Blog

News, opinions and updates from the Virtuoso team.

Jamie Laridon

Jamie helps our SME customers use technology to improve their businesses. Through research of emerging technologies and industry trends, as well as feedback from client representatives, he is able to recommend tailored solutions which save money, drive efficiency and improve collaboration.

Recent Posts

Oct
23

5 tips for Microsoft Teams you need to know

Here at Virtuoso we’ve been singing the praises of Microsoft Teams for some time now. We're users of Teams ourselves and firmly believe that it has the potential to transform the way teams within any organisation work. It's beauty lies in bringing together different elements of team-working (such as workspace, chat and note-taking) and integrating them seamlessly within the Office 365 platform. So if you're already using Teams and want some handy tips, or need a few more reasons to get Teams for your business now, then read on! 

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Oct
08

6 Hidden Tricks inside Windows 10 pt. 2

This week we've got 6 more very cool features of Windows 10 that most people don't know about. We compiled this list to help you get a little bit more out of your Windows 10 experience. If you haven't already seen our original article on 6 Hidden Tricks within Windows 10 be sure to also check those out after getting your teeth into the gems below. 

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Sep
26

129,000 businesses adopt Teams in just six months – here’s why

We’ve been singing Microsoft Team’s praises since the app was released. In our opinion, its user-friendly interface and innovative features make it the must-have tool for businesses of all sizes. It’s no surprise therefore that this week Microsoft released the news that Microsoft Teams is the now used by 329,000 businesses, up from 200,000 in March making it the fastest growing Microsoft app in history.

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Sep
18

The Hidden Value of Outsourcing

We often hear the concept that you need a set number of people to support a task and employing that number of people is cheaper than buying a service. However, this mindset overlooks the significant value added from the outsourcer itself. Our blog this week demonstrates that to get a true comparison you also have to consider the value they bring from their processes, tools and practices. 

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Sep
06

6 hidden tricks inside Windows 10

One of the best things about Windows 10 is that each individual feature is the result of a team of dedicated engineers who create the best, and often customisable, experience possible. So, with such a complex, nuanced, and vast piece of software, it makes sense that there are lot's of little tricks and UI flourishes most people don't even know about.

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Aug
30

The Cloud... time to market

Our blog this week takes a look at a common misconception among some SMEs - that their business are so unique that they need specialist software and/or specialist support for it to be effective. However, we here at Virtuoso have learnt through experience that this is often not the case and the following account is a prime example of where the cloud might just be the easiest way to hit your IT infrastructure objectives.   

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Aug
10

What is Microsoft Bookings all about?

Like many small businesses, your business probably relies on scheduling appointments with clients in order to keep track of things. You’re also probably aware that this can take up a lot of time and is open to human error. Sending emails back and forth, endless phone conversations and reminders can take a lot of time out of the already busy day for the average SME.

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Aug
01

The Advantages of Outsourcing (Part 2)

Five more reasons to outsource

In this week’s blog we’re bringing you the second part in our series on ‘The Advantages of Outsourcing’. Today we’re looking at five more important benefits that outsourcing can bring your business. Let's get straight to it!

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Jul
18

Dial-Tone Options in Microsoft Teams

Game-changer 

A few weeks ago we discussed the game-changing Microsoft Teams and it’s many benefits for the modern workplace. This week we’re looking at the recent announcement from Microsoft that Direct Routing will be made available for all Office 365 customers.

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Jul
13

Virtuoso is Awarded G-Cloud 10 Status

G-Cloud 10 

In this week’s blog we’re delighted to announce that Virtuoso have been awarded G-Cloud 10 status for SenseTo and Antenno. Proven in Asia Pac these products we launched to the UK market at the Public Sector Show in June to drive Digital Transformation for Councils.

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Jun
27

Office 365 has raised the game and here’s why (Pt.2)

Part 2 – Microsoft Planner

A few weeks back we took a closer look at Microsoft’s group chat tool, Teams. This week, we’re turning our attention to Microsoft Planner which has been designed to be a user-friendly, collaborative and highly visual task management tool.

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Jun
20

The Advantages of Outsourcing (Part 1)

It’s no secret that contracting with an outside party to take care of certain tasks instead of hiring new employees is becoming more widespread in the modern business paradigm. Today we’re talking about outsourcing. The reason more and more businesses are getting on this bandwagon is that and it can help your business grow and save money when it's done right. This blog is the first in a series of articles to highlight the many advantages of building outsourced resources into your business model.

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Jun
06

Office 365 has raised the game and here is why

Part I – Microsoft Teams

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May
31

Virtuoso launch Local Government IoT platform and Mobile Citizen Engagement Solution

PSS-LDN-2018

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May
16

10 Free Microsoft Apps and Tools to Boost Productivity

As our lives get busier, we’re all looking for ways to boost our productivity. The good news is that there are an abundance of apps and tools out there to help you increase your productivity. From to-do list apps to note-taking tools, browser extensions to image storage, Microsoft has got it covered and sometimes you just need a point in the right direction to discover these handy time-savers at your fingertips.

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May
09

8 ways to improve Community Engagement in Local Government

Community Engagement is a very visible and effective step on the path of digital transformation. Communities need personalised, targeted communications in order for them to feel that they are getting value from their council on the services they care about. With so many places where people can find information it is becoming harder to cross the digital divide. Because of the sheer diversity of available communication channels, it is easy for communities to feel disengaged because they just don’t know where to look.

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Nov
23

The Cloud - Demystified In Less Than Ten Minutes

Posted by Jamie Laridon in Cloud, Opinion

The Cloud

For years ‘the cloud’ has been talked about constantly in business technology circles. And by now you’ll find that most SMB owners are already aware of how cloud computing is transforming the way that companies do business and cuts IT costs. However it’s still a fairly complicated subject if you’re not technically minded and the potential business value of migrating to the cloud might not be that clear.

It might entertain you to know that according to research done by Wakefield research, 54% of SMB’s stated that they had never used cloud technology. And of that 54% it was found that about 95% of them were in fact already in the cloud and had been for years, they just didn’t realise it.

We are going to explain ‘the cloud’ for anyone who perhaps isn’t 100% certain of the details. The cloud is here to stay and the economic benefits make too much sense to ignore.

Put simply, the cloud acts as a storage space. If you imagine your online storage system as a cramped office with files spilling out over the filing cabinets, there is no budget to upgrade offices but it’s becoming chaotic. Then imagine that your building manager offers to rent you an empty filing cabinet in the basement.

The basement is shared with other tenants who have their own filing cabinets and spaces but only you have the key to yours. You move your files into the basement and suddenly your office is less cramped and running more efficiently. And you can pop to the basement to collect files whenever you need. This is a rough analogy of how the cloud works.

Large businesses have higher IT budgets, which allows them to own a massive internal network infrastructure, but SMB’s often don’t have the budget or support to do this. That’s why the cloud has allowed the playing field to be leveled between small, medium and big businesses. It’s an equalizer in many ways. It gives SMB’s the opportunity to do large-scale business at a lower cost.

The cloud is more or less a sexy (if you like that kind of thing) buzzword for the Internet. Or at least the next evolution of the Internet. Anyone who has ever used or hosted an email provider like Gmail has stored sensitive data in the cloud, even if they didn’t realize. Cloud-based email hosting was the first and most broadly adopted cloud service used for both personal and professional use.

Use services like Amazon, Netflix, even Facebook and Twitter? You’re part of the public cloud.

The cloud is big. It’s big and its made up of different elements. It has three deployment models, private, public and hybrid.

Private Clouds are often built by large companies with bigger resourses and deeper pockets than SMB’s. But what has been a game changer for SMB’s is the Public Cloud, public cloud deployments are 100% virtual. This means less hands-on management is required as the infrastructure (hardware, devices, network equipment etc) is all off-premises. And with this an SMB benefits from not having to pay for and manage the hardware, deal with software licensing or updating or pay for empolyees to manage it all.

Cloud migration companies generally offer one of 3 categorised cloud-computing services that are referred to as layers within the cloud. These 3 services are:

Simply put, the cloud hosts an application for any type of work process that an SMB will need.

What are the advantages of using the Cloud?

Reduction of costs: Since the cloud works on mass scale computing, onsite physical storage hardware and internal IT staffing are reduced.

Anytime and Anywhere Access: Since data access is no longer restricted to single employees or physical devices, users can share and collaborate in the cloud at any time and anywhere.

Better collaboration: The cloud is available on demand to computers and devices from any location at any point of time, this allows for better faster collaboration between employees, especially as today's workforce is increasingly dispersed.

Faster deployment: Cloud-based services can be deployed within just an hour or a few days rather than the weeks or months it often takes to strategically plan, build and implement an internal IT structure.

Environmental friendliness: The clouds energy efficiency is attractive to any company conscientious about the environment and wanting to be ‘green’. For example, having fewer machines to run is obviously more energy efficient.

Improved security: Many SMB’s cite security concerns as the main reason they are reluctant to move to the cloud, however, there are actually very few data breaches involving cloud providers. Data stored in the cloud may actually be safer than data stored on computers and company servers with an array of security vulnerabilities. Unlike a laptop, the cloud can’t be left behind on a train.

Business Continuity: Data storage and back up is one of the most frequently used cloud-based services amongst SMB’s. Many cloud service providers offer SMB’s unlimited storage capability, automated data sync and back up processes that reduce or eliminate downtime events

Still concerned?

SMB’s who are still uneasy about a move to the cloud can consider cloud monitoring through a local managed service provider (MSP). Cloud monitoring helps SMBs deploy to the cloud with confidence. Cloud monitoring gives the SMB owner around-the-clock end-to-end visibility into the performance of their cloud services and IT infrastructure. Monitoring services offer SMBs proactive monitoring, automated alerts, and full problem resolution support by way of a fully dedicated 24/7 networks operations center (NOC). Cloud monitoring is also carefully monitored with frequent audits to identify and address vulnerabilities.

The continuous analyzing and testing of your network, website and mobile applications can reduce downtime hugely. And cloud monitoring also tests your email server at regular intervals, which minimizes failure deliveries, and other issues that affect sending and receiving emails.

Concerns about security are still valid but small businesses today may actually be exposing themselves to more breach vulnerabilities by not being in the cloud. The notion that data must be on-site to truly be secure is as misguided as the belief that money is safer tucking beneath a mattress than in the bank.

To see how we can help you with cloud migration visit our website or get in touch for more details

https://www.virtuoso-uk.com/managed-it/it-outsourcing

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Tags: #Cloud, #Opinion
May
06

Just Because You’re Not a Big Target, Doesn’t Mean You’re Safe

Not too long ago, the New York Times’ website experienced a well-publicised attack, which raises the question – how can this happen to such a world-renowned organisation? If this can happen to the New York Times, what does this bode for the security of a small company’s website? What’s to stop someone from sending visitors of your site to an adult site or something equally offensive?


The short answer to that question is nothing. In the New York Times’ attack, the attackers changed the newspapers’ Domain Name System (DNS) records to send visitors to a Syrian website. The same type of thing can very well happen to your business website. For a clearer perspective, let’s get into the specifics of the attack and explain what DNS is.

The perpetrators of the New York Times’ attack targeted the site’s Internet DNS records. To better understand this, know that computers communicate in numbers, whereas we speak in letters. In order for us to have an easy-to-remember destination like nytimes.com, the IP address must be converted to that particular URL through DNS.

Therefore, no matter how big or small a company’s online presence is, every website is vulnerable to the same DNS hacking as the New York Times’ site.  The good news is the websites of smaller companies or organizations fly under the radar and rarely targeted. Larger targets like the New York Times, or LinkedIn, which was recently redirected to a domain sales page, are more likely targets.

For now...

There is no reason to panic and prioritize securing DNS over other things right now. But there is a belief that DNS vulnerability will be something cybercriminals pick on more often down the road.

Here are a few ways to stay safe

Select a Registrar with a Solid Reputation for Security Chances are, you purchased your domain name through a reputable registrar like GoDaddy, Bluehost, 1&1, or Dreamhost. Obviously, you need to create a strong password for when you log into the registrar to manage your site’s files.

Nonetheless, recent DNS attacks are concerning because they’re far more than the average password hack.  It was actually the security of the registrars themselves that was compromised in recent attacks. The attackers were basically able to change any DNS record in that registrar’s directory. What’s particularly frightening is the registrars attacked had solid reputations. The New York Times, along with sites like Twitter and the Huffington Post, is registered with Melbourne IT. LinkedIn, Craigslist and US Airways are registered with Network Solutions. Both had been believed to be secure.

So what else can be done?

Set Up a Registry Lock & Inquire About Other Optional Security

A registry lock makes it difficult for anyone to make even the most mundane changes to your registrar account without manual intervention by a staff registrar. This likely comes at an additional cost and not every domain registrar has it available.

Ask your registrar about registry locking and other additional security measures like two factor authentication, which requires another verifying factor in addition to your login and password, or IP address dependent logins, which limits access to your account from anywhere outside of one particular IP address.

While adding any of these extra safeguards will limit your ability to make easy account change or access your files from remote locations, it may be a worthwhile price to pay.

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