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Matt Scherocman brings more than 15 years of experience in the information technology industry to Interlink Cloud Advisors. His experience includes both the system integrator and manufacturer sides of the business. During his time at the Microsoft Corporation he was responsible for all the the Large Account Reseller (LAR) relationships in the...

Matt Scherocman brings more than 15 years of experience in the information technology industry to Interlink Cloud Advisors. His experience includes both the system integrator and manufacturer sides of the business. During his time at the Microsoft Corporation he was responsible for all the the Large Account Reseller (LAR) relationships in the four state Heartland Area of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Prior to Microsoft, Scherocman led a Cincinnati based IT consulting company to grow 5000% and become a Microsoft Worldwide Partner of the Year. He is actively involved in the strategic vision and operation decisions of the company including finance, selling strategy and marketing. Matt holds a Bachelor of Science in Business degree from Miami University and is a Certified Expert in Microsoft licensing including speaking engagements at both Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference and Channel Partner Summit. He is a frequent contributor to leading industry publications.

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Matt Scherocman

Microsoft Stream – The Future of Workplace Video

Microsoft Stream – The Future of Workplace Video

Video is one of the most powerful forms of media. It gives you the opportunity to convey meaningful messages, tell a story, and connect with others in ways that cannot be done otherwise. Video is a media outlet that is heavily engrained in our personal lives, and as it continues to grow, we should use it to make an impact in the workplace. This is the goal of the new Microsoft Stream business video service - to bring the power of video into the workplace and give organizations access to its many benefits.

With the preview launch of Microsoft Stream, we wanted to share some of the features that make it an easy, collaborative, and social experience for users:

  • Ease of upload and organization: With easy drag and drop capabilities you can quickly upload your videos and organize them how you see fit
  • Discover relevant content: With content discovery powered by machine learning you can find content through “trending” videos and searches by hashtag, most liked videos and other terms
  • Watch anywhere on any device: With Stream being optimized for mobile usage you can take this content on the go with you, whenever and wherever you are.
  • Secure video management: Backed by the powerful Azure Active Directory, manage who can view your content within your organization
  • Engage with content: Make video social with the ability to share via email, like your favorites, and more.

Those who are using Microsoft Office 365 may already be utilizing the existing Office 365 Video platform. As Stream builds upon the feedback and success of Office 365 Video, these two platforms will converge making Stream the de facto video experience within Office 365. While Stream is still being developed, there will be no changes made to the current Office 365 Video experience.

As Microsoft continues to build upon the Stream platform, they are looking to develop something that makes video an extraordinary experieince within the workplace. As the platform continues to evolve, it will include some of the following ideas:

  • Deliver corporate broadcast seamlessly: This will allow organizations a better way to communicate and connect through live video with Stream becoming the hub for both live and video on demand.
  • Intelligent video search: No longer do you have to skip around the video looking for content, with intelligent video search you can search within the video. Leveraging capabilities such as audio transcription and face detection, Stream allows for a deep searching making relevant content easier to find and faster.
  • Make video part of your business apps and workflows: Building on the Office 365 platform Stream is able to integrate with other apps such as Microsoft Flow, SharePoint, and many others.
  • IT management capabilities: Being able to manage the content your organization shares is a big deal so Stream allows for IT to manage permissions throughout Stream. From removing and monitoring content to granting access to channels, IT has the tools to ensure the best experience for its organization.
  • Microsoft Stream App Ecosystem: Instead of locking down the API Microsoft will be opening it up to allow partners to create custom applications and make them available in AppSource, Microsoft’s marketplace for business applications that was announced earlier this month. 

We're looking forward to the exciting new features coming to video with Microsoft Stream and hope you are too. For more information about Microsoft Stream and how to get started managing videos within your organization, please visit the Microsoft Stream webpage.

Contact Interlink for more information.

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Matt Scherocman

ALERT! Office 365 OneDrive Forced Update

ALERT! Office 365 OneDrive Forced Update

Beginning in May 2016, Office 365 users with fewer than 250 Office 365 licenses will be required to use the OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client to sync OneDrive for Business files. This automatic upgrade requirement has already started rolling out and will continue until July 31, 2016.

NOTE - It will NOT apply to those clients with more than 250 Office 365 licenses!

What does this mean for you?

If you are currently using less than 250 Office 365 licenses, you will be automatically upgraded sometime in the next month and a half and the following things will occur during the sync takeover:

  • The old OneDrive for Business sync client (Groove.exe) will begin to stop syncing OneDrive sites.
  • The new OneDrive for Business sync client (OneDrive.exe) will begin to sync the same OneDrive sites, but it will not re-download the content already there.
  • The old OneDrive for Business sync client (Groove.exe) will stop running and will remove itself from automatically running upon system startup. The only exception to this is if the client is still syncing other such as SharePoint site libraries or on-premises OneDrive for Business.

How to delay updating OneDrive.exe until the second release wave

The OneDrive.exe update is planned to roll out in two waves. The first wave will begin when the update becomes available and will take one to two weeks to completely roll out. The second wave will begin rollout shortly after the first wave comes to a closure. There is a policy that will prevent OneDrive sync clients from being updated until the second way which is the “Delay updating OneDrive.exe until the second release wave” setting.

  • By default, these updates are installed right after the first wave begins rolling out.
  • By enabling this setting you will force the update to occur for you during the second wave only.

What to expect after you begin to the use new OneDrive for Business sync client

  • The old OneDrive for Business sync client (Groove.exe) will still be the client you use to sync any site libraries or on-premises SharePoint content. You will be able to use both sync clients on the same computer without any issues.
  • Links in the “Recent list” Office desktop have the chance of no longer working. This means you may have to re-pin the files you want to appear since they might lose functionality.

Contact Interlink Cloud Advisors if you have any questions on this or need help with your cloud update strategy.

For more information please check out the support article from Microsoft - Transition From the Previous OneDrive for Business Sync Client.

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Matt Scherocman

Six Reasons Microsoft Azure SQL Database Provides the Best Data Security Around

Six Reasons Microsoft Azure SQL Database Provides the Best Data Security Around

Companies leveraging the cloud for business have a multitude of options. They also have a lot of security concerns when transitioning their data to the cloud. Microsoft has built on the SQL Server foundation, bringing a new level of security to help ease the mind of these cloud-driven companies with six enhancements. All of which are crucial reasons to consider Microsoft Azure SQL Database as your company’s cloud platform of choice:

  1. Always Encrypted: Exactly how it sounds, Always Encrypted means your data remains encrypted…all the time to help you protect sensitive data. Data is encrypted in transit, in memory, on a disk, and during query processing.

  2. Transparent Data Encryption: For those of us constantly keeping up on compliance regulations and requirements, this encrypts databases with associated backups as well as transaction log files without needing changes to your applications. The audit trail is clear in order to stay in compliance while keeping data safe from any breach.

  3. Row-Level Security: This feature can limit access to individual rows of data based on a user's identity, role, or query execution context to ensure only the right people can view that data. This also simplifies the application code so that data isn’t accidently shared in any situation.



  4. Azure Active Directory (AD) Authentication: Different from SQL Authentication, Azure AD
    Authentication simplifies password management by allowing you to access a number of Azure services using the same identity. This does not compromise the level of security. It reduces the amount of IT time spends on retrieving lost passwords and login details while maintaining access control every step of the way.

  5. Dynamic Data Masking: Another, more sophisticated, form of encryption allows users to define masking patterns on actual database columns. For example, users can set a masking rule that masks all but the last four digits of any social security number in the result set of any query to ensure that sensitive data is truly safe.

  6. SQL Database Threat Detection: This feature alerts set users of any suspicious database activities automatically and complements Azure SQL Database Auditing, which records database events and writes audited events to an audit log in the Azure Storage account. 

    Microsoft Azure SQL Database Security

Both features are great examples of how users can monitor and quickly respond to risk. Advanced Threat Analytics is yet another approach to helping users stay ahead of sophisticated malware attacks.

Another (bonus) reason to consider Azure SQL Database that’s best shared through this diagram, courtesy of Microsoft Azure, is that SQL Server’s track record speaks for itself. When you’re in the cloud, you can’t be vulnerable and SQL Server lives up to that motto…six years running!

microsoft azure sql database unparalleded security

Data security in the cloud isn’t a set it and forget it process. It is a constant work in progress because the security risks keep changing and technology keeps advancing. Choosing Microsoft as your partner in mitigating those risks is a smart and educated decision in keeping your data safe.

Learn more about these security enhancements by downloading the Security and Azure SQL Database whitepaper and contact us at Interlink for more information.

SQL Modernization Assessment Ad

 

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Matt Scherocman

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

As business changes and technology evolves, the majority of organizations depend on IT systems to store their data and run critical workflows. Unfortunately, these systems can be a prime target for cyber-attacks as sophisticated hackers put the enterprise in a vulnerable position. Just take note of these especially stunning stats:

  • 76% of attacks stem from compromised user credentials
  • The average cost of a data breach to a company is $3.5 million and total cost of cybercrime on a global scale is as high as $500 billion
  • Because of dangerous IT security blind spots (shown in the image below), it could take over 200 days to detect an attack

    IT blind spots Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

Stats courtesy of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics Datasheet.

The reality is, businesses need to pay attention and adapt to this changing nature of data security threats.

Now available in the Enterprise Mobility Suite, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) helps to protect your company from attacks by leveraging machine learning. It uses behavioral analytics to uncover suspicious behavior, internally or from external attacks. It also detects known security issues and risks , the goal is to stay  one (or two, or three) steps ahead of the attackers.

Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

When you think of security software, your mind might immediately turn to configuring system rules and alerting. All of which take time and commitment from your team. With ATA, you don’t need to create rules, baselines, or thresholds. It’s streamlined from setup and works immediately. Once a threat is detected, it’s also easy to view a timeline of when the attack hit. It can help pinpoint where the breach took place. All of this insight can better prepare you for future attacks.

The thought of being hacked and not even knowing it is scary enough, but ATA also helps identify internal threats like why a user would be accessing files in accounting if they’re in the marketing department? Combined with online security reports, ATA can show anomalies for logins.  It will help detect when user credentials have been compromised by reporting geographically distant logins that occur at the time time – like a single user being logged in from Ohio and from Romania at the same time.  

The high-level benefits of using ATA at your business are obvious. Peace of mind goes a long way, and you also want it to help you adapt as cyber-attacks grow in frequency and sophistication. The features of ATA are even more appealing when you see exactly how it works for your business. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Timeline: We’ve already mentioned that timeline, but it’s worth noting again. In addition to listing the activities as they occur, ATA provides recommendations on how to handle that alert.
  • Organizational Security Graph: This maps out entity interactions which represents the context and activities of the users, devices, and resources. This will be a big driver in managing security for each of your users.
  • Email Alerts: There’s no need for one person to be continuously monitoring for cyber-attacks. With ATA, you can have emails sent to users or groups when suspicious activity is detected.
  • Leveraging the Cloud:  Microsoft cloud based correlation engine helps more quickly identify new attacks and reduce the amount of false positives. 

The cyber-attack threat is real and ATA can help you adapt to the changing cyber-attack world we live in.

Contact Interlink if you any questions.

 

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Matt Scherocman

SQL Server in the Public Cloud: SQL Database vs. SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server in the Public Cloud: SQL Database vs. SQL Server on Azure VMs

When it comes to hosting SQL Server in the public cloud, there are two major options. 

  1. SQL Database
  2. SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines (VMs)

Customers can choose just one or both, as each is designed for different SQL workloads and fit into Microsoft’s platform a different way.

In order to choose the right route for your application workload, you’ll want to match your business requirements with the benefits and capabilities of these two options. But first, know that if you choose a cloud path, you don’t have to be all in the cloud. Same goes for an on-premises direction. A hybrid cloud option, which means having part of your data centers in the cloud while keeping a select workloads on-premises, is what most businesses choose and what Microsoft’s cloud platform is built for.

The diagram below, courtesy of Microsoft Azure, shows the relation of cloud options to the level of administration you have over the infrastructure and the degree of cost efficiency:

SQL Server in the Public Cloud

The public cloud options (represented in blue) are outlined below, starting with…

Microsoft Azure SQL Database

SQL Database is hosted, and maintained by Microsoft. This Azure cloud platform is categorized as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) and offers a few desirable features to help companies scale efficiently. First of which is cost flexibility. Users pay as they go, scaling up or down for more power and little interruption. You can also develop directly on the service using Azure's built-in features and functionality.

#1 Benefit: Lowered Overall Cost and Administration

In addition to lowering the overall cost of running multiple databases, SQL Database reduces ongoing administration costs because you don’t need a full IT team to manage any virtual machines, operating systems, or database software.

How to Purchase

SQL Database is sold as a service, not with a license. In order to limit your cost exposure, clients will need to manage and monitor what is in use along with what can be scaled back to reduce subscription fees.

Administration

With SQL Database, you can continue to administer your database, but Microsoft takes care of the underlying hardware, can replicate data to provide high availability, configures and upgrades the database software, manages load balancing, and does transparent failover if there is a server failure. Ultimately, taking away the time-consuming administration duties.

SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server on Azure VMs allows you to run SQL Server inside a virtual machine in the cloud. This falls under the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) category and is meant to extend on premise SQL Server applications to the cloud.

#1 Benefit: Customizability

If you already have a full-time IT staff and need administrative rights, yet desire a fully customizable setup, SQL Server on Azure VMs is optimized exactly for your scenario.

How to Purchase

Traditional SQL Server licensing is available for SQL Server on Azure VMs. Customers with current software assurance have the ability to run use that license to cover their instances of SQL within Azure. If there is a workload running full time, it is typically less expensive to purchase the SQL than to subscribe to it in scenario 1. 

Administration

SQL Server on Azure VMs makes it possible to keep control over database location down to the location of the disk. You can upgrade on your own schedule.

When deciding what public cloud option is right for you, assess your situation first and determine which workloads fit which cloud scenarios best.  Keep in mind that you may want to reuse licensing that may already be used to run the same workload on premises. 

Whatever your situation, Interlink can help you determine the best fit and then take the right next steps from there. Contact Interlink.

SQL Modernization Assessment Ad

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