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What’s Beneath the Surface?

June 15, 2017

Five years ago, if you would have asked most industry insiders about the position of Microsoft as a serious player in the device market, they probably would have labelled you as some kind of crackpot and gone back to working on their brand new MacBook Air.

Things were very different in 2012.

Apple was dominant in the premium devices space, launching the iPhone 5 into an already saturated iPhone market that devoured it ravenously. Apple also unleashed new MacBook Pros and the aforementioned MacBook Air to almost universal praise.

It seemed as if they could do no wrong…

The Times, They are a Changin’

Something began in October 2012 that had the potential to change the premium devices market for good: The release of the first ever Microsoft Surface device.

surface pro

Yes, it was flawed, and many had issues with the inclusion of Windows RT. The Surface almost sank under the weight of widespread rejection of the concept of a touch-enabled Windows 8.

That said, it was a good device.

It brought the concept of a detachable, convertible tablet to the mainstream. The instantly detachable ‘tear-off’ keyboard was sound – and would later be copied by Apple with the iPad Pro – and the touchscreen was responsive and tough.

Yes, it was a good device!

Getting Better all the Time

In the interceding years, Microsoft continued to refine their device offering.

Since the launch of the original Microsoft Surface we have seen the Surface 2 and Surface 3. The Surface Pro, Pro 2, Pro 3, Pro 4 (on which this post was written) and ultimately, the masterpiece of engineering that is the Surface Book.

surface pro

With each iteration, the Surface has become smaller, lighter, easier to use, and just downright sexier. It now has the desirability factor that up until recently was the exclusive domain of iProducts.

Today, things change again.

Today sees the official launch of the latest family of Surface devices.

Has the Apple Killer Arrived?

With the new Surface Laptop and the all new [except for the name!] Surface Pro, Microsoft now has a device offering with the functionality and desirability to truly take on Apple.

The Surface Laptop brings all the great features that us Surface Pro 4 users have enjoyed, enhances them, and wraps them up in a ‘traditional’ Laptop form factor that is available in four colours.

Optimised for the recently announced Windows 10 S, the Surface Laptop is small and light, but still boasts luxury features like the Alacantra Fabric Keyboard that us SP4 users like so much.

The new Surface Pro looks extremely interesting.

Smaller and lighter than any Surface Pro before, Microsoft has crammed a LOT into its 11.5”, 784g frame.

Its top spec will give you a massive 1TB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and an Intel Core i7 processor.

It also boasts 50% longer battery life than the SP4, something that was badly needed for the Surface to be a serious contender as a business device.

Also released today is the Surface Studio. A device aimed at the professional design and creative marketplace but one that is sure to find a home in education, a key market for the entire Surface family.

1

Looking Forward

Time will tell whether Microsoft can truly wrest the crown from Apple for the premium devices market.

Whoever wins out, I cannot recall a more complete ‘family’ of products from a single vendor.

Bear in mind that all the new Surface devices are optimised for Windows 10 and Office 365. Consider how powerful the combination of these products could be, especially when integrated by design.

Whether you are an educator, knowledge worker, design guru or just a consumer of sexy gadgets, you must now seriously consider a Microsoft Surface.

To have come so far in just five years is genuinely impressive, and it is starting to look like the long held Microsoft promise of Workplace Transformation is finally coming true.

Written by Marcus Naris, Sales Manager at Select Technology – Marcus is a former pre-sales Solutions Specialist at Microsoft and is passionate about helping customers understand that there is usually a better way of doing things, and that change is good and should be embraced.

Find Marcus on LinkedIn

IT Support for Business

May 24, 2017

IT Support for business is essential if you have customers that rely on your systems…

IT Support for Business

Let me explain that a little better.

If your business reputation relies on the strength of your backend technology then your business relies on the BEST quality proactive IT support services.

The embarrassment of having your customers or even your staff waiting for IT to fix things is unacceptable.

Who are Select Technology?

Firstly you should know that we are an MSP by mistake… We did not consider ourselves Experts!

When Nigel Potter founded the company over 20 years ago it was to serve businesses with good value hardware and software.

Select Technology didn’t start out as an Expert MSP. Back then it was all about value and by providing a good deal. This service was unrivalled and Select grew through solid reputation of providing a quality service. As time went on Select flourished into the successful Managed Service Provider it is today!

IT Support for Business became more and more demanding.

We adapted over time providing the same quality and value in the service side of the business. It wasn’t always easy we had many hurdles and lots of learning curves to tackle.

But we’re proud to say that we are now one of Kent’s prestigious IT support companies. But it doesn’t stop there, we undertake dozens of projects every year helping companies move their business forward.

Projects we undertake have shifted from on-premise server upgrades to more cloud based focus as more and more businesses move their systems to hosted solutions.

The increasing demand for ‘always-on’ infrastructure has never been higher. Select have aligned themselves constantly, investing in research & development to meet these demands.

You can find a range of our Services Here Make sure you also check out our Prestige Helpdesk service.

Your IT support partner of choice is part of your success, as mention above if your systems are not ‘always on‘ and are ‘always on the blink’ then maybe it’s time to speak about your options.

Our door is ‘always’ open, give us a call on 01892 830 111 and arrange to have a chat with our project team.

Veeam Cloud Connect

May 16, 2017

Veeam Cloud Connect

With the recent spate of ransomware targeting previous versions, and some backup file extensions, you may have heard the term offline or air-gap backups.  This is essentially backup media or repositories that are only in use during the backup, tape is a great example of this.

Devices like Network Attached Storage (NAS), or USB drives, which are either permanently on line or left connected for 10-12 hours a day, can be vulnerable to these types of ransomware attack.  Now, if you’re not familiar with ransomware, or have never heard of it there’s a great webinar here.  Before we get into scare mongering territory, there’s plenty you can do to protect your data.

Most of it is pretty straightforward, and hopefully already a staple of your day to day operations:

  • Regular proactive security patching of your servers and client devices
  • Regular Anti-Virus updates and scans of your servers and client devices
  • Perimeter security services like Open DNS.

But this ‘prevention’ is only part of the solution.  The ‘cure’ element is just as crucial, maybe more so in the context that anti-virus, anti-malware and security patching, are all reactive.

Now this blog isn’t about ransomware, although ransomware is a great topic as it asks a lot of questions as to how well your IT estate is proactively looked after,  how you data is protected and not least because it is considered the de facto IT threat to all businesses, creating a billion dollar business according to the FBI.

Veeam Cloud Connect. Is the topic I’m actually covering today.

For those unfamiliar, Cloud Connect is an add-on feature to Veeam’s Availability suite which allows businesses to synchronise their backup data with a trusted service provider. This is achieved via a secure HTTPS tunnel with the data between client and service provider being encrypted to 256 bit AES while in flight.

In the context of our ransomware discussion, this is an air-gapped backup repository. Unlike tape however, this repository is always online and you can synchronise your backups as frequently as required. If we keep to the ransomware example, is recovering from last night’s (or older) backup tape really meeting your businesses Recovery Point Objective(s) (RPO)?

Going beyond that example, and considering availability, how does this feature help businesses drive down their Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and keep the critical business services running in the event of a disaster?

The answer is that Veeam’s Cloud Connect can also be used to replicate virtual machines from customer premises to a trusted service providers platform, giving their customers a business continuity platform which can be invoked much quicker than a traditional disaster recovery process can be turned around.

Since we’ve mentioned DR, that’s another string to Cloud Connects bow.  If the recurring cost of a Business Continuity platform isn’t feasible, or your business RTO’s simply don’t warrant it, Cloud Connect can allow your trusted service provider to recover your infrastructure to either their own platform or into the Azure public cloud.

Obviously, in either scenario, it is critical to work with you trusted service provider(s) to understand and identify your businesses key services, and put together a plan that allows your business to mitigate risk and continue to operate should the worse happen.

Now Veeam’s availability suite has a whole host of other features besides this, and it’s modular deployment really lends itself to any infrastructure and can scale in either direction, but just taking the Cloud Connect piece into consideration, ask yourself

‘Can your current backup solution do this?’

Written by; Russell Gower-Leech Bsc – Select Technology Systems Senior Project Consultant

Russ has been working in IT with MSP’s for over 10 years, starting as a support engineer and working his way up through field engineer, project engineer and finally found his calling as a Consultant. He really gets a kick out of designing technical solutions to meet, and exceed, Clients business needs.

He is one of Select’s Cloud Champions, helping clients leverage the power and flexibility of the hybrid cloud. He is also the in-house Veeam Evangelist – “I really love the flexibility and resilience of Veeam based solutions, especially as I spent the early parts of my career working with products like Backup Exec.”

Please call us today on 01892 830111 if you would like to find out more about Veeam Cloud Connect.

Cryptolocker hits the NHS…

May 15, 2017

Cryptolocker hits the NHS

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 72 hours you will know that the NHS has taken a hit by Cryptolocker.

This is causing mayhem and panic throughout the NHS and general public.

Over the past few months we have written many posts about ransomware because we are keen to ensure that businesses of all sizes understand the dangers of these types of attacks.

Cryptolocker hits NHS

They are advanced and superior to standard Viruses and therefore need dealing with in a different way using different protective measures.

Protecting your business is simple if you follow basic security steps which should be priority number one.

Unfortunately it sometimes takes a high profile case like the NHS being attacked before people pay attention, no business is “Out of bounds” in the attackers eyes.

Attackers using Cryptolocker don’t care which business they attack, EVERY business is a target!

The truth is these attacks happen frequently every day around the world. You are only hearing about it because of the nature of business under threat.

As a support company we deal with many more attacks than we care to mention, scare tactics are not our game!

You can see for yourself this is now very real: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25506020

If you’re a business owner security really should be in the forefront of your mind right now.

Read any of our historical posts such as: http://www.itsupport.co.uk/ransomware-need-know-2017/

You will see we mean business in helping you to keep your business operational and safe in the face of ever increasing threats.

All of Select Technology’s Prestige Support Customers get advanced and enhanced protection against ransomware as standard.

If you are at all concerned about the health and security of your own business then please do contact us today and arrange to speak with one of our security specialists, even if you’re not a customer of ours, we really would be happy to advise in seeing you safe and secure.

Call us right now on: 01892 830 111

Three Amigos

May 9, 2017

Kent Vision Live 2017

Three Amigos

Do you have any burning questions about Cloud services?

You can find these three Amigos at Kent Vision Live tomorrow @ stand 323.

Talk to us about hosted services such Microsoft Office 365 + Microsoft Azure + More.

Kent Vision Live 2017

Our expert Mantej Yadav will also be giving his Keynote presentation about Microsoft Cloud Services at midday, click for more details Here

Talking Geek & Free IT Support

May 4, 2017

Picture this.

You’re standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square with approximately ten thousand people around you.

That’s a lot of people…

Now, imagine that each one of those people is a business owner trying to tell you about their services.

Hot Air and Lots of It

That’s a lot of noise entering your ear canal, causing the tiny hairs in your eardrum to vibrate before sending a message to the brain, which ultimately comes out as jibberish.

Apart from the odd word that makes it through here and there – It’s all just noise.

ITSB

Many of us face this common problem.

We’ve seen so many times just how damaging it can be when business owners receive sub-par support services.

Better the Devil You Know?

This is common feedback, but the thought process underpinning this only delays the inevitable as the relationship becomes more and more strained.

So what is beneath all of this?

Well, it often comes down to a simple fear of change.

If you’ve ever moved house, then you probably know how stressful the experience can be without the right help.

We Get It!

That’s why we designed a comprehensive on-boarding process to ensure you’re treated like royalty right from day one.

Clearly you don’t want to take our word for it because, again, it’s all just ‘Hot Air’ at the end of the day.

Read what our customers are saying about us following theses links:

We prefer to let our customers do the talking for us.

Is Select Technology a Good Fit for My Business?

That’s a good question.

If you’re happy with:

  • Missed SLA;
  • Broken Promises;
  • Engineers failing to show onsite;
  • Not being called back at an arranged time;
  • Talking Geek; and
  • Paying for cheap (not inexpensive) services…

…then there’s no need to contact us because we won’t be able to compete with that kind of service!

If, however, you want a bit of extra TLC and don’t mind paying a little extra for a high level of service, then we are the right company for you.

If you have more than 12 staff members using PC’s and/or mobile devices then fill out this form now and you will qualify for the first month IT support services completely free of charge.

Cloud Storage: What Do You Really Need to Know?

April 28, 2017

Cloud Storage: What Do You Really Need to Know?

Moving your data and applications into the cloud could be the smartest move you’ve ever made.

Cloud Storage

All of your important files will be stored safely online. You need not panic about losing your laptop or your data if, for example, your external drive stopped working.

If your data is in the cloud, you will still be able to access it if your computer is lost or stolen.

The Best of Both Worlds

Cloud storage is a model of data storage in which the digital data is stored in something called logical pools. Basically your data spans multiple servers and even geographical location.

One of the biggest concerns for most companies is the security and location of data. As mentioned above, it really is in the safest place while in the cloud.

The level of investment cloud hosting companies employ for security is far, far greater than any single company would spend on data security.

You really do have the best of both worlds!

It all boils down to what you actually want to do: If you want the ability to work anywhere, anytime, and have the peace of mind that your data is safe and secure in the cloud, then it is absolutely the way forward for you!

PAYG With Cloud Storage

The other benefit of using cloud storage is that you only pay for what you use, whereas traditionally you would often have to buy more storage on a server than you actually need.

There is also a fantastic range of different providers to supply you with cloud storage such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and our personal favourite, Microsoft Azure.

A few years back, a big restriction for using cloud services and cloud storage was Internet connectivity.

The Future’s Bright

As the United Kingdom’s connectivity continues to improve, it really opens a door for many small and medium-sized businesses to start adopting cloud services.

Drop us a line today on 01892 830111 and let’s have a chat about your options for cloud services.

Here’s a link you might find useful before you call us: http://www.itsupport.co.uk/cloud-storage-services/

Still Feeling Confused About IaaS? You’re not alone!

April 24, 2017

Apart from sounding like a rude word have you wondered what IaaS actually is?

Let’s simplify this awkward acronym…

We can use the good ol’ onion analogy to explain this one.

IaaS

Think about how an onion is made of different layers – each one can be peeled away until you reach the core.

Infrastructure is one of three component layers in networking.

You need a network to communicate from one device to another. These are physical components such as network switches, hosted servers.

In the case of IaaS, we can refer to them as virtual or cloud components!

The cloud analogy still applies here, except that we’re now talking about virtual assets in the cloud rather than tin boxes sitting in your server room.

So how do you turn your physical onion into a virtual one?

Pain in the IaaS

Confused yet?

You’re not the only one!

Okay so first off, IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service.

IaaS describes an arrangement where hardware is provided and managed for you by an external provider.

This is described as a Cloud service because you are using physical components which exist outside of your premises.

IaaS

Here’s a simple analogy:

Think about your website.

If you pay for web hosting externally – i.e. not on your own physical server – then you are already using IaaS!

Your website is sitting on a server somewhere in the ether while a provider manages the backend in a data centre.

All you have to worry about is paying your subscriptions, which tends to suit most businesses.

IaaS, Cloud, and other terms can often muddy the waters, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Prepare to Kick Some IaaS!

Our pre-sales Projects Team operate a no-jargon policy, and can help you and us to understand your businesses needs, and point you in the right direction.

Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, but as long as you know what to want to achieve, we can help!

Here’s a useful link and case study that will help you further understand: Click Here

Speak to the team today on 01892 830110.

Ransomware: What You Need to Know for 2017

March 10, 2017

Ransomware has become an increasingly prevalent topic in IT circles and the mainstream media at large.

If you still don’t quite understand what ransomware is then be sure to check out this video before reading on:

Today we’re going to look at recent research to help you understand the implications for your business.

What Does the Ransomware Research Say?

Datto’s 2016 Global Ransomware Report did a great job of highlighting some of the perceptions surrounding ransomware.

The whitepaper reports that 88% of the IT channel identify as ‘highly concerned’ about the threat.

So why do only 34% of small businesses feel the same way?

Around half of businesses were targeted by ransomware in 2016, so it’s basically a coin toss to determine if you will be hit this year.

Moreover, an IBM survey of 600 business executives shows that a whopping 70% of targets paid the attackers to regain access to their systems.

What does this mean for you?

Endpoint antivirus software like AVG and Symantec offerings need to be combined with cloud-based backup and monitoring tools.

Proactively monitoring your infrastructure will allow ransomware attacks to be identified and quarantined. Backing up with a platform like Microsoft Azure will provide the option to access a virtualized version of your environment, often within mere seconds.

ransomware

Compare this to the hours and even days that may be wasted without these measures in place, and you can clearly see that you need to protect your business against ransomware in some way.

If you doubt the impact of downtime on businesses, then be sure to read our short post on The (Frighteningly) Real Cost of Downtime to UK SMBs.

Will You Become a Statistic?

Consider the following:

  • 88% of the IT channel are ‘highly concerned’ about ransomware
  • Just 34% of small businesses feel the same
  • 49% of businesses were subject to an attack in 2016
  • In another survey, 70% of targeted businesses had to pay the ransom to regain access

Security measures are improving but attackers are quickly growing more sophisticated, so it is unclear if these figures will change in 2017.

Do yourself a favour and don’t let your business become a statistic.

Speak to us today about how you can incorporate cloud-based solutions into your business.

Improve efficiency, manage costs and most importantly, stop worrying about security and downtime!

Company Directors: Signs it’s Time for Your Business to Look at IT Service Providers

February 22, 2017

In this article we’re going to look at some telltale signs that it may be time for you to start talking to IT service providers to ensure you aren’t left behind.

IT service providers

Recent research from Intel shows that 93% of organisations are currently using cloud services.

By mid-2018 cloud spending will account for 80% of IT budgets, so working with a trusted managed services partner is becoming more important than ever.

Now just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t necessarily mean that working with a MSP is the right choice for your business.

Here are some signs that it could be high time for you to start looking at outsourcing your IT infrastructure:

1. You Want to Get Aggressive with Your Competition

In our article 5 Important Questions to Ask IT Support Providers, we discussed the cost of downtime to businesses.

Estimated at £521 annually per employee, you simply cannot afford to leave your IT infrastructure in a vulnerable state if your goal is to dominate the competition.

IT Support companies who offer proactive monitoring reduce the need for firefighting, solving issues before they affect your ability to work.

As your infrastructure improves, you will enjoy more reliable remote access, data analytics, and a greatly reduced risk of security breaches.

In layman’s terms, this means that you’ll be able to work anywhere, anytime. You’ll also have greater insights into what is and isn’t working strategically within the business.

Competitiveness is one of the more overlooked benefits of IT outsourcing.

IT service providers

Think about how much more quickly you’ll be able to act on ideas with a clearly defined IT Roadmap courtesy of an experienced MSP.

Product and campaign launches can run as they should; without the fear of some unforeseen technical hiccup.

2. You Have a Talent Shortage

It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract highly skilled and experienced IT professionals into small teams or solo departments.

The growing appeal of specialisation means that many of the best in the IT field would rather work with an established IT company. This will give them greater exposure to a broader array of skillsets, not to mention increased opportunities for training and development.

Working with managed IT service providers will enable you to leverage a large pool of skills without the rigmarole of a hiring process and the associated costs.

3. You Need to Stabilise Your Spending

Speaking of costs, there is a strong financial case to be made for managed IT services.

IT support providers offer a fixed monthly fee, making it easier for you to predict your IT investment for the year.

Again, the hiring process comes with a host of financial and logistical challenges, many of which can be avoided or negated by letting a MSP do the legwork.

Finding contractual staff for a six-month project is going to be a lot easier through a company who already has the talent ready to go.

4. Security, Security, Security!

Last but by no means least is the unavoidable topic of security.

An independent businesses’ security infrastructure is rarely going to be as robust compared to what dedicated IT service providers can achieve.

And that’s fine; your business doesn’t have to be good at everything.

IT service providers

The talent pool, purchasing power, and practical in-house experience utilised by a solid MSP can benefit you greatly if leveraged effectively.

Updates and patches to firewalls, software, and hardware can all be performed externally so that you can focus on growing your business rather than worrying about having to fight fires.

This also goes back to the matter of downtime, which will be minimised both proactively and reactively as issues are handled before and as they arise.

Conclusion

If any of these points resonate with you, call us today and let’s talk about how you might take your first step into outsourcing aspects of your IT department.

Select Technology offers an industry-leading 15-minute critical response time, keeping your downtime to a minimum and reducing the financial impact to your business.

On the other hand, here are Signs Your Business Isn’t Ready for Managed IT Services (and What You Can Do About it).