Amazon releases high-end virtual desktops

It’s nearly impossible to discuss virtualization without bringing up Amazon Web Services (AWS). It was one of the first big names in user-friendly virtualization services and it’s only gotten better over the years. With its latest release, AWS is providing customers with some serious computing power.

What are AWS virtual desktops?

If you have employees who need occasional access to lightning-fast workstations, hardware costs add up quickly. One way to tackle this problem is by providing users with low-end hardware that connects to a cloud service provider that delivers virtual desktops. These full-fledged desktops can be accessed over the internet and are far more cost efficient.

For quite some time, AWS’s “Standard” package has offered 24-hour access to virtual desktops with dual CPUs, 4+ GB of RAM and 130 GB of data storage for $43 per month. As long as you have a computer with an internet connection and are able to pay the subscription fee, you can run programs on an AWS virtual desktop that greatly exceeds your local machine’s capacity.

The WorkSpaces Power bundle

In June 2017, AWS introduced a new virtual desktop service for businesses that need a bit more capacity. The WorkSpaces Power bundle grants users access to machines with the power of four CPUs, with 16+ GB of RAM and 275 GB of storage.

Obviously, anything that requires such high-end hardware is going to be pretty technical work, but with the help of an experienced IT provider, you too can profit from the Big Data movement. AWS is advertising the Power bundle to developers, but it’s also great for businesses that want profitable insights from their huge databases.

The Power bundle virtual desktops have tremendous capacity, and that does come at a higher cost. The WorkSpaces Power bundle costs $78 per month for unlimited usage, or if you need it for only a couple days, $19 per month plus 68 cents per hour.

Faster data access for Standard and Power bundles

Regardless of whether you need the Standard or Power bundle, all AWS virtual desktops benefit from excellent data access speeds. The servers that host AWS cloud storage and AWS virtual desktops are in the same physical location, which means you don’t need to worry about lag when connecting the two.

Even if you’re “just a small-scale eCommerce site,” or a single-location office, every business can benefit from more affordable computing power. To find out what virtualization can do for your organization, call us today.

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Amazon Web Services’ new virtual desktops

If your business is considering cloud virtual desktops, you’ve undoubtedly looked into Amazon Web Services. AWS offers one of the most reliable and easily accessible options on the market, including the recent release of high-powered machines with direct access to Amazon’s data centers.

What are AWS virtual desktops?

If you have employees who need occasional access to lightning-fast workstations, hardware costs add up quickly. One way to tackle this problem is by providing users with low-end hardware that connects to a cloud service provider that delivers virtual desktops. These full-fledged desktops can be accessed over the internet and are far more cost efficient.

For quite some time, AWS’s “Standard” package has offered 24-hour access to virtual desktops with dual CPUs, 4+ GB of RAM and 130 GB of data storage for $43 per month. As long as you have a computer with an internet connection and are able to pay the subscription fee, you can run programs on an AWS virtual desktop that greatly exceeds your local machine’s capacity.

The WorkSpaces Power bundle

In June 2017, AWS introduced a new virtual desktop service for businesses that need a bit more capacity. The WorkSpaces Power bundle grants users access to machines with the power of four CPUs, with 16+ GB of RAM and 275 GB of storage.

Obviously, anything that requires such high-end hardware is going to be pretty technical work, but with the help of an experienced IT provider, you too can profit from the Big Data movement. AWS is advertising the Power bundle to developers, but it’s also great for businesses that want profitable insights from their huge databases.

The Power bundle virtual desktops have tremendous capacity, and that does come at a higher cost. The WorkSpaces Power bundle costs $78 per month for unlimited usage, or if you need it for only a couple days, $19 per month plus 68 cents per hour.

Faster data access for Standard and Power bundles

Regardless of whether you need the Standard or Power bundle, all AWS virtual desktops benefit from excellent data access speeds. The servers that host AWS cloud storage and AWS virtual desktops are in the same physical location, which means you don’t need to worry about lag when connecting the two.

Even if you’re “just a small-scale eCommerce site,” or a single-location office, every business can benefit from more affordable computing power. To find out what virtualization can do for your organization, call us today.

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Faster Amazon Web Services virtual desktops

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the biggest names in virtualization and cloud computing. Its global network and intuitive platform have made it easier for customers to get more mileage out of their existing technology, and now AWS is offering even more powerful services.

What are AWS virtual desktops?

If you have employees who need occasional access to lightning-fast workstations, hardware costs add up quickly. One way to tackle this problem is by providing users with low-end hardware that connects to a cloud service provider that delivers virtual desktops. These full-fledged desktops can be accessed over the internet and are far more cost efficient.

For quite some time, AWS’s “Standard” package has offered 24-hour access to virtual desktops with dual CPUs, 4+ GB of RAM and 130 GB of data storage for $43 per month. As long as you have a computer with an internet connection and are able to pay the subscription fee, you can run programs on an AWS virtual desktop that greatly exceeds your local machine’s capacity.

The WorkSpaces Power bundle

In June 2017, AWS introduced a new virtual desktop service for businesses that need a bit more capacity. The WorkSpaces Power bundle grants users access to machines with the power of four CPUs, with 16+ GB of RAM and 275 GB of storage.

Obviously, anything that requires such high-end hardware is going to be pretty technical work, but with the help of an experienced IT provider, you too can profit from the Big Data movement. AWS is advertising the Power bundle to developers, but it’s also great for businesses that want profitable insights from their huge databases.

The Power bundle virtual desktops have tremendous capacity, and that does come at a higher cost. The WorkSpaces Power bundle costs $78 per month for unlimited usage, or if you need it for only a couple days, $19 per month plus 68 cents per hour.

Faster data access for Standard and Power bundles

Regardless of whether you need the Standard or Power bundle, all AWS virtual desktops benefit from excellent data access speeds. The servers that host AWS cloud storage and AWS virtual desktops are in the same physical location, which means you don’t need to worry about lag when connecting the two.

Even if you’re “just a small-scale eCommerce site,” or a single-location office, every business can benefit from more affordable computing power. To find out what virtualization can do for your organization, call us today.

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Hangouts or Skype: Which VoIP is the best?

When it comes to technology, Microsoft and Google have competed in almost every front. Both have made huge strides in machine learning, cloud computing, and productivity software. And in terms of VoIP solutions, both tech powerhouses are also neck and neck. Google’s Hangouts Meet and Microsoft’s Skype for Business have plenty of similar calling and video conferencing features; but depending on your company requirements, you may prefer one over the other.

Calling features
While Hangouts and Skype both offer enterprise-grade security, 1080p HD quality video, and screen sharing capabilities, there are some slight differences. For starters, Skype for Business users can set up and record online meetings for up to 250 participants and broadcast meetings for up to 10,000 attendees. With call forwarding and auto-attendant features, Skype ensures you never miss calls and streamlines caller management. What’s more, it has Skype Translator, a plugin that instantly translates voice and text.

Hangouts Meets, on the other hand, supports up to 30 people per session and lacks broadcasting and voting capabilities. It does, however, have intelligent built-in features like auto screen focus and muting so that participants get the right amount of attention when they’re sharing ideas with the group. You can also invite participants to the call by simply sending the URL link of the Hangouts session.

Presence
Hangouts sports a simple green circle to indicate that a contact is online. Skype offers similar features, but the difference is that you have more status options to choose from such as Available, Busy, Away, Do Not Disturb, and In a Call.

Integrations and add-ons
Being a Google product, Hangouts has tight integrations with powerful G Suite apps, including Gmail, Sheets, Maps, YouTube and Google Calendar. With Calendar, Hangouts can schedule appointments and set call reminders within the app. Using YouTube, you can even broadcast your presentations live.

Meanwhile, Skype for Business is heavily integrated into Office 365. This means you can initiate calls with colleagues working on the same Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file. Outside of Microsoft, Skype also integrates with Slack and other unified communication solutions.

Price
The biggest difference between Google and Microsoft’s VoIP product is pricing. Hangouts is offered with every G Suite subscription plan (Basic, Business, Enterprise), and usually starts at $5 per user per month. By comparison, Skype for Business can be purchased as a standalone solution starting at $2 per user per month. Keep in mind, those with Office 365 Business subscriptions also get all the Skype features listed above.

What works for you?
Based on these features, it should be easy for you to decide which platform is suitable for your business. Hangouts is clearly built for startups and small companies that need a low cost communication solution. It supports only up to 30 people per call, and while its features are a bit limited compared to Skype, it does offer companies with fewer than 50 employees what they need.

In contrast, Skype for Business and its robust features are designed for small and large businesses alike. Of course, if you’re still unsure about either product, you should opt for a trial run and make up your mind then. Otherwise, contact our team today so we can recommend a VoIP solution that fits your business.

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Comparing Hangouts and Skype

Google and Microsoft have made huge strides with their communication solutions, Hangouts Meet and Skype for Business. Both products offer text, voice, and video chat, but each has unique features suited for specific businesses. To help you make a decision about which solution to install, we compare Hangouts Meet and Skype for Business features so you can see how they stack up against each other.

Calling features
While Hangouts and Skype both offer enterprise-grade security, 1080p HD quality video, and screen sharing capabilities, there are some slight differences. For starters, Skype for Business users can set up and record online meetings for up to 250 participants and broadcast meetings for up to 10,000 attendees. With call forwarding and auto-attendant features, Skype ensures you never miss calls and streamlines caller management. What’s more, it has Skype Translator, a plugin that instantly translates voice and text.

Hangouts Meets, on the other hand, supports up to 30 people per session and lacks broadcasting and voting capabilities. It does, however, have intelligent built-in features like auto screen focus and muting so that participants get the right amount of attention when they’re sharing ideas with the group. You can also invite participants to the call by simply sending the URL link of the Hangouts session.

Presence
Hangouts sports a simple green circle to indicate that a contact is online. Skype offers similar features, but the difference is that you have more status options to choose from such as Available, Busy, Away, Do Not Disturb, and In a Call.

Integrations and add-ons
Being a Google product, Hangouts has tight integrations with powerful G Suite apps, including Gmail, Sheets, Maps, YouTube and Google Calendar. With Calendar, Hangouts can schedule appointments and set call reminders within the app. Using YouTube, you can even broadcast your presentations live.

Meanwhile, Skype for Business is heavily integrated into Office 365. This means you can initiate calls with colleagues working on the same Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file. Outside of Microsoft, Skype also integrates with Slack and other unified communication solutions.

Price
The biggest difference between Google and Microsoft’s VoIP product is pricing. Hangouts is offered with every G Suite subscription plan (Basic, Business, Enterprise), and usually starts at $5 per user per month. By comparison, Skype for Business can be purchased as a standalone solution starting at $2 per user per month. Keep in mind, those with Office 365 Business subscriptions also get all the Skype features listed above.

What works for you?
Based on these features, it should be easy for you to decide which platform is suitable for your business. Hangouts is clearly built for startups and small companies that need a low cost communication solution. It supports only up to 30 people per call, and while its features are a bit limited compared to Skype, it does offer companies with fewer than 50 employees what they need.

In contrast, Skype for Business and its robust features are designed for small and large businesses alike. Of course, if you’re still unsure about either product, you should opt for a trial run and make up your mind then. Otherwise, contact our team today so we can recommend a VoIP solution that fits your business.

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Skype for Business vs Hangouts Meet?

There are plenty of VoIP solutions available in the market today, but the two clear standouts are Microsoft’s Skype for Business and Google’s Hangouts Meet. Each product offers stellar voice and video conferencing features, and rich integrations with other apps. So which solution is best for your business? To answer this question, you first need to understand the differences between the two.

Calling features
While Hangouts and Skype both offer enterprise-grade security, 1080p HD quality video, and screen sharing capabilities, there are some slight differences. For starters, Skype for Business users can set up and record online meetings for up to 250 participants and broadcast meetings for up to 10,000 attendees. With call forwarding and auto-attendant features, Skype ensures you never miss calls and streamlines caller management. What’s more, it has Skype Translator, a plugin that instantly translates voice and text.

Hangouts Meets, on the other hand, supports up to 30 people per session and lacks broadcasting and voting capabilities. It does, however, have intelligent built-in features like auto screen focus and muting so that participants get the right amount of attention when they’re sharing ideas with the group. You can also invite participants to the call by simply sending the URL link of the Hangouts session.

Presence
Hangouts sports a simple green circle to indicate that a contact is online. Skype offers similar features, but the difference is that you have more status options to choose from such as Available, Busy, Away, Do Not Disturb, and In a Call.

Integrations and add-ons
Being a Google product, Hangouts has tight integrations with powerful G Suite apps, including Gmail, Sheets, Maps, YouTube and Google Calendar. With Calendar, Hangouts can schedule appointments and set call reminders within the app. Using YouTube, you can even broadcast your presentations live.

Meanwhile, Skype for Business is heavily integrated into Office 365. This means you can initiate calls with colleagues working on the same Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file. Outside of Microsoft, Skype also integrates with Slack and other unified communication solutions.

Price
The biggest difference between Google and Microsoft’s VoIP product is pricing. Hangouts is offered with every G Suite subscription plan (Basic, Business, Enterprise), and usually starts at $5 per user per month. By comparison, Skype for Business can be purchased as a standalone solution starting at $2 per user per month. Keep in mind, those with Office 365 Business subscriptions also get all the Skype features listed above.

What works for you?
Based on these features, it should be easy for you to decide which platform is suitable for your business. Hangouts is clearly built for startups and small companies that need a low cost communication solution. It supports only up to 30 people per call, and while its features are a bit limited compared to Skype, it does offer companies with fewer than 50 employees what they need.

In contrast, Skype for Business and its robust features are designed for small and large businesses alike. Of course, if you’re still unsure about either product, you should opt for a trial run and make up your mind then. Otherwise, contact our team today so we can recommend a VoIP solution that fits your business.

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Workplace Analytics measures productivity

Microsoft’s MyAnalytics was designed for employees to monitor their individual performance. An updated version, Workplace Analytics, is a significant upgrade because it can be accessed by managers. It not only provides managers with insight into an individual employee’s performance, but it also helps them plan and create strategies around increasing productivity and improving employee output and engagement.

How it works

Now available as an add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans, Workplace Analytics extracts behavioral insights from data gathered from Office 365 email, calendar, documents, and Skype. This means that any data an employee types into their email and calendar — whether it’s on the subject line or the main content itself — can be used to indicate their productivity status.

The program has an overview dashboard that provides specific information:

  • Week in the Life provides an overall view of how the entire organization spends time and how members collaborate
  • Meetings shows the amount of time spent in meetings
  • Management and Coaching gauges staff-manager one-on-one meetings
  • Network and Collaboration takes a look at how employees connect to colleagues

What does it aim to do?

Workplace Analytics aims to address what, according to Microsoft, are businesses’ most common challenges: complexity, productivity, and engagement.

Using Analytics data, managers and human resources departments can form productivity strategies for the entire company. If, based on Workplace Analytics data, a majority of your employees are spending 60% of their time attending meetings and not enough time doing creative work, they can come up with a strategy that reduces meeting time and focuses more on productive tasks.

It also identifies how employees collaborate with internal and external parties. Suppose one of your sales staff frequently communicates with certain contacts. By using Workplace Analytics data, the employee’s manager would be able to determine whether this particular collaboration pattern is helping the employee hit sales targets or whether he or she is missing out on other more critical contacts. Also, based on this info, managers would be able to determine which employees are most likely to meet or exceed their targets and set company-wide standards accordingly.

Data gathered by Workplace Analytics also allows managers to determine an employee’s level of engagement (i.e., whether the organization’s collaboration patterns are good for the company) and whether workloads are fairly distributed among workers and/or departments.

Is it useful for small businesses?

Large corporations have been using Workplace Analytics, but small businesses can also benefit from it. For one, the data used to provide the insights are all based on data generated by employees themselves — how much time they spend on meetings, whom they frequently communicate with, and how much time they spend on productive tasks.

Aside from letting managers examine their staff’s working behavior, Workplace Analytics also provides an overall look into what happens at an organizational level. If you want your organization to harness the capabilities of Workplace Analytics and other Office 365 tools, give us a call today.

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Microsoft enhances Workplace Analytics

Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics is a handy tool for managers who would like to assess their employees’ performance using data from Office 365 programs. Whereas MyAnalytics provides employees with an overview of their own productivity data, Workplace Analytics allows both employees and managers to view performance rates to evaluate individual productivity.

How it works

Now available as an add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans, Workplace Analytics extracts behavioral insights from data gathered from Office 365 email, calendar, documents, and Skype. This means that any data an employee types into their email and calendar — whether it’s on the subject line or the main content itself — can be used to indicate their productivity status.

The program has an overview dashboard that provides specific information:

  • Week in the Life provides an overall view of how the entire organization spends time and how members collaborate
  • Meetings shows the amount of time spent in meetings
  • Management and Coaching gauges staff-manager one-on-one meetings
  • Network and Collaboration takes a look at how employees connect to colleagues

What does it aim to do?

Workplace Analytics aims to address what, according to Microsoft, are businesses’ most common challenges: complexity, productivity, and engagement.

Using Analytics data, managers and human resources departments can form productivity strategies for the entire company. If, based on Workplace Analytics data, a majority of your employees are spending 60% of their time attending meetings and not enough time doing creative work, they can come up with a strategy that reduces meeting time and focuses more on productive tasks.

It also identifies how employees collaborate with internal and external parties. Suppose one of your sales staff frequently communicates with certain contacts. By using Workplace Analytics data, the employee’s manager would be able to determine whether this particular collaboration pattern is helping the employee hit sales targets or whether he or she is missing out on other more critical contacts. Also, based on this info, managers would be able to determine which employees are most likely to meet or exceed their targets and set company-wide standards accordingly.

Data gathered by Workplace Analytics also allows managers to determine an employee’s level of engagement (i.e., whether the organization’s collaboration patterns are good for the company) and whether workloads are fairly distributed among workers and/or departments.

Is it useful for small businesses?

Large corporations have been using Workplace Analytics, but small businesses can also benefit from it. For one, the data used to provide the insights are all based on data generated by employees themselves — how much time they spend on meetings, whom they frequently communicate with, and how much time they spend on productive tasks.

Aside from letting managers examine their staff’s working behavior, Workplace Analytics also provides an overall look into what happens at an organizational level. If you want your organization to harness the capabilities of Workplace Analytics and other Office 365 tools, give us a call today.

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New Microsoft Workplace Analytics

Workplace Analytics is a program that helps managers determine staff productivity levels using data gathered from their email, calendar, documents, and other applications within Office 365. Previously, Microsoft’s MyAnalytics allowed only employees to view their individual data, but with this updated version, managers now have access to this data, too.

How it works

Now available as an add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans, Workplace Analytics extracts behavioral insights from data gathered from Office 365 email, calendar, documents, and Skype. This means that any data an employee types into their email and calendar — whether it’s on the subject line or the main content itself — can be used to indicate their productivity status.

The program has an overview dashboard that provides specific information:

  • Week in the Life provides an overall view of how the entire organization spends time and how members collaborate
  • Meetings shows the amount of time spent in meetings
  • Management and Coaching gauges staff-manager one-on-one meetings
  • Network and Collaboration takes a look at how employees connect to colleagues

What does it aim to do?

Workplace Analytics aims to address what, according to Microsoft, are businesses’ most common challenges: complexity, productivity, and engagement.

Using Analytics data, managers and human resources departments can form productivity strategies for the entire company. If, based on Workplace Analytics data, a majority of your employees are spending 60% of their time attending meetings and not enough time doing creative work, they can come up with a strategy that reduces meeting time and focuses more on productive tasks.

It also identifies how employees collaborate with internal and external parties. Suppose one of your sales staff frequently communicates with certain contacts. By using Workplace Analytics data, the employee’s manager would be able to determine whether this particular collaboration pattern is helping the employee hit sales targets or whether he or she is missing out on other more critical contacts. Also, based on this info, managers would be able to determine which employees are most likely to meet or exceed their targets and set company-wide standards accordingly.

Data gathered by Workplace Analytics also allows managers to determine an employee’s level of engagement (i.e., whether the organization’s collaboration patterns are good for the company) and whether workloads are fairly distributed among workers and/or departments.

Is it useful for small businesses?

Large corporations have been using Workplace Analytics, but small businesses can also benefit from it. For one, the data used to provide the insights are all based on data generated by employees themselves — how much time they spend on meetings, whom they frequently communicate with, and how much time they spend on productive tasks.

Aside from letting managers examine their staff’s working behavior, Workplace Analytics also provides an overall look into what happens at an organizational level. If you want your organization to harness the capabilities of Workplace Analytics and other Office 365 tools, give us a call today.

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How useful are Google Posts to SMBs?

Businesses in the 21st century rely on a strong digital presence to keep up with the competition. There’s a new tool that helps with just that: Google Posts. Read on to learn its potentially game-changing capabilities and when SMBs can expect to get a piece of the action.

What they can do
Google Posts basically allow users to communicate directly in the search results. This differs from the Knowledge Panel since you can highlight content, information, products or services. These posts can be images, videos, or even animated GIFs. You can even add inline links on the posts to drive traffic to a particular page, service or product. According to Google, this enhanced format enables searchers to hear directly from you while complementing existing search results across the web.

Postings
Your posting instantly shows up in search results on both mobile and desktop platforms. Whether they’re texts, images, videos, or events, you can schedule the time and duration of the post with ease. This is a great feature that provides immediate access and can be particularly useful when you are planning to launch a product, open a pop-up store, or run a promotion. Also, Google Analytics will give you updates on how many people have seen and interacted with your content.

How it differs from Google+
Google+ helps small businesses by working with Google Search to improve the ranking of your content on search results. It also integrates with Google for Business services to provide business information such as location, directions, phone number, photos, and reviews. The difference with Google Posts is the interaction, where you can communicate directly in the search results.

Availability
Google has yet to announce when it will make Google Posts available to everyone, but if you’d like to use it for your small- or medium-sized business, you can request access. If Google supports your company’s category and geography, it will verify some of your information and keep you posted on the status of your approval via email. Applicants can expect the first response within one week of submitting the form.

If you have any questions or are interested in using Google Posts, feel free to contact us. Our team of experts are always ready to help!

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