Endeavour have renewed as G-Cloud 11 supplier

We are pleased to announce that we have been renewed as a supplier to the Crown Commercial Service's G-Cloud 11 framework. We have been suppliers to this framework since 2015 and we are now proud to announce that from July 2019 we have extended the range of cloud hosting, software and associated services we offer under the G-Cloud 11 Framework. 

The framework allows all UK government departments, devolved administrations, local authorities, wider public-sector bodies, and arm’s-length bodies the ability to provision cloud services from a marketplace of approved suppliers such as ourselves who offer a comprehensive range of Microsoft based hosting, software and services under this framework.

For more information of the services we offer under the framework please contact solutions@endeavour-is.com

Endeavour now offering cloud hosting, software and services under G-Cloud 9 Framework

Endeavour now offering cloud hosting, software and services under G-Cloud 9 Framework

Endeavour are proud to announce that as from 22 May 2017 we are able to extend our offering of cloud hosting, software and associated support, migration and development services under the Crown Commercial Service's G-Cloud 9 framework.

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Microsoft release new security and data compliance features for Office 365

Microsoft release new security and data compliance features for Office 365

Data security, protection and compliance are continuous processes within businesses with new threats impacting on organisations of all shapes and sizes every single day.  So to help in the fight against malware attacks and accidential information discloure Microsoft are adding to their existing array of security and information governance tools to help Office 365 customers protect their information and stay ahead of the evolving threats to their data.

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Beware of false IT help

We have been receiving increased reports of people calling individuals and businesses across NI claiming to be from Microsoft who want to fix a common problem or virus on your computer.  They then talk you through setting up remote access in order to allow them access to your PC  to resolve the problem.  

You can imagine that once these people get access to your computer the kinds or risks you'll then be exposed to in terms of fraud or even ransom as they encrypt your data and refuse to give it back unless you pay them a sum of money.

So with all that in mind here are some basic points to remember:

  • Microsoft technical support will never call you directly unless you have initiated a support request with them beforehand.
  • Microsoft don't email or call you to let you know your PC is infected, then offer to come round and fix it.
  • Never let any company who you do not know or work with have access to your computer remotely.
  • Never open email attachments or click on email links from companies or people you do not work with or are expecting information from.  A common threat is one from a courier service with a file attached that has information regarding your delivery.  Ask yourself first, why would this be sent to me, did I order something and why are they not telling me in the email message itself?  
  • A good rule of thumb with handling email is if you don't know the sender and are not expecting it, delete it...!  Don't worry about taking that approach, if it was legitimate someone will make contact again.

Unfortunately, computer security elements alone such as antivirus and firewalls are vital but equally can only do so much to protect you.  The other factor to consider when securing your IT systems is you and your users.  If they are not made aware of the potential threats out there and given guidance on appropriate use of IT then you are putting yourself at more risk than you need to be.

For further information on practical IT security please contact us any time on 028 9031 1010 or via email at solutions@endeavour-is.com

Why would my business want Cloud Computing?

If we go back in time five years any discussion we would have had about technology for a business would have probably involved topics such as: server hardware, reliable and flexible access to email, having enough storage for growth, assurance of backup and speed of recovery.

These topics have not changed today, but where all of these things would have been based on equipment running within the business itself and would come with a lot of flexibility, they also came with a lot of additional costs in terms of service contracts, software upgrades and periods of downtime with productivity loss when things either went wrong or something needed upgraded.  So something had to change!

So back to today and that same business conversation in terms of the options available have changed quite a bit.  For example, email is usually one of the most important applications in a business today, so it needs to be reliable.  So moving this out of your building where the internet connection may not be the most reliable into an environment that will always make sure email keeps running and is kept secure for the fraction of the price of running a server in your building can be quite compelling.  You also have the added benefit of not worrying if your office internet connection goes down not getting your email, as you'll still get your email on your phone, tablet or anywhere else you are with an internet connection.  Now that can be very compelling!

So here are some reasons why you should consider a move to cloud computing:

  • Lower operating costs - less systems running the in your office means less to manage or maintain which in turn lowers the costs for support and upgrades and keeps your team productive;
  • Business continuity is built it - unlike your in house IT system that is dependant on components, power and internet providers, cloud computing platforms are built with redundancy from the ground up.  Multiple mirrors of your data are held both locally and geographically in data centres with multiple power sources and internet connections. There are not many businesses that could justify that level of spend on redundancy and business continuity which is what makes these platforms very appealing as now they don't have to worry about it;
  • Compliance is automatic - cloud computing vendors need to ensure you the customer they can not only protect your data but have controls in place to ensure a member of staff can't just plug in a USB key and lift your data.  Not every supplier takes this to the highest level but the ones that do, follow strict operating guidelines and get independently audited to the latest international compliance standards; and finally
  • Costs are measureable and controllable - just like keeping the lights on in your house effects your electricity bill the same can be said for cloud computing.  These services usually work to a per user, per month or number of units consumed over time type of model. So if you increase or decrease usage this is proportionate to the price you pay per billing period.

Not everything today is as cloud computing friendly as email or websites.  Some of that is down to the variances in the speed of the internet connection depending on where you are or what you are doing.  But the majority of the issues are down to how certain applications are designed; if they were designed to run on a server then they are best kept on a server.  However, on the plus side the server they now run on now doesn't have to be the top of range specification, because now the server is going to be doing a lot less than it did before and doesn't need to be as powerful or cost as much.  Even as I write this, more and more forward thinking software companies already have or are working on moving their applications to this type of environment and the ones that don't will be left behind as this technology is only getting better as each day passes.

For more information on how cloud computing could save your business time and money, give Endeavour a call today on 028 9031 1010 or email solutions@endeavour-is.com and arrange to see a first hand demonstration of cloud computing at work and we can show you what it could do for your business.

Is Office 365 secure?

So you are about to upgrade your ICT systems and a number of the potential suppliers you've been talking to are recommending a cloud based solution - but how can you be sure your information will be safe?

It's one of the first and most common questions I get asked every time we meet with a customer and demonstrate one of the Microsoft Cloud Services, such as Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online or Microsoft Azure.

It's a really important question and is a completely understandable concern for any organisation considering a cloud based solution.  However, when we start to look at what most of these customers currently have in place we normally discover that a move to a service such as Office 365 is actually more secure than what they have in place at present - let me explain.

There is more to IT security than who can see your data.  There are a variety of different risks to mitigate on a continuous basis, so it's not just about where the ones and zeros are stored but more about how your information is stored based on your company's need and the layers of protection both physical and logical that are applied to that information on an ongoing basis.  So, if you think about an organisation that has a server located within its premises, there are all kinds of risks some of which are addressed continiously such as backup and some that are probably not addressed quite so regularly such as software upgrades, auditing, security patches, information classification and business continuity.  Then there are the basic risks such as physical security, power, cooling and connectivity which are all the addressed with strict policies and standards along with failover systems in a Microsoft cloud environment but would be very expensive for your typical small/medium sized business to implement in-house.  Therefore, your typical small/medium organisation will usually accept some of these risks but the argument would be if they did move to something such as Office 365 they would actually increase their information security and business continuity capability compared to running their information systems on servers within their offices.

An example of one element of security functionality Office 365 can provide is shown in the video below which shows how Office 365 offers encryption at all layers of the business from internal data sharing to external communication with 3rd parties:

This is just one of many layers of security that is implemented within the Microsoft Cloud Services stack and there is far more than we could cover in one news item.  However, its safe to say that Microsoft as a cloud services provider does take information security serious and as a provider as Software as a Service (SaaS) in the case of Office 365 has a wide range of internal access controls, multiple security technology layers, redundant/backup systems and compliance monitoring with independent security auditors.

So the answer we provider our customers is: "Yes, Office 365 is not just secure but is likely to be more secure and reliable than the server in your back office."  Not only that it will continue to be reviewed and upgraded everyday and you as the end customer can be as involved in that as you want or need to be going forward.

For more information on just how seriously Microsoft takes the security of its cloud services you can visit the Office 365 Trust Centre where you will see first hand the facilities and measures that are implemented and maintained on an ongoing basis.

New Year Resolutions

As we start this new year you are probably in post Christmas recovery mode trying not to think of the amount of alcohol or variations of Turkey you have consumed over the holidays and contemplating the various personal and business resolutions you want to achieve over 2015.

So with that in mind and to help you make a start "on the business resolutions anyway" here are a few suggestions to help you on your way and might even give you a night or two's better sleep safe in the knowledge that your business is better protected in the process:

1. Make sure you have a backup and recovery plan in place.  Not having this sorted out properly is still the number one reason businesses fail to recover from a disaster.  Bearing in mind that there are now new threats other than fire and theft to consider such as viruses that can encrypt and effectively destroy your data, regular backups with some held off-site preferable really is the number one priority.

2. Make sure you invest in some good antivirus software.  Again this is just a common sense thing to do these days but the main points we would make are that most antivirus software is good but that same antivirus software these days doesn't offer a silver bullet solution like it once did but more makes your PCs and networks safer, but not safe.  That takes the combination of such software and the next point below.

3. Make sure you and your staff know how to use internet and email responsibly.  Please don't misunderstand this point we're not suggesting you or your staff abuse the internet but there are plenty of scams and traps you can fall into if you are not careful.  What we mean that you should develop some simple rules for using the internet and processing email more safely.  For example, don't just open any email that comes in, click on its links or open its attachments and create a list of agreed safe websites with your staff that can be accessed and when they can be accessed.

We hope that these simple points will get you started and even if you only get around to implementing one of these in 2015 you will have benefitted your business and taken a little more stress out of your own life as well.

We hope you have a great 2015 and should you need any assistance with your IT systems please do not hesitate to contact us. We will meet with you and discuss your exact needs free of charge.