if reducing costs is on your mind. But, you must be clear that it is more than just that. A cost-saving-focused approach to outsourcing is good, but you cannot disregard the other pros of outsourcing. It can save time, offer you the latest tech stack, let your managers focus on the core functions, and much more.

Outsourcing is undoubtedly the future, and if you need to stay competitive, working with Now Micro can take you to new heights. Now Micro’s goal is to provide services and solutions for every aspect of your technology needs. We have got you covered from end-users to enterprise data centers and up to the cloud.

6 Benefits of Moving to a Cloud-Based Infrastructure

What is the cloud?  

The cloud refers to servers that run on the internet rather than a local physical server. This system allows you to access data remotely. A few examples of cloud services are Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Microsoft OneDrive, to name a few.  

What is a Cloud Infrastructure? 

A cloud infrastructure is much like a physical/on-prem infrastructure. A Cloud infrastructure mimics things like servers, switches, storage, etc. Computing, networking, storage, and virtualization make up a cloud infrastructure.  

What are some of the benefits of a business moving to the cloud? 

  • Increased Security 
  • Cost Savings 
  • Disaster Recovery 
  • Reduced Risk 
  • Collaboration across teams 
  • Better Accessibility 

Increased Security 

One of the most beneficial aspects of the cloud is security. Unfortunately, no matter who you are, you are at risk from hackers, malware, phishing, and other cyber-attacks. Moving to the cloud can add an extra layer of support for your important data.  

  • When you store a file in the cloud, your files are encrypted, which means the files are difficult for cybercriminals to access.  
  • The cloud provides consistent and regular patches, reducing malware infection risk. 
  • When a business has critical data, it is far safer to keep that information off-site.  
  • With the cloud, it is easier to maintain compliance requirements. 

Cost Savings $$$ 

Cost is a significant factor when businesses decide to move to the cloud or not. Therefore, looking at the initial cost of making the migration and all the benefits of a cloud-based infrastructure is essential. For example, 98% of organizations say a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000 https://www.the20.com/blog/the-cost-of-it-downtime/#:~:text=According%20to%20Gartner%2C%20the%20average,hour%20at%20the%20higher%20end.  

Disaster Recovery  

Disasters happen; we all know that. Unfortunately, downtime for a business can be one of the most costly challenges a company faces because it leads to a loss of productivity, revenue, and reputation. With a cloud-based infrastructure, your business can recover far quicker than you can if a physical server fails. 

Reduced Risk 

When your data is stored in physical hardware like a computer or server, it is at a greater risk of loss. For example, if the server fails or the computer dies, you might not be able to get your data back. Things like viruses, age, and natural disasters can all cause hardware to malfunction. In addition, they can also be lost or stolen, posing a security risk.  

You can access your data from any computer anywhere when you store your data on a cloud-based server.  

Collaboration across teams 

The cloud allows employees within the same organization to share information and collaborate on documents or other important company data. For example, with SharePoint, four employees can be working on the same document simultaneously, and the most recent version will be saved and accessible to all employees who have access.  

Better Accessibility 

Since the start of the pandemic, many businesses have decided to allow their employees to work from home part-time, if not 100% of the time. The cloud enables employees to access their company’s network from anywhere. In addition, they can access critical files and data from anywhere, increasing productivity and efficiency.  

5 steps to securing identity infrastructure

According to Microsoft, in Azure Active Directory, there are 50 million password attacks daily, yet only 20% of users and 30% of global admins are using strong authentications such as multi-factor authentication (MFA). Attackers who get control of privileged accounts can do tremendous damage, so it’s critical to protect these accounts. Read our checklist to learn more:

Strengthen your credentials
Strengthen your credentials by enabling strong authentication, banning commonly attacked passwords, implementing expiration rules, protecting against leaked credentials, adding resilience against outages, and implementing AD FS extranet smart lockout.

Reduce your attack service area
Reduce your attack service area by implementing cloud authentication, blocking legacy authentication, blocking invalid authentication entry points, implementing privilege access management, and restricting user consent operations.

Automate threat response
Automate threat response by implementing sign-in and user risk security policies, integrating Microsoft 365 Defender with Azure AD identity protection, and setting up monitoring and alerting.

Utilize Cloud Intelligence
To utilize cloud intelligence, your organization should monitor Azure AD, Azure AD Connect Health in hybrid environments, Azure AD Identity Protection events, apps, and consented permissions.

Enable end-user self-service
Implementing self-service password reset, self-service group and application access, Azure AD access reviews, and automatic user provisioning will create efficient ways for end-users to secure your organization’s identity infrastructure.


Now Micro Professional Services

Systems Management
We create a simplified desktop and data center management experience for your robust, complex, and heterogeneous environments. Through configuration and automation of systems management tasks, we allow you to keep control of your complex IT business, whether it is on-premises, in the cloud, or across the country.


Cloud Productivity
Now Micro helps you implement a cloud-based infrastructure, giving you unparalleled access, robust security, and greater control in your environment. Moving the infrastructure to the cloud pushes technology out of the way so you can focus on your job.


Identity Management
Our identity management solutions help you create simplified synchronization between identities on-premises and in the cloud while allowing administrators to monitor user access and behavior.

How to Equip Your Office for Hybrid Work

The ongoing pandemic is changing the way companies are structured. Remote work adds flexibility to workers’ lives and protects them from COVID-19, while in-person work allows staff to communicate nuances and socialize. Companies are now offering their employees the best of both worlds: a hybrid office. Read our top 4 tips on providing the right technology for a smooth transition into hybrid work.

Hoteling Stations

The new hybrid office system can look different for every company or for different departments within one company. For example, not all employees work on the same day in many companies, so to save space, a company could opt to have unassigned desks, also known as hoteling. Pairing hoteling with seamless workstations makes for a great hybrid office that saves space and money.

Invest in seamless workstations

After working the last two years at home, many employees have perfected their home technology to be able to work exactly how they want. However, with hybrid schedules, going back and forth between home and the office can be quite the hassle if you’re bringing things like laptops, headsets, and charging cables back and forth. A way to solve that challenge is to invest in seamless workstations for assigned desks or hotel stations. The arrangement can look different depending on each company’s needs. The setup used at Now Micro allows staff to bring only their laptops and plug them into monitors, which connect the laptop to charging, a wireless keyboard, and a mouse.

Conference Room AV Setup

Some days employees may choose to be in the office, while others work remotely. However, that doesn’t mean meetings have to only occur in person on only by video. Simply adding a small media player, a display on the wall, a web camera, and a speaker/microphone can equip conference rooms to help teams collaborate no matter where they are working.

Borderless Data Center

Storing company data can be challenging when employees are based in many locations. A solution to this is the borderless data center. The borderless data center is a hybrid cloud concept that brings the basic tenants of cloud computing to the brick-and-mortar data center for seamless application operation. Disaggregating the traditional physical infrastructure through a cloud-enabled Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) facilitates a software-defined, unified system combining all the elements of a conventional data center: storage, compute, networking, and management into a cloud infrastructure on-premises with lower costs, more control, and improved security.

Office setup and workplace culture are not going back to the way things were before. Therefore, it is essential to adapt to the times and equip offices that push us towards a more innovative future. Now Micro and its partners are here to help your office transition to a hybrid office. To learn more, visit nowmicro.com or email sales@nowmicro.com.

Now Micro Expands to New Location

Now Micro rang in the new year with a ribbon-cutting at our new headquarters in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. Just a short drive from the previous address in Saint Paul, the new facility accommodates a growing services organization, expands warehouse and production capabilities, and caters to a new hybrid workplace culture.

Hybrid Office

The move to a larger facility coincides with changing workplace dynamics driven by the pandemic. Thanks to today’s technology, most organizations can now accommodate both remote and hybrid work models. Accounting for accessibility, uptime, and security is essential for successful remote or hybrid environments, but it can be difficult for organizations to adjust quickly. As a result, IT departments and organizations have had to change strategies to manage PCs and peripherals, data centers, collaboration technologies and provide sufficient help desk support for end-users. 

We built our new facility with a hybrid workplace in mind. Permanent offices and cubes are available to anyone who chooses to be in the office. Hoteling cubes and workspaces are open to employees who split time between working remotely and in-office. Microsoft Always On VPN technology keeps our sales team securely connected to our ERP systems as if they were in the office. While Microsoft Teams has been in place for some time, it is now our primary communication tool. The use of video in calls has increased substantially.

Digital Signage

Having digital signage engineers on staff has been a big help in deploying visual communications throughout the building. There are 15 displays installed throughout the building, with the majority focused on tracking business metrics in the warehouse and manufacturing space. In addition, the displays in the front office serve to greet customers and provide real-time performance metrics to our sales team.

Solutions

Now Micro has embraced these changes to lead by example and help accommodate customers in this different work world. As a result, demand for our services has increased. So we’re here to answer the challenging questions:

1.    How can my organization successfully provide technical support if no one is in the office?

2.    Where do my end-users go if they need troubleshooting on their devices?

3.    How do I solve connectivity issues with an end-user’s home Wi-Fi network? 

4.    How can I keep track of my organization’s devices when users’ offices are across the state or country?

2022 is off to a great start at Now Micro. We are excited about our new facility, a new hybrid-work environment, and a new skill set to give our customers additional support to enable their digital transformation.

Five Reasons Why SMBs will invest in an MSP in 2022 

As times change, business owners need to adapt. Here are some reasons why an SMB may be considering an MSP

1. Modernizing IT 

As SMBs move to modernize their IT, they don’t have the expertise to keep up with the complexities of managing and maintaining their IT environment.

2. Employee Growth

Despite the pandemic, many organizations are growing rapidly. But unfortunately, some can’t keep up with the growth. For example, they can’t continuously upgrade and install the number of endpoints, onboard new employees, or educate them on the best security practices.  

3. Not enough IT support

Many SMBs do not have an internal IT employee, and one of their employees must take it on as an extra job responsibility which decreases productivity. If they do have an IT employee, they often are faced with more pressure than they can handle alone.

4. Outside threats

 Over half of businesses have faced some type of financial cyberattack in the last year; most SMBs don’t have the resources to combat these risks internally.

5. Compliance

Compliance is a tricky concept for most SMBs. Working with an MSP can help them adhere to the often changing regulations.

Since most businesses rely nearly entirely on the internet to perform their day-to-day operations, an important goal for SMBs is to strategize and prioritize digital transformation. Unfortunately, this is no small task and can be very overwhelming for SMBs. However, a Managed Service Provider can take on the entirety of IT management, allowing them to mitigate risk, get the best return on their technology investments, and educate their employees.

If you are interested in learning more about how Now Micro can help you manage your IT more effectively, or you’d be interested in receiving a free network assessment, reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com or check out our website.

The Consequences of a Cyberattack on SMBs

Nearly every company relies on the internet for its business operations, which means almost every company is at risk for a cyber-attack. In last week’s blog post, we discussed why Cybercriminals are targeting SMBs, but what are the consequences of falling victim to a cyberattack or data breach for SMBs?

Downtime

After a cyberattack, an SMB is likely to face significant downtime, which means their employees cannot do their jobs. While one can expect revenue to take a substantial hit from downtime, employee productivity usually is the most significant consequence. Employers are still required to pay their employees, they may be missing deadlines, and downtime may cause excess stress on their employees.

The cost of downtime = minutes of downtime x cost per minute.

Damage to hardware 

In the event of a cyberattack, malware, or data breach, not only is your data at risk, but it can also cause damage to your hardware such as PCs, Servers, and more. In addition, the repair or replacement of hardware can be very costly.

Fines and penalties

Legal and regulatory requirements seem to be constantly changing, which can be very overwhelming for a business owner. However, business owners must comply with these rules and regulations, and when they don’t, they are subject to fines and penalties costs.

Damage to reputation and loss of customers

When a company falls victim to a cyberattack, their customer data is often compromised, leading to a loss of customer trust, which leads to customers taking their business elsewhere. Data breaches also hurt attracting and obtaining new customers when the news is public.

High costs

In the event of a cyberattack, an SMB is likely to experience downtime, damage to hardware, fines and penalties, damage to reputation and loss of customers, and more. Each of these consequences has its own cost, and sometimes it is enough for a business to close its doors for good. Forbes states that the average cost of a single data breach on an SMB is $149,000. Additionally, 76% of SMBs have experienced a cyberattack in the last 12 months.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: It is no longer a question of if your business will be the target of a cyberattack, but when. Can you afford the consequences of a data breach?

Working with a Managed Service Provider can help you better secure your network and prevent cyberattacks from happening. To learn more about our managed services, visit our website or reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com.

Why are SMBs being targeted in cyber-attacks?

Did you know that small to medium-sized businesses are potentially more vulnerable for cyber-attacks than large businesses? With the growing complexity of IT challenges, it’s crucial to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats and how to protect your business.

A Foot in the Door

Cybercriminals target SMBs because they are often a foot in the door to hacking into larger companies. SMBs are often vendors for larger entities and may have access to online portals and the banking information of these companies. Cybercriminals go for SMBs because they are likely to have weaker cybersecurity practices, making their vulnerable information, customer data, intellectual property, and financial data easy to compromise.

What to look out for

Every year, cybercriminals are advancing how they target their victims, which can be tricky to spot. Below are the leading causes for security breaches:

Weak and Stolen Credentials/Passwords

Hackers will take any opportunity to steal weak passwords from organizations. The key is to have a policy that requires strong passwords that include eight characters, at least one upper case letter, one number, and one special character.

Back Doors & Application Vulnerabilities

Sometimes software applications are poorly written, or network systems are poorly designed. These may have holes that cybercriminals can easily exploit and get your data directly without needing a password. The way to prevent this is to make sure software and network systems are up to date and properly patched.

Malware

Malware is software loaded unintentionally that a hacker can open up and exploit a system through. The key to avoiding malware is never downloading anything from questionable websites or opening suspicious emails.

Social Engineering

Have you ever received a fake email saying you’ve won a million dollars? That’s what social engineering is. It’s easy to evade cyber-attacks from this tactic as long as you know that if something looks too good to be true, it is.

Insider Threats

An angry employee or unaware employee can cause harm on your networks if given access to data. The simple solution to prevent this is to ensure that you keep your data backed up and your permissions up to date.

Physical Attacks

Hackers don’t always sit at home to commit cybercrimes. They can break into your building and use your computers to find secure data. Make sure your physical structure is protected to prevent a security breach.

Improper Configuration

Sometimes mistakes can be made when configuring systems, so it is essential to triple-check and have multiple people look at the work to keep errors minimum.

There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started on securing your company’s data. One of them is working with an MSP, like Now Micro. To learn more about our managed services, visit our website or reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com.

The Future of SMBs

Modernizing technology and increased cybersecurity practices will be top of mind for small to medium business (SMBs) owners moving forward. Despite the pandemic, many SMBs expect growth over the next few years, which means an increase in employee headcount and revenue. This news is great; however, as employee headcount increases, so does IT usage and complexity.

According to ConnectWise, 48% of SMBs plan to upgrade their IT systems in 2022. In addition, over half are looking to make collaboration easier for employees working in the home and the office. While most companies are not shifting to a 100% remote policy, many are adopting a permanently hybrid business model. These policies include implementing new in-office practices to increase productivity and collaboration.

One of the biggest trends among SMBs is cybersecurity and migration to the cloud. Benefits of the cloud include limited downtime, delays, more flexibility, and an additional layer of security. In addition, cybersecurity and migration to the cloud help create a seamless hybrid work environment.

Here are six reasons for SMBs to invest in cyber security:

1. Protecting company data and intellectual property

2. Protecting customer privacy and financials

3. Compliance with rules and regulations

4. Growth of mobile users

5. Protection of physical assets

6. Digitalization of business operations

SMBs face more challenges than ever, growing IT complexity, lack of resources, new working environments, cyber security threats, lack of IT knowledge, and compliance overload. Luckily, SMBs owners don’t have to take on all this pressure alone. Managed Service Providers can efficiently manage IT remotely while educating their clients on best practices. As a result, an MSP can ensure that SMBs get the best return on their technology investments.

If you are interested in learning more about how Now Micro can help your SMB get the most out of their IT, contact me directly at sydneye@nowmicro.com, or check out our website for a free network assessment!

4 Reasons to Conduct a Network Assessment

Q1 is a great time to check IT systems and determine how to revamp them for the year. Performing a network assessment is essential when gauging areas for improvement. A network assessment looks at disk & memory utilization, BDR sizing calculation, warranty summary, device stabilization requirements, software and device inventory, active directory user list, and much more. Read more to find out how a network assessment can help your organization.

1. View a detailed and comprehensive report and analysis of your company’s existing IT infrastructure.

If you’re seeking out a network assessment, you are likely trying to learn everything about your organization’s system and see where you’re succeeding or where you’re falling short. A network assessment will look at network performance, security protection, server/storage performance and determine which issues are network-related or user-related. It’s essential to get a comprehensive report on your network so that you can catch hard-to-find errors and fix them.

2. Create a strategy for your IT systems and people.

You’ll likely be working with a managed service provider to execute a network assessment, which will benefit you. A managed service provider has a team of IT experts to gauge the network assessment results and then offer guidance. MSPs, such as Now Micro, work with a variety of clientele and will be able to customize their offerings based on what your organization needs. Once the strategy is in place, your IT issues will be solved in no time.

3. Discover money-saving opportunities.

By filling in the gaps of your IT strategy, you are saving time and money. For example, most IT management is protection, prevention, and modernization. These new changes will save your organization from an IT disaster and save resources that would have been used in recovery and fixing errors.

4. Get an explanation for C-suite Executives.

Sometimes C-suite executives need raw data to convince them to approve significant upgrades. A network assessment will lay out all the data you need to get them on your side. As stated in Reason #3, the improvements may be a high cost upfront, but over time, the company can save money by keeping their IT up to date and not constantly paying for repairs when disaster hits.

If you would like to have a network assessment of your organization’s IT infrastructure, visit Now Micro’s managed services website and click on the “Free Network Assessment” button to get started or email our Managed Services point of contact, Sydney Ellison, at sydneye@nowmicro.com.