5 ways to strengthen your Office 365 security

Office 365 securityOffice 365 (O365) ups the ante of productivity, giving users the power to work from anywhere. Whether with Word, Exchange, SharePoint, or Skype for Business, Microsoft’s O365 suite allows users to access sensitive data remotely without a VPN. In the era of Bring Your Own Device and vanishing perimeters, that flexibility and ease of use is a big boost to productivity.

But that “always on” mentality can be problematic for IT, as sensitive data can be exposed if IT or users don’t follow the right protocols. Convenience shouldn’t come at the cost of security for your organization.

Luckily, there are some easy steps IT can take to tighten up O365 security without limiting productivity. Here are five ways you can improve your organization’s security posture while giving users the O365 functionality they need.

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Answering the 7 most common questions about Windows 10 deployment

7 frequently asked questions about Windows 10 deploymentWindows 10 is marching toward global adoption. Microsoft announced in January that more than 200 million devices around the world were on Windows 10. And just a few weeks ago, the Department of Defense announced it will transition 4 million machines across all defense agencies to Windows 10 by January 2017.

But a Windows 10 deployment doesn’t always come free of challenges or decisions. In fact, we’re hearing a lot of the same questions from organizations in the middle of a deployment. These organizations are all wondering if they’re in the same boat – are others concerned about Skylake? What’s the best way to wrestle unmanaged devices?

So here are the answers to the seven most common questions we’re being asked about Windows 10 deployments. (more…)

Adobe VIP subscription and tier licensing changes: Here’s everything you need to know

changes-aheadOn March 5, Adobe issued changes to the VIP subscription and tier licensing of Creative Cloud and Acrobat DC products for commercial and government customers (including the GSA). Generally speaking, customers are likely to see a shift of their VIP Tier stacking, which will likely result in better pricing for most Adobe customers. That’s because organizations will likely be releveled to a higher discount tier; however, some customers in Tier 1 may see a slight uptick in pricing.

This story has a few different layers, and in this post, we’ll peel them back, explaining the changes customers will experience, and detailing purchasing options for annual or extended subscriptions. (more…)

The important date Windows 7 and 8.1 users should know

whats newWindows 7 and 8.1 users, mark your calendars: A critical support date approaches on July 17, 2017.

After then, only critical security support will be available for devices running Windows 7 or 8.1 on new processor devices (such as Intel’s 6th Gen Skylake), according to a Jan. 15 Microsoft announcement. Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10 in advance of that date in order to protect your organization from security, reliability, and compliance shortfalls. Extended support for hardware with legacy processors will end on Jan. 14, 2020 for Windows 7 and Jan. 10, 2023 for Windows 8.1. (more…)

What you need to know about Microsoft’s changes to its Enterprise Agreement program

UpdateMicrosoft will change one of its biggest licensing programs – and your organization might have a decision to make.

Microsoft is raising the minimum desktop commitment on Enterprise and Enterprise Subscription Enrollments from 250 to 500 devices/users on July 1, 2016. The adjustment aligns with Microsoft’s ongoing transformation of how organizations acquire, license, and deploy software and services in their IT environment.

Let’s look at how the change will impact organizations moving forward. (more…)

Technology in the classroom, part 3: Making your new initiatives work

digtal learningThe best teacher you ever had didn’t simply read the textbook better than the teacher in the next classroom. Great educators use out-of-the-box methods and subtle strategies to teach students — without the class even realizing it.

A mature technology plan, developed by a school’s IT staff, will include goals for devices, software, security, and back-end support. The technology used in the classroom may be static from one year to the next, but a strong technology plan that encompasses multiple school years will give teachers and students the resources to succeed every year. (more…)

What Microsoft’s per core licensing policy for Windows Server and System Center 2016 means to you

whats newMicrosoft recently announced details on the upcoming release of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016, anticipated in Q3 2016. This announcement provides insights into some of the significant changes slated to occur to the Windows 2012 R2 licensing model.

Let’s review these changes, and examine the impact the new licensing agreements may have on your organization. (more…)

Office 365 E5 is here – 4 things you should know

Do you knowMicrosoft has introduced its newest Office 365 (O365) enterprise service plan – E5. It features Cloud PBX, PSTN conferencing, end-user and organization analytics, and advanced security. In conjunction with these new capabilities, Microsoft has added additional features to the existing E1 and E3 plans. As organizations evaluate these new capabilities, it’s important to understand how the introduction of O365 E5 will impact licensing options moving forward.

O365 E5’s availability

  • O365 E5 is now available for commercial and government organizations. However, E5 is not yet available for Government Community Cloud (GCC) and Education customers; availability for these customer segments will be announced at a later date.
  • E5 without PSTN conferencing will be sold separately through all programs where O365 Enterprise Plans are available.
    • Due to limited availability, PSTN conferencing is being offered as a separate add-on SKU to E5 under an Enterprise Agreement (EA) or EA Subscription Agreement only.
    • An E5 with PSTN conferencing single SKU will be offered at a later date.
  •  Updated O365 enterprise service plans consist of E1, E3, and E5. Below is a breakout of each plan’s features:

MS-O365-chart

E5’s licensing options

O365 E5 includes a number of new features that can be licensed as part of the suite or as standalone offerings. How an organization licenses these new features will primarily depend on its current O365 service footprint. There are three purchase order options for licensing E5 or any of its new components.

  1. Step-up: A step-up license allows an organization with active Software Assurance (or service coverage if Online Service, or OLS) to migrate from a lower edition to higher edition of a given product. An example of this would be “stepping up” from O365 Plan E1 to O365 Plan E5.
  2. Add-on: An add-on license provides rights to additional services and features while maintaining an existing license investment. For example, an organization can add on PSTN conferencing to O365 E5 without PSTN.
  3. Full USL: A full user subscription license is applicable when an organization is purchasing online services without any underlying license investment. An example would be purchasing O365 E5 without PSTN full User Subscription License.

An organization’s purchase option carries pricing and licensing implications. With the introduction of E5 and its new services, the number of iterations available for organizations to choose from has increased, and it’s important to understand these various options before making a final decision.

The retirement date for O365 E4 is set

The release of O365 E5 means the impending retirement of E4, slated for June 30, 2016. Organizations currently licensed for E4 can use the current plan under their agreement until renewal. Organizations that fall into this bucket will have two options to move forward with their O365 services prior to or at their renewal date.

  1. Customers interested in moving to E5 prior to their renewal can purchase an O365 E5 step-up SKU for each E4 user licensed. This SKU accounts for the difference in cost between the E4 and E5 service plans.
  2. Customers not interested in E5 can renew into E3, and add the Skype for Business Plus CAL subscription.

The upgraded features in E1 and E3

New features added to O365 E1 include Skype Meeting Broadcast and Task Management. Skype Meeting Broadcast will allow E1 customers to host every kind of meeting, including one-to-one, one-to-many, and one-to-thousands. In addition, Work Management in E1 allows for project management capabilities for teams.

E3 customers will be granted the new features available in E1, and will receive expanded rights to Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and encryption.

Visit Microsoft’s O365 Roadmap for the company’s online services portfolio. As you evaluate your move to O365, or more specifically, the new features and capabilities of O365 E5, it is important to have a partner to help you navigate this path. Reach out to your SHI Account Representative to get started.

Paid for, but not used: Why you’re probably not using some software entitlements

keyboard2Many organizations struggle to keep up with more than just the owned versus deployed positions of their software licensing; additional entitlements, such as software maintenance, are often purchased with the license, but go overlooked and unused. These additional entitlements, the terms of which differ from publisher to publisher, are typically valid for a fixed timeframe, and organizations often fail to act on them within that period. (more…)

Perpetual or subscription licensing for Autodesk? You can choose – for now. [UPDATED]

jan-31-countdown[Editor’s note: This post, originally published on July 9, has been updated.]

It’s the year of choice for Autodesk customers — organizations can either license Autodesk software through perpetual rights or Autodesk’s latest subscription licensing model, called Desktop Subscription. But not for long — the clock is ticking. (more…)