Those that were one step ahead

For some time now through our IT support services, we’ve been introducing clients to the benefits of cloud computing. As such, those that have embraced cloud computing, and had done a while before lockdown, have found themselves well prepared for supporting a workforce working from home.

We’ve encouraged clients to move to cloud-based servers once their physical server is up for renewal. The benefit of having no on-premise server in lockdown, is that employees are able to easily and securely access the server from home.

Line-of-business applications (LOBs) are one of the primary concerns in terms of remote access during lockdown. For some clients, we had already migrated their LOBs to the cloud – using Amazon Web Servers or Microsoft Azure to host them – allowing the client to access software that is integral to their operations anywhere, any time.

Our clients have discovered the extent of the benefits of flexibility, which stem from the investments we’ve advised on and the digital strategy we’ve recommended.

An effective, immediate solution

Clients that did not already have their infrastructure largely based in the cloud, were left wondering “How will we operate?”. It was necessary for us to find quick responses to the emergency requirement to work from home. Being reliant, largely, upon on-premise servers and infrastructure meant that we needed to create a solution for their teams to remotely access the necessary IT.

This solution needed to be secure, good value-for-money and a mid to long-term solution, with lockdown and working from home advice being indefinite. With just a week left before what was an imminent lockdown, we knew that a full-scale cloud migration would not be possible.

Procuring laptops is a service we provide for many clients. This task was particularly challenging during March and April, with supply chains struggling to meet the incredible spike in demand.

The Microtrading team then considered the options for remote access, and we decided to create a solution based around the use of Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) – a feature offered by the Windows 10 Professional Operating System. RDC allows you to access a computer in another location, so on-premise machines that are connected to the on-premise server can be accessed remotely as well as all the data and resources they would usually have access to when in the office.

This also required us to facilitate secure connections between the team’s laptops and their corresponding machines in the office, to protect the data that is being accessed. This was achieved by configuring a secure SSL VPN tunnel between the remote machine and the office network.

Taking care of phone systems

Leaving the office can present an issue for your telephony, and the easy but often undesirable option would be to have all calls diverted to a single mobile phone. By implementing the ‘Business Voice’, capability of Microsoft Teams we’ve enabled clients to put their entire telephony system in the cloud. This allows all staff members to receive inbound calls and make external calls to any number using Microsoft Teams – a solution that we’ve all become a lot more familiar with over the past couple of months!

This facility, at this time, has meant a great deal to clients – reducing the strain on individual members of their teams. For more information on the features of Teams and Microsoft Business Voice, click here.

Helping with teething problems

In the first few weeks of lockdown, we were assisting the teams at many of our clients to set up for, and adjust to, working from home. We helped to ensure new machines or work desktops were set up in employees’ homes and connected to the WiFi with access to the complete range of services they required to work effectively, whilst maintaining security.

A very important role we played at the start of lockdown was to help educate and advise on areas such as how to ensure that the connections being made to company servers were secure.

Publishing advice

Through our regular news stories, we’ve made a variety of advice available during lockdown on how to make working from home in these circumstances a success. The stories we’ve released recently, which offer plenty of useful advice you can use right now, include:

  • Maintain cyber security and protect your business during lockdown, and beyond click here.
  • An approach to online conferencing that you can depend on click here.
  • QuaranTeam: how you and your team can master working from home during lockdown click here.
  • ‘Coronavirus Continuity’ – act now: can your current IT enable your team to work from home? Click here.

Continuing support

Throughout lockdown, we’ve been delivering our usual IT support services. A great deal of the support we provide our clients is already achieved through remote access and cloud-based tools, and their value has really shown, and shone, during this difficult time. Indeed, they allow us to carry on effectively ‘business as usual’’ which has unsurprisingly been incredibly helpful for our customers as we continue to assist them in their day-to-day operations.

We even continue to attend sites

We know that, with many staff perhaps furloughed in your organisation, you could be running on a ‘skeleton operation’. This makes downtime even more detrimental, putting strain on limited resources. So, if something goes wrong with your IT in the office, while you and your team are working at home, you might need us to get on-site. After all, there are some things we just can’t do remotely.

Since lockdown, we’ve been required to attend sites to address urgent IT support issues – such as malfunctions with on-premise servers. With many of our customer sites currently vacant anyway, we are generally able, when provided with access, to work on-site and promptly rectify issues impacting on your work.

For any on-site visits, we have prepared a health and safety questionnaire for clients to complete. We’ll only attend a site when we’re confident that the risk to our staff and yours is suitably mitigated and government guidelines can be followed.

We’re here to help

Over the past couple of months, we’ve provided help to clients in a variety of ways. We’ve tried, and continue to try, to be as supportive and accommodating as possible to assist clients in being able to continue working during this difficult period. We’ve provided a range of assistance, not just in a technical capacity, as part of our motivation to be a true and trusted business partner to our clients.

Andrew Penlington, Director of Microtrading, said: “We’re here to support you. We’ve invested heavily in our systems and infrastructure to enable us to keep on operating as usual in extreme circumstances, such as these. Microtrading continues to be committed to its clients – you can depend on us.”

If you’re looking for IT support in Birmingham or more information on remote working, contact us on 0121 784 0077 or click here to see how Microtrading can help.