Are you ready to move to Microsoft 365?

As technology continues to expand beyond boundaries, more innovative ways of increasing business productivity while mitigating expenses are discovered on a regular basis. A good example of such is the implementation of software as a service (SaaS).  

Saas simply refers to a software distribution system whereby users can easily access applications hosted by a cloud provider via the internet. This method completely frees businesses from the burden and complexities involved in hardware, as well as software installation, maintenance, and management. For a small business owner this means the budget for expensive hardware or software can be diverted towards something of much importance, as there won’t be need for them anymore. Also, you will enjoy a reduction in the cost of maintenance, zero charge on licensing, no need to hire expensive IT employee, as most Saas models are easy to operate and can be managed by the average computer user.  

Out of several Saas platforms that offer email, storage productivity tools, and so on, office 365 and G suite are considered the most popular ones. Both platforms offer great services, and are often compared to each other, however, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing to use the G suite or Microsoft 365 is mostly dependent on the company’s requirements than just their natural preference. So it is important to know what each Saas offers, to help determine which will serve you better. Nevertheless, one can always migrate from G suite to office 365 and vice versa. 

Before we dive right in to how to move your organization from G suite to Microsoft 365, let’s highlight some of the questions most business owners do ask before making their choice of both platforms. This comparison aims to throw light on the advantage of one over the other. At the end you should be able to determine if you already made the right Saas choice or there’s need for you to migrate from G suite to Microsoft 365. 

Which is better G suite or Office 365? 

Your ideal choice relies on what you are looking for. Take for instance; the bulk of your work revolves around using Microsoft office applications like Microsoft Word, Power Point, Excel, etc. which most PC users are familiar with, you may want to consider sticking to Microsoft Office 365. 

G suite gives analogs of Word, Excel, Powerpoint that can be utilized online for collaboration and editing shared files. However, G suite’s interface is different from that of Microsoft office 365, and some users will find it difficult to navigate. This doesn’t make G suite any less great, neither does it make Office 365 greater, it all boils down to which you feel is more convenient for you to use. Google Docs versus Microsoft office is a hotly debated topic. 

Is Google drive better than Microsoft Office? 

This is an invalid comparison, yet, it is surprisingly one of the most frequently asked questions. Microsoft office is a set-up of various productivity software (including online apps of Microsoft 365), while Goggle drive is solely a cloud storage service. You can’t compare both of them. However, Microsoft office has its own cloud storage service called One Drive, which can be weighed against the Google drive. When comparing both drives, here are a couple of factors to note; 

  • User Interface convenience: is it easy for users to navigate? Can the average computer user operate it without advanced technical help? 
  • The cost each month (year). Which can you afford in the long run? 
  • Available cloud storage capacity. 
  • In-built recuperation options in case of a breakdown. 
  • Versioning. 

Considering these factors will help you determine which solution is generally reasonable for you. 

Which costs more G Suite or Microsoft 365? 

In most cases the cost for Microsoft 365 is similar in price to the cost for G Suite though Microsoft 365 includes many additional capabilities which may save you money in the long run. You can always get current pricing on the official website of Microsoft and Google, or forward a request to sales for more nitty-gritty data on the cost of each. However, pricing can be dynamic and may change at any time. It is important that the information you have on the prices is up to date to avoid costly mistakes. 

What distinguishes G Suite from Microsoft Office 365? 

There is a vivid distinction between both, starting from their web interface. The design and navigation applied in both are totally different. Some other notable can be spotted when comparing their cloud storage limits, file sharing options, versioning, maximum capacity of shared resources, and many more. In addition, Google allows you to enjoy a better search engine, as well as offers you integration with other Google services and products. Microsoft on the other hand offers better integration with Office 365, and other Microsoft solutions. 

Completing a successful G Suite to Office 365 migration may seem technical, nevertheless, there a several tools available that you can utilize to make the process seamless.  

  • The local tools accessible in the web interface of Office 365, G Suite, domain registrar, etc. are basically all you need for a G Suite to Office 365 migration. 
  • PowerShell; an efficient migration tool provided by Microsoft. 
  • Available APIs (Application Program Interface) and related tricks; they enable effective communication between two applications. 
  • A number of third-party software solutions are available for carrying out a hassle-free migration either from Office 365 to G suite or the other way round. 

However, the focus of this article is on how to migrate from G Suite to Office 365, utilizing the local tools available in the web interface. You will also learn how to use IMAP protocol to transfer emails.

How to Migrate from G Suite to Office 365 

Before you begin migration from G Suite to Office 365, you first have to add your domain to Office 365, and verify it. Note that you cannot use Office 365 for organizations unless you have a domain name. There a number of domain registrars that you can make use of, including Google Domains. What’s more important is the uniqueness of your domain name.  

It is highly recommended that your company should have a custom domain name. Fortunately, when you newly set up a Microsoft Office 365 account, the default email you will be given for your business is in this format; yourcomoany.onmicrosoft.com. Using this domain name helps to simplify configuration.  

Use a record in a TXT file provided by Microsoft to verify your domain and add the DNS record to your domain settings at your domain registrar. You can add custom DNS records manually to use Office 365 for organizations. If Domain Connect is supported by your domain registrar, the needed domain settings can be configured for Office 365 automatically in a few minutes. 

Add Users to Office 365 

Once your domain has been configured, you can now navigate to the Microsoft 365 admin center where you will begin to add users to your Office 365 for organization account. Bear in mind that each user you add requires a license before they can be activated. To generate and assign these licenses to added user accounts, you must buy a selected Office 365 subscription plan.  

The Basic plan, just as its name implies, offers your business all its basic remote solutions on a platter. Whereas the Standard and the Premium subscription plans offer all of the basic solution with some added advantages, including security for a higher price. Whatever plan you choose, make sure it suits your business needs. 

Also, it is required that each user has a mailbox in Office 365, before you can initiate a G Suite to Office 365 migration, with email and other data included. To maintain consistency, and avoid confusion, it is advisable to create usernames that are almost identical to the usernames used for the Gmail accounts. For example, Jackrobin_jade@mail.domain.com, and jackrobin_jade@o365.domain.com, the difference is in what comes after the “@”.  

Make a comprehensive list of all the email addresses you intend to migrate from G Suite to Office 365. A faster and easier way to do this is by utilizing Microsoft Office Excel to create a file containing a table where the email addresses of each user accounts can be inserted.  

First step is to create a new Excel file containing a three column table. Give the following Header names to each of the three columns: A — EmailAddress; B — UserName; C — Password. 

Next step is to sign in to Google as an organization administrator. Then go to the Users section in the admin console, which is where you will find the details of each user including the email address. 

Copy a Google email address of each user and right under the B column (the second column) of the Excel you created initially, paste each copied email address. 

Under column A input the appropriate email address of the users created in Office 365. Lastly, the third column (C) should include the password of each Gmail user account.  

For security reasons, it is advisable for you temporarily reset user passwords during the migration process to keep their real passwords a secret. At the end of the migration, users can easily replace the temporary passwords to their original one, or you may compose new passwords for users yourself. 

Note; for the period of the migration process, enable the IMAP settings for each Gmail user. Also, the Less secure app access option under the Gmail security settings should be enabled. 

Creating Migration Point 

Follow these steps to create migration points 

  • Open the Exchange admin center. 
  • Go to Recipients > Migration, click the three dots ( …) and select Migration endpoints. 
  • When the window pops up, click New (+). 
  • For the migration end point type, choose IMAP, and click next to continue.
  • Configure the required settings for the new migration endpoint. 

IMAP server: imap.gmail.com 

Authentication: Basic 

Encryption: SSL  

Port: 993 

Creating a Migration Batch 

Relocating a group of mail boxes from G Suite to Office 365 is best done using a batch. To test the efficiency of the migration configuration, create a batch containing few mailboxes for relocation. Implementing this approach, you will have a rough estimate of time needed for the migration of email accounts. If your test works out well, go ahead and create a larger batch and proceed with the migration. 

  • Go to recipients > migration. 
  • Click New (+) and select Migrate to Exchange Online. 
  • Set new migration batch options. 
  • Select IMAP migration (Supported by Exchange and other email systems). 
  • Click Next at each step to continue. 

Tap the browse button to select the created CSV file containing a list of user accounts and their passwords. The CSV file is immediately read, and the exact number of users in it is displayed. The example on the screenshot below displays 4 mailboxes to be migrated. 

Set IMAP migration configuration. 

IMAP server: imap.gmail.com 

Authentication: Basic 

Encryption: SSL 

Port: 993 

IMAP settings is needed to ensure connection to Google servers, authenticate users, and copy their mailbox data to Office 365 accounts. 

Give the new migration batch a name, let’s say, migration 1. There muight be some folders you don’t want to migrate, click the minus (–) icon and select folders that should be excluded from the process. The minused folderws will not be seen in the Office 365. 

Click the Browse button to appoint users who will be notified and be give a report after finishing the G Suite migration task is completed. 

Select Automatically start the batch to begin the batch, Immediately after that, run the G Suite to Office 365 migration process

Finally, select new to commence the G Suite to Office 365 migration. 

The syncing staus should appear to notify you that the migration has begun. It also enables you to monitor the status of mailboxes and alerts you if any of the mailboxes are unable to migrate. 

Checking MX Records 

At the end of the data migration stage, check for your domain in MX records. If after mifration from G Suite to Office 365, you still maintain the same domain name, all you need to do is edit MX records and configure email servers for sending emails to Microsoft Exchange servers, instead of Gmail servers. 

It takes about 72 hours for MX records to be updated on DNS servers. After 72 hours, you are free to stop synchronization with Gmail. However, before you stop the sychronization, ensure all your mportant email messages have been transferred. You can slso delete the migration batch.  

At the end of the G Suite to Office 365 migration, remember to replace the temporary passwords you had set for user accounts to a stronger and unique one. 

Transferring Google Docs to Office 365 

You can do this manually by a simple download and upload method. Firstly download all the necessary files from your Google drive. When you open up the web interface of your Google drive, you will notice that the default format in which Google docs application saves text documents is .gdoc. Select the gdoc files you want to migrate one after the other, and click on download. The Zip file containing your compressed documents immediately starts to prepare for download, in that process, your gdoc files are converted to the default Microsoft document format (docx). Save the downloaded zip file and extract all your documents into a folder you can easily locate on your computer. 

Now that your Google docs files have been extracted to your local computer, it’s time to upload them on to Office 365 OneDrive. Log in to your Office 365 account, once you are in, navigate to the application section, and click on the OneDrive icon. Finally, click on upload to import your initial Google docs files from your local computer into Office 365. 

What Data should you include when migrating from G Suite to Office 365? 

  • User accounts/email accounts from Gmail of Office 365 Outlook. 
  • Migrate all your documents and files from Google Drive to OneDrive. 
  • Contacts 
  • Calendar 
  • Meeting Rooms 

Note: If your Gmail migration involves a large amount of data transfer, you may experience a slowing down due to Google bandwidth limits. If care is not taken, it may lead to suspension of a Gmail user account. Below are some of the current Gmail limits.  

Download with IMAP      2500 MB per day 

Download with POP        1250 MB per day 

Upload with IMAP            500 MB per day 

Limits for using a web interface 

Download with web client: 750 MB per hour or 1250 MB per day 

Upload with web client (emails sent via Gmail SMTP are included): 300 MB per hour or 1500 MB per day 

If these limits are a barrier to you, opt for other G Suite migration alternatives, such as using API, migrationwith PST files, third-party solutions, and so on.

I hope that you found this article helpful. If you are interested in moving to Microsoft 365 and would like self help making the decision or making the switch, we’d love to help make IT easier for you! Call Blue Maven IT at 317-751-1705 or email itpro@bluemavenit.com

Confirming that AppLocker Policies have been applied

When using MDM to push AppLocker policies to a Windows 10 device, there are several places that you can check to confirm that your settings have been successfully applied.

  1. File Explorer
  2. Event Viewer
  3. Fiddler
  4. Try to launch the App

Let’s take a look…


1. File Explorer

Open up File Explorer. Look at the C:\Windows\System32\AppLocker\MDM subfolders to see if the corresponding rules exist for EXE, MSI, Scripts, and APPX.  Open with Notepad++ to make sure that the contents of the Policy file matches the contents of the policy that you pushed with your MDM.

2. Event Viewer

Open up Event Viewer. Navigate to the Microsoft-Windows-DeviceManagement-Enterprise-Diagnostics-Provider/Admin log to confirm that the policy was correctly ingested.

BAD – This Applocker policy failed to apply successfully.

3. Fiddler

Install and run Fiddler to see which CmdID(s) did not receive a 200. 200 is good. Anything besides a 200 is bad.

GOOD – The Command response was 200
BAD – The Command response was 500

4. Try to launch the app on a device

Once you have confirmed that the policy exists on the device and did not fail, you can try to open the app and if you see a block message then you know that your rule has been applied correctly.

GOOD – The Applocker policy is blocking this application from running

I hope that you find this content helpful. Let us know if there are any other MDM related questions that we can answer for you!

Why “How much will this Managed IT support cost me?” is not the question that you should be asking

Each day as humans continue to pursue happiness, seeking innovative ways to improve living standards, brand new ideas are brought to life. In some fortunate cases, these ideas are converted into goals that give rise to new businesses’ getting launched. Although the business world can be highly competitive, with the help of technology, many startups tend to experience less struggle in getting their products or services in front of the right people. It is no news that the world today revolves around technology. Any business that will thrive in this century will take great care of its IT. As an entrepreneur, having to battle everyday troubles with your internet connection, computer software or hardware, or internal database can prove detrimental to your business growth. This is why you should consider hiring a managed service provider (MSP) to enjoy unlimited managed IT support.

What is Managed IT support?

Technical issues may arise at any time. As a business owner, you should have some necessary IT skills as they do come in handy. However, some technical issues can be beyond your knowledge. Rather than wasting precious time trying to fix a broken computer, all your focus must be on running your business’s day-to-day activities, ensuring you meet your weekly targets.

Some growing companies may create an internal IT department consisting of one or more staff with basic knowledge of software installation, computer networking, hardware repairs, and troubleshooting to handle their technology needs. Some situations still require experts with broader expertise and vast experience.

A managed IT support can be likened to an internal IT department, except that it is an external IT support that offers you a lot more. A managed IT support is a means of allowing your daily business’ information technology needs to be managed by a team of professionals at your beck and call. You can choose managed IT support over having an internal IT department or combine both. Either way, you will be doing your business a lot of good by opting in for managed IT support.

“Managed IT support” is not a topic most small businesses like to discuss. Rather than paying attention to the numerous advantages it offers, the majority consider managed IT support an unnecessary expense. On the contrary, managed It support helps you spend less and save-more, coupled with many other worthy advantages.

As a small business owner, it is indisputable that making profits is your ultimate goal, which is why you should continuously look for new ways to minimize expenses. At first glance, opting for a managed It support might seem like a massive disbursement about to occur. But taking a closer and more analytical look, you will realize the long-term effect it potentially has on your business’s general wellness.

Imagine something suddenly goes wrong with your IT system. It will cost you a significant amount of money and time trying to hire an IT professional to fix it. What if the IT expert you called is tied up and delays in coming to your rescue? Or it takes a day or two to get your system up and running. Do you know how much more money you may have lost in all that time due to expenses and unproductivity?

A managed IT support takes away the risk of experiencing a sudden breakdown of your system. With a little monthly cost, you can employ a managed IT support provider’s services to ensure your business never lacks the technology services its needs at all times. This way, your business will experience lesser downtimes and realize more profits in the long run.

Apart from the fact that you don’t have to pay an IT expert by the hour to fix problems on an issue-by-issue basis, there are other good things attached to managed IT support. For one, the IT firm you employ has a vested interest in ensuring you never run into problems by serving you proactively.

The IT firm is pressured to undergo more proactive measures to prevent problems rather than waiting for them to occur. They realize that the more problems your business’ information technology encounters, the more time and resources they will need to spend. This way, both your organization and the (MSP) are on the same page, as they are equally want to make more profit than loss.

Benefits of Managed IT support for small businesses

Keeps your mind at rest

Running your business already takes up most of your time, and you shouldn’t have to burden yourself with monitoring your IT state. Managed service providers allow you to shift your focus on other aspects of your business completely. At the same time, they ensure your IT stays up and running. You can rest assured knowing you have a team of IT professionals at your beck and call if something suddenly goes wrong.

Offers proactive services

With a managed support, your systems may never experience a total breakdown. Rather than waiting for issues to arise before fixing them, an IT firm will instead devise several means of identifying faults before they get bad enough to crash your system. This sort of proactive service offered by an efficient managed IT support will guarantee that your problems stay down and your system stays up. This means no more sudden breakdowns affecting productivity, no more urgent need for repairs, and your employees can enjoy their work without interruption.

Plan ahead of time

Unlike the regular IT expert on-demand whose sole concern is resolving the issue at hand, managed IT support guards your business against future risks. They plan to determine what sort of IT systems you will need in a few months or years to come. Managed services show you a detailed report on the dangers your IT infrastructure may be exposed to in a few years and recommend possible solutions to them. They aim to minimize your exposure to risks such as viruses, sudden downtimes, crashes, etc. Wherever an upgrade or update is needed, they will undoubtedly fix you up.

Complete external IT department

A managed IT support offers you much more than just a solution to your day to day IT needs. It’s like having a complete IT department outside your office walls. You’ll be afforded with an IT manager who will take charge of coordinating computer-related activities and ensuring your organization’s IT requirements are met. You’ll also be assigned a virtual CIO (Chief Information Officer) who will assist you in defining your IT goals, mapping out a strategy to attain those goals without going over budget.

As promising as managed IT support seems, there are specific challenges you may likely face while trying to Implement it. Getting acquainted with some of these challenges will help you understand what and what to look out for when choosing the right managed service provider.

Value for your money

Employing the services of a managed service provider takes a massive load off your shoulder. If care is not taken, you may completely ignore the IT part of your business, thinking it’s in the hands of reliable experts. However, how do you know you’re getting your money’s worth if you do not monitor the improvement?

There is a need for you to know the details of the services your provider is rendering to you. Has your operational efficiency improved? Does your team no longer suffer IT roadblocks or problems like they used to? If you are not getting answers to these kinds of questions, then there’s something wrong. Without you asking, most providers should table these answers to you in the form of a useful report. So you can see how hard they’ve been working on improving your productivity.

Strategic IT planning is a must.

A managed service contract must always include strategic planning. This is basically the responsibility of the virtual CIO you will be appointed. Strategic planning will further open your eyes to certain IT improvements that you very well wouldn’t think of on your own. Making you appreciate a managed support the more.

Ensure that the IT firm you are working with is focused not just on your daily needs but also on proactively implementing strategies that will better position your IT infrastructure against future risks.

Finding a reputable provider

Leaving your IT needs in the hands of the wrong managed service provider is a costly mistake you should be careful never to make. Working with an undependable IT firm is like having no IT support at all, so before you leap, make sure you look thoroughly. Please do not engage in any contract until you have ascertained that your provider has a good track record in leading businesses like yours to achieve their IT goals.

A reputable IT firm would never lack references, so make sure you do your research before committing to any.

Steps to successfully implementing Managed IT Support

Now that you understand the significance of managed IT support and all of the benefits you stand to gain from implementing it rightly, how do you go about it? Before moving to a managed support IT contract, there are few steps that your organization needs to complete.

  • Calculate how much your organization is currently spending on IT
  • Shortlist potential IT providers
  • Request for an IT audit of your current system
  • Choose your ideal managed services provider.
  • Complete the onboarding process.

Calculate how much your organization is currently spending on IT

The first step to take in moving to a managed support is, to sum up, all current IT expenses for your organization. This includes how much you are currently spending on IT support, plus the accounting for the cost of downtimes and lost productivity that you may have suffered. By doing so, you’ll be able to determine the real cost of IT for your organization.

A straightforward approach to quantifying this is by calculating the total cost of your staff’s monthly payout within the organization, then take into account the daily cost of fixing IT issues. An Inefficient system may take as little as 15 minutes a day to repair. However, those few minutes do pile up fast.

Don’t leave out the downtimes too! If you are down for 3-4 hours each month, how much is that worth to your organization regarding your team’s hourly wage?

Shortlist potential IT providers

After actualizing the total cost of IT analysis, the next step is to shortlist some managed support providers. This process is very delicate, as the productivity of your business going forward will be hinged on your choice of IT provider. Therefore, you should choose a company that is familiar with your industry and the requirements that go along with it. one that has a track record of success, and most importantly, a company you can conveniently work with.

Request an IT assessment

This generally involves you inviting an IT professional to inspect your entire IT infrastructure. The auditing process might be somewhat intrusive, as they will need to take a full review of all your software and systems. However, you can decide whether to have it done on-site or remotely.

Choosing your preferred Managed IT service provider

When choosing a provider, “how much will it cost?” is not the question you should be asking. Instead, your interest should be in whether or not they meet your requirements. You shouldn’t limit yourself to cheap IT supports, as in most cases, they might not be the right choice for your business. Bear in mind that IT plays a significant role in your entire organization and should be treated delicately.

It’s essential to work with a firm that genuinely has your best interests at heart. They will offer you value for your money by being efficiently proactive.

How much improvement can they offer to your IT efficiency?

Will that reduce downtime and maximize productivity?

These are examples of the questions you should get answers to, Instead of asking straight on for the cost.

Finally,

Complete the onboarding process

Now that you have committed your entire IT system into the hands of a trustworthy managed service provider, you need to relieve the incumbent IT company of its duties completely. All the necessary security changes must be effected so that only your new managed service provider can access your systems.

Getting your IT up to standard requires doing some remediation work. This last phase is generally about collecting and consolidating documentation, network diagrams, checklists, and other core details needed to effectively manage your IT environment.

You will need to exercise patience for approximately 30 days while this entire process is being carried out. Meaning your managed service contract would only begin to take effect in at least 30 to 45 days after you sign.

Blue Maven IT Managed Services Solutions

Are you thinking of moving to a managed services contract? Blue Maven IT can help you make that transition as convenient as possible.

As a brand that is passionate about utilizing technology in helping small businesses succeed, we are also reliable, responsible, efficient, proactive, and we consider your growth our uttermost concern. With Blue Maven IT, you don’t have to keep looking over your already burdened shoulders. Enjoy peace of mind while we take care of your IT.

It takes experience to provide efficient managed IT support, which is what we do not lack. Over the years, we have successfully aided various businesses in attaining their IT goals. We hope to do the same with you.

Are you tired of making losses due to regular downtimes? Do you wish to enjoy the benefits of increased system efficiencies and improved productivity? Contact us today at itpro@bluemavenit.com, and let’s give your IT the best solution.

Deploying Win 32 Apps with Miradore

I recently got a chance to try out the Advanced Application Deployment feature of Miradore MDM for the Windows 10 clients that we are managing for a customer. I was originally going to use the MSI Application Deployment feature, but then I realized that while the application is packaged as an MSI, the MSI does not install correctly if the MSI is renamed prior to installation. Before I dive into the details, let me provide some background about how application deployment works with MDM on Windows 10.

EnterpriseDesktopAppManagement CSP

If you are familiar with Microsoft CSPs for Windows 10 client management, then you may already know about the EnterpriseDesktopAppManagement CSP. The EnterpriseDesktopAppManagement CSP is great in that it allows you to deploy MSI applications to Windows 10 using the built-in MDM capability and does not require a separate client. If you are interested in staying MDM agnostic as much as I am, then you will understand why MDM deployment is desirable.

Here’s the problem…the EnterpriseDesktopAppManagement CSP actually renames the MSI as part of the download and installation process. If your app package doesn’t depend on the name, then it’s no big deal. But if your app package does depend on the name then it’s a deal breaker.

Of course, the app that I needed to deploy does not install correctly if it gets renamed during deployment so I needed to leverage a client-dependent solution.

Miradore Client

The Miradore Client is a component of the Miradore MDM solution that is leveraged when you use the Advanced Application Deployment feature. The client allows you to do more than you can do with the EnterpriseDesktopAppManagement CSP alone. In this case, I needed a way to deploy the MSI without it being renamed. This is where the Miradore Client shined. The Miradore Client allowed me to do the one thing that makes it possible to install literally any app on Windows 10 — you can upload an install using a ZIP file format. This capability saved the day for me because otherwise I would have probably had to manually install that application on every computer in the environment because they are all Workgroup computers and not Domain-joined.

Create an Application Package in the ZIP File Format

Just in case you are wondering how to easily use ZIP file format for your MSI apps, here is the basic formula:

  1. Create a Powershell script that calls the MSI installation and waits for the exit code
  2. ZIP the Powershell script and the MSI
  3. Upload the ZIP to Miradore MDM for deployment

The Miradore Advanced Application Deployment feature does ask for an Exit Code and the Command Line to run the installation so you want to install this manually before loading it to Miradore so that you can gather this information.

Here is the example of the Command Line and Exit Code for my example:

Why Miradore is still my favorite MDM for very small businesses?

It is probably worth noting that VMWare Workspace One has this same Application Deployment functionality available thru its client, but unfortunately it has a minimum requirement of 25 users/devices in order to setup an environment. In contrast, Miradore MDM only requires a $10 minimum credit card charge each month for an environment with Enterprise Licenses (there is a free version if you don’t need to install apps).

Add Physical Room Participants to your Zoom Meeting using Zoom Rooms

Would you like to add physical room participants to your virtual Zoom Meetings for training, conferences, board meetings, and more? It can be done by installing special hardware and by adding a Zoom Room license to your Zoom account.

The process takes about three weeks from start to finish.

This is an example of a Zoom meeting which has been augmenting by adding a Zoom Room to create a seamless experience for both virtual and physical participants.

Here’s a video clip that shows the installation in progress and that gives an idea of what the Zoom Room hardware looks like in person:

If you have additional questions or are interested in adding a Zoom Room for your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us at itpro@bluemavenit.com.

Ultimate Computer Buying Guide

Looking for a new computer? Follow this simple and easy guide

When selecting a computer for your small business your goal is to get adequate performance at the lowest possible price point. With so many options to choose from, making the right decision can be downright perplexing. At the Blue Maven IT, our goal is to make IT easier for you. We have developed this guide to provide you with information that makes selecting a computer for the typical business user simple and easy.


Specifications

When selecting a computer, the following four components are the essential attributes that should be listed in the specifications of the computer that you select:

  • Solid State Drive (SSD) – Performance will be cripplingly slow if it has a spinning hard drive (HDD).
  • Processor (CPU) – Intel Core i5 chips will provide you with solid performance for most use cases.
  • Memory (RAM) – Given the typical level of use, 8GB should be sufficient for most users.
  • Operating System (OS) – Most software is compatible with Windows. Pro indicates business grade.

You will notice that the price point for computers without some of these components may be lower. We recommend that you don’t cut corners on this minimum list of specifications. A productive business cannot be run efficiently on a slow performing computer. We will share some alternative recommendations for cost cutting later in this guide.

Supportability

As a small business owner, you will expend valuable resources dealing with hardware issues if you don’t consider the long-term supportability of the computer during your initial purchase. The manufacturer of the computer that you select should provide special software to maintain the hardware components automatically. This will help to prevent common issues with your computer. We also recommend purchasing a multi-year extended warranty directly from the manufacturer. An extended warranty may seem like an unnecessary cost, but it will save you both time and complexity in the event that a hardware component breaks. It will also provide better visibility to the total cost of ownership for your computer assets.

Where to Buy

We do not recommend purchasing business computers from big box stores. Computers sold at these types of stores are designed for personal use, not for business use. Purchase computers for your small business directly from the manufacturer’s website to access business grade computers and to avoid reseller markups. Examples of manufacturers of business grade computers who sell their products on their own websites include Dell, Lenovo, and HP. Business grade computers are designed to be repaired and upgraded easily. This helps you to get the maximum life out of your investment. Your goal is to get approximately 3-4 years of use for a laptop prior to replacing it.

Ways to Save

You may be tempted to purchase lower grade hardware components to save money. Instead, we encourage you to consider some alternative cost cutting options.

  • Consider a Desktop – Consider purchasing a desktop instead of a laptop if cost is a significant concern. Not every computer in your fleet needs to be mobile. Desktop computers are typically cheaper and last longer than laptops (~4-5 years)
  • Ignore Trends – Ignore popular trends (for example – touchscreens) unless you have a specific business need to include this feature. These added features come at a higher price point and increase the likelihood of future repairs.
  • Late Model – Purchasing a computer model from a previous generation is a great way to trim costs. Each January, manufacturers introduce new models. You can get great deals at year end as manufacturers attempt to unload their previous generation stock.

We hope that you have found this guide helpful and we wish you the best of luck in buying your next computer. Don’t forget to download our Ultimate Computer Buying Guide to use or share with a friend!

Still have questions? We’d love to help! Call us at (317)210-1199 or send us an email at itpro@bluemavenit.com.

Review: Scalefusion

I am on the hunt for a mobile device management solution (MDM) that can manage Windows 10 devices for free or for a low cost with little or no minimums.

If I can find this type of MDM solution, then I will use it to improve our ability to support client hardware for our small businesses customers.


The basic features that I’m most interested are pretty simplistic:

  • Profiles – manage Windows Updates settings you force auto installation of updates
  • Applications – inventory including version and the ability to remotely install an MSI (because I want to be able to remotely install teamviewer)
  • Updates – ability to view which OS updates have been installed
  • Antivirus – ability to view antivirus status
  • Encryption – ability to view encryption status
  • Organizational Groups – ability to establish a hierarchy for managing multiple customers

Nice to have would be:

  • Profiles – ability to push Custom XML settings (to configure any available CSP)
  • Scripting – ability to run a powershell script
  • Encryption – ability to enforce encryption and harvest keys

Today, I signed up for a free trial of Scalefusion. Scalefusion has a low per device fee ($2 – $4 per device per month), no minimums, and allows for a 14 day free trial.

First Impressions

My device enrolled in Scalefusion MDM

I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of the UI. I’d rather see all of my device details on the main screen and a listing of installed apps. I don’t want to be too much of a princess about it so I’ll say that the UI is sufficient enough that it wouldn’t stop me from using this MDM especially since the developers just added an amazing new feature, the ability to deploy Custom XML.

The most basic information that you would need to know about a device that you are managing is available in this system (e.g.- Antivirus Status, Firewall Status, OS Build Version, Drive Space, RAM, BIOS version). I would have loved to be able to see which Win-32 applications are installed too, but you win some you lose some, right?

Can it do what I need it to do?

Here are the results for each task that I attempted:

Policies – Scalefusion now supports Custom XML policies so you can literally apply any Microsoft CSP that you need to. I’ve been concerned that I need to manage WiFi, Windows Updates, Firewall, and Defender and no other products seem to be able to do that.

Applications – This tool can only deploy MSIX and APPX so special packaging will be required. I don’t see this as a showstopper though I would love to see this added in the future.

Updates – Given my previous statements about Customer XML, it’s no surprise that I was able to push the settings that I needed to configure updates.

Antivirus – I was able to see the antivirus status but I can’t see the definitions status for Defender so that is the only thing missing that is a bit of a gap for AV.

Encryption – I could see the encryption status. I could force encryption, but I could not escrow the key into Scalefusion. I can escrow the key into O365, but a lot of small business customers are using G-suite instead of O365 so we would not be able to escrow Bitlocker keys for the most part.

Scripting – There was no scripting option so I would have to find another way to do troubleshooting (for example – renaming the software distribution folder) but again if this means that we don’t have to manage an agent then I’m still happy without this particular feature.

Organizational Groups – There is a way to establish an organizational hierarchy which would conceivably allow management of multiple organizations within the same environment.

In Summary

If I haven’t made it clear yet in my previous statements, I absolutely love the fact that this solution includes Custom XML and the 0 minimums for enrollment. There is a strong possibility that this will be my choice of MDM for Windows 10.


Has anyone else tried this tool yet? Let me know what you think about it…

Review: Hexnode MDM

I am on the hunt for a mobile device management solution (MDM) that can manage Windows 10 devices for free or for a low cost with little or no minimums.

If I can find this type of MDM solution, then I will use it to improve our ability to support client hardware for our small businesses customers.


The basic features that I’m most interested are pretty simplistic:

  • Profiles – allow for custom XML policies
  • Applications – inventory including version and the ability to remotely install an MSI (because I want to be able to remotely install teamviewer)
  • Updates – ability to view which OS updates have been installed
  • Antivirus – ability to view antivirus status
  • Encryption – ability to view encryption status
  • Organizational Groups – ability to establish a hierarchy for managing multiple customers

Nice to have would be:

  • Scripting – ability to run a powershell script
  • Encryption – ability to enforce encryption and harvest keys

Today, I signed up for a free trial of Hexnode. Hexnode has a low per device fee, fairly low minimums (15 devices per month), and allows for a 30 day free trial.

First Impressions

My device enrolled into Hexnode MDM

The UI is not my favorite, but that really wouldn’t make or break my opinion of a tool. My real complaint is that there isn’t as much device information available as I would have liked. On the good side, I could see the version of the build that is on the device including monthly patch. On the bad side, I couldn’t see simple things like drive space and importantly I couldn’t see whether or not the Defender AV was up to date.

I don’t need a fabulous UI, but I do need to see a minimal amount of information about the device in order to provide adequate management.

Can it do what I need it to do?

Here are the results for each task that I attempted:

Policies – There are quite a few Windows 10 policies available but unfortunately this didn’t include Windows Update or Microsoft Defender Settings. That is a non-starter.

Applications – This tool was great for deploying a simple MSI but the inventory didn’t show everything that was installed on the device which is a big issue.

Updates – I was not able to push any update settings. I could see the build version, but without the ability to force the clients to install updates automatically it would be difficult to manage a fleet.

Antivirus – I was not able to see the antivirus or definitions status for Defender and I couldn’t push any settings so it would be difficult to manage a fleet with this tool.

Encryption – I could see the encryption status which is great. I could also push encryption policies, however I could not escrow the key.

Scripting – There was no scripting option so I would have to find another way to do troubleshooting (for example – renaming the software distribution folder)

Organizational Groups – There wasn’t a way to establish an organizational hierarchy, but you could use dynamic groups to allow for management of multiple organizations within the same environment.

In Summary

My favorite thing about this solution is how quickly you can spin up a new environment. However, the minimum of 15 devices along with the missing management capabilities for Windows 10 makes this tool not a very good fit for managing small business. As always, my suggestion to MDM providers is that they should provide the ability to use Custom XML for robust policies management without the need for policy UI development.


Has anyone else tried this tool yet? Let me know what you think about it…

Configuring the LanmanWorkstation Policy CSP

I got a great question this week.

Just wondering how you got the LanmanWorkstation\EnableInsecureGuestLogons policy working. For the OMA-UTI I put ./Device/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/LanmanWorkstation/EnableInsecureGuestLogons with the string <enable/> and it doesn’t seem to work

Anonymous Contributor

I went directly to the Microsoft website to see what it says about setting the policy.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/client-management/mdm/policy-csp-lanmanworkstation

Indeed, the documentation is rather misleading. It references ADMX even though this is not implemented as an ADMX policy.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

Expected values for this policy are 0 or 1 and are of the type Integer.


That answer was enough for the Anonymous Contributor to get the policy working.

I hope that you find this helpful as well!