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After six successful years of ISO 9001:2008 certification Micromail recently upgraded to and were accredited with ISO 9001:2015 certification for its provision of software licensing solutions and Software Asset Management (SAM) services.  The awarding body was the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).  ISO 9001:2015 is the latest version of ISO 9001 and is the internationally recognized standard for a Quality Management System which focuses on an organization’s actions to meet and continually improve customer satisfaction and quality requirements.

Micromail is over 30 years in business and continues to be Ireland’s leading Microsoft LSP and Adobe Platinum Partner. The investment in ISO 9001:2015 demonstrates our ongoing commitment to offer our customers the highest levels of service possible.

ISO ceremony

Left to right: James Kennedy, NSAI Chairperson; Stephen Foley, Micromail General Manager; and Pat Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection.

 

Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Switch Promotion

Microsoft has quietly extended a free upgrade offer that will allow some buyers of Windows 10 S to move to Windows 10 Pro.
MPSA and Select Plus Customers who purchase devices licensed with Windows 10 Pro in S Mode (Windows 10 S) with an Intel Core or AMD A8 or higher processor by March 31, 2018 may acquire a license to switch those devices to Windows 10 Pro for no additional charge.

 

Microsoft 365

At this year’s Inspire Conference in Washington D.C. (formerly known as the World Wide Partner Conference) Microsoft announced the release of an all-embracing Cloud and on-prem package which called Microsoft 365 or M365.

Just when you thought that all you had to do was understand the difference between Office 365 E3 and E5, you now have two additional layers of complexity. Microsoft 365 is designed to be a comprehensive Cloud client offering, as well a comprehensive on-prem offering, including everything that was previously part of an Enterprise Platform Desktop (Enterprise CAL, Office Professional Plus, Windows Enterprise) and is now their all-in-one Cloud bundle.

What’s the difference between Office 365 and Microsoft 365?

There are two main differences: Enterprise Mobility + Security and Windows Enterprise

And there are two main versions of Microsoft 365, each built on the E3 or E5 version of their component bundles:

M365 E3 = Office 365 E3 + EMS E3 + Windows Enterprise E3

M365 E5 = Office 365 E5 + EMS E5 + Windows Enterprise E5

 

Microsoft 365 main page is here: https://products.office.com/en-us/business/

For up to date service descriptions visit: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office-365-service-descriptions.aspx

 

Contact your regular Micromail account manager or email info@micromail.ie to learn more about Microsoft 365 or any other Microsoft product or service.

 

As part of our ongoing integration project Micromail and Ergo have teamed up to streamline the annual review/True-Up process using Avast’s Managed Services console https://www.avast.com/business to provide remote access to a local MAP workstation on the customer’s site. This greatly reduces the time it takes for us to gather inventory, analyse the results and apply license data to reconcile the installed base with license entitlements under the Enterprise Agreement (where annual True Up services provided by the LSP are included in the program offering).

Contact your regular Micromail account manager or email info@micromail.ie to learn more about how our Software Asset Management (SAM) services can help your organisation.

For a second year in a row, Micromail has won Microsoft Ireland’s Licensing Solutions Partner (LSP) of the Year award. The 2017 award was presented to Willy Kelly (Micromail Sales Director) at the recent annual Microsoft Ireland Partner Awards dinner at the Inspire 2017 conference in Washington DC. The Licensing Solution Partner (LSP) of the Year award recognizes excellence in licensing solutions & services, along with the highest levels of customer service. Winning this award again confirms Micromail’s position as Ireland’s leading LSP.

Also, congratulations to our colleagues in Ergo who won two awards on the night,  Cloud Productivity Partner of the Year and Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Security Partner of the Year.

Inspire - MicroMail 3

The presenter Aisling Curtis, SMSP Director, Microsoft Ireland, and Willy Kelly, Sales Director, Micromail.

 

Inspire - Ergo Cloud Productivity Award

The presenter Aisling Curtis, SMSP Director, Microsoft Ireland, and John Purdy,  CEO, Ergo.

What follows is a ‘beginner’s guide’ to SQL 2016 licensing. SQL is one of the more complex volume licensing structures and as such the guide may not touch on all the aspects you need to consider. I am focussing here on the basic requirements when purchasing Standard or Enterprise.

SQL is licensed either ‘Server + CAL’ or ‘per core’. When licensed ‘Server + CAL’ you will need to purchase a license per server and then a CAL for every device/user connecting to the server. Licensing ‘per core’ does away with the need to purchase CALs, allowing for unlimited connections. This option usually comes into play when it is more cost effective, say 40+ devices connecting or if the SQL instance is web facing (innumerable devices/users). These options will be explained further below.

The very first decision you need to make is whether you plan/need to run Enterprise or Standard. See the following comparison guide:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sql-server/sql-server-2016-editions
Your answer here may restrict the licensing options available to you, so it is key you know which edition you want before moving forward.

If you require the Standard edition – you should next ask yourself the question ‘How many devices or users are going to connect to the server?’ Special care should be taken to understand Microsoft’s definition of ‘Multiplexing’ – which boils down to this rule of thumb – ‘If you unplugged the server in question, how many devices/users would be affected?’ It does not matter how they are connecting, as such. When purchasing ‘Server + CAL’ you need only purchase one SQL license per server. However, if the device/user count is greater than 40 (rule of thumb) then it is worth exploring the ‘per core’ option, as it may be more cost effective. You would need to purchase enough licenses to cover the total physical core count, or the assigned v-core count if running in a VOSE. Note that every license covers 2 cores, and there is a 4-core minimum in play whether you are running ‘on the tin’ or in a VOSE. Micromail can offer comparative pricing in most cases, please contact me (sean@micromail.ie) to discuss.

If you require Enterprise you will be licensing ‘per core’ by default. Your only choice here is whether you plan to run ‘on the tin’, or in VOSE. When you license all the physical cores with Software Assurance you can spin up an unlimited amount of SQL VOSE. If you wish, you can simply choose to run on individual VOSE, where you purchase enough licenses to cover the assigned v-cores in each case.

Software Assurance is optional depending on the Agreement type you are purchasing under, and runs for a certain term, again depending on the Agreement type in play. While active it gives the customer access to any new versions on release as well as a set of additional features, such as License Mobility and Failover.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Regards,
Seán Deasy
sean@micromail.ie

Guest post by Conor Magee, Solutions Consultant, Ergo

Hackers and cybercriminals are launching increasingly sophisticated and damaging attacks, including the “WannaCry” ransomware that is currently causing widespread problems for businesses across the globe. To counter this, Microsoft have recently released additional security and advanced threat protection options for Office 365 that provide an additional layer of protection against new threats. Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) provides a way to protect users from malicious links in emails, zero-day attacks and unknown malware and viruses. It includes features such as:

  • Safe Links which provides comprehensive detection and deactivation of malicious links before the mail is delivered to any device.
  • Safe Attachments which opens email attachments in a special, protected hypervisor environment and watches to see if there is suspicious activity.

 

For organisations that have Office 365 Enterprise E5 licensing in place, these Advanced Threat Protection services are already included as part of the licensing package and just need to be configured and enabled.

For organisations that have Exchange Online, Enterprise E1 or E3 licensing, Advanced Threat Protection can be added as a standalone license, adding an additional layer of security to existing email services.

If this something that you would be interested in learning a bit more about, and would like to speak to a Micromail expert please click on the link below:

Contact Micromail today to discuss your IT security requirements

Guest post by Conor Magee, Solutions Consultant, Ergo

The rising popularity of cloud service platforms presents a unique challenge for IT security. These platforms can hold user identity and organisational data, but because of their separation from the corporate network, tend to be outside the reach of traditional on-premises security analytics software. This gives rise to a blind-spot in terms of security for IT administrators that can be difficult to resolve.

On the user side, it is often not possible to see centrally if third party applications are granted access to cloud data by users, for example unauthorised email or calendar tools. These applications can provide legitimate services to users but if there are flaws in their design, critical or sensitive data may be left exposed and become a target for hackers.

This issue is made more difficult with the widespread use of unmanaged personal smartphones, computers and tablet devices for business use, potentially leading to privileged information being accessed through third-party applications on devices with an unknown security or patching status.

Microsoft’s is a large cloud service provider and their Office 365 suite of applications run on encrypted servers within their world-leading datacentres. These datacentres are protected with layers of advanced security and certified by leading certification providers including: ISO 27001, HIPAA, UK G-Cloud and EU-US Privacy Shield. While this highly secure infrastructure ensures that information is stored in an environment that is as safe as it can be, user identity is left as the path of least resistance for malicious access to gain access to organisation data. This can be achieved in a number of ways including: weak user passwords, users continuing to use previously compromised passwords or “brute-force” password attacks where huge numbers of passwords are tried against each account and made easier if users are using weak passwords or the same password across a number of services.

Office 365 Advanced Security Management

To help secure against these type of threats, Office 365 Advanced Security Management monitors 70+ different metrics for each user account within Office 365. This allows alerts to be automatically generated when policies are triggered and manual or automatic actions to be taken to prevent security breaches.

Advanced Security Management policies are created and customised to monitor for specific user account activity with the aim of identifying suspicious behaviour. Each one can be set to look for specific actions and thresholds; for example, downloading large amounts of data in a short space of time or repeated login failures from an unexpected location. Once an alert is generated, administrators have the option to take an action on the users account right from the alert page or, if it’s a particularly serious scenario, have the account suspended automatically on detection pending further investigation.

General behavioural analytics are also performed on this stream of data, learning what normal activity looks like for each user and a “Risk Score” is generated based on the full range of parameters. The score is based on how unusual or risky the behaviour is; this can be logging in at an unusual time, making administrative changes from an unexpected location or many other metrics. The risk score is attached to each alert to assist IT administrators in deciding what further action to take.

Advanced Security Management also includes an “App Discovery” dashboard within the Office 365 control panel. This service can analyse logs uploaded from firewalls and proxies and produce reports on cloud application activity within the organisation across a large range of non-Microsoft cloud platforms. This can give a view of how many potentially unapproved cloud services are in use by users across the organisation and how much data they are uploading to them.

For organisations that have Office 365 Enterprise E5 licensing in place, these Advanced Security Management services are already included as part of the licensing package and just need to be configured and enabled. For organisations that have any other Office 365 licensing, Advanced Security Management can be added as an add-on license to enable these features.

Contact Micromail today to discuss your IT security requirements

Guest post by Conor Magee, Solutions Consultant, Ergo

Email remains top of the list for hackers and cybercriminals looking to gain access to restricted systems or data. Traditionally this has comprised of emails infected with malware and viruses, sent either out to databases of random addresses or targeted to a specific organisation or individual. The standard defence against this type of attack is using email filtering solutions that scan against a continuously updated list of known threats.

With the constantly increasing number of viruses and malware, this type of protection is as important as ever. On top of this, there are a new set of challenges that need to be addressed – unique threats hidden within email attachments, including rapidly changing malware and zero day attacks, and malicious URLs in the body of emails. These are designed to avoid standard protection by behaving in a way that does not flag them as a threat and once delivered to the user, have a high chance of successfully infecting the target network.

Microsoft Office 365 offers inbuilt, robust protection against traditional email threats through “Exchange Online Protection”, which is enabled on all existing Exchange Online mailboxes by default. This email filtering service uses multiple scanning engines and the latest virus definitions on each email to effectively defend against these infections.

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

Defending against threats that have not been seen before requires a proactive approach to email scanning. Office 365 “Advanced Threat Protection” provides in depth scanning services for attachments and URLs using technologies called Safe Attachments and Safe Links.

Safe Attachments takes incoming email attachments and opens them within a special environment to monitor their activity. This service simulates a number of different operating systems to maximise the chance that novel viruses and malware are identified and blocked before they get anywhere near your network. Suspicious attachments are then blocked and stripped out of the email before it is sent on to the destination mailbox for delivery.

Safe Links follows all web links within an email to their final destination to determine if they lead to any malicious sites or content. This provides security against links that first go to a legitimate site but are automatically redirected to a malicious site thereafter. Any dangerous links are disabled within the email before it is delivered to the end user, allowing the content to be safely viewed. Included with Safe Links is the ability to generate a report containing the users that have attempted to follow the disabled links. This allows organisations to identify users that are potentially vulnerable to malicious emails and to provide information on how to recognise these emails in future.

For organisations that have Office 365 Enterprise E5 licensing in place, these Advanced Threat Protection services are already included as part of the licensing package and just need to be configured and enabled. For organisations that have Exchange Online, Enterprise E1 or E3 licensing, Advanced Threat Protection can be added as a standalone license, adding an additional layer of security to existing email services.

Contact Micromail today to discuss your email security requirements

Micromail has once again won Microsoft Ireland’s prestigious LSP Partner of the Year award. The 2016 award was presented at Microsoft’s annual Irish Partner Awards dinner at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto on 12th July.

The LSP Partner of the Year award recognizes excellence in licensing solutions & services, along with the highest levels of customer service. It confirms Micromail’s position as the most successful LSP (Licensing Solutions Partner) in the country.

Congratulations to all the Micromail team. This award is a tribute to their expertise in software licensing, and their dedication to exceptional customer service.