Chrome extensions: 6 productivity boosters

2016May30_Browsers_A
Do you ever find yourself cursing your web browser’s limited functionality? Well, if you’re using Google Chrome there’s a good chance someone has created an extension to make your wish come true. There are thousands of Chrome extensions just waiting to boost your productivity with the click of a button. Let’s take a look.

crxMouse Chrome Gestures

Whether you’re switching between a dozen tabs or hopping around the company website, web navigation can start to feel a bit tedious. If you’ve got two monitors, or just a large screen, moving your mouse to the top of the screen to constantly open and close tabs can really slow down your rhythm. One solution is to learn all of the keyboard shortcuts. An even better one is the “crx Mouse Gestures” extension, which allows you to assign mouse gestures to different browser actions.

Want to go back a page? Right click and drag the mouse to the left. Want to open a new tab? Right click and drag up. Gestures allows you to customize everything, including the motions themselves. In the options menu you can draw custom gestures, for example a box, and tell crx to tie that motion into opening your Gmail inbox in a new tab. It takes no time at all to incorporate the shortcuts into your browsing habits and significantly boosts your browsing efficiency.

Readability

When it’s time to slow down your browsing and read the most recent election article or a recipe you want to try, the page is often cluttered with social sharing buttons, advertisements and stock photos. With the “Readability” extension all of this gets cleared away with the press of a button, leaving you with a clean, text-only page.

In addition to allowing for customization of font, size, and color of your “reader” page, this extension also allows for you to “save for later” and “send to my Kindle”. Readability is a perfect addition for anyone doing a lot of reading who is tired of pages containing more clutter than useful content.

OneTab

After installing the last two extensions you may find yourself with a stack of tabs sandwiched along the top of your screen. Too many open tabs can cripple your available memory. A lot of us open tabs as notes, reminders, and things to check some time in the distant future, which is why you’ll love OneTab. With this extension you can condense all of your open tabs into one page that lists each of them for easy access when you’re ready to return to them.

In addition to reducing your memory usage by up to 95 percent, OneTab will let you share your condensed tab list. If you’re working on research for a client, open all the relevant tabs and with the click of a button OneTab will create a site with a shareable link so you can send them to anyone you’d like.

Black Menu for Google

This extension puts all of Google’s sites, services and apps right in your browser menu. After clicking on the icon, a customizable menu drops down with sites like Drive, YouTube, Gmail and more. But these menu items are more than just links to your inbox and videos. When your mouse hovers over the different options it actually opens a miniaturized window, allowing you to view any of your Google services without opening a new tab or window.

Instead of opening a new tab, navigating to YouTube and searching for a video, clicking on the Black Menu icon will open a miniaturized search function. You don’t even need to open a new window or tab to watch the video; just click play and when you’re finished, clicking outside of the menu will make it like it never happened. For anyone working closely with Drive, Gmail or Google Calendar, this extension can save a lot of time.

Pop-out Youtube

If you love the Black Menu extension, but need a little more functionality out of your YouTube experience, Pop-out YouTube is the next step. This extension allows you to turn any video into a new browserless window that stays on top of all of your other windows. If you need to transcribe something, one click of the extension will pop out the video and you can click a window behind it and start working away without spending 20 minutes trying to perfectly size the window so everything remains visible.

As a quick note, there are dozens of extensions that block ads and those annoying links that overlay your cat videos. Unfortunately, Pop-out Youtube does not include this feature and it’s a good idea to install one of those as well.

Taco

Most of the extensions listed above improve the ease and flow of your internet browsing, but Taco focuses on integration to boost productivity. At its core, this extension replaces your Chrome ‘new tab’ page with a customizable framework for all of your third-party services.

With various templates and layouts, you can organize and combine tasks and notes from over 40 services including Evernote, Google, Salesforce, Trello and more. Any time you’re about to start a new project, open a new tab to search for whatever you need to complete it. But before you hit that ‘Google Search’ button, drag the task item into your ‘doing’ lane and off you go. Finished your work and need to check how your home team is doing in their game? Open a new tab, move the task to your finished lane and check the score.

These are just some of our favorite extensions. If you’d like more suggestions or support for anything Google related, we’re here for you — don’t hesitate to call.

Posted in General Articles A, Internet - Browsers News & Tips | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Improve Chrome with these 6 extensions

2016May30_Browsers_CWell over half of all surveyed internet users utilize Google’s Chrome web browser, and it’s not difficult to see why. The ability to customize your browser via third party apps, extensions and more makes surfing the web a truly personalized experience. Keep reading to discover some of the most practical extensions for enhancing your productivity.

crxMouse Chrome Gestures

Whether you’re switching between a dozen tabs or hopping around the company website, web navigation can start to feel a bit tedious. If you’ve got two monitors, or just a large screen, moving your mouse to the top of the screen to constantly open and close tabs can really slow down your rhythm. One solution is to learn all of the keyboard shortcuts. An even better one is the “crx Mouse Gestures” extension, which allows you to assign mouse gestures to different browser actions.

Want to go back a page? Right click and drag the mouse to the left. Want to open a new tab? Right click and drag up. Gestures allows you to customize everything, including the motions themselves. In the options menu you can draw custom gestures, for example a box, and tell crx to tie that motion into opening your Gmail inbox in a new tab. It takes no time at all to incorporate the shortcuts into your browsing habits and significantly boosts your browsing efficiency.

Readability

When it’s time to slow down your browsing and read the most recent election article or a recipe you want to try, the page is often cluttered with social sharing buttons, advertisements and stock photos. With the “Readability” extension all of this gets cleared away with the press of a button, leaving you with a clean, text-only page.

In addition to allowing for customization of font, size, and color of your “reader” page, this extension also allows for you to “save for later” and “send to my Kindle”. Readability is a perfect addition for anyone doing a lot of reading who is tired of pages containing more clutter than useful content.

OneTab

After installing the last two extensions you may find yourself with a stack of tabs sandwiched along the top of your screen. Too many open tabs can cripple your available memory. A lot of us open tabs as notes, reminders, and things to check some time in the distant future, which is why you’ll love OneTab. With this extension you can condense all of your open tabs into one page that lists each of them for easy access when you’re ready to return to them.

In addition to reducing your memory usage by up to 95 percent, OneTab will let you share your condensed tab list. If you’re working on research for a client, open all the relevant tabs and with the click of a button OneTab will create a site with a shareable link so you can send them to anyone you’d like.

Black Menu for Google

This extension puts all of Google’s sites, services and apps right in your browser menu. After clicking on the icon, a customizable menu drops down with sites like Drive, YouTube, Gmail and more. But these menu items are more than just links to your inbox and videos. When your mouse hovers over the different options it actually opens a miniaturized window, allowing you to view any of your Google services without opening a new tab or window.

Instead of opening a new tab, navigating to YouTube and searching for a video, clicking on the Black Menu icon will open a miniaturized search function. You don’t even need to open a new window or tab to watch the video; just click play and when you’re finished, clicking outside of the menu will make it like it never happened. For anyone working closely with Drive, Gmail or Google Calendar, this extension can save a lot of time.

Pop-out Youtube

If you love the Black Menu extension, but need a little more functionality out of your YouTube experience, Pop-out YouTube is the next step. This extension allows you to turn any video into a new browserless window that stays on top of all of your other windows. If you need to transcribe something, one click of the extension will pop out the video and you can click a window behind it and start working away without spending 20 minutes trying to perfectly size the window so everything remains visible.

As a quick note, there are dozens of extensions that block ads and those annoying links that overlay your cat videos. Unfortunately, Pop-out Youtube does not include this feature and it’s a good idea to install one of those as well.

Taco

Most of the extensions listed above improve the ease and flow of your internet browsing, but Taco focuses on integration to boost productivity. At its core, this extension replaces your Chrome ‘new tab’ page with a customizable framework for all of your third-party services.

With various templates and layouts, you can organize and combine tasks and notes from over 40 services including Evernote, Google, Salesforce, Trello and more. Any time you’re about to start a new project, open a new tab to search for whatever you need to complete it. But before you hit that ‘Google Search’ button, drag the task item into your ‘doing’ lane and off you go. Finished your work and need to check how your home team is doing in their game? Open a new tab, move the task to your finished lane and check the score.

These are just some of our favorite extensions. If you’d like more suggestions or support for anything Google related, we’re here for you — don’t hesitate to call.

Posted in General Articles C, Internet - Browsers News & Tips | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Browser power: 6 great Chrome extensions

2016May30_Browsers_BAccording to Statcounter’s April web browser usage report, Google Chrome accounts for over 60 percent of the market share. However, out of all those people how many are employing any of the truly helpful extensions offered in Chrome’s web store? The answer is almost certainly less people than the number of those who have problems that could be easily fixed by one of these extensions. Read on to find out if one of our favorite extensions could solve any of your biggest browser complaints.

crxMouse Chrome Gestures

Whether you’re switching between a dozen tabs or hopping around the company website, web navigation can start to feel a bit tedious. If you’ve got two monitors, or just a large screen, moving your mouse to the top of the screen to constantly open and close tabs can really slow down your rhythm. One solution is to learn all of the keyboard shortcuts. An even better one is the “crx Mouse Gestures” extension, which allows you to assign mouse gestures to different browser actions.

Want to go back a page? Right click and drag the mouse to the left. Want to open a new tab? Right click and drag up. Gestures allows you to customize everything, including the motions themselves. In the options menu you can draw custom gestures, for example a box, and tell crx to tie that motion into opening your Gmail inbox in a new tab. It takes no time at all to incorporate the shortcuts into your browsing habits and significantly boosts your browsing efficiency.

Readability

When it’s time to slow down your browsing and read the most recent election article or a recipe you want to try, the page is often cluttered with social sharing buttons, advertisements and stock photos. With the “Readability” extension all of this gets cleared away with the press of a button, leaving you with a clean, text-only page.

In addition to allowing for customization of font, size, and color of your “reader” page, this extension also allows for you to “save for later” and “send to my Kindle”. Readability is a perfect addition for anyone doing a lot of reading who is tired of pages containing more clutter than useful content.

OneTab

After installing the last two extensions you may find yourself with a stack of tabs sandwiched along the top of your screen. Too many open tabs can cripple your available memory. A lot of us open tabs as notes, reminders, and things to check some time in the distant future, which is why you’ll love OneTab. With this extension you can condense all of your open tabs into one page that lists each of them for easy access when you’re ready to return to them.

In addition to reducing your memory usage by up to 95 percent, OneTab will let you share your condensed tab list. If you’re working on research for a client, open all the relevant tabs and with the click of a button OneTab will create a site with a shareable link so you can send them to anyone you’d like.

Black Menu for Google

This extension puts all of Google’s sites, services and apps right in your browser menu. After clicking on the icon, a customizable menu drops down with sites like Drive, YouTube, Gmail and more. But these menu items are more than just links to your inbox and videos. When your mouse hovers over the different options it actually opens a miniaturized window, allowing you to view any of your Google services without opening a new tab or window.

Instead of opening a new tab, navigating to YouTube and searching for a video, clicking on the Black Menu icon will open a miniaturized search function. You don’t even need to open a new window or tab to watch the video; just click play and when you’re finished, clicking outside of the menu will make it like it never happened. For anyone working closely with Drive, Gmail or Google Calendar, this extension can save a lot of time.

Pop-out Youtube

If you love the Black Menu extension, but need a little more functionality out of your YouTube experience, Pop-out YouTube is the next step. This extension allows you to turn any video into a new browserless window that stays on top of all of your other windows. If you need to transcribe something, one click of the extension will pop out the video and you can click a window behind it and start working away without spending 20 minutes trying to perfectly size the window so everything remains visible.

As a quick note, there are dozens of extensions that block ads and those annoying links that overlay your cat videos. Unfortunately, Pop-out Youtube does not include this feature and it’s a good idea to install one of those as well.

Taco

Most of the extensions listed above improve the ease and flow of your internet browsing, but Taco focuses on integration to boost productivity. At its core, this extension replaces your Chrome ‘new tab’ page with a customizable framework for all of your third-party services.

With various templates and layouts, you can organize and combine tasks and notes from over 40 services including Evernote, Google, Salesforce, Trello and more. Any time you’re about to start a new project, open a new tab to search for whatever you need to complete it. But before you hit that ‘Google Search’ button, drag the task item into your ‘doing’ lane and off you go. Finished your work and need to check how your home team is doing in their game? Open a new tab, move the task to your finished lane and check the score.

These are just some of our favorite extensions. If you’d like more suggestions or support for anything Google related, we’re here for you — don’t hesitate to call.

Posted in General Articles B, Internet - Browsers News & Tips | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Early adopters share iPad Pro feedback

2016May27_iPad_CPeople love websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Angie’s List for a reason: feedback from real customers is invaluable when making a purchase decision. When it comes to Apple’s iPad Pro, you may’ve had some difficulty tracking down what actual users think about the tablet as it’s still a new technology. Well, today, you’re in luck. CIO, a website that delivers the latest news and tips for IT professionals, has recently surveyed 11 early adopters of the iPad Pro to get their feedback. Here’s what they thought of it: the good and the bad.

The good

  • Great for short, focused bursts of work – The iPad Pro is lightweight, turns on quickly and features some exceptional iOS multitasking features. These qualities make it a perfect alternative to a laptop for short, focused bursts of work. One user surveyed noted that taking out his laptop for thirty minutes or less of work is tiresome and is also unfeasible at times. The iPad Pro solves this problem, allowing him to even get work done in taxis.
  • Speed – When compared to iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro has made huge improvements when it comes to speed. The iPad Air 2 is slow when opening a large file or program and when switching between apps. However, the iPad Pro performs these same tasks lightning fast thanks to Apple’s A9X 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM.
  • Split View enhances productivity – Let’s face it, we all multi-task to some extent, and Split View has really made it easier than ever. If you’re in a meeting and need to toggle between your email and a note application or web page, Split View eliminates the now unnecessary step of hitting the home button first and then opening the other app. All you have to do is slide your finger across the display to bring up different apps you may want to use.
  • Works wonders for note taking – With the iPad Pro, taking notes is now like the good ol’ days when you sat in class and scratched down on a pad what the teacher said. While back then that pad was made of paper, today’s pad is digital. How is this possible? It’s all because of the Pencil stylus, which acts like a real pencil. Essentially, this turns your iPad Pro into a virtual notepad with the ability to keep all your notes in digital format in one easy and convenient place. What’s more, your notes are automatically accessible from all your devices.

The bad

  • Subpar keyboard – According to one user, there is still much to be desired from Apple’s smart keyboard. It lacks buttons such as the home key and keys to adjust brightness and volume. Also it doesn’t have backlit keys, which can make it difficult to type if you’re in a dark place.
  • Browser too often displays mobile website – The tablet tends to use mobile websites when browsing the web (which could be because the iPad Pro uses iOS 9 instead of a full blown desktop operating system). Obviously, this can be annoying as mobile websites are generally not as functional as the desktop version. With that said, iPad Pro can handle the desktop version perfectly fine, you just have to manually switch over to the desktop version on many occasions.
  • Limited storage – While the Microsoft Surface Pro allows users to add storage via micro SD memory cards, the iPad Pro has no option to increase storage. Of course, you can alternatively store overflow files and data on the cloud; however, keeping sensitive data there is not ideal for many business owners.
  • Fragile screen – The iPad Pro’s retina display is capable of producing beautiful images, but the screen is also incredibly fragile. One user noted that even if you drop it from less than a foot off the ground, you are still likely to break the screen, which is not an inexpensive fix.

We hope this feedback provided by early iPad Pro adapters can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not Apple’s latest tablet is suitable for your business. If you’d like to learn more about Apple products or need to service some of your own, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Posted in General Articles C, Mobile Tablet - iPad | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

iPad Pro feedback from early adopters

2016May27_iPad_BYou may still be on the fence about whether or not to purchase an iPad Pro for your business. While you can find a lot of coverage on Apple’s latest tablet online, you may wonder what actual users think. Today, you’ll discover just that. CIO, a website that delivers the latest news and tips for IT professionals, recently surveyed 11 iPad Pro users to get their feedback. Here’s their thoughts on the good and bad.

The good

  • Great for short, focused bursts of work – The iPad Pro is lightweight, turns on quickly and features some exceptional iOS multitasking features. These qualities make it a perfect alternative to a laptop for short, focused bursts of work. One user surveyed noted that taking out his laptop for thirty minutes or less of work is tiresome and is also unfeasible at times. The iPad Pro solves this problem, allowing him to even get work done in taxis.
  • Speed – When compared to iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro has made huge improvements when it comes to speed. The iPad Air 2 is slow when opening a large file or program and when switching between apps. However, the iPad Pro performs these same tasks lightning fast thanks to Apple’s A9X 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM.
  • Split View enhances productivity – Let’s face it, we all multi-task to some extent, and Split View has really made it easier than ever. If you’re in a meeting and need to toggle between your email and a note application or web page, Split View eliminates the now unnecessary step of hitting the home button first and then opening the other app. All you have to do is slide your finger across the display to bring up different apps you may want to use.
  • Works wonders for note taking – With the iPad Pro, taking notes is now like the good ol’ days when you sat in class and scratched down on a pad what the teacher said. While back then that pad was made of paper, today’s pad is digital. How is this possible? It’s all because of the Pencil stylus, which acts like a real pencil. Essentially, this turns your iPad Pro into a virtual notepad with the ability to keep all your notes in digital format in one easy and convenient place. What’s more, your notes are automatically accessible from all your devices.

The bad

  • Subpar keyboard – According to one user, there is still much to be desired from Apple’s smart keyboard. It lacks buttons such as the home key and keys to adjust brightness and volume. Also it doesn’t have backlit keys, which can make it difficult to type if you’re in a dark place.
  • Browser too often displays mobile website – The tablet tends to use mobile websites when browsing the web (which could be because the iPad Pro uses iOS 9 instead of a full blown desktop operating system). Obviously, this can be annoying as mobile websites are generally not as functional as the desktop version. With that said, iPad Pro can handle the desktop version perfectly fine, you just have to manually switch over to the desktop version on many occasions.
  • Limited storage – While the Microsoft Surface Pro allows users to add storage via micro SD memory cards, the iPad Pro has no option to increase storage. Of course, you can alternatively store overflow files and data on the cloud; however, keeping sensitive data there is not ideal for many business owners.
  • Fragile screen – The iPad Pro’s retina display is capable of producing beautiful images, but the screen is also incredibly fragile. One user noted that even if you drop it from less than a foot off the ground, you are still likely to break the screen, which is not an inexpensive fix.

We hope this feedback provided by early iPad Pro adapters can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not Apple’s latest tablet is suitable for your business. If you’d like to learn more about Apple products or need to service some of your own, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Posted in General Articles B, Mobile Tablet - iPad | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

iPad Pro: 4 pluses, 4 minuses

2016May27_iPad_AThe iPad Pro has been out for several months now. Over the course of this time, millions of users across the globe have had the opportunity to spend quality time with Apple’s new tablet. But for those of us who aren’t quite certain they should purchase one yet, we’re still wondering, “how has it worked out for those early adopters?” A new survey released by CIO, a website that delivers the latest news and tips for IT professionals, questioned 11 users about their experience thus far. Here are their thoughts on the good and bad of the iPad Pro.

The good

  • Great for short, focused bursts of work – The iPad Pro is lightweight, turns on quickly and features some exceptional iOS multitasking features. These qualities make it a perfect alternative to a laptop for short, focused bursts of work. One user surveyed noted that taking out his laptop for thirty minutes or less of work is tiresome and is also unfeasible at times. The iPad Pro solves this problem, allowing him to even get work done in taxis.
  • Speed – When compared to iPad Air 2, the iPad Pro has made huge improvements when it comes to speed. The iPad Air 2 is slow when opening a large file or program and when switching between apps. However, the iPad Pro performs these same tasks lightning fast thanks to Apple’s A9X 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM.
  • Split View enhances productivity – Let’s face it, we all multi-task to some extent, and Split View has really made it easier than ever. If you’re in a meeting and need to toggle between your email and a note application or web page, Split View eliminates the now unnecessary step of hitting the home button first and then opening the other app. All you have to do is slide your finger across the display to bring up different apps you may want to use.
  • Works wonders for note taking – With the iPad Pro, taking notes is now like the good ol’ days when you sat in class and scratched down on a pad what the teacher said. While back then that pad was made of paper, today’s pad is digital. How is this possible? It’s all because of the Pencil stylus, which acts like a real pencil. Essentially, this turns your iPad Pro into a virtual notepad with the ability to keep all your notes in digital format in one easy and convenient place. What’s more, your notes are automatically accessible from all your devices.

The bad

  • Subpar keyboard – According to one user, there is still much to be desired from Apple’s smart keyboard. It lacks buttons such as the home key and keys to adjust brightness and volume. Also it doesn’t have backlit keys, which can make it difficult to type if you’re in a dark place.
  • Browser too often displays mobile website – The tablet tends to use mobile websites when browsing the web (which could be because the iPad Pro uses iOS 9 instead of a full blown desktop operating system). Obviously, this can be annoying as mobile websites are generally not as functional as the desktop version. With that said, iPad Pro can handle the desktop version perfectly fine, you just have to manually switch over to the desktop version on many occasions.
  • Limited storage – While the Microsoft Surface Pro allows users to add storage via micro SD memory cards, the iPad Pro has no option to increase storage. Of course, you can alternatively store overflow files and data on the cloud; however, keeping sensitive data there is not ideal for many business owners.
  • Fragile screen – The iPad Pro’s retina display is capable of producing beautiful images, but the screen is also incredibly fragile. One user noted that even if you drop it from less than a foot off the ground, you are still likely to break the screen, which is not an inexpensive fix.

We hope this feedback provided by early iPad Pro adapters can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not Apple’s latest tablet is suitable for your business. If you’d like to learn more about Apple products or need to service some of your own, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Posted in General Articles A, Mobile Tablet - iPad | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Why Peter Pan’s cloud migration would thrive

2016May26_Office365_CThink happy thoughts. Peter Pan knew the power of positive thinking more than any of us, which is why if he had a business today it would have likely been a great candidate for cloud technology. You see, half the battle when adapting new IT, whether it’s the cloud or managed services, is going in with the right attitude. If you focus on how it will help your business and mentally prepare yourself for adapting the new technology, you are much more likely to succeed. Peter Pan flew to the clouds in Never Neverland, and we’re sure he’d do the same with his technology today. Here’s 3 happy thoughts he’d think, and you should too.

Consider cloud value over costs

When considering the cloud, too many business owners get hung up on costs. Instead, it makes more sense to think about how the cloud impacts their business and saves them money. The old saying, “you have to spend money to make money” is ever so true here. And as a business owner, the cloud is no different than any other investment you took to grow your organization. That’s why you should remember the cloud provides you value, such as the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and easier collaboration.

And of course, you shouldn’t just think of how the cloud benefits yourself, but also your IT managers and staff. In fact, before migrating to the cloud, why not go ahead and ask your IT leaders just how the cloud will benefit your business? They’ll likely mention how it can boost the productivity levels of all your employees, while making everyone’s job easier.

Think “strategy” before migration

Once you’ve considered the value the cloud provides, you’ll likely have some ideas of what goals you’ll want it to accomplish at your business. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so – before signing up for the service. Let’s say for example, you want to gain the productivity benefits of your staff being able to work from anywhere at anytime. How can you do this? When you roll out the cloud in your company, have the specific goal of increasing mobile use or adoption among employees. Talk with your IT leaders to devise a plan they can implement.

When it comes to your other cloud goals, clearly define them beforehand and then talk with your IT staff to come up with the nuts and bolts plan to accomplish that goal. By doing this, you’ll achieve much better results with your cloud service.

Learn to love the quickly evolving nature of the cloud

As the cloud is still a new technology, it is rapidly changing. New updates, features and enhancements are rolled out regularly, and if you want to get the most out of your cloud it’s best to keep up. Of course, this is a scary idea for many business owners and IT managers alike as the old way of doing things is rolling out new features and apps over long periods of time.

Some cloud services make it easier than ever to keep up with changes. Let’s take Office 365 for example. Adding users and implementing new changes can take mere minutes. Yes, it may be scary to do so, but remember, Microsoft and your IT managers are in your corner – they are there to support you. Of course, you may still have some bad memories from updating your legacy technology. Let us assure you, updates to Office 365 are nothing like this and require a small learning curve. Most new features are intuitive by nature, making adjustment to these changes painless and problem-free.

One of the best ways to assure your cloud updates go as smoothly as possible is to have an IT leader who’s enthusiastic about the technology be responsible for managing it. A cloud enthusiast is much more likely to be up-to-date on the newest features and enhancements and can quickly share with you whether or not an update will benefit your business.

When it comes to cloud migration for your business, it’s pretty much an all or nothing decision (unless of course you go with virtualization, which is a different topic altogether). The cloud will become an integral part of your business, and you and all of your staff will interact with it on a daily basis. So be prepared for a big transition and a big payoff of higher productivity and connectivity for you and your staff.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

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Cloud attitude adjustments for success

2016May26_Office365_BNot every business owner who migrates to the cloud achieves great results. As much as the service is touted with words like “freedom”, “productivity” and “collaboration”, realizing the full benefits of these words is not a given. So if you’re thinking about transitioning to the cloud, how can you ensure you optimize the technology for your business? Well, it all starts with your attitude before migration. Here are some mental-shifts you should make before getting started.

Consider cloud value over costs

When considering the cloud, too many business owners get hung up on costs. Instead, it makes more sense to think about how the cloud impacts their business and saves them money. The old saying, “you have to spend money to make money” is ever so true here. And as a business owner, the cloud is no different than any other investment you took to grow your organization. That’s why you should remember the cloud provides you value, such as the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and easier collaboration.

And of course, you shouldn’t just think of how the cloud benefits yourself, but also your IT managers and staff. In fact, before migrating to the cloud, why not go ahead and ask your IT leaders just how the cloud will benefit your business? They’ll likely mention how it can boost the productivity levels of all your employees, while making everyone’s job easier.

Think “strategy” before migration

Once you’ve considered the value the cloud provides, you’ll likely have some ideas of what goals you’ll want it to accomplish at your business. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so – before signing up for the service. Let’s say for example, you want to gain the productivity benefits of your staff being able to work from anywhere at anytime. How can you do this? When you roll out the cloud in your company, have the specific goal of increasing mobile use or adoption among employees. Talk with your IT leaders to devise a plan they can implement.

When it comes to your other cloud goals, clearly define them beforehand and then talk with your IT staff to come up with the nuts and bolts plan to accomplish that goal. By doing this, you’ll achieve much better results with your cloud service.

Learn to love the quickly evolving nature of the cloud

As the cloud is still a new technology, it is rapidly changing. New updates, features and enhancements are rolled out regularly, and if you want to get the most out of your cloud it’s best to keep up. Of course, this is a scary idea for many business owners and IT managers alike as the old way of doing things is rolling out new features and apps over long periods of time.

Some cloud services make it easier than ever to keep up with changes. Let’s take Office 365 for example. Adding users and implementing new changes can take mere minutes. Yes, it may be scary to do so, but remember, Microsoft and your IT managers are in your corner – they are there to support you. Of course, you may still have some bad memories from updating your legacy technology. Let us assure you, updates to Office 365 are nothing like this and require a small learning curve. Most new features are intuitive by nature, making adjustment to these changes painless and problem-free.

One of the best ways to assure your cloud updates go as smoothly as possible is to have an IT leader who’s enthusiastic about the technology be responsible for managing it. A cloud enthusiast is much more likely to be up-to-date on the newest features and enhancements and can quickly share with you whether or not an update will benefit your business.

When it comes to cloud migration for your business, it’s pretty much an all or nothing decision (unless of course you go with virtualization, which is a different topic altogether). The cloud will become an integral part of your business, and you and all of your staff will interact with it on a daily basis. So be prepared for a big transition and a big payoff of higher productivity and connectivity for you and your staff.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

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Mental shifts to make before cloud migration

2016May26_Office365_AProductivity, collaboration, freedom. These words are often touted when the benefits cloud technology are mentioned. But do all businesses that make the cloud switch achieve these? Unfortunately the answer is no. Some businesses flounder in the new technology, and some even become less productive because of it. So how can you avoid such a fate? Well, attitude plays a big role. Here are three mental shifts to make before your cloud migration.

Consider cloud value over costs

When considering the cloud, too many business owners get hung up on costs. Instead, it makes more sense to think about how the cloud impacts their business and saves them money. The old saying, “you have to spend money to make money” is ever so true here. And as a business owner, the cloud is no different than any other investment you took to grow your organization. That’s why you should remember the cloud provides you value, such as the ability to work anytime, anywhere, and easier collaboration.

And of course, you shouldn’t just think of how the cloud benefits yourself, but also your IT managers and staff. In fact, before migrating to the cloud, why not go ahead and ask your IT leaders just how the cloud will benefit your business? They’ll likely mention how it can boost the productivity levels of all your employees, while making everyone’s job easier.

Think “strategy” before migration

Once you’ve considered the value the cloud provides, you’ll likely have some ideas of what goals you’ll want it to accomplish at your business. If you haven’t, now is the time to do so – before signing up for the service. Let’s say for example, you want to gain the productivity benefits of your staff being able to work from anywhere at anytime. How can you do this? When you roll out the cloud in your company, have the specific goal of increasing mobile use or adoption among employees. Talk with your IT leaders to devise a plan they can implement.

When it comes to your other cloud goals, clearly define them beforehand and then talk with your IT staff to come up with the nuts and bolts plan to accomplish that goal. By doing this, you’ll achieve much better results with your cloud service.

Learn to love the quickly evolving nature of the cloud

As the cloud is still a new technology, it is rapidly changing. New updates, features and enhancements are rolled out regularly, and if you want to get the most out of your cloud it’s best to keep up. Of course, this is a scary idea for many business owners and IT managers alike as the old way of doing things is rolling out new features and apps over long periods of time.

Some cloud services make it easier than ever to keep up with changes. Let’s take Office 365 for example. Adding users and implementing new changes can take mere minutes. Yes, it may be scary to do so, but remember, Microsoft and your IT managers are in your corner – they are there to support you. Of course, you may still have some bad memories from updating your legacy technology. Let us assure you, updates to Office 365 are nothing like this and require a small learning curve. Most new features are intuitive by nature, making adjustment to these changes painless and problem-free.

One of the best ways to assure your cloud updates go as smoothly as possible is to have an IT leader who’s enthusiastic about the technology be responsible for managing it. A cloud enthusiast is much more likely to be up-to-date on the newest features and enhancements and can quickly share with you whether or not an update will benefit your business.

When it comes to cloud migration for your business, it’s pretty much an all or nothing decision (unless of course you go with virtualization, which is a different topic altogether). The cloud will become an integral part of your business, and you and all of your staff will interact with it on a daily basis. So be prepared for a big transition and a big payoff of higher productivity and connectivity for you and your staff.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

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A guide to virtualization and licensing

2016May25_Virtualization_ASoftware licensing has been a thorn in everybody’s side for as long as we can remember. It’s no surprise that as software begins to help us to consolidate and combine pieces of hardware through virtualization, we’re confronted with this problem yet again. SMBs are often unfortunate victims of licensing models that favor individual or enterprise purchasing, without enough options in between. Why don’t we delve a little deeper to see how your business can tackle virtualization while taking this legal necessity into consideration ?

Why are licenses an issue?

Virtualization is a complex topic, so let’s have a quick review. Most people are starting to work the concept of cloud storage into their everyday lives. Think of virtualization as a cloud where your server(s) store their hardware capabilities and your network computers can pull from that cloud as needed.

In this scenario, let’s assume employee A and employee B have two identical desktop computers with barebones hardware. Employee A needs to perform some basic text editing while employee B needs an in-depth scan of your client database. With the right infrastructure management, both employees will connect to your business’ server for the necessary physical processing power and server-hosted software. That means employee A will request the appropriate amount of processing power to edit text (which is likely very little) from the server, while employee B requests a much larger chunk of RAM, processing and harddrive space for scanning the database.

Understand so far? Because it gets really tricky when we start asking how many licenses are required for the server-hosted software. Licensing models were originally based on the number of physical hard drives with installed copies. However, in a virtualized environment that’s not an accurate reflection of usage. Using the most recent platforms, administrators can divide up their CPU into as many virtual machines as the SMB requires.

What do current virtualized licensing models look like?

Sadly, the virtualization and software industries are still deciding what’s the best way to move forward. The very vendors that sell the software required to manage the creation of virtual machines and segmentation of your server disagree about which model to use.

The company behind the popular VMware software has switched to a per-virtual-machine model after a huge response from customers, while other powerhouse vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have stuck with the per-CPU-core model that is based on server hardware capacity.

In any software selection process there is almost always the option of open source software. Under the open source model there are no licenses and usage is free, and just last month, AT&T committed to virtualizing 75 percent of its office under the OpenStack cloud computing platform by 2020.

What should I do?

In the end, software license considerations and total cost of ownership calculations should be a huge factor in how you plan to virtualize your SMB. When discussing the possibility of an infrastructure migration with your IT services provider, make sure to ask about the advantages and disadvantages of different virtualization platforms compared with their licensing models. You may find that paying more for hardware-based models is worth it, or that open source platforms provide you with everything you need.

No matter which platform you choose, remember to list every piece of licensed software in your office. Find out which licenses you can keep, which ones you’ll need to update and most importantly what the license migration will cost you in the short and long run.

This might seem like too much to handle at first. The process of virtualizing your SMB alone is enough to have you reaching for the aspirin. By contacting us you can avoid the headache entirely; we’ll walk you through all of the steps necessary to guide your organization through this next step in modernizing your business model.

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