On the home page, we explained our overall approach. But perhaps you wonder exactly how we are able to (1) provide you with end-to-end support that is better than just having a traditional IT company or person help you. Or maybe (2) you wonder exactly what Microsoft cloud solutions are relevant to you. Below, we answer both of these questions for you in greater detail.
Our support is the best in the business. Why? Our people are trained and are experienced. And our processes are well-defined and tested so that issues always get handled, and always in a prompt manner. But you may wonder specifically why you’d be better off either moving away from your current IT support provider or even away from using your own internal IT person / people. Below are several key points.
Our Helpdesk People
Our people are all intermediate or senior. Some of our competitors offer lower rates. But they’re able to do this because their helpdesk is manned by junior people. This means that the rate looks lower but the reality is that issues take longer to resolve and you end up paying more and have more downtime as a result. Our support is the most effective use of your IT spend. Our people are also all trained on the primary cloud solutions that you’ll find in the marketplace. Many of our competitors not only are not skilled in working with cloud technologies but they fear it – it means less infrastructure for them to support and ultimately means less work. We have embraced the cloud because we know it’s right for our customers. Our people’s viewpoint and skill sets reflect that.
Our Cloud Capabilities
Our expertise with cloud technologies has allowed us to offer some previously unseen capabilities. For instance, Azure RemoteApp (explained further down below) allows people who like using their iPads or Android devices to use these devices full-time. No more need for a laptop or desktop. Microsoft’s Azure RemoteApp allows them to run applications that are Windows-based apps as though they are installed right on their tablets. (Our own president actually runs ALL of his applications from an iPad Pro.) The application actually runs within Azure but it feels like it is running locally. This also means that your data that is kept within Azure can easily be accessed at anytime from anywhere. And it can be done securely.
Our Project Delivery
Because the Stratus team is part of Stratiform – our parent company – we have access to senior architects and engineers who know how to properly implement key solutions. They have experience designing, planning and executing projects for larger companies and can therefore bring that depth of experience to your organization.This capability coupled with the Stratus approach means keeping projects smaller and suited to your organizations’ size and needs. In other words … you get the same expertise and solutions that larger organizations receive but delivered in a way that makes sense for your organization.
Our Team Flexibility
Because of our unique mix of project delivery personnel and support personnel, we have the ability to easily find team members to help out in a pinch. Specifically, this means that although you may have a “primary support consultant” assigned to you (we do this for some larger customers who require regular on-site visits), they are not the only ones available to help. If someone is unavailable due to sickness, vacations or other reasons, we will always be able to provide someone to replace them and continue to look after you. Many of our competitors do not have the people to help out in this way. And if you rely on your own IT person, you know that things often suffer when they are unavailable. That is never the case with Stratus.
Have you ever wished you didn’t have so many devices? For instance, wouldn’t it be great if you could just use an iPad for everything instead of using a desktop or laptop at work, hauling a laptop around with you when you need to be mobile and then using your home desktop to log back in to access office resources? We are very adept with Microsoft Azure and as a result have mastered. The art of deploying applications with Azure RemoteApp (more information on this below) so that many customers can get down to using just one device. (Our company president uses an iPad Pro for everything and just runs any Windows applications he needs using Azure RemoteApp.) You get the mobility of using a tablet with the broad application support that you’d normally only get by using a Windows device. This isn’t for everyone – some people require dual monitors and powerful video cards because of the applications they run. But most people just use their devices to run some common, everyday applications. With Stratus One, we can moved your Windows applications to Azure RemoteApp and help you see how – with the use of an eternal monitor and new Microsoft apps – you can use virtually any device as your primary work device.
We have developed a custom solution called Stratus ID. This solution is free for our customers. It is incredibly powerful. It allows you to easily handle on-boarding, off-boarding and account changes. It also automatically provisions Office 365 accounts (email accounts and Skype for Business accounts). It offers reporting that helps to show cloud usage, trends and costs.
Our experience has lead us to believe that Microsoft’s cloud solutions are often the best for our customers. There are other cloud solutions and vendors available – Google, Amazon and so on – but we have found that Microsoft’s cloud offerings are well-suited to small and mid-size businesses. On our home page, we have mentioned Office 365 and Azure. But below are several key technologies that we have found to have a huge impact on our customers’ efficiency and cost of operations. (Most of these are Microsoft solutions but the last two are not.)
Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform that offers a multitude of different cloud solutions. But a primary use of Azure is the ability to host your company’s servers for you. This is done by either starting new servers or migrating your existing server(s) to Azure. No, you don’t ship your actual server hardware to Microsoft. Instead, servers are hosted as “virtual servers”. This means that they function the same way as always – they can host your data and applications – but Microsoft looks after the underlying hardware for you. So, if we need to migrate your servers to Azure, we simply convert each of them to a Virtual Machine and then copy that machine to Azure. And from that moment on, you never need to worry again about hardware failures or expensive support agreements from companies like HP, Dell or IBM. Your servers just work. And you don’t need to worry about local server backups either. Speaking of backups …
Azure Backup is a another Azure-based cloud service that greatly simplifies your IT processes and helps you to reduce costs. Although you always want to backup your data and applications – even on a virtual server in Azure – you can now do away with expensive and complex tape-based solutions. And no more lugging external drives or tapes back and forth from the office. With a couple clicks of the mouse, we can help you enable and configure Azure Backup so that your data and applications will then be protected. We will still perform periodic test restores as part of our on-going support. But Azure Backups are extremely reliable and rarely fail.
One of the most compelling solutions within Azure is Azure RemoteApp. What is this? (If you’ve ever used Citrix, you likely already understand this technology.) Azure RemoteApp is a way to run applications within the Azure datacenter just as though you are sitting there. Why is this compelling? First, if your servers and data are now in Azure, running Azure RemoteApp means that your apps will often run more quickly this way. You launch the app from your local device (desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone or Android device) and what ultimately happens under the blankets is that mouse, touch and keyboard input is sent up to Azure and the processing is done there. The resultant display output is returned to you so that you can’t even tell you weren’t running the application the typical way. The experience is seamless.
What are the benefits to this? Again, your apps often run faster, once your apps and data are in Azure. Second, you no longer need to care what type of device your people wish to use. Microsoft builds the interface for accessing Azure RemoteApp for nearly all devices. Our company president, Jordan Byman, does 100% of this work from an iPad Pro. That’s right. We’re Microsoft specialists but our president uses an iPad. It works because he is able to run all of his Microsoft and third-party applications (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Project, Visio, Adobe Illustrator, etc) from his iPad using this Azure-hosted solution.
This is presently Microsoft’s most well known cloud solution. Unlike Azure, which is a platform that offers dozens of different solutions within it, Office 365 is comprised of a suite of well known cloud-applications that almost every company requires in some form. It’s primary uses are email (Exchange Online), instant messaging & conferencing (Skype for Business), file storage and access (OneDrive for Business) and company portal hosting (SharePoint).
In addition to the applications above, an Office 365 subscription also offers a very compelling way to pay for local desktop applications like Office 2013/2016. Although you likely still need these applications installed on to your people’s desktops and devices, you can now pay for a subscription to these applications within your Office 365 plan instead of paying up front for ownership of them. This offers a few compelling advantages. One advantage is that the version of Office that you now get (Office ProPlus) with your subscription automatically upgrades to the latest version for you on its own. No more need to constantly buy and replace local copies of Office with the latest version of the software. A second advantage to this approach is the fact that you are now allowed to install Office on up to five different devices without paying additional fees. (The traditional way of purchasing Office is to buy a copy and install it on just one device.)
This Microsoft cloud solution is one of the less well known solutions Microsoft offers. However, it is extremely powerful. It primarily provides two capabilities. First, it allows us to manage your traditional Windows devices – provide them with antivirus protection, application deployment, security policies, etc. Second, it allows us to manage mobile devices (iPads, iPhones, Android phones and tablets and Windows phones) so that you can control exactly what your people can access and run remotely. Security is a very big concern now that many organizations have adopted a BYOD (bring your own device) policy. InTune allows us to address this concern so that you get all the advantages of remote device access to your apps and data but with minimal risk.
OneDrive for Business
You have likely heard of OneDrive. (It used to be called SkyDrive and before that it was called Mesh.) The typical OneDrive application is similar to Dropbox. But OneDrive for Business is different. Like OneDrive, this is an application that allows your people to store and access files from within local folders that are synced to the cloud. But the difference is that (1) these folders are potentially shared folders that multiple users can gain access to so that they can collaborate and work together on the same files. And (2) these folders are also accessible from within SharePoint. In other words, we can build you a company portal (a portal is a small website that is just for your own employees to use) that allows your people to all access and edit the same files from within a browser. (We use SharePoint ourselves for vacation calendars, shared documents, recent news and events, articulating company policies, providing useful links to key sites and to provide links to key internal resources.) Speaking of SharePoint …
SharePoint is a well known portal solution that Microsoft began offering several years ago. However, it was previously something that small companies couldn’t afford. It required significant expertise and you needed one or more on-premise servers in order to run it. But now, this solution is available as part of most Office 365 plans. And we have expertise with it so that in a very short time you can have an effective company portal that increases your team’s efficiency and also helps with fostering more of a company “culture” in your office. Contact us using the form below and we’d be happy to show you our own SharePoint portal so you can see just how powerful this tool can be.
Arkadin Voice (for Office 365)
Arkadin provides full integration with Skype for Business (part of the Office 365 suite) so that companies can have full telephone system functionality without the need for ANY on-premise infrastructure. It is a true cloud-based solution and best of all, it’s easy to use as it integrates with commonly used tool sets and devices.
Logic Monitor is a powerful, cloud-based monitoring toolset that allows us to monitor our customers’ servers and network gear. It is fast with a lightweight, agentless collector to auto-discover customer devices. And best of all, there is no need for dedicated equipment, no VPNs, etc.
“Jordan [the president of Stratiform] is extremely honest and forthright in his approach to clients. Stratiform has always suggested what is best for our company without regard for what is best for theirs. They have helped us develop a roadmap for our IT infrastructure that we feel services our needs as a growing company but also works within our given constraints. I’d unconditionally recommend their Stratus services to anyone seeking technical consultancy and support.”
– Jerad Bonetti, Jericho Land
If you are interested in receiving more information about Stratus and how it can help you, please send us a message!