21/08 Collaboration Tools, Why Microsoft’s “Teams” Stands Out!

Back in 2013 a small company developed a communication tool, Slack, which has become a major player in the collaboration space. Essentially, it allowed for communities, groups or small teams to communicate easily without the need for email, and consolidated multiple communication channels. It has grown into a behemoth and in 2016 Microsoft considered an $8 billion bid to buy out the company and integrate it into Skype for Business. However, Bill Gates’ investigation into the purchase revealed that it was not in Microsoft’s interest. They instead choose to use the Skype for Business platform as the basis for a new product – Microsoft Teams. Microsoft saw that by building out Teams, they could help their users leverage their existing investment in Microsoft Office and replace Microsoft Education (Classroom) with a single product in the Office 365 for Education version. By 2017 Skype for Business was now Microsoft Teams and now in 2018 Microsoft Teams is offered as free scaled down version for a small number user, or a single team. It can be expanded for a low fee for additional users. However, if you’re already an organisation that is an Office 365 subscriber Teams is a free add-on for your organisation. The question simply is – does your organisation want to switch it on and go through the change of process as users adapt to this new communication medium. With major global companies like IBM already using Slack and seeing the benefits, many organisations invested in the Microsoft technology stack will see the new Teams as the preferred option. The question is not if but when will your organisation will make the jump to these newer productivity enhancing applications. The benefits of Microsoft Teams are numerous:

• It allows communities, groups and teams to join a group through specified URLS or invitation. This can be scaled out in the Education version as a Classroom.

• Channels of topics can be setup, and user can email, SMS send post of images and other content to that channel. Third party applications like Mailchimp, Facebook Pages etc can also submit content into the channels.

• There is support for threaded conversation something still lacking in Slack.

• It supported across all major platforms, Windows, iOS, Mac, Android etc.

• And of course, Teams ties in extremely well with other office products allowing users to easily integrate Word, PowerPoint etc into presentations and project work. Outlook meetings can be scheduled to use Teams.

The biggest integration is with Skype, and Teams will be able to support VoIP, Video Conferencing and work with an existing PSTN, allowing users to call phone number from the Team client. The underlying technology here is the Microsoft Skype for Business, which can be an appliance, or on-premises server-based solution that allows customers to easily connect any existing telephone circuit to the Cloud PBX in Office 365 via a SIP trunk. This solution allows the user’s phone capability to be managed out of Office 365 Teams while their phone calls, number, and PSTN provider remains the same.

25/07 - Data Erasure Whats the Truth ?

Does physically destroying your unwanted hard drive remove the risk of a data breach ? Short of smelting the drive down in molten metal or shredding it into tiny fragments, it is essentially possible to retrieve data that hasn’t been erased by a professional methodology.

Simply smashing the HDD with a hammer or drilling though will not guarantee that the data is safe if it was not properly wiped in the first place. American intelligence agencies have communicated that this is the case via PR channels, making statements that as long as parts of the drive surface are intact then data can be extracted. However, it would require a well-funded individual or organisation with sophisticated equipment to retrieve data from a physically damaged drive.

At the end of the day, someone could simple hire one of the many data recovery organisations to perform the task on a drive that was found disposed of improperly. The point is a proper wipe, or data erasure process should be employed before physically drilling or smashing the drive. Indeed one may simply wish to donate the old drive as part of an e-waste recycling program, in that case, the Government standards from the DoD (Department of Defence) recommends a proper erasure usually of between 3 to 7 wipes before disposing of the drive intact.

Committo offers a complete solution for the removal of old and unwanted ICT equipment. We work with partners and local government to find the most efficient eco-friendly disposal solution in your area.

We also offers Data Erasure services. 

* 3 Pass Secure Data Wipe - DOD 55220.22 M-Standard
* 7 Pass Secure Data Wipe - DOD 55220.22 M-Standard
* Physical Destruction by Drill Press of Hard Drives.

Prices from as a low as $30 per HDD erasure.

Committo can also help with any other IT needs your organisation may have.   

Contact us or Call 1300 141 261 for a free consultation today.

12/06 - Business Continuity

The concept that refers to planning and preparation of a company to overcome serious incidents or disasters and resumes its normal operations as seamlessly as possible. Granted some organisations are happy just to claim insurance or restore from old backup technology such as tapes, but this approach still renders greater downtime and can present a very bad image to customers who may no longer be able to access the services they require for their own business to run. A worst case scenario of ICT failure of a single business entity can have a flow on effect across all stakeholders both suppliers/customers and could possibly see more then one business entity fail entirely. It is irresponsible not to have a business continuity plan in place.

Committo likes to work independently with Vendors to find the right fit solution for customers. Their are two vendors that appeal to us in being able to provide a complete business continuity solution.

Veeam, a market leader in the space, often seen as the number 1 vendor of ‘Backup, Recovery and Archiving’ software. Veeam solutions are generally more customisable then competitors, and have tight integration with most leading server OS’s. Committo’s Veeam solutions are a better fit for customers that are looking to work closely with a local partner and want to be close to the management of the solution. Committo utilises a local top tier data centre that meets government standards for the protection of data privacy, to store Veeam Backups and Restore functionality. It is also good for those customer that may wish to extend their DR (Business continuity environment) into a fully production based cloud IaaS model.

Our other choice of provider is Datto, recently Committo have spent some time exploring the other vendor solutions, and we  can see the value in an all-in-one DR (Business Continuity) device. We hold the viewpoint that it is effectively comparable to hyper converged infrastructure where all components are optimised and streamlined in way to deliver a high performing IT virtual infrastructure. Datto’s value proposition is to provide a device that is optimised and streamlined solely for backup/restore and archiving. You simply drop the device into the infrastructure configure, and Datto take care of the rest.  Backup up occurs to the data centre in Sydney. In the event of an emergency Datto technicians handle the situation, and Committo simply provides a first level of support.  Datto may not be the best choice for customers looking towards the longer term option of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), as there would be more complexity involve in doing a migration project back to Committo’s Data Centre. There is also the question of whether a closer local relationship is more suitable to your way of doing business.

28/05 - Privacy Law Update

The Data Privacy Laws are still the hottest topic in Tech now. Committo were at another security event (we like to attend a few), in which the context of the new laws was discussed as really being about pushing business to invest in security. That is what the Governments of the world are essentially trying to do.

The European GDPR is quite comprehensive and effectively covers any customer data gathered from customers, even website visitors that are European. The standards are high and so are the possible fines if ones breaches the regulations. Businesses can be liable up to 20 Million Euros. The laws are in effect as of the 25/05. So if there is any doubt about how secure your European customer data is, now is the time to check in with a professional for help.

This is an important topic to consider, as data is collected at all points of the network. Signing privacy agreements does not stop data ending up in the wrong hands. The difference is now that there are steeper penalties in place for those that mishandle data. It remains that our network security is only as good as the trust and faith we place in the providers we choose to protect us.

The Government can only regulate and punish those that are found to be doing the wrong thing. The individual must think carefully and maintain vigilance on the data we use day to day in our jobs and raise any concerns quickly if we think data maybe slipping out unnoticed. A program of continually adaptation to possible threats is also time an individual/organisation should set aside for thinking about because we live in an age of constantly evolving technology security threats.