7 Ways Microsoft 365 Can Help Manage Your Organizational Governance

These days, you will find cloud services offering some pretty amazing features. Platforms like Microsoft 365 (M365) have been developing their functionalities at a very fast pace. With all of those changes, businesses can expect to benefit as well. And they do. The advances in cloud technology have had a significant impact on things like corporate data security and remote work. Moreover, the round the clock support you get from Microsoft experts allows you to swiftly deal with any issues. Even more importantly, M365 helps you manage your organizational governance and that’s something we want to take a closer look at.

Governance in M365

Under Microsoft 365, the key thing is the protection of essential data assets while minimizing risk. There are a few crucial areas that need consideration. Firstly, there is operational assurance. This is mainly an IT task responsible for the operation and performance of the platform. Next, we talk about information assurance. For this, you need to know the regulatory requirements as well as the goals of the business because it involves the management of information throughout the lifecycle. Lastly, we’ll talk about outcome assurance. This part is concerned with providing the necessary guidance to enable an organization to obtain favorable outcomes.  

Preparing your business

Cloud services are constantly evolving and that means businesses need to adequately prepare. These continuous changes can have positive or negative effects depending on your governance policies. It’s important to have policies that best suit your IT team to ensure maximum productivity. Although leveraging the power of the cloud has numerous benefits, your IT team still needs to maintain a framework that guarantees data security. All of this requires the company to set up informed governance policies that are regularly updated as and when necessary.    

Service offering

When it comes to IT governance for M365, all the services you get with M365 including Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security are considered. Businesses will need to assess aspects such as user lifecycles and legal data requirements for the governance framework. It’s important to note that employee recruitment or retirement can upset your governance processes because user and data lifecycle concepts are designed and applied in an expanded form. Given that there will be other employees that need greater access and security, you need to establish protocols for these groups. This will help to maintain corporate data security while granting secure access to those that need it.  

Great communication platforms

Most people will agree that good communication is an absolute necessity for any business to operate properly. Again, this is something Microsoft 365 fully understands. You can have the best business strategies but without good communication channels, your business will struggle. To facilitate great communication, M365 clients can get in touch via Skype, voice calls, and video calls. Yammer and other business platforms are also available when it comes to organizing projects. As well as giving users fantastic options for communication, these platforms are highly secure. So management can rest easy knowing that they can easily relay information and organize projects without worrying about security.  

Improve service delivery

Online platforms have changed the way that clients can interact with businesses. In addition, these platforms also enable businesses to market themselves better to potential clients. With the amount of information available online, decision-making is a lot easier. For instance, through the use of Outlook’s CRM capabilities, you can track your clients and establish business relationships. You also have Microsoft 365 Business that you can use to create mailing lists and manage your marketing emails. Clients get increased convenience because of Bookings which allows them to make appointments anytime, anywhere. Because of the popularity of social media and its significant reach, Microsoft 365 Business also helps you to manage these platforms. It does this by updating the information on your social media platforms and making communication with clients easier.              

 

Microsoft information governance

Information governance has a massive role to play in how effectively an organization operates. With information being a very valuable asset, you cannot afford to compromise your data management. You need to start by understanding the type of information that is governed, something that is done with retention labels which drive the automated lifecycle management of all data. After this, you can configure the labels in a few different ways. You can publish the labels, use MIG/ADG to auto-apply labels, or apply pre-applied labels in bulk. Information governance gives you a system for comprehensive data management on a secure platform.

Effective device management

In these times when plenty of people are working from home, managing employees’ devices is essential to overall organizational governance. Not only is this important to maintain productivity levels, but it’s also necessary for data security. By joining Azure AD and enrolling in Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM), users will encrypt their devices and obtain certificates enabling them to access VPNs, Wi-Fi, etc. Furthermore, this will keep employees’ devices up to date, secure, and compliant with all your policies. MEM is a great tool for any business looking to organize their workforce when working remotely without compromising data security.

Simplifying management

Good management is often what makes the difference between successful businesses and struggling ones. Likewise, good technology can have a similar effect on your business. Which is why it’s not a bad idea to check out Microsoft 365. It’s a package deal that has some of Microsoft’s best products, not least of which is the hugely popular Office 365. The tools you get in this package will not only help but improve your organizational governance. Easier communication, advanced security, and 24/7 support help to make your business run efficiently. So if you want to simplify management for your organization, M365 is a great place to start.

What You Can Learn From Microsoft Endpoint Manager Analytics

The importance of data analysis has been steadily growing in the last couple of decades. And as technology has continued to evolve, the tools that we have available to us have significantly improved. These tools help businesses get a clearer view of their operations. One of the more recent offerings is Microsoft Endpoint Manager Analytics (MEMA). With this product, Microsoft is aiming to help organizations measure and improve their productivity. These days, businesses are placing significant emphasis on the degree of productivity of their employees. Therefore it’s important to have a way to actually see this and that’s what we’ll be going over below.

What is Microsoft Endpoint Manager Analytics?

Endpoint Analytics is essentially a new feature that Microsoft has added to Microsoft Productivity Score. What it does is to provide you with information on how the organization is operating as well as the experiences that your users are receiving. Moreover, it can pinpoint policies or hardware issues that are slowing down devices and then make any necessary changes without causing needless disruptions. Therefore, Endpoint Analytics can provide insights that are normally unavailable to IT because of a lack of visibility into the end-user experience. And it can offer this service at a better cost as compared to the costly support channel that you would otherwise use.

Getting started

Once you’ve met all the requirements, the actual process of enrolling a device is pretty straightforward. For Intune-managed devices, you need to go to the Onboard in the Endpoint Analytics portal. When you’re enrolling devices that are managed by Configuration Manager, there are a few steps to follow. Firstly, you have to go and enable Endpoint Analytics data collection in Configuration Manager. Next, you’ll need to enable data upload from Configuration Manager. And the last step involves onboarding in the Endpoint Analytics portal. You will see the connector status light up in Microsoft Endpoint Manager once you have successfully enabled.

Startup performance

This is an area that can be of great concern when it comes to causing delays to your employees. By measuring time to productivity, you can easily see where users are losing time. Endpoint Analytics will help your organization by identifying lengthy boot and sign-in times and then resolving them. In addition, you’ll get a couple of recommended actions that you can take to improve startup times. Having this data at hand enables you to evaluate your startup performance. You can then use this data and compare it to other organizations thus getting a better view of how you’re doing as a business. 

Software optimization

A lot of the time, increasing productivity only requires you to optimize your current software. MEMA plays a key role by providing you with information for improving user experience by optimizing your operating system as well as the versions of Microsoft software that you are already using. You’ll get to benefit from insights for various deployment and management services. Among these are Windows Autopilot, Microsoft Intune, Configuration Manager, Windows 10, and Azure Active Directory. Although you may already be using these platforms, analytics gives you data that helps you to get the most out of them.

Swift problem resolution

In the past, one of the major causes of delays has been users having to wait for IT to resolve problems. However, Endpoint Analytics provides proactive remediation scripting. Simply put, this great feature will resolve common support issues on any of your endpoints. Not only that, but it will fix these problems before users even know there’s an issue. There are built-in scripts that you can use for common issues. But, there is also the possibility of authoring your own scripts based on what issues your users frequently encounter.

Licensing requirements

A valid Microsoft Endpoint Manager license is necessary to enroll devices in Endpoint Analytics. In addition, for proactive remediations, one of the following licenses for managed devices will be required:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5 (included in Microsoft 365 F3, E3, or E5)
  • Windows 10 Education A3 or A5 (included in Microsoft 365 A3 or A5)
  • Windows Virtual Desktop Access E3 or E5

Requirements for Intune devices

Devices under co-management or enrolled in Intune running Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Pro Education, Windows 10 Enterprise, or Windows 10 Education. Windows 10 Home isn’t supported. Only devices with Windows 10 Enterprise, Education, or Pro version 1903 or later will get startup performance insights. It’s also important to note that workplace joined or Azure AD registered devices won’t be supported. Lastly, you need to ensure that the Connected User Experiences and Telemetry service are running.

Configuration Manager requirements

For devices that are under the management of Configuration Manager, you’re going to need a minimum of Configuration Manager version 2002 with KB4560496 – Update rollup for Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager version 2002 or later. Also, the Configuration Manager clients need to be upgraded to version 2002 or later. And then you should ensure that the Microsoft Endpoint Manager tenant is attached. Another thing to remember is that enrolled devices that meet the Intune requirements will send required functional data directly to Microsoft public cloud.

Enhance your productivity

Common issues that trouble most organizations should not have to persist indefinitely. Time is a priceless commodity and your business needs to strive to fully enhance productivity. Hence the importance of software such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager Analytics. Its ability to furnish you with a comprehensive overview of how your organization is operating has the potential to make it key to your business strategies. Evaluating the problem areas affecting your users and resolving them without disruption will immediately improve workflow. Although Endpoint Analytics is still very much a new product, it’s certainly one that looks like most businesses could need.

7 Microsoft 365 Tools for IT Professional and Admin Training

A lot of people are familiar with Microsoft software and have been using it for years. However, new products as well as updates are constantly being rolled out. As such, it’s important to educate yourself on all the new features that are available in order to optimize the user experience. Microsoft 365 (M365) has plenty of amazing features that can vastly improve how you operate. And there are several training tools available to help fully equip you with the necessary skills to run M365. It’s these tools that we’ll go over below to see just how they can help you.

Video Hub

Poring over countless pages of documents can be a painstaking task for most people. It’s something that can very easily put one off from learning something. Fortunately, Microsoft 365 gives its clients a great alternative. With Video Hub you’ll get to do you learning through watching videos that will provide you with all the expertise you need. This platform contains over 150 technical videos about Microsoft technologies. Also, if you happen to have any questions, there are subject matter experts available to answer those for you. By using Video Hub, you will undoubtedly enhance your learning experience and gain new skills.

Instructor-led courses

To further sharpen your skills, Microsoft also has courses available that are taught by experts. Depending on your preference, you have the choice of taking the course online or in person. Moreover, the courses are taught by Microsoft Certified Trainers so you can be certain that you’ll be receiving a quality education. In addition, the web page comes with a filter so you don’t have to browse over a hundred courses searching for what you need. You get to pick the material that you want to learn and focus on that only. So whether you’re a beginner or advanced, an administrator or a developer, there are courses available for you.

Certification

The tools mentioned above can help you on your journey to get certification. For a lot of people, this is the goal as it will help to improve your prospects. Microsoft certification shows that you are keeping up with recent technological advances as well as the requirements that come with various roles. Similarly to the courses above, the certifications page also has a filter that will point you to the material that you need. Doing these certifications will boost not only your productivity as an individual but your value to your organization as well. Additionally, these certifications have great potential to advance your career and prepare you for future possibilities.

Online providers

Apart from Microsoft, you can also find online service providers that can provide you with the training you need. Having alternative options gives clients a lot more convenience as well as the choice of how they want to proceed with their learning. These courses can help individuals to get an in-depth understanding of the administrative capabilities of Microsoft 365. And the key thing here is to search for courses that are led by Microsoft certified trainers. Otherwise, you may end up receiving training that will not be recognized in the future. 

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn is an exciting sandbox-based learning platform that enables people to learn about various technologies. By putting everything together in one place, Microsoft makes IT professional and admin training a whole lot simpler. All you need to get started is to set up a Microsoft account if you don’t already have one. It’s a very simple process that just requires you to fill in your details. Another great benefit that you get from this platform is the fun aspect of the learning process. Things such as points and trophies awarded for reaching certain goals serve to add a little fun to the learning process.

Learning paths and modules

Microsoft offers various learning paths and modules that are designed to fully equip you with the knowledge you need. You’ll find close to 300 options available on this particular web page. So this is an area that will provide you with step-by-step guidance to mastering Microsoft products. With some of these having no prerequisites it means that you can select a learning path or module and jump straight in. You’ll need to dedicate a couple of hours to learning the material but you can do it at your convenience. If you’re looking for efficient learning platforms then this is what you need.

YouTube tutorials

In addition to the Video Hub that you get from Microsoft, you’ll find that YouTube is also a rich source of learning material. In fact, Microsoft has the vast majority of M365 videos that can be found on YouTube. The advantage of using this platform is that you get to learn from various individuals. Although some may not be Microsoft certified trainers, they can still provide you with a great learning platform. Sometimes all you need to understand a challenging concept is for someone to explain it in a slightly different way and it’s as if a light has been switched on. Without a doubt, YouTube can be a valuable learning tool, if used with discretion of course.   

Equipping yourself

Technology is moving at a very rapid pace that makes it difficult to keep up with. And because of that pace, it’s not always feasible to physically attend classes or seminars to learn what you need. Fortunately, for Microsoft 365 users they get plenty of tools to provide them with adequate training. These tools allow you to enhance your skills at your own pace and gain Microsoft certification. All of which you can achieve in the comfort of your own home. Whatever you need to learn is potentially just the click of a button away.

Automate Configuration Manager Application Creation

A simple example to automate the application creation process in ConfigMgr.

RebootBehavior set to NoAction, Accepted values: BasedOnExitCode, NoAction, ForceReboot, ProgramReboot
AutoInstall $true – indicates whether a task sequence action can install the application
Added Action to Distribute the Content to the DP Group at the end

Checklist:

  • Application Name
  • With a deployment type: Same application name
  • Content Location
  • Installation Program
  • Uninstall program
  • Repair Program
  • Detection method (a specific MSI Product code)
  • User expierence: Install for system if resource is device; otherwise install for user
  • Logon requirement: weather or not a user is logged on

    Published on Github:

https://github.com/ThomasMarcussen/assortedScripts/blob/master/Create_SCCMApplication_1.0.1.ps1

New Microsoft Edge based on Chromium – error status: 1603

I recently ran into to an issue deploying the New Microsoft Edge, for some reason it kept failing with Error status 1603 on most of the systems.

The deployment version was version: 87.0.664.47
It kept failing on a lot of systems with build: 1803, I did suspect a missing KB of some kind, but did not find any apparent prerequisites missing.

Tried the same method for the latests version – 87.0.664.60, both downloaded from: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/business/download and everything seem to be working, now deployed to more then 2000 systems.

CustomAction DoInstall returned actual error code -2147219187 (note this may not be 100% accurate if translation happened inside sandbox)

Error 1722. There is a problem with this Windows Installer package. A program run as part of the setup did not finish as expected. Contact your support personnel or package vendor.  Action DoInstall, location: C:\WINDOWS\Installer\MSI9085.tmp, command: /silent /install "appguid={56EB18F8-B008-4CBD-B6D2-8C97FE7E9062}&appname=Microsoft Edge&needsAdmin=True&usagestats=0&ap=stable-arch_x64" /installsource enterprisemsi /appargs "appguid={56EB18F8-B008-4CBD-B6D2-8C97FE7E9062}&installerdata=%7B%22distribution%22%3A%7B%22msi%22%3Atrue%2C%22system_level%22%3Atrue%2C%22verbose_logging%22%3Atrue%2C%22msi_product_id%22%3A%2292749E40-069E-3467-BB1F-78BB266190E2%22%2C%22allow_downgrade%22%3Afalse%2C%22do_not_create_desktop_shortcut%22%3Afalse%2C%22do_not_create_taskbar_shortcut%22%3Afalse%7D%7D" 

MSI (s) (10:A8) [13:21:48:649]: Product: Microsoft Edge -- Error 1722. There is a problem with this Windows Installer package. A program run as part of the setup did not finish as expected. Contact your support personnel or package vendor.  Action DoInstall, location: C:\WINDOWS\Installer\MSI9085.tmp, command: /silent /install "appguid={56EB18F8-B008-4CBD-B6D2-8C97FE7E9062}&appname=Microsoft Edge&needsAdmin=True&usagestats=0&ap=stable-arch_x64" /installsource enterprisemsi /appargs "appguid={56EB18F8-B008-4CBD-B6D2-8C97FE7E9062}&installerdata=%7B%22distribution%22%3A%7B%22msi%22%3Atrue%2C%22system_level%22%3Atrue%2C%22verbose_logging%22%3Atrue%2C%22msi_product_id%22%3A%2292749E40-069E-3467-BB1F-78BB266190E2%22%2C%22allow_downgrade%22%3Afalse%2C%22do_not_create_desktop_shortcut%22%3Afalse%2C%22do_not_create_taskbar_shortcut%22%3Afalse%7D%7D" 

MSI (c) (C4:44) [13:21:48:771]: Windows Installer installed the product. Product Name: Microsoft Edge. Product Version: 87.0.664.47. Product Language: 1033. Manufacturer: Microsoft Corporation. Installation success or error status: 1603.

Any ideas, other then deploying latest and greatest? Let me know

Deploy Microsoft Edge Chromium Using PowerShell App Deployment Toolkit (PSADT)

The new Microsoft Edge  is based on Chromium and was released on January 15, 2020. It is compatible with all supported versions of Windows. Installing the browser will replace the legacy version of Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.

PowerShell App Deployment Toolkit (PSADT) is a great framework to deploy and manage application deployment – it is free of charge and can be downloaded from https://psappdeploytoolkit.com/

The script is published here on Github

This deployment script example does the following within the PSADT framework:

Pre-Install:
If Microsoft Edge is open, it will prompt the user to close it or delay the deployment 3 times (Comment line 120 if you prefer to just shut it down)
As a Pre-installation task it searches the add/remove program list for any version of Microsoft Edge and uninstalls it.

Install:
It then installs the MSI file from the Files directory – MicrosoftEdgeEnterpriseX64.msi
The latests version of Microsoft Edge for Business version can also we downloaded from – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/edge/business/download

Uninstall:
Uninstalltion is performed using the name from Add/remove programs (same as for the pre-install step) so this will require no changes. (Line 181)

Repair:
If needed repair can be enabled (or updated for other versions)
(Modify line 203 if deploy other versions)

Microsoft Edge follows the Modern Lifecycle policy. Learn more about supported Microsoft Edge releases.

SMS_SITE_BACKUP failed. Please see previous errors.

I ran into this issue, where after sometime the SMS Build-in backup function would fail.
When running the SMS_SITE_BACKUP from Window Services (services.msc) it would fail with some of the following errors:

SMS_SITE_BACKUP failed. Please see previous errors.

Error: SMS Writer service either does not exist or is not running .

Error: GatherWriterMetadata failed.

SMS_SITE_BACKUP failed. Please see previous errors.

STATMSG: ID=5060 SEV=E LEV=M SOURCE=”SMS Server” COMP=”SMS_SITE_BACKUP” SYS=Server001.domain.com SITE=PS1 PID=67372 TID=61212 GMTDATE=Thu Dec 10 01:20:41.530 2020 ISTR0=”Error: GatherWriterMetadata failed.” ISTR1=”” ISTR2=”” ISTR3=”” ISTR4=”” ISTR5=”” ISTR6=”” ISTR7=”” ISTR8=”” ISTR9=”” NUMATTRS

Resolution:
List the VSS writers available with the following command: VSSADMIN list writers
If you find the SMS Writer to be missing run the following commands:

Net stop SMS_SITE_VSS_WRITER
Net start SMS_SITE_VSS_WRITER

This should add it back to the list as shown below. Now restart you SMS_SITE_BACKUP (can be done form services.msc) and review the logfile: smsbkup.log. it should now be running.

The issue here was caused by another backup solution using the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). So fixing also required the other solution to be removed/reconfigured.

Controlling User App Access With AppLocker

Most organizations could probably gain some benefits from deploying application control policies. This is something that your IT guys could use to make their work easier and improve the overall management of employee devices. AppLocker is a platform that will give admins control over which apps and files users can run including packaged app installers, scripts, executable files, Windows Installer files, DLLs, and packaged apps. Because of its features, AppLocker will help organizations to reduce their admin overhead and the cost of managing computer resources. With that said, let’s go over how AppLocker helps you to control user app access.

Installation

Users that are running the enterprise-level editions of Windows will find that AppLocker is already included. Microsoft allows you to author rules for a single computer or a group of computers. For single computers, you’ll need to use the Local Security Policy Editor (secpol.msc). And for a group of computers, you can use the Group Policy Management Console to author the rules within a Group Policy Object (GPO). However, it’s important to note that you can only configure AppLocker policies on computers running the supported versions and editions of the Windows operating system.

Features of AppLocker

AppLocker offers its clients several great features to help you to manage access control. It allows you to define rules based on file attributes and persisting across app updates. These include publisher name, file name, file version, and product name. You can also assign rules to individual users or security groups as well as create exceptions to rules.

In order to understand the impact of a policy before enforcing it, AppLocker allows you to use audit-only mode to first deploy the policy. Another feature enables the creation of rules on a staging server that you can test before exporting them to your production environment and importing them into a Group Policy Object (GPO). And then by using Windows Powershell cmdlets for AppLocker, you’ll have an easier time creating and managing rules.

Enhancing security

AppLocker works well at addressing the following security scenarios:

  • Application inventory: AppLocker policies can be enforced in an audit-only mode where all application access activity is registered in event logs.
  • Protection against unwanted software: you can exclude from the list of allowed apps any app that you don’t want to run and AppLocker will prevent it from running.
  • Licensing conformance: AppLocker enables you to create rules blocking the running of unlicensed software while limiting licensed software to authorized users.
  • Software standardization: to have a more uniform application deployment, you can set up policies that will only allow supported or approved apps to run on PCs within a business group.
  • Manageability improvement: AppLocker has improved a lot of things from its predecessor Software Restrictions Policies. Among those improvements are audit-only mode deployment, automatic generation of rules from multiple files, and importing and exporting policies.

Apps to control

Each organization determines which apps they want to control based on their specific needs. If you want to control all apps, you’ll note that AppLocker has policies for controlling apps by creating allowed lists of apps by file type. When you want to control specific apps, a list of allowed apps will be created when you create AppLocker rules. Apart from the apps on the exception list, all the apps on that list will be able to run. For controlling apps by business group and user, AppLocker policies can be applied through a GPO to computer objects within an organizational unit.

Allow and deny actions

Because each AppLocker rule collection operates as an allowed list of files, the only files that are allowed to run are the ones that are listed in this collection. This is something that differs from Software Restriction Policies. Also, since AppLocker operates by default as an allowed list, if there is no explicit rule allowing or denying a file from running, AppLocker’s default deny action will block that file. Deny actions are typically less secure because a malicious user can modify a file thereby invalidating the rule. One important thing to remember is that when using the deny action on rules, you need to first create rules allowing the Windows system files to run. Otherwise, a single rule in a rule collection meant to block a malicious file from running will also deny all other files on the computer from running.

Administrator control 

The last thing most organizations would want is any standard user or worse a malicious one modifying their policies. Therefore, AppLocker only allows administrators to modify AppLocker rules to access or add an application. For PCs that are joined to a domain, the administrator can create AppLocker rules that can potentially be merged with domain-level rules as stated in the domain GPO.

Is AppLocker for you?

If you see the need to improve app or data access for your organization then AppLocker is something you should be considering. Also, if your organization has a known and manageable number of applications then you have an additional reason. Ask the question, does your organization have the resources to test policies against the organization’s requirements? Or the resources to involve Help Desk or to build a self-help process for end-user application access issues? If yes to the above, then AppLocker would be a great addition to your organization’s application control policies.

Wrap up

Software that enhances the way an organization controls access to its applications and data can play a significant role in boosting efficiency. AppLocker is one such platform. With all the great features available, it can easily become a fantastic tool for your IT team. Not only does it simplify access control management, but its various actions will also result in greater security. Without a doubt, AppLocker can be a valuable addition to your application control policies.

Benefits of Using Microsoft FastTrack

Benefits of Using Microsoft FastTrack

Cloud technology has grown significantly in importance in recent years. Not only has the technology brought great convenience but it’s also available to everyone. From Fortune 500 companies to small startup businesses, there are options for everyone. As is often the case, the challenge comes with making the change to using cloud resources. Lack of knowledge and a fear of the unknown can make a lot of people hesitant. Consequently, making that transition can be very challenging. And so to deal with this issue, Microsoft offers us FastTrack. It’s a solution that will help clients to deploy Microsoft cloud solutions. There are some great benefits that come with that and we shall be going over them below.   

Get expert guidance

Microsoft FastTrack is a service that helps clients onboard Microsoft Cloud solutions. It also helps to drive user adoption. So who exactly is doing the assisting? Microsoft has FastTrack specialists who are responsible for your overall onboarding experience. Because of the very different situations that clients may need to deal with, FastTrack provides you with several specialists for specific topics. Therefore, you’ll have the necessary expertise for your particular situation. Included among these specialists are Microsoft personnel, vendors, and approved partners. Specialists will help you with: recommended onboarding processes and guidance, understanding key success adoption factors, conducting technical workshops and providing specific guidance, as well as serving as subject matter experts on various technologies.

Solve compatibility issues

New products can at times come with compatibility problems. As well as the frustrations that would cause, it’s likely to affect business operations. Fortunately, with FastTrack, there are specialists on hand to provide the necessary guidance when you are facing such issues. All you need to do is complete the App Assure service request. In addition, partners can also process these requests for their clients. By enabling this feature, FastTrack offers clients even greater convenience. Remediation assistance is available for apps deployed on Windows 10, Microsoft 365 Apps, the new Microsoft Edge, and Windows Virtual Desktop.  

Plan ahead

The transition to using cloud resources is a process that involves plenty of stages. And if you don’t plan adequately, a lot can go wrong. FastTrack deals with this during the envisioning phase. Here you get to go over all the details of what needs to be done before setting the plan in motion. This is something that you can discuss with your Microsoft partner and thus work out a comprehensive plan that caters to your vision. Microsoft also provides optimization and feedback assistance to make sure that all your goals are met. Instead of just plowing ahead and potentially falling into issues later on, the envisioning phase gives you the confidence to transition without fear.

Data migration

Data migration can be a labor-intensive and tedious task to carry out. In other words, it costs a lot of time and money. With FastTrack, you will get help with migrating the mail and file data in your source environments to Office 365. Although, for Office 365 tenants with 150 to 499 licenses, you still need to perform the data migration yourself. However, FastTrack provides the necessary guidance to help you carry out the process.  As a result, clients get to benefit from a smooth data migration process that makes the transition extremely efficient.

Drive user adoption

People don’t always welcome new technology with open arms. Regardless of how brilliant certain solutions may be, it’s equally important to get people on board. So instead of just accelerating deployment, FastTrack also plays a crucial role in increasing user adoption. By increasing awareness among end-users, FastTrack can help them to appreciate the solutions on offer. In addition, the end-users can also receive training to prepare them for all the various cloud solutions they will use. That way, FastTrack can drive user adoption and thus ensure that your investment is well worth it.     

Cost-free assistance

FastTrack has a lot of advantages for companies and the fact that you get it for free is massive. Of course, this is for clients who have already purchased an eligible plan. These include plans under Microsoft 365, Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and OneDrive for Business among others. Because Microsoft tries to cater to everyone, the plans can cover individual products or a suite of products. So you get FastTrack services with a new or existing subscription. Clients will receive great assistance to enable them to take full advantage of their purchases.  And getting that help at no extra cost makes it even better.

Availability

As some people would say, the internet makes the world one global village. Thus services like FastTrack need to be easily available across borders. Microsoft addresses that need by availing FastTrack in all markets. It offers remote assistance in several languages namely: Chinese Simplified (Mandarin dialect), Chinese Traditional (Mandarin dialect), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese. Furthermore, FastTrack.microsoft.com is also available in the 12 languages above plus 15 others. This availability means great things for businesses all across the globe. Not only will it improve efficiency but it increases the appeal of the product even more.

Keeping up with technology

Technology is constantly evolving and keeping up with all the developments can be challenging. Especially when it comes to transitioning to the cloud. This can be a very daunting task for most businesses. Needless to say, Microsoft FastTrack is a solution that businesses can benefit immensely from. Being able to migrate rapidly, effectively, and securely is fantastic for all parties. Any time you need assistance with deployment and enhancing adoption, you’ll have a specialist ready to assist. The expertise on offer and the simplicity of the process makes keeping up with technology a lot easier. With the use of best practices in your business, success becomes the expectation.

Benefits of Using an Azure Hybrid Model

Businesses nowadays are inundated with offers of all different kinds of services. There are so many companies to choose from that it can at times be overwhelming. However, Microsoft Azure is a service that has proven itself beyond any doubt. Its reliability, high-level security, and efficiency make it a favorite for many enterprises. Also, its ability to support the hybrid cloud model makes it an even more attractive option. It combines this with other Microsoft server and system center tools thereby giving you enterprise-level offerings. So it is with that in mind that we need to explore the benefits that using an Azure Hybrid Model will provide you.  

Promotes remote work

One of the challenges of remote work is data access. Businesses need their employees to have access to data wherever they may be. With the modern workspace continuing to evolve, companies can have people working for them from all across the globe. Azure allows you a secure platform to operate efficiently. It enables you to have people in different locations working together easily. By using the hybrid model, you can keep your sensitive data on the on-premises servers while availing other key applications on the cloud. Consequently, this provides a secure platform for your remote workers. Data access is no longer a problem and you retain overall control over sensitive data.

Access a fast and secure network

Microsoft Azure can lay claim to having one of the largest global networks. Its data centers are located across the globe for greater operational efficiency. And so the advantage of using their hybrid model is that you get access to this network. Using Azure ExpressRoute you can get connections of up to 100 Gbps! Furthermore, Azure Virtual WAN enables you to connect to thousands of users and endpoints. All these features combine to give you a fantastic network that optimizes your work environment. But speed and efficiency alone won’t suffice. You also get DDoS Protection and Azure Firewall to ensure that your connections are as secure as possible.  

Flexibility

Using the Azure Hybrid Model can offer your business operational flexibility. Having multiple platforms on which to operate gives you the option to employ various strategies as well as cut down on costs. Most businesses will have realized that the demands placed on their IT resources will fluctuate. And so having options available is a great thing when resources are stretched. You get to leverage your on-premises resources for your daily operations. Then when additional resources are called for, the public platform is available. Simply put, you don’t need to view the hybrid cloud model as part of the migration process to pure cloud deployment.

Cost-savings

Even with plenty of features to get you excited, a big determining factor remains cost. However, the great thing about the hybrid cloud model is that it is very much cost-effective. Especially for companies that are looking to scale according to demand as well as come up with long-term strategies. Businesses will see huge savings when demand increases. This is because they are not going to require significant capital expenditure to expand their existing infrastructure. With the Azure Hybrid Model, all you will need to do is pay for the resources you need to use. And if demand goes down, then so too will your costs.

Products and services

Microsoft Azure offers you several products and services to help you build your ideal hybrid solution. If you are looking to extend Azure management to any infrastructure then Azure Arc is what you need. With this service, you can run Azure data services anywhere in your hybrid environment. And then there is Azure Stack. This product will help you to build, deploy, and run consistent hybrid apps. Not only that, but you can run these apps across on-premises, cloud, and the edge.  

Then we move on to developer tools and DevOps. For building, testing, and deploying your apps, you get to use the most comprehensive developer toolkit. Also, if you want to improve collaboration and ship faster, you can extend DevOps to any environment or cloud. All of this, however, counts for very little if the security is inadequate. Microsoft Azure leaves nothing to chance in that regard. With unified security management and AI-enabled threat protection across the board, you can be certain that your network is safe. Convenience is also important and for that, there is a seamless, single sign-on experience across cloud, mobile, and on-premises apps.          

Reduced risk

Companies can suffer from catastrophic events that are beyond their control. From outages to regional natural disasters, these events can potentially cripple a business. But, with Microsoft Azure, you get to have peace of mind knowing that your data is safe. As previously mentioned above, Azure has one of the largest global networks. Therefore, regional disasters will affect but not completely shut down your operations. This assures you that even in the event of unforeseen disasters, the security of your data will remain secure. In other words, your business continuity strategy could essentially be your Azure subscription.