Windows Virtual Desktop has now reached General Availability.

Windows Virtual Desktop is a virtual Windows environment running in Azure that allows users to have access to complete windows desktop or specific published Apps.  Previously available only on preview, Virtual Desktop for Windows is now generally available worldwide. It’s also the only service that delivers management in a simplified way with a multi-session Windows 10 experience, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, as well as support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Apps and desktops. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can easily deploy and scale your Windows apps and desktops on Azure.

With Windows Virtual Desktop now available in all geographies, clients will be able to deploy scalable Azure-based virtualization solutions with a number of operating systems that include Windows 10 multi-session, Windows Server and an extended 3 years of Extended Security Updates for Windows 7 desktop users, who are still making their move to Windows 10. 

It’s the only multi-user Windows 10 platform, giving multiple users the ability to use the same virtual machine whilst saving you money and resources.  Windows Virtual Support successfully supports Windows 7 and is what gives users extended support and security even passed its End-Of-Support. The Windows 7 support will be extended for free until Jan, 2023. 

Why make the move?

  • You can easily retire your old VPN solution and only allow external access to LAN from a secure and managed Windows Virtual Desktop. 
  • Windows Virtual Desktop is available so easily, that all you are required to do in order to deploy and manage your virtualization environment, is to set up an Azure subscription. 
  • You can then choose the type of VM and storage you want to suit your environment. 
  • You can easily optimize costs by taking advantage of Reserved Instances that allow for up to 72% discounts, and by using multi-session Windows 10. 
  • For those users accessing the Windows 10 and Windows 7 desktops and apps, there are no additional costs if you are an existing Microsoft 365 F1/E3/E5, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5 or Windows VDA customer. 
  • For those Windows Server desktops and apps, there are no additional costs if you are an existing Microsoft RDS Client Access License (CAL) client.

Azure Multi-factor Authentication at Work

We often hear of confidential information being compromised, because of password and login breaches.  Every 2 in 5 people, in the past year, have either had the much dreaded notification, had an account hacked, or a password stolen. For most organizations attacked, breaches caused by opportunist attacks were due to a weakness an attacker knew of and knew how to easily exploit. The most common being, weak password and stolen credentials that lack character variety and originality.

That is where Multi-factor Authentication steps in. MFA, for short, had been made available for Office 365 admin roles since 2013, and has since been introduced with an extended capability to any Office 365 user. Identity protection became a norm amongst users who have been exposed to phishing attacks, or know the consequences of compromised credentials. Businesses around South Africa have been quick to adopt towards a Password less Strategy and play their part in cyber security as a whole.

Identity Protection?

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a two-fold method of verification that’s made up of multiple authentication factors that ultimately present a challenge for attackers who try to break into secure networks. MFA is one of the most efficient and effective ways to increase your organizations security. With one time codes being a requirement in order to access Microsoft 365 – hackers find it significantly difficult to take over, even if they know your password.

Is Multi-factor enough?

MFA increases the security of users logins for Cloud services with additional verification by means of acknowledgement via a phone call, text message with a One Time Pin (OTP) or an application notification on their Smartphone. Once the correct code is entered successfully, the user can sign-in with ease.
Sns Technologies recommends End user Baseline Policies that are put into place to protect all Office 365 users and requires users to register with MFA within a 14-day period. Once a user is registered, they are required to turn on Baseline Policies to activate MFA. Thereafter, MFA is required for administrative access for all users.

Second Factor Authentication can be facilitated in any of the following ways:

Call my mobile phone: Whereby the user receives a phone call that asks them to press a specific key on their phone. Once said key is pressed, the user can successfully be logged in.
Text a code to my mobile phone: The user receives a text message with a six-digit code that they may then enter into the portal as a One Time Pin (OTP).
Call my office phone: Serves the same purpose as “call my mobile”, however, enables the user to select an alternate phone in the event that they do not have their mobile phone with them.
Notify me through an App: The user configures a Smartphone App and receives a notification that they then need to confirm login. These Smartphone Apps are available for Windows Phone, iPhone and Android devices.
Show One-Time code in App: Using the Smartphone App mentioned above, the user starts up the App, enters the six-digit OTP provided by the App into the portal thus gaining access.

Why use Multi-factor Authentication?

Simplified login processes: The most significant benefit of MFA is the secured convenience that it allows with single sign-in processes. With the completion of the authentication process, you can easily gain access to everyday applications without needing to enter your extra credentials every time. Boosts your security efforts by requiring MFA for all users accessing Cloud based resources, including Office 365 services.

Increased flexibility and productivity: MFA helps to remove the burden of updating passwords and adding alternatives, thus boosting productivity.
It enables a secure and convenient access route for remote users who access confidential client information.

Strengthens security: MFA strengthens overall security by mitigating the risks of social engineering attacks or phishing attacks by implementing the use of biometric and other verification elements.

It helps your customers IT department ensure a higher level of security for IT pro’s and administrators by adding a second layer of authentication when they log in.

Achieve compliance: By using MFA, you ensure that you take steps towards compliance that would support the constant protection of sensitive and critical data like your personal, financial and or business information.

These are security offerings available with easy adopting strategies and are part of the Office 365 managed experience at Sns Technologies.

Are you prepped for the Windows Server 2008 End-of-Support?

What is End-of-Support (EOS)?  

Microsoft is making progress with ensuring that user’s move to the Cloud is an easy one with flexibility and business continuity. As Server 2008 moves to End of Support on 14th January 2020, SNS Technologies endeavours to facilitate customers move through modern transformation in an easier and more profitable way.  

Having already begun, with SQL Server and Mainstream Windows Server 2008 end-of-support already having ended as of July 2019, this version of Server will face compliance risks and security breaches once support ends completely. Companies currently running on Server 2008, without the regular security support and updates, are more vulnerable to cyberattacks and such that could completely expose customer and company data to theft and much less confidence in the company’s transparency as a whole. 

With cyberattacks becoming ultra-modern and a lot more frequent, continuing to run data and applications on unsupported versions can give rise to many security and compliance risks. 

Risks with running Windows Server 2008 beyond the support lifecycle 

If you delay action to move to Azure or an in-support version, you not only miss out on added improved security and efficiency features that could make your move to the Cloud a lot easier, but it would then be imperative that you take the time to assess your options and base your decisions that will benefit and secure your organization above all else. With the correct understanding of the risks this would expose your business to, you can make sure your organization is protected and your infrastructure is safe with the correct strategies. 

  • Barrier with digital transformation: Continuing to run old systems has been identified as a key contributing factor towards why CIOs are not moving forward faster to adapt transformative technology like Cloud hosted products, artificial intelligence (AI), automation and Internet of Things (IoT). 
  • Software incompatibility: Having the latest Servers allow you access to usability, efficiency and security benefits. To continue using an unsupported product, you risk missing out on these core benefits, as well as their side benefits. 
  • Highway for Hackers: Due to the end of security support, businesses will now receive no security fixes, or critical bug resolution making their data sensitive to any hacker. Running an end-of-life product represents a significant risk to your security and data.  

The upcoming end of support turning point brings about the greater opportunity to transform your business applications and infrastructure by taking utmost advantage of all that Cloud computing and the latest versions of SQL Server & Windows Server has to offer. Moving to Azure would ensure better performance, efficiency and regular security updates. 

So, how do you avoid letting your applications and infrastructure go unprotected? 

The Cloud Has You Covered! 

Microsoft has made available two easy and cost effective options to help you upgrade and adapt to the innovative and transformational technologies you need to carry your organisation steadily. 

Migrate Your Workload To Azure 

Migrate to Azure and pay only for the resources that you consume. Enjoy an OpEx pricing strategy that allows you to pay on a monthly basis with a pay-as-you-go nature that easily saves you money. 

3 Reasons to Move Your Server 2008 Workload To Azure 

  • Innovation: Embrace the many tools that Azure has to modernise your applications with Cloud innovation that lets you migrate with agility, increased performance and on a global scale. Maximise productivity with fully-managed Azure services that lets you focus company energies in pushing the business forward with implementing managed services, like Azure SQL Database, Azure Application Services and Azure IaaS. 
  • Paying Less: Azure is the most cost-effective for Windows 10 and SQL Server. You are able to reduce your infrastructure costs with free extended security updates, Azure Hybrid Benefits, and achieve optimized infrastructure. 
  • Security & Compliance: Azure carries the most trust with enterprises and allows you to counter cyberthreats with Azure’s secure Cloud foundation. Minimize business risks by strengthening your advanced security and compliance posture and receive Azure allowances to easily meet compliance requirements with the most comprehensive Cloud certifications, as compared to any other Cloud provider. 

Not quite ready to move away from Windows Server 2008? 

We can help! 

For environments that need to run Server 2008, due to your current workloads being incompatible with the latest in-support Windows Server version and SQL Server 2016, SNS Technologies can assist you with the option to bring your Server 2008 workload to Azure and receiving 3 years of extended support as part of the Azure Hybrid Benefit. This not only gives you 3 additional years of support, on both Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008, but grants you a longer period of time to ready your business for a later and greater version of Windows Server. By using your existing license, you easily save on additional costs when you choose to move or migrate your Windows Server workload to Azure at the end of the extended support period. Customers who do not move their workloads to Azure have the option to purchase extended support, whereas those who do, enjoy the 3 years of extended support for free.

Not Office 365… Microsoft 365…

Whilst consistency is key in product names, it’s often that people get easily confused when dozens of products have multiple versions with very similar names.

Microsoft recently launched Microsoft 365 which, in Layman’s terms, is a bundle of existing product offerings available under one license. The name, however, is very similar to the already established Office 365. There is already a multitude of users who unintentionally call Office 365, Microsoft 365 – It also doesn’t at all help once you learn that Office 365 is included in Microsoft 365 and thus the reason for confusion can easily be seen.

Who’s Who in Microsoft’s Home?

Office 365, as we know it, is the cloud based suite of applications and services that are business centric and driven to increase productivity. Apart from the application norms, like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook – Office 365 Subscriptions also includes many more applications and services that encourage robust productivity, enhances security and better collaboration than ever before. Applications like OneNote allows you to digitally diarise and plan out absolutely any piece of content in a formal and structured format giving you lengths of easy navigation with locating files, notes and plans effortlessly. Office 365 also includes the most popular Microsoft Planner. Being a project management application, it allows individuals and teams to create, assign and organize tasks visually. It gives each team member the ability to view others’ performance effortlessly. Planner even allows you to proactively facilitate teamwork, monitor progress through timeous visibility and encourages constant coordination. 

Like Office 365, Microsoft 365 has multiple plans that you can choose from that best suits your business’s needs. The Microsoft 365 product offering now includes a suite of software that includes Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise, Mobility & Security (EMS) to foster innovation and evolution in your business. Microsoft 365 comes with a promise to empower organizations, and their users, to achieve more, both in and out of the office. 

Choosing The Right Modern Workplace Path

Deciding which between Office 365 & Microsoft 365 is ideal for your business, then adopting, can be quite complex if you aren’t already using any of the separate components of Microsoft 365. If you are, however, switching over to the combined Microsoft 365 license is an easy YES!

Microsoft 365 Business has been purpose-built specially for businesses who require solutions to two of their most prominent workplace issues. The top-in-class productivity and collaboration capabilities of Office 365, as well as proactive device management which includes enhanced security to safeguard business data and assets across various devices.

How can Microsoft 365 Business help your business?

Anywhere access: You can easily access your enterprise software from virtually anywhere with only an internet connection, phone coverage and your electronic mobile device. Due to the software running in a Microsoft data center, you can easily connect to the Internet in order to access the software. Say GOODBYE to waiting on colleagues to allow you access through attachments during office hours only, Microsoft 365 Business allows you access to any shared file, document and piece of collaborative work instantly with perfect synchronization across all devices.

Generate greater productivity: Microsoft has invested heavily in and spent great amounts of time ensuring that users admin experiences using Microsoft 365 Business are as simple and easy to navigate around as possible.

Easier navigation and understanding: The main idea is that simplicity, yields greater productivity.

Timeous syncing: Each and every user has a single source of truth. Users will always see the updated version of any document even if the editor made changes from their mobile device at home, and your point of access is from your PC in the office. No more waiting for information or hinderances in your work will now allow you greater, faster, more brilliant levels of productivity.

Robust security and reliability: Microsoft 365 Business takes care of all security and reliability responsibilities – Allowing a business’s IT Team to focus on other more important tasks. Tasks such as helping users get the most out of enterprise systems.