Blog

News, opinions and updates from the Virtuoso team.

Oct
16

Ten Golden Rules for Digital Transformation in SMEs

It’s good news that more and more larger businesses across the UK are embracing Digital Transformation, however small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could often do more to face up to the challenge of digital transformation. As well as new technologies, they also have to address key aspects involving people, data and processes. This week’s blog provides a handy rapid-fire list of what we believe are the top ten golden rules SMEs need to follow in their business strategies to adapt to the changing digital landscape.

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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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Oct
01

Outsourcing: Public Cloud vs Managed Hosting

If you have plants in the reception of your firm and they are watered by another company (or individual) that’s outsourcing - albeit at the simple end of the scale! At the other end of that scale one of the first big outsourcing deals was some 15 years ago in 2003. Business commentators were taken by surprise when Procter & Gamble outsourced all world-wide IT functions to Hewlett-Packard in a deal worth $3 Billion. Their reasoning was that specialists would be able to do a better job than they could. And time proved them correct as the initial $3B deal soon reached $5B.

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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
12

Law firms and stethoscopes

You may have seen that we recently posted a short piece about our approach to Managed IT for the legal sector - one of the key points discussed was our focus on Microsoft and Citrix technologies. In this week’s blog I want to look into this area in a little more detail. 

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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
27

Supply Chain Risk - what you need to know

Wake up call

It may surprise you that up to 80% of IT security breaches may originate in the supply chain. Some of the most high-profile hacks were at Target, Home Depot, Sony, Sears and JP Morgan Chase. The scale of the hacks are staggering. The Home Depot hack involved the compromisation of 65 million customer accounts and JP Morgan Chase had an impact on 7 million businesses. Perhaps the most interesting was Target, not only did the hackers gain access to the personal information of some 70 million customers but the manner in which they did so is illuminating. They breeched security by stealing network credentials from Fazio Mechanical Services, a provider of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). How did they steal them? By stealing credentials from a supplier to Fazio. So at two removes Target was compromised through its supply chain. The other noteworthy point was that this was a HVAC supplier, what could have been stolen if it was a firm of external auditors doing work in Target, or a management consultancy – a corporation the size of Target surely had a few management consultants working on something at any one time. Or even more lethal, the law firm(s) used by Target.

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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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Jul
04

Cyber security lessons for Law Firms

Why it's so important

For law firms the safety and security of their own and clients’ data is not only a legal and compliance requirement, it is also essential to their growth - and even survival. You only need to think of the recent  ‘Panama Papers’ hacking news story at the law firm Mossack Fonesca, which earlier this year announced it would cease trading, to appreciate just how important it is.

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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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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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May
02

Taking back your time with Windows 10

Despite some people claiming they never have enough time, we all share the same 24 hours in a day. And now, more than ever perhaps, it seems like those 24 hours are just not enough. In the digital age, people feel more overwhelmed than ever and most of us would love more time – not necessarily time to do more work, but more time to do what we love. Microsoft have recognised this and made Windows 10’s most recent updates geared towards helping you reclaim the most precious of assets – time. 

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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
Jul
22

Why More SMEs are Turning to the Cloud to Reduce TCO

Posted by Markus McIver in Cloud

More small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) seem to be taking the initiative to learn more about the benefits of the cloud. Determining why SMEs have this sudden keen interest in the cloud isn’t all that tricky.

If you shouted, “Cost Savings!” in a room full of SMEs, you’d undoubtedly be the centre of attention. And it seems as if this is also the motivating factor as to why more SMEs are looking into cloud-based solutions to reduce expenditures.

Although it seems like an oxymoron to recommend investing in new technology to control costs, cloud-based solutions can be leveraged for a greater return on already inevitable operational expenses. By enhancing productivity and overall efficiency, the cloud could help spur business growth and profitability.

Here are few of the reasons more SMEs are opening up to cloud-based solutions…

Containing Costs

This is the big one. Every SME wants their business to grow but that growth is accompanied by rising costs to maintain safe, reliable, and sustainable business technology.

On-premise solutions are expensive. If you’re paying someone $60K a year to manage and monitor your technology, and most of their day is spent performing routine maintenance tasks or running to the aid of the intern who complains that something is running slow, are you really getting a return on that investment? You can do better and your on-site IT support can do more for you.

The cost for cloud-based solutions have been found to be anywhere from 35% to 50% lower than with on-premise solutions. This is because the cloud can completely eliminate most infrastructure costs such as servers, databases, backup, operating systems, upgrades, migration, physical space, power and cooling, and associated in-house or third party staffing costs.

Greater Flexibility

No doubt you’ve been privy to an office Happy Hour conversation or two about Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) and Platform- as-a-Service (PaaS). Is that crickets we hear? Okay, well since you’re in the dark, the flexibility of the cloud makes it really attractive to SMEs.

IaaS and PaaS are two increasingly popular cloud technologies because of their flexibility when it comes to big data analysis.

IaaS technology is flexible as it allows an as needed rapid deployment of resources. Basically, fast expansion to accommodate growth. SME scan pay accordingly for this on-demand usage, giving them the ability to access and analyse the kind of big data seen at larger enterprises without having to pay for necessary hardware capacity.

PaaS technology gives SMEs the ability to affordably increase or decrease data storage capacity as needed.

Of course, there must be a need for big data analysis that justifies the use of these technologies. Many SMEs may be just fine using Microsoft Excel for data analysis.

Greater Mobility

Many SMEs are turning to the cloud to provide remote employees with access to communications solutions. Through the cloud, remote workers can use smartphones, laptops, and notebooks to access documents and files for internal and external collaboration.

As you can see, it’s understandable why the cloud is being seen by SMEs as the “great equaliser” to take their business to the next level and stay competitive with even the big dogs despite budget and staffing limitations. It also helps that cloud-monitoring services have simplified the monitoring and management of SME cloud deployments, alleviating a lot of the fear about migrating to the cloud.

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Tags: #Cloud

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