Blog

Latest Cyber Attacks Update from HCS Business Solutions

We believe that there’s a huge positive to come from the recent global ransomware and cyber attacks. This may sound perverse, however the huge media attention given to cybercrime and its consequences has placed the topic of IT Security at the forefront of everyone’s minds and that has got to be a good thing. We’ve now passed the point of no return and IT Security has to be a major focus for business owners and managers going forward, we’ve had our warning!  We really do hope the you give it the attention it deserves and trust us that the recommendations we are making are on the basis of protecting you and your business. In our experience of dealing with Ransomware and cyber attacks on a weekly basis over the past 24 months, 99% of the time it’s initiated from an email that contains attachments or links and a user has to click on it to start an infection. Alternatively it comes from browsing the internet and clicking on a malicious link. The following is a listing of ways you can help protect yourself and your business from such infections. Email: If you are on Office 365 for email and have the add on for Advanced Email Threat Protection then you have done as much as you can, if you have not then we would strongly recommend you implement it straight away. If your email is not in Office 365 then we are limited in the amount of protection we can provide hence why we believe moving to Office 365 for email is more secure. More information on Advanced Email...
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Protect your email against sophisticated cyber attacks

Keeping your data protected from constantly evolving, aggressive malware threats is a worry for companies of all sizes these days. Email has become so critical to day-to-day business that hackers cleverly and frequently infiltrate internal networks via email, embedding harmful malware and other programs with false promotional emails or company communications. With one click, an unsuspecting user can download a number of harmful viruses and unknowingly compromise their companies data and their systems. With these seemingly increasing brazen cyber attacks, its very hard to stay ahead of the game. However, Microsoft Office 365 have added another very welcomed layer of must-have security to defend against these digital threats. Microsoft have developed Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) which will provide additional real time protection to your email. It compliments existing security features within Office 365 to give two, distinct categories of protection – Safe Links and Safe Attachments. It will also provide rich reporting functions, offering you greater understanding of your businesses threats. SO HOW DOES IT WORK? Safe attachments: Safe attachments is a feature that protects against unknown malware and viruses within your email attachments. All suspicious email content goes through a real time malware analysis to be evaluated and screened, they are then opened in a secure Microsoft area and any unsafe attachments are isolated and destroyed before reaching your mailbox.  If no suspicious activity is detected the attachment is released and delivered to the mailbox with the original message. Safe Links: Safe Links evaluates a link in an email message in real time to determine whether the link is safe or contains harmful content. If the link is...
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Prevention is always better than a cure

“Prevention is better than the cure” that’s why protecting your IT Systems against cybercrime, disasters, malicious intent is always better than having to face the pain of a cure when the damage is done. While no one can guarantee 100% protection for your IT Systems, you can limit the risk by being prepared against the threats of cybercrime, disasters or malicious intent. If you fail to prepare the likelihood is you will be facing the cure, if prepare to fail then you have done yourself a big favour and the chances of facing the cure is far less likely. TechSecure from HCS is a comprehensive practical approach to Securing and Protecting your business. HCS will carry out an independent audit of your business focusing on the following areas; User Accounts Security Company Policies (Internet, email, remote, BYOD) Servers Workstations (desktops/laptops) Network equipment Vulnerability/Penetration testing Backups Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Remote Access Wireless Email Internet Access File shares Tablets/Smartphones Printing Security Application Security   The information gathered during this assessment will generate the information needed to identify the security weaknesses in your business. Armed with this information HCS will then work with your business to formalise a security strategy that will have you prepared and limit your risks to the threats of cybercrime, disasters or malicious intent. The ex CEO of CISCO John Chambers once said, “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those who don’t know they have been hacked”. In my opinion, there is a third type of company, “those that will be hacked in the very near future”. Don’t get hacked...
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We are looking for another .net developer

The HCS Software Division is a growing team of currently 6 software developers who specialise in delivering custom applications on behalf of a number of national and multinational customers. We place a strong emphasis on cloud and mobility and therefore work with the latest in Microsoft technologies to deliver our vision of producing quality software that delivers for our customers. HCS uses the Microsoft development stack of Office 365, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Azure, .NET and SQL. HCS Business Solutions is now looking for a Senior and Junior .NET Developer  to add to this growing software team. Based in either our Waterford or Dublin Citywest office this is a good opportunity to work in a flexible environment with the latest technologies.   Senior .Net Developer Scope of role The role is to develop, test, document and implement custom applications within agreed deadlines to the required standard in order to meet the functional requirements set by our Customers. Key skills Primary responsibility for the design, development and deployment of software solutions and components based on a mixture of .Net MVC, SQL Server, Azure, SharePoint, Angular JS. Developing applications from detailed design specifications. Ability to liaise with clients during the development life cycle. Experience/Skills: At least 5 years design and development experience using Microsoft based tools & frameworks such as: C#, .NET MVC, SQL Server, SSRS, Angular JS, Web API, VSO, Azure and SharePoint. Web/Mobile development experience. Excellent written/verbal skills. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Understanding and experience of Agile based development methodologies. Education: Relevant third level qualification in IT. Microsoft MCP certifications would be an advantage.     Junior .Net Developer Scope of role The role...
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How to create a human firewall against cybercrime in your organisation!

In a previous blog entitled “How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Business from Potentially Costly Ransomware Attacks?” I discussed three ways in which you can protect your organisation. I broke it down into 3 steps that need to be taken to mitigate against the risk of being attacked and infected and suffering data or financial loss; Step 1 – Create a human firewall. Step 2 – Have up to date IT systems. Step 3 – Have good backups. In this blog I’m going to focus on how you create a human firewall in your organisation because remember, it’s the users who are being targeted by the cyber criminals. These criminals are using a variety of digital deceptions to trick users into opening email attachments or click on compromised links on websites. Today’s computer users, Employers and Employee’s, need to wise up fast and get with the program before your business pays a hefty price! The Human Firewall? When we talk about the human firewall we’re talking about computer users within your organisation and their levels of awareness and understanding about the cybercrime threats they face today. The digital world we live in now is vastly different from years ago. No longer can we curiously and carelessly click on things presuming that everything is safe on the internet. The new reality is that there is danger around every corner and as a computer user you need to take responsibility for your actions and be very clear that you know and understand what you are doing when using email and internet! Users must condition their minds to be much more...
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PSTN Conferencing with Skype for Business

Whether they are a massive blessing or the annoyance of your working day, conference calls with your customers or far-flung colleagues are an essential part of doing business these days. You want this part to go as easily and smoothly as possible, for sure, HCS know this, it is the backbone of the working day for most of us here too! The good news is for your conference calls, you now no longer need to manage multiple dial ins, or try to connect dispersed groups over various devices. Not only that but if you want your users to be able to call in or out via regular phones in your business over Skype at low costs, we recommend the PSTN Conferencing telephone service. Its easy, quick and cost effective! PSTN conferencing with Skype for Business add on service gives you a hybrid, new, and modern meeting room solution which will allow you to search for, acquire and assign phone numbers to users so they can make calls to and receive calls from people inside and outside your company. What all this means is not every participant of a conference meeting will need to dial-in using Skype, others can connect to the same conference call using more traditional methods like, landlines and mobile phones for example – That’s quite practical don’t you think!? It also includes local dial in numbers which for many of our customers was one of the primary reasons of moving to Skype for Business as the cost savings realised with the PSTN Conferencing feature was considerable. It really does provide a complete low cost meeting and voice experience. Sometimes, you just want to...
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Leave the file server!

Well hello there! For users of a file server, I am delighted to say that the time has finally come whereby I can now happily recommend for you to leave the file server and instead, use SharePoint Online! The main reason that you should do this, is that on 1st March 2016 Microsoft upgraded SharePoint storage from 10 gigabytes to 1 terrabytes, which is obviously a substantial increase. Obviously then, 1TB will store a lot of files – a lot more than anyone who has been using SharePoint all along would be used to! A secondary reason to switch to SharePoint Online instead of continuing to use a file server, is the fantastic new Windows 10. Why? What’s so special about Windows 10 you might ask? Well – the single biggest complaint from SharePoint users who use SP as a file store is the SharePoint interface itself.  However, with Windows 10, this is no longer an issue, and here’s why: To eliminate the problem of the shaky SharePoint interface, we do so by mapping a drive to SharePoint. We could do this before on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, but it was a very flaky feature to say the least. But in Windows 10, it’s not flaky at all. It is rock solid! I have been using it myself for 6 months now and also have a number of very satisfied customers who are delighted to be using it also. However, if you can’t (or don’t want to) upgrade to Windows 10, all is not lost. So don’t worry! If you absolutely must continue using Windows 7 or 8...
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We are hiring a Helpdesk Support Technician

Helpdesk Support Engineer required for a position on our busy IT Helpdesk based in Waterford. This is an excellent opportunity to join a successful and growing IT provider with customers and projects nationwide with fantastic career opportunities for dedicated IT support professionals. What you will do: The successful Helpdesk Support Engineers will be expected to deliver remote support to the Company’s client base. Support Microsoft Office 365 & Azure Setup, configure and support Exchange Online Support Active Directory, MS Office and NTFS file security Network support including switches, routers, firewalls and APs Support Windows OS Windows 7, 8 & 10,Server 2003, 2008 & 2012 Responsibility to log and manage support calls and escalations What you need: 3+ years relevant experience in a technical support environment – desktop, helpdesk, deskside. Fluent English Strong Knowledge of Windows Operating Systems Knowledge of AV, UTM and VPNs (experience with Fortinet an advantage) Understanding of networking technologies DHCP, DNS, Routing & Switching Microsoft certification – MCP, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP (an advantage) Experience with VOIP phone systems an advantage An excellent customer service attitude and the ability to interact with customers in a professional manner Excellent communication skills Salary: Negotiable, dependent on experience and qualifications. Contact: Send CV to...
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Microsoft Office 2016 VS. Office 365 – The Differences

Looking for information on the differences between Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2016? Are you a regular business person and not an IT- trained specialist? Is Google your best friend? Are you sick and tired of trawling through various websites on your quest to find out these differences? If you answered yes to any of the above, then welcome! This blog post is just for you. Being new to the world of IT Sales myself, I was – until relatively recently – in the same boat as many people who have no idea of the difference between Microsoft’s Office 2016 and Office 365. Of course, most of us have a general idea of what it gives us – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – our most basic day-to-day business applications that we need to function professionally. But we (speaking for myself here, of course) usually have no idea of the ins and outs of both Office products – mostly due to the fact that it is so ridiculously complicated trying to find anything out online! There are dozens of pages, filled with conflicting information and technical lingo that (for me anyway), can just whoooosh straight over your head. Being of the Google-solves-everything generation, it’s fair to say that I found this a tad frustrating. In fact, upon concluding my search for a definitive list of differences between Office 2016 and Office 365, I couldn’t find any website that could stand up in comparison to the detailed explanations that my colleagues were able to give me. Leaving the actual advising of customer-tailored plans up to our Microsoft licencing experts, I still wanted to know the basic...
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Windows 10 Should I upgrade or not?

Windows 10 FREE upgrade from Windows 7, 8.0 and 8.1 is available until 29th July 2016. After this date you will have to pay for the upgrade (price unknown as of yet) or the alternative is to buy a new PC/laptop with Windows 10 pre-installed. So should you upgrade or not? While Microsoft will declare many new features and benefits around functionality, speed and security which for majority of users is irrelevant the single reason to upgrade in our opinion is Windows 8.0 or 8.1. Windows 8.0 and 8.1 is not a pleasant experience for the business desktop user due to its metro style interface and the removal of the start button. Windows 8.0 and 8.1 was more tablet focused and forget about the business desktop user. Windows 10 however solves this and puts the business desktop users back into the user experience again. The Windows start button is back and while its more modern than Windows 7, Windows 10 in our opinion combines the best of Windows 7 and 8 to give a singular device wide experience for every user including desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile. In our opinion if you are using Windows 8.0 or 8.1 you should upgrade to benefit from a better desktop experience. If you are using Windows 7 then it’s a matter of preference. What you need to consider before upgrading? While system requirements for Windows 10 is minimal for a modern desktop PC, you need at least 16GB of free disk space. The most important thing to consider are the applications you run and do they support Windows 10? (eg. Sage, Quickbooks,...
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We’re hiring a .Net Developer

The HCS Software Division is a growing team of software developers who specialise in delivering custom applications on behalf of a number of national and multinational customers. We place a strong emphasis on cloud and mobility and therefore work with the latest in Microsoft technologies to deliver our vision of producing quality software that delivers for our customers. HCS uses the Microsoft development stack of Office 365, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Azure, .NET and SQL. HCS Business Solutions is looking for a .NET Developer based in our Waterford office to add to our growing software team. Scope of role The role is to develop, test, document and implement custom applications within agreed deadlines to the required standard in order to meet the functional requirements set by our Customers. Key skills Primary responsibility for the design, development and deployment of software solutions and components based on Microsoft Technologies. Development of Custom SharePoint Web Parts. Developing applications from detailed design specifications. Ability to liaise with clients during the development life cycle. Experience/Skills: At least 2 years design and development experience using Microsoft based tools & frameworks such as: C#, ASP.NET, MVC. Experience of using SharePoint 2010/2013 and SharePoint Designer a distinct advantage. MS SQL Server experience essential. Web development experience. Excellent written/verbal skills. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Understanding and experience of Agile based development methodologies. Education: Relevant third level qualification in...
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New Business Phone System – Hosted or On-Premise? How can you be sure of selecting the right one?

Written by Dan Hegarty, Managed Telecommunications Expert, Director, HCS Business Solutions. E: dhegarty@hcs.ie | Dan’s LinkedIn | Dan’s Twitter Introduction Thinking about a new phone system for your business? I’ve been working with SME’s for the past 20 years and the last 10 years specifically working with new technologies that have surpassed the old telecoms systems of yesteryear which pretty much just made a basic telephone phone call! In this article I’m discussing some of the new technologies available, the functions and features, as well as some of the issues, and options available to you. I’ll be looking at the pros and cons of “Hosted versus On-Premise” and suggesting that a hybrid approach might be the smart approach. Finally we’ll look at the factors you need to be considering when choosing your new business phone system. Background For several years now, businesses have taken advantage of low cost calls via broadband connections. For old style PBXs this was possible using a “SIP gateway” to connect old PBXs to new SIP or VOIP servers. It was mostly about reducing call costs. Nowadays more and more companies are upgrading their old phone systems to IP based phone systems because with the new SIP based systems there are lots of opportunities for integration with IT systems in areas such as; • Unified Communications (Voice/Messaging/Video/Etc.) for internal and external staff • Integration with CRM databases for improved customer service • More integrated branch offices with “presence” and instant & video messaging. • Call recording. Hosted or On-Premise? When selecting a new IP phone system there are two ways you can go, “on premise” or “hosted” phone systems. What’s...
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OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Libraries where should I store my documents?

OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Libraries, where should I store my documents? This is a question that I am asked regularly and I hope to explain in a manner that makes sense. This blog is not intended to be a training manual but it will give you an idea of what each of these products look like and how you should use them.   OneDrive What is it? OneDrive is Microsoft’s FREE service for storing files in the cloud. If you sign up for a FREE Microsoft personal account to Outlook, Skype etc you automatically get 5Gb of OneDrive cloud storage. What should I use it for? To store personal documents or pictures not related to your work. How to access it? You can access it from a browser, an app on your phone or direct from your computer using the OneDrive app. From the browser –  Browse to http://www.onedrive.com and enter your personal Microsoft account credentials. This is the page you’re presented with. From your phone, tablet Install the OneDrive app on your phone from the Windows Store, Google Play or Apple App Store and when prompted enter your Microsoft personal account details to connect. This is the app you’re presented with. From your computer When you have the OneDrive app on your computer this provides an offline copy of your files meaning that changes to documents are synced between your computer and OneDrive cloud storage. (You can access the documents even if you don’t have Internet access and they will sync up later.) The OneDrive app is already installed on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Pc’s. If you don’t...
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How Can You Protect Your Business From Potentially Costly Ransomware Attacks?

This article entitled “How Can You Protect Your Business From Potentially Costly Ransomware Attacks?” was written by Sean Hegarty who is Operations Director at HCS Business Solutions. Sean holds a BSc in Law with Business, an MSc in Technology Management and has been working in the field of IT Service Management and IT Outsourcing for the past 17 years. E : shegarty@hcs.ie Sean’s LinkedIn Sean’s Twitter Introduction This year has seen a 200% increase in new ransomware which has been driven by new, hard to detect CTB-Locker ransomware family, a new ransomware family called Teslacrypt , and the emergence of new versions of CryptoWall, TorrentLocker and BandarChor. Anyone reading this may be forgiven for thinking that I’m an expert in this area, I’m not. I do however manage an IT services company which has 100’s of customers who are affected by the threat of cybercrime. As a result I’ve been reviewing recent trends with our industry partners and our technical team to see how best we can manage these very real and serious threats to our businesses. What is Ransomware? Ransomware is a malicious virus which is contracted when a user inadvertently clicks on a link on a web site or opens an email attachment resulting in their data being encrypted. The user is then asked to pay a ransom to receive a key that will decrypt the files. The ransom could be hundreds or thousands of euros and there’s usually a time deadline for the user to pay the ransom. In some cases the ransom will be paid and then the decryption process may not work entirely successfully. ...
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What are you missing? OneDrive for Business

In a recent blog on “What are you missing from Office 365 and Azure”, I mentioned a number of products and benefits that businesses should consider. I plan to delve into a number of these over the coming weeks and months, today I am concentrating on OneDrive for Business. What is OneDrive for Business? OneDrive for Business is a place where you can store, sync, and share your work documents and files.  OneDrive for Business lets you update and share your files from anywhere using any device. With your Office 365 subscription, you get a massive 1tb of storage just for you.  That’s a HUGE amount! If you already have an Office 365 subscription and are not using OneDrive for Business then starting using it today, here’s how. Sign into your Office 365 portal at http://portal.office365.com and open your app launcher in the top left hand corner and select OneDrive.   This opens OneDrive as follows…..   What can I do with OneDrive for Business? 1. I can create new documents directly in the browser. 2. I can upload documents from my computer or network. 3. I can open documents and view/edit them in the browser. 4. I can share documents with others (even those outside my organisation) and either allow them to view or edit them. 5. I can have an offline copy of all my docs available to me on my local computer by choosing the sync button. (This is my favourite feature of OneDrive for Business and it makes it very familiar and fast to work with documents.) How to Sync. When you choose to sync your OneDrive for...
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What are you missing from Office365 and Azure?

  What are you missing from Office365 and Azure? The cloud was on the ground in Waterford last week and my sense of humour got the better of me and I couldn’t help but tweet some humour for a change on the cloud! https://twitter.com/HCSBusinessSol/status/649873779695439872 Whatever about the low lying weather clouds, I hope it’s not here to stay, but the technology term “the cloud” is. HCS have been advocates of cloud computing for many years and it’s now at the forefront of every conversation we have with our customers and prospects. Our cloud offerings are all based on Microsoft, Why? 1. Microsoft’s focus is primarily on businesses. 2. Microsoft offers choice of both on premise or cloud. 3. Microsoft is the “staple diet” of the vast majority of servers and desktops so therefore it’s a natural progression to consider cloud. While some businesses have moved forward and are benefiting from Office365 and Azure, there is still a lot of you that haven’t. So what are you missing? Read below to learn what you are missing out on.     This isn’t an exhaustive list but it will give you a flavour of what you might be missing out on if you are not using Office365 or Azure.   What are you missing? Hosted Email • A more accessible and reliable email service. Office 2016 • Keep up to date with the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. on up to 5 of your devices. SharePoint • Ability for teams of people to share documents and team/project information in one location and have it accessible from anywhere, using any device, at any time. SharePoint...
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Online Data Backup – Why you need it?

This blog post entitled “Online Data Backup – Why you need it?” was written by Neil Phelan, Director at HCS Business Solutions. E: nphelan@hcs.ie. Neil’s LinkedIn ac. Neil’s Twitter ac. Introduction In a recent blog post by Sean Hegarty, he described various data backup strategies for SMB’s and why one needs to review, monitor and test your backups. My focus for this blog post is primarily on Online Data Backup for SMB’s and why you need it. If you want to see more of Sean’s post see it here. What is Online Data Backup and why you need it? Online Data Backup (or sometimes known as Cloud Backup, Remote Backup) is the backup of your data from your server or desktop into a data centre over a network connection. For most SMB’s this network connection is usually a standard broadband connection that has limited uploads speeds. While I am a huge advocate of online data backup, it is my experience that most companies only backup their most critical data online. This is usually their accounts, line of business database, payroll, important files and email. The reason for this is usually due to the limited network connection. There’s only so much data you can push up on an Irish broadband connection! By backing up only your critical data that does leave you with a requirement to backup other data and system files on your server or desktop to prevent against disaster. I will leave this for now though as on-premise backup is for another blog post in the future. With Online Data Backup, if you have a major disaster then...
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We’re Hiring

Position: Sales Support/Administration What we are looking for: We are looking for someone who can add value to our existing Sales Team in order to further develop and grow in a very competitive market. In order to succeed you will need to: • Be customer focused & have a personable telephone manner. • Have a hard working attitude and be willing to work on your own initiative. • Be willing to learn and grow as a valued member of the team. • Have excellent organizational skills and be able to manage your time efficiently. • Previous office experience would be ideal. • Must have commercial working experience. • Have an interest in IT and good working knowledge of Microsoft Office. Responsibilities: • Processing of sales quotations requests, orders and purchasing of items ensuring to secure the best prices to maximize profits. • Sourcing new products and special offers, working closely with suppliers. • Working with all other members of the financial, operations teams to ensure customers deliveries are prompt and efficient. • Assisting the Sales Account Managers to support multiple customer accounts in all areas of sales promotions and activities associated with creating additional sales and profit for the company. What we can offer: The successful candidate will gain experience in all areas of the business including Sales, Customer Service, Purchasing and Logistics in a fast paced IT environment. A fun and challenging role in a rapidly growing company in the Irish IT Sector. Send CV to...
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Data Backup Strategies for SMB’s .

This article entitled “Data Backup Strategies for SMB’s” was written by Sean Hegarty who is Operations Director at HCS Business Solutions. Sean holds a BSc in Law with Business, an MSc in Technology Management and has been working in the field of IT Service Management and IT Outsourcing for the past 17 years. E : shegarty@hcs.ie Sean’s LinkedIn Sean’s Twitter Data backup strategies for SMB’s:  How can you be sure your data will be there when you need it most?   Introduction This article is about the topic of data backup and security. I’m not discussing anything technical, I’m just addressing an area which is all too often over looked within small to medium size businesses (SMB). That is the area of regular review, monitoring and testing of your data backups so that you are 99.99% sure that you can successfully restore your data when you need it most. Case Study I assisted an SMB client recently who invested in a new data backup solution. The client spent time and effort in ensuring that the solution was set up and configured the way they wanted and they were happy. Afterwards I suggested that we should put in place REGULAR REVIEW, MONITORING AND TESTING of the backups to be sure that in the event of a problem the backup would restore successfully.  The client did not take me up on the offer and seemed satisfied to receive daily notifications about the status of the backup. This client is not alone in believing that the mere presence of a data backup system that appears to be doing its job is good...
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Will Eircode Benefit Your Business?

Ireland recently became one of the last countries in the developed world to introduce postcodes. Known as Eircode, the new postcode is different to that of most countries, in that it identifies individual buildings, but not general areas or landmarks that do not receive post. Not being able to identify an area or landmark means that Eircode is of no benefit for businesses and utilities that need to locate or track items such as telegraph poles, farm structures, waterways, road infrastructure, and many tourist attractions. However, most companies with such requirements already have their own marking system, for example bridge numbers, mileposts, and road numbering schemes mean that the National Roads Authority can identify almost every piece of road infrastructure in the country. However, your business requirement is probably to identify your own clients and where they are located. Eircode is perfect in that case. Let’s look at some of the criticism levelled at Eircode in recent days…. Eircode puts Shannon Airport in Limerick, but it’s actually in Clare This is a valid criticism but it also misses the point of a postcode. A postcode is a way of uniquely identifying a building and allowing mail to be routed to that building. A postal address is also a way of routing mail to that building. In Ireland’s case the official postal addresses are maintained by An Post and according to An Post, Shannon is in Limerick. This is probably because Shannon receives a large amount of mail and it was traditionally easier and faster to handle that volume from Limerick than from Ennis. It was An Post who put...
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Moving to the Cloud, how much does it cost?

Moving to the Cloud, how much does it cost? This is a question HCS are often asked and the following is the answer we provide. “It depends on what you mean by moving to the cloud.” “Moving to the cloud” is such a broad statement that could mean Private Cloud or Public Cloud.  Without getting over technical Private Cloud is expensive and usually reserved for bigger companies whereas Public Cloud is value for money (better term than cheap!)  Most SMB’s that HCS deal with opt to utilise Public Cloud.  (It’s a bit like the difference between owning an electricity station or buying electricity or why buy the cow when you can buy the cheese). Microsoft Office 365 is a public Cloud Service provided by Microsoft (another is Microsoft Azure) that provides a suite of services such as Exchange Online (Email), SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, OneDrive for Business, Office Software (Word Excel, PowerPoint etc.) in a monthly subscription paid for on a per user basis. From conversations with prospective Office 365 customers and industry feedback, many customers were convinced of the benefits but were very concerned about the costs of moving.  One particular prospect was being charged a monthly subscription of €31.00 to utilise the Office 365 service for email for 10 users but the cost of getting there was nearly €3,000. This cost immediately inhibited the move to the cloud and the benefits that this SMB customer could get. To help those interested in “Moving to the cloud”, HCS Business Solutions have devised a free tool that provides a fixed cost to get you there. Our Microsoft Office 365...
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How mobile technologies are transforming the way SMB’s do business.

The future of SMB’s productivity is about how our approach to technology is changing, how we are increasingly working on the move and how the idea of the office as the primary work location is no longer accepted as the conventional norm. With mobile technologies it is now possible to be connected anywhere, at any time and we can be as effective at home, at the airport or even waiting for a taxi. Once a luxury reserved for only large companies, technologies such as cloud and mobility are now available and affordable to even the smallest businesses. In many industries, these types of modern technologies are necessities for those looking to grow and gain a competitive edge. Some of our mobile technologies tips to make your life easier when working on the go: Get Office 365. The single best productivity software on the Market. Centralised cloud stored email and OneDrive for Business for your documents. It can be accessed from Office applications or any web browser you have access to. Want to always have the latest version of Office? Sign up for an inclusive plan, allowing a single user install Office on up to 5 PC’s. All you need to use any of it is a device with internet access, it’s a no brainer. Don’t travel, Video Conference. Some things just can’t be done without a face to face. Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting a face to the name, but business is always better when the other person is not just a voice in your ear. It’s not always possible though, which is why it’s worth trying a specialised conferencing solution like...
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Choosing the right Outsourced IT Partner.

This article entitled “Choosing the right Outsourced IT Partner” was written by Sean Hegarty who is Operations Director at HCS Business Solutions. Sean holds a BSc in Law with Business, an MSc in Technology Management and has been working in the field of IT Service Management and IT Outsourcing for the past 17 years. E : shegarty@hcs.ie Sean’s LinkedIn Sean’s Twitter Introduction I worked with an SME (Small to Medium Size Enterprise) last year who in my opinion suffered greatly because they chose the wrong Outsourced IT Partner. The SME in question had not considered the importance of making the right choice when it came to choosing an Outsourced IT Partner and instead had simply chosen the cheapest option at the time without considering other important factors. I’ve written this article to assist SME’s in understanding some of the issues surrounding choosing the right Outsourced IT Partner. This article will consider questions such as; • Are all IT service Companies the same? • Why do SME’s find it difficult to change Outsourced IT Partner? • What’s the difference between Professional Buyers V’s SME Buyers! • What should your Outsourced IT Partner be doing for your business? • Case Study – Small Business with 15 employees. • What’s the Opportunity cost of not choosing the right Outsourced IT Partner? • How to choose the right Outsourced IT Partner? • Top 20 questions for a prospective new Outsourced IT Partner. I will give you my top 20 questions for a prospective new Outsourced IT Partner that will ensure you leave no stone unturned in your search for the best Outsourced IT partner for your business thus ensuring that you and your...
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7 ways to use modern technology in small business as a difference maker .

In today’s global and fast-moving world, the workplace is evolving and more people than ever are working outside the office, on a range of mobile devices. Modern technology in small business brings real benefits – from cost savings and competitive advantage to increased productivity and security. It can be daunting when you look across your IT needs, there are so many technical terms and buzz-word; from servers to the cloud, PCs to mobile devices. It is hard to know where to start, and to understand how your company can transition from what you have now to where you want to be. Only Microsoft offers a complete, flexible, and trusted platform that spans the entire IT ecosystem, from server to cloud, and desktop to mobile devices. Microsoft’s Office 365 is your modern business in the cloud. Office 365 empowers SMBs by making modern technology a business advantage to achieve your business goals—whether growing sales, increasing efficiency, enabling a mobile workforce, or keeping data protected. Office 365 offers a variety of plans to fit a range of budgets. If you are interested in getting a guideline pricing to migrate to Office 365, our amazing new Microsoft Office 365 migration cost calculator will provide you with a pricing for migration and annual subscriptions cost to use Microsoft Office 365. There are 7 simple modern technology in small business steps that can be followed: Adapt to change: Move to a modern IT platform that enables you to adapt quickly to changing business needs, make sure that you are a step ahead of your competitors. More for Less: Get more from the servers that run your...
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Beware of hoax calls, scams & phishing!

There is a surge in hoax calls in Ireland at the moment, where hoaxers are claiming to be from Microsoft. This is leading to an increase in the number of Security complaints being received by Microsoft Support Centres, Reception Teams and their GetHelp. Worryingly, 30% of all March Western Europe GetHelp Security cases are from Ireland. There is also a phishing email being circulated to Partners, which claims to be from Satya Nadella. Next steps & Go Do: Please be vigilant and if asked by family, friends, customers or partners, make them aware that Microsoft never cold call or make unsolicited calls to any of our Customers. Any suspicious calls should be ended immediately. For more information on staying safe online, please direct them to www.microsoft.ie > Microsoft Computer Security link (at bottom of screen) or send the following direct link to our Microsoft Safety & Security Center: http://spr.ly/6045f2T1 On this page, there is a wide range of useful information on: – Creating Stronger Passwords – Protecting Your Information – Avoid tech support phone scams – Avoiding Scams and Hoaxes – Tips to Stay Safe Online Finally, if someone you know is the victim of a scam, please share the following link to report it to Microsoft LCA Team: http://spr.ly/6046f2TG (this is available both internally and externally). Contact us today and let us show you how to work smarter with IT – 01-8734120 | 051-595200 ...
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Windows Server 2003 End of Life – the risks of ignoring this important deadline!

For more than a decade, businesses have been leveraging Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 technologies and getting a great return on their investment. Technology has come a long way in 10 years helping businesses compete better in today’s marketplace. Support for Windows Server 2003 will end on July 14th next and after this date Microsoft will no longer issue security upgrades exposing organizations to security risks, downtime and data protection non-compliance and hackers are well aware of this. This is an investment opportunity for your company’s future and upgrading your aging servers and operating systems will protect your infrastructure, reduce costs and provide significant benefits that will outweigh the cost of upgrading and the risks of not doing so. 5 RISKS OF USING OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY: 1) System downtime as you waste time fixing IT issues instead of focusing on your business objectives 2) Increased costs as you spend time fixing IT issues instead of growing your business 3) Decreased productivity as employees work to resolve IT issues instead of focusing on business tasks 4) Security holes as outdated software leaves you more open to cyber-attacks 5) Legal compliance risks as auditors can fine companies that don’t transition from unsupported software Doing nothing is not a viable option. We believe businesses must begin planning their migration strategies now to avoid disruption. We recommend a straightforward four-step process: 1) DISCOVER: Determine which applications are running on Windows Server 2003 2) ASSESS: Categorize applications and workloads by type, importance, and degree of complexity. 3)TARGET: Choose a migration destination for each application and workload, either in the datacenter or in the cloud. 4)MIGRATE: Build...
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Microsoft Partner, HCS are recognised as Microsoft’s first Gold Status Partner in Ireland

HCS Business Solutions – a Microsoft Cloud Specialist, 2014 Global Microsoft Partner of the year Award Finalist and Outsourced IT Support company are very proud to announce we are the first Microsoft Partner in Ireland to achieve the new Microsoft Gold Competency in the “small and midmarket cloud solutions” category. This distinction is indicative of the HCS team’s training, certifications, and experience in this fast-growing market. “We are honoured to have received this Microsoft Partner recognition because it validates our commitment in providing Microsoft Cloud solutions,” said Neil Phelan, Director of HCS. “A Gold Competency continues to separate us from other Outsourced IT providers and we are committed to progressive technology, using services like Office 365 and infrastructure such as Microsoft Azure” Microsoft issues its Gold Competency to select partners that pass a series of rigorous exams, consistently demonstrate expertise in implementing Microsoft products into SMB, while also demonstrating successful implementation of Microsoft products based on customer testimonies that experienced value first hand. “These partners have a deep expertise that puts them in the top one percent of our partner ecosystem, and their proficiency will help customers drive innovative solutions on the latest Microsoft technology.” Call us today on 01 8734120 | 051 595200, or email sales@hcs.ie to arrange an appointment with HCS, Microsoft’s first Gold Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions Partner in Ireland and see how you can make technology a business advantage to achieve your business...
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Senior Microsoft Engineer – We Are Hiring

HCS are seeking a Senior Microsoft Engineer who will work in-house and on customer sites implementing Microsoft based server solutions. Current up to date Microsoft Certification is highly desirable for this position. The work will primarily be carried out on customer sites therefore driving will be an essential component of the role. A van, fuel card, laptop, and mobile phone will be provided as part of the package. Senior Microsoft engineer : Skills and Experience required: 5-7 years’ experience working as a Senior Microsoft engineer, preferably with a field engineer background. Background in design, deployment and support of Microsoft server solutions. MCSA certification and CCNA certification a distinct advantage. Experience with Office 365 Migrations an advantage. Experience with telecoms, VOIP, Unified Communications, Microsoft Lync an advantage. Knowledge of Fortinet Firewalls or similar, an advantage. Excellent knowledge of Hyper-V or competing virtualization platform. Working knowledge of LAN/WAN, WLAN. Strong analytical skills with the ability to think on your feet. Full clean driving licence. For further details, call Sean Hegarty on 087-2362420 or email your CV to...
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Windows Server 2003 end of support

Windows Server 2003 end of support is coming on July 14th, 2015. After July 14th, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003 exposing organizations to security risks, downtime and data protection non-compliance and hackers are well aware of this.. By migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure or Office 365, you can achieve concrete benefits, including improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased agility and speed of response to the business. With Windows Server 2003 end of support, now is a good time to modernize your IT. As a Microsoft Gold business partner, HCS help you by taking the following four actions: 1. DISCOVER: Determine which applications are running on Windows Server 2003 2. ASSESS: Categorize applications and workloads by type, importance and degree of complexity 3. TARGET: Choose a migration destination for each application and workload, either in the datacenter or in the cloud 4. MIGRATE: Build your migration plan and build the migration At HCS, we have helped many businesses like yours through the migration process. To help you plan your migration, contact our Microsoft certified team on 01-8734120 | 051-595200 to find out the best place to start in making technology a business...
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Why is it important that SMB’s are not using outdated technology!

Spending Money on IT solutions can be a costly outlay for small and medium businesses, so it’s easy to understand why you may want to cherish what you already know and love – but failing to keep up with the times by using outdated technology could be putting your business in danger.
Having up-to-date technology brings real benefits to SMBs – from cost-savings and competitive advantage to increased productivity and security – so read on and learn how to reap the benefits of a #ModernBiz…
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Another year on the clock: How old is your technology?

As a company boss, you’re continuing to gain experience, and all being well, your business is putting down deeper roots in the local community. Ideally, your company will keep growing as it matures. You should be updating your products and services regularly to keep up with industry rivals and doing all you can to meet consumer needs. This can help you attract and retain their custom, ensuring the business is sustainable for the long term. Age and business experience can certainly be assets for your company, but there can also be problems with the passage of time. Because as the company ages another year, so does your technology and infrastructure – unless you keep investing. And the longer businesses persist with older, legacy solutions, the less value they tend to add. IT is advancing rapidly When did your company last upgrade its hardware and software? If the upgrade process happened in the last couple of years – meaning you’re already using Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Office 365 and the like – you’ve got little to worry about. But if you’ve been running your company for five or ten years, and failed to upgrade your technology since you started, the chances are you’re missing out on significant value with each day, week and month that passes. The rapid pace of innovation within the technology sector means new, advanced solutions are arriving on the market all the time. These are geared at reducing costs, boosting productivity and adding value to businesses. Keeping your IT up-to-date allows your business to benefit from the latest services and delivery models, and there’s little...
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Waterford Business Expo

HCS will be attending the first Waterford Business Expo to be held on Tuesday 9th September 2014 at the Tower Hotel, Waterford from 5pm-9pm. The event which is organised by Waterford Chamber. The event will include exhibit stands from over 50 local businesses across a wide variety of business sectors in Waterford, including Insurance, Financial, Training, Leisure, Transport, Travel, Health and Beauty, Marketing and PR, Hotels, Fashion, IT, Food and Drink, Photography, Website Design and Hosting, Motors, Household and Interior Design. This event will help businesses concentrate on building beneficial relationships, meet new business prospects, generate leads, network and learn about new products and services.” Entry to the Waterford Business Expo is free of charge and The Chamber’s open invitation is extended to everyone, businesses and public alike. As a certified Microsoft Gold Small Business partner with a speciality in Office 365 and Microsoft Cloud Services, HCS have the expertise, experience and the knowledge to help you on your journey to the cloud with Microsoft Office 365. Call in to the Waterford Business Expo to meet us on the evening and let us show you how to work smarter with IT. For further details on this event see http;//www.waterfordchamber.ie...
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Managed IT Services Contract awarded to HCS

“HCS BUSINESS SOLUTIONS AWARDED EDUCATION AND TRAINING BOARD MANAGED IT SERVICES CONTRACT. Q2/2014. Following a competitive national tender, HCS Business Solutions has been awarded the Managed IT services contract to provide IT support services to the Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board. (WWETB) Won through the etenders.ie public sector e-procurement web site, the contract will see HCS providing WWETB with a comprehensive managed IT services contract covering multiple site locations and over 50 individual organisations across the breadth of both counties from Lismore in Co.Waterford to Wexford town and up to Bunclody, Co.Wexford. HCS are providing support to just under 8,000 hardware items across all sites as well as proactive remote IT monitoring and support services to servers, backups and critical devices. “This is a significant Managed IT Services contract and an important win for HCS. It demonstrates the high quality of our services and our ability to compete successfully on a national level. We are delighted to be working with the WWETB.” Sean Hegarty, Director of HCS. Call us today on 01-8734120|051-595200 to discuss your businesses IT requirements and see how HCS can manage your IT and let you focus on your business. Find our more about our Outsourced IT Services....
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HCS showcase wares at Microsoft’s WPC event in Texas.

This week, eight Irish technology companies are showcasing their applications, technology tools and cloud-based services at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston, Texas. Enterprise Ireland is sponsoring the visit of the Irish firms who are looking to forge new global business alliances. The WPC event, which kicked off yesterday, will run until 11 July. The conference is expected to attract some 16,000 technology leaders from 50 countries. Nurturing global digital innovation – goal: The group of eight Irish application developers and technology service providers at the WPC has a goal in mind – to build alliances and expand global distribution channels. Keith Byrne, trade development executive at Enterprise Ireland, said these technology companies represent the best of Irish innovation. The WPC will provide an opportunity for these companies to reach out to Microsoft’s global reselling channel and demonstrate the value they can deliver to their customers, he said. The Irish tech companies that are in Houston are: • HCS Business Solutions – This start-up delivers software, infrastructure and IT services, including Office 365, SharePoint Online and Exchange Online, to businesses of all sizes in Ireland. • Global Business Register – The company provides a gateway to official, live data on more than 55m companies across the European Union and the US, in 20 different languages. • iQuate – Around for some time now, iQuate has developed a software licence discovery platform that aims to optimise licensing and reduce costs, especially in data centres. • AppQuik – An enterprise app platform that aims to allow organisations of all sizes to design, build and deploy apps across iOS, Android and Windows Phone8 simultaneously....
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HCS Achieves a Microsoft Gold Small Business Competency.

HCS Business Solutions are very proud and excited to announce that in recognition of our Office365 and Microsoft Cloud expertise, we are the first Microsoft Partner in Ireland to achieve the new Microsoft Gold Small Business competency. This is a significant recognition of our expertise and track record in deploying Microsoft solutions that fit the needs of Small to Medium sized organisations in Ireland. To achieve a Microsoft gold competency, partners must successfully complete exams (resulting in Microsoft Certified Professionals) to prove their level of technology expertise, and then designate these certified professionals uniquely to one Microsoft competency, ensuring a certain level of staffing capacity. They also must submit customer references that demonstrate successful projects (along with implementing a yearly customer satisfaction study), meet a revenue commitment (for most gold competencies), and pass technology and/or sales assessments. “This Microsoft Gold Small Business competency showcases our expertise in and commitment to today’s technology market and demonstrates our deep knowledge of Microsoft and its products,” said Neil Phelan, Director, HCS Business Solutions. “We plan to accelerate our customers’ success by serving as technology advisors for their business demands.” Earning the Microsoft Small Business competency demonstrates partner expertise and commitment to deliver solutions tailored to Small Business customer requirements. Given the focus on adoption of Cloud computing by over 50% of SMBs in the near future to drive their business operations, partners that invest in this competency are ready to address the rising customer demand for Microsoft cloud solutions based on Office 365, Windows 8, Windows Small Business Server, Windows Intune and CRM Online. Call us today to speak to one of our...
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