You may have heard that Microsoft is increasing the price of Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions in March 2022.

Microsoft has invested in these products over the last decade, with the addition of apps such as Teams, OneDrive, Planner and Power Apps. The business has also made general improvements in security and compliance, communication, collaboration, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.

This change will go into effect on 1st March 2022 and the increases are expected to be around 20% (in addition to the monthly rolling 20% price rise) but exact figures are yet to be confirmed.

How First Class can help.
We may be able to extend the current pricing further, to help you beat the price increase if you renew before 1st March 2022.


If you take no action, the price of your Microsoft and Office 365 will increase.


If you’d like to discuss this, just get in touch with the First Class team at 01543 414152.

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In today’s world of data breaches and cyber security concerns, we all want to build in extra layers of security when it comes to protecting our data.

And that’s where Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) comes in.

So what exactly is MFA?

In simple terms, MFA adds an extra layer of security onto your passwords, which is useful when you log into different online accounts.

It’s an essential element that can be utilised to help keep your data safe from cyberattack.

MFA works by requesting extra layers of verification during sign in, including information you know (like a password), information you have (like One-Time Passwords (OTP) generated by smartphone apps) and information that is unique to you, such as biometrics including face or fingerprint scans.

There are three types of MFA that can be used.

The first is 2-Factor Authentication (2FA). 2FA requests 2 forms of verification credentials, for example a password and an OTP.

Second is Location-based Authentication. This looks at where you are and reviews your IP address. For example, when you access your account from a different location than usual, you will be prompted to add extra verification.

And last is Risk-based Authentication (RBA). This works by looking at additional factors like context and behaviour, and then uses these values to assess the risk. For example, logging on to your banking app abroad may prompt extra security questions.

The various forms of MFA are regularly used by individuals, for example, your internet banking app may require MFA, as sometimes does Facebook.

More and more companies are starting to incorporate MFA into their login procedures. For example, there’s an option to use MFA with Microsoft365 (formerly known as Office365). Microsoft has its own authenticator app (Microsoft Authenticator App) which can be downloaded to a smartphone. The code that is required to complete the MFA is auto generated and changes every 30 seconds.

Using MFA with your Microsoft 365 account can provide extra security and peace of mind, however, think carefully before you install it to ensure it won’t cause you any problems operationally.

Before you activate anything, it’s wise to give First Class Technologies a call, so we can help you understand the pros and cons of setting up MFA with your Microsoft365 account. Just call 01543 414152 for a chat and more information.

Multi Form Authentication
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At First Class Technologies, we like to make life as easy as possible for our clients.

We pride ourselves on not baffling clients with jargon, as the IT industry has a lot of terminology that doesn’t mean much to the average business owner!

That’s why we’ve put together this handy cloud computing glossary, to provide you with a useful resource to refer to, should you ever need more clarification about cloud computing. But don’t forget we’re always on the end of the phone should you prefer to ask us something directly!

Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS)

The provider handles the tasks that are needed in order to have uninterrupted web or mobile applications. These typically include Data management, APIs, databases, file storage, login authentication, social media integration, infrastructure, email and push notifications.

Data Migration

The process of moving data from a source to a destination system.

Database

An organised collection of data.

Elasticity

A host system will automatically scale up or down to meet your workload to ensure you always have enough resource.

Enterprise Application

A large software system designed for use by a large scale organisation.

Infrastructure

The combined components needed to operate and manage a business’s computing environment.

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

A third-party IT service provider hired to maintain and manage your IT systems on your behalf.

Platform

The host all software/applications run from.

Vertical Cloud

A cloud computing system built for the needs of a specific business sector, for example the compliance and security needs of governments.

Virtual Machine (VM)

A software based computer that runs on a shared hardware platform. A VM provides a full server / client experience but at a lower cost as multiple VM’s can be run on a single host platform.

Applications

Often shortened these days to apps, applications are essentially pieces of software. There are desktop applications we use on our computers/laptops that are used only on that device (like Microsoft Word) or there are cloud based apps (like OneDrive) that can operate through the internet.

Archiving

Long term data storage solution. You can free up space in your drives by ‘archiving’ old information securely.

AWS (Amazon Web Services)

AWS is part of the Amazon group. They provide on demand cloud computing services. Services include storage, databases, analytics and networking.

Backup

Backing up your data/information helps keep it secure and available in case of data loss. Backups stored in the cloud are held in data-centres off site.

Big Data

Extremely large amounts of data that, when analysed provide more accurate answers because there is more information to base the decisions on.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

When employees use their own devices for business purposes, for example using their own laptops or mobile phones as opposed the devices the companies provide.

Caching

A temporary storage area. For example if you return to a web page you have previously viewed, the browser can retrieve content such as images from the cache rather than the original server, allowing the page to load much more quickly.

Cloud

A collection of servers which store data and are accessed over the internet. The servers are located globally allowing users to access information from anywhere.

CaaS (Cloud as a Service)

The combined offerings of companies such as Microsoft (Azure) and Amazon (Amazon Web Services) where cloud based platform, software and Infrastructure services can be purchased to host your IT needs.

CaaS (Containers as a Service)

A cloud-based service which allows software developers to upload, organise, run, scale, manage and stop containers by using container-based virtualisation.

Cloud Computing

The delivery of services (e.g. networking, software and databases) through the internet.

Cloud Hosting

Where applications and websites are hosted through the cloud via a network of servers and accessed through the internet.

Cloud Platform

The operating system and hardware of a server in an Internet-based data centre.

Cloud Backup

The process of backing up data to a remote, cloud-based server.

Cloud Migration

The process of transferring data from on-site hardware to the cloud.

DaaS (Desktop as a Service)

Gives the end user the functionality of a desktop computer via virtual desktops over the internet using the cloud

Data Centre

A facility that houses IT equipment such as a large network of servers.

Data Redundancy

When the same piece of data is stored in two or more separate places.

DR (Disaster Recovery)

A plan that a business has in the event of a disaster to aid in business continuity.

DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service)

A service that backs up all your data up to protect it in case of disaster.

Enterprise Cloud Hosting

Where a business accesses its virtualised IT resources remotely over the internet. Resources include Servers, Processing Power (CPU), networking infrastructure and data storage. Services are purchased from a public or private cloud service provider on a pay per use basis. Benefits include a move from capex to opex finance model where money is no longer spent on hardware and the business only pays for what it uses.

Google Cloud Platform

Cloud service hosted by Google.  See Cloud as a Service (CaaS)

Hybrid Cloud

A service that uses both public and private clouds to create optimum workflow.
Hybrid cloud allows a business to host some services in the cloud to leverage cost savings but also host other services, which may need a more secure operating environment or greater governance to be hosted in private, dedicated data-centres.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

Provides on-demand cloud computer services. Companies can rent a server and run operating systems on it without costing them to maintain or operate it.

When purchasing Iaas the vendor is responsible for the hardware and infrastructure that the operating system runs on. The customer is responsible for the operating system and everything that sits on it, e.g. applications, patching, antivirus etc.

MaaS (Monitoring as a Service)

A cloud based service that monitors other services and applications in the cloud to ensure performance.

Managed DRaaS

Managed DRaaS replicates the hosting of virtual servers in the cloud to provide failover in the event of a disaster, allowing data to be replicated onto another cloud-based server to prevent any information loss.

Managed Cloud Hosting

When a cloud is managed by a 3rd party provider.

MSP (Managed Service Provider)

An IT service provider that can manage your network, applications and system services across a network.

Microsoft365

The latest subscription service offered by Microsoft, which includes Microsoft Office products such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint.  This is an example of Software as a Service (SaaS).

Microsoft Azure

A cloud-based platform that offers products and services.  See Cloud as a Service (CaaS)

MDM (Mobile Device Management)

Software to securely monitor and manage both corporate and BYOD (bring your own devices) such as laptops and mobiles that are used by employees.

MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching)

Forwarding technology for your data which increases the speed and controls the flow of network traffic.

Multicloud

Multiple clouds which can be from more than 1 cloud service provider – either public or private.

Offsite storage

Where your data is stored on a remote server at another premises, to ensure easy recovery and create data redundancy.

On-Premise

All IT infrastructure housed in the same building as a business operates from.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)

Where a third party provider hosts a platform designed to support the whole website application cycle, for example building/testing/deploying. This leaves the customer to focus on development.

POD (Platform On-Demand)

An on-demand service that allows the user to create its own virtual server.

Private Cloud

A cloud computing service that is only available to those within the organisation and not the general public. Private clouds allow for greater control over system security.

Public Cloud

A cloud computing service that is offered by alternative service providers over the internet and become available to users on a pay-as-you-go basis.

SaaS (Software as a Service)

A cloud based service where you access applications through a browser and not desktop.

SmartStac

SmartStac™ Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is Synextra’s public cloud platform designed for low-cost, agile, application and cloud hosting.

Virtual Desktop

Where all the parts of the desktop that is usually stored on your computer is solely stored in the cloud.

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure)

Allows your usual desktop to be stored in the cloud. It hosts the desktop on a server and sends them to users as and when they are requested. This is done securely and efficiently.

Veeam

A private software company that offers backup, recovery and data management solutions that deliver Modern Data Protection.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)

Software that allows you to make calls over the internet rather than use the regular/analogue phone line system.

XaaS (Anything as a Service)

A general service which would include the vast number of products and service that are available across the industry.

Zerto

A private company that strives to provide uninterrupted technology services, particularly for industries like healthcare and airline travel which helps with disaster recovery, backup and data mobility.

if you are looking for a clear and transparent IT service that won’t get you tied up in industry jargon then contact First Class Technologies today. Just call 01543 414152 or email sales@firstclass.tech

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Business owners sometimes assume that their Microsoft 365 data is safe, either that it gets dealt with as part of other backup processes, or that Microsoft looks after it.


Unfortunately, that’s not the case!


Microsoft 365 data often isn’t covered by general backups, and, whilst Microsoft ensures your data stays safe when it is in the data centre, it is unable to protect you from any data loss due to errors in your company, such as an employee accidentally deleting a file, a malicious action, hacking, ransomware or other such issues.


This is why third-party backup and restore solutions are required, to help protect your business from loss of data and downtime, and provide accurate and reliable data restore options.


At First Class Technologies, we’re able to offer a solution to help you:

• Retain and archive critical data for compliance purposes
• Protect against data loss
• Provide automated and on-demand back-up to give you ultimate control
• Easily manage Microsoft Exchange, One-Drive and SharePoint backups.
• Preserve email data of former employees
• Back up multiple times a day
• Keep data for between 1 and 7 years, depending on your system.


To find out more, just call 01543 414152 or email sales@firstclass.tech

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A warranty for your server is worth every penny when it comes to protecting the productivity and integrity of your business. It goes without saying that, if your business server is not covered under warranty, then the manufacturer is not obliged to repair or replace any part of the server in the event of failure.

Whilst warranty cover is undoubtedly an extra cost to your business, you need to consider it as an investment in your business continuity. And when you think of it in these terms, server warranty is priceless.

In today’s modern business environment, a server is a critical component, as it’s the backbone of your computer network.

A server failure could mean that a company may no longer have access to some or all of its IT functions and business data. This downtime could result in hours of lost productivity, where staff may be unable to help with client enquiries, potentially affecting customer satisfaction levels and putting a company’s credibility and reputation at risk.

Plus, without warranty, it may be necessary to try to source the required parts, causing a delay to the server repair and extending the downtime, or even requiring the purchase of a new server if the parts prove to be unavailable.

It’s important to understand the big picture around server warranty, to enable the right decision to be made for each business.

The good news is that First Class is able to offer affordable, extended cover to take over once the manufacturer’s support has elapsed.

To find out more, just get in touch for a no-obligation chat by emailing sales@firstclass.tech or calling 01543 414152.

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If you’re running an old version of Outlook, you may wish to investigate what version you’re using, as Microsoft has recently confirmed new minimum Outlook requirements for Microsoft 365.


After 1st November 2021, only Outlook 2013 Service Pack 1 (with latest fixes) and later will be able to connect to Microsoft 365 services.


So, if you’re still running Outlook 2007, 2010 or an earlier version of Office 2013 then you need to start making a plan!


If you’re still running older versions, or if you aren’t sure what version you’re running, feel free to give First Class Technologies a call on 01543 414152 or email sales@firstclass.tech and we’ll help you understand your options.

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First Class Technologies was proud to be the main sponsor for a Classic Car Tour organised by Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire Car Club, which raised over £1000 for The Community Foundation for Staffordshire.

Over 70 vehicles joined the inaugural Cannock Chase Classic Car Tour, travelling over 80 miles across Staffordshire, through Cannock Chase and the Black Country from Lichfield before finishing via Stafford in Rugeley on Sunday 13th June. Organisers have handed over a cheque for £1,000 to the Community Foundation to help support voluntary groups across the county.

Guests at the start of the tour, including (from left) Richard Hinton (First Class Technologies), Charles Hanson (TV celebrity & auctioneer), Simon Price (Trustee We Love Lichfield), Mike Broad (former World Rally Championship co-driver) and Faye Williams (Community Foundation).

TV celebrity and auctioneer Charles Hanson flagged off every single vehicle from the Bowling Green Pub in Lichfield and then welcomed drivers back to his new Staffordshire auction house in Rugeley for afternoon tea.

The Community Foundation for Staffordshire is a team of professional local community fund and grant managers. Non-profit making, they create and administer benevolent funds and grant giving schemes for philanthropists, business, central Government, and local authorities. They give away over £1m every year to voluntary organisations and charities. Based in Stafford they are ideally placed to manage funds and grants across county.

Before the pandemic scores of organisations held events across the county to raise money for the Community Foundation to distribute to voluntary groups. This important source of income was lost due to Covid and as restrictions are eased, individuals and companies are encouraged to raise money through safe events, within coronavirus guidelines.

Richard Hinton of First Class Technologies and main sponsor said: “Last year, in the depths of the pandemic I had the idea of a car rally across Staffordshire. The event was literally stop start for many months due to Covid, but what a way to celebrate the easing of restrictions. I’m delighted to hand over the money on behalf of drivers, passengers, time-keepers and spectators with special thanks to Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire Car Club who helped in the organisation of the inaugural Cannock Chase Classic Car Tour…yes, the first of many.”

Richard Hinton, MD of First Class Technologies handing over the cheque to Faye Williams of The Community Foundation for Staffordshire.

Faye Williams of the Community Foundation for Staffordshire said: “It was an amazing spectacle to see so many beautiful cars leave Lichfield in bright sunshine, then passing the finish line in the amazing surroundings of Bishton Hall. A memorable day, great fun and a huge thank you to all involved who have raised vital funds that will help voluntary groups across the county. Particular thanks to Richard Hinton of First Class Technologies for coming up with the idea, sponsoring and organising the event. Also, to Charles Hanson for his kind hospitality at Bishton Hall.”

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Nearly six years on from the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has unveiled the Windows 11 operating system.


Windows 11 features a fresh, more modern design and some new features, including new ways to connect to your favourite news, games and content. Users of Windows 11 will need to get used to having the START menu centrally situated, after it has lived in the bottom left-hand corner for so many years.


Microsoft reported that Windows 11 will be available as a free download for existing Windows users. At the launch on Thursday 24th June 2021, Microsoft stated that the upgrade will begin to roll out to eligible Windows 10 PCs later this year and will continue into 2022. No specific dates have yet been announced.


First Class Technologies is in the process of evaluating the system and will be helping clients transition to Windows 11. The hardware specification is not demanding, but careful consideration needs to be taken before deploying it, to ensure a smooth roll out.


First Class Technologies will be able to run a check on your PCs, to make sure they have the correct requirements to run Windows 11, as machines must have a trusted platform module (TPM) installed for the new operating system to work.

If you are interested in this next generation of Windows, or if you haven’t yet updated to Windows 10 and would like to make the switch to prepare your machines for the Windows 11 upgrade, please get in touch with First Class Technologies.

If you’d like a sneak peek, visit Microsoft Windows 11 introductory video.

Windows 11
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Whether you are working from home or a busy office, it is easy to feel under pressure when taking telephone calls.

There is something about a telephone conversation that can put you on the spot. Perhaps it is the lack of visual input because you can’t see each other’s faces or body language.

In a face to face conversation, you can frown or look up to show that you are thinking about your response. On the telephone, there is just silence, so there can be a tendency to keep talking to bridge the gap.

It is important to keep a clear head in a telephone conversation. Give yourself time to think, especially if you are being asked to give out any personal data, even to confirm or deny information that relates to clients, customers or colleagues.

A useful tip to get a minute or two to think is to say that you need to check the situation with a colleague or manager. Another good tip, if you are in doubt as to whether or not you should pass on information, is not to do it. Ask the caller to put their request in writing, on headed notepaper if it is an organisation rather than an individual.

Trust your instincts. You will know the routine data disclosures that are made as part of your job. So, if a request is out of the ordinary, that is enough to warn you that you should take extra care in your responses.

Article courtesy of Mandy P Webster, Data Protection Consulting Limited

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Interactive electronic whiteboards offer many benefits to teachers and pupils in today’s smart classroom environment, but in the current climate, with COVID-19, self-isolation and online learning affecting day-to-day classroom activities, digital whiteboard technology can really come into its own. 

Interactive whiteboards with touchscreen displays can make a huge difference to education, allowing teachers and lecturers to connect with students whether they’re in class or at home, helping to increase student performance and comprehension.

One of the greatest benefits of this smart classroom technology is that it offers the ability to save, re-play and share entire lessons on screen. Not only does this allow teachers to pre-plan lesson content, including any corresponding videos, images and tasks, but also allows any self-isolating students access to the recording. This offers a relatively simple solution for what is becoming an ever-increasing occurrence. Smart whiteboard technology allows those children who can’t come into the classroom the chance to still learn and engage with the same materials as their attending classmates.

A digital whiteboard also offers the ability for students to engage with their learning much more deeply than they would ever be able to if they just had access to notes. These days, interactive whiteboards are an essential tool for delivering online e-lessons, offering a seamless presenting solution to deliver smooth, organised lessons to keep students engaged.

In the digital classroom, with internet connectivity allowing access to endless online resources and technology, there are now countless ways to collaborate with students in schools, colleges and universities. Smart, interactive whiteboards can help bring lessons to life no matter what the circumstances, or where the students are viewing from.

To learn more about the types and ranges of smart, digital whiteboards available, just get in touch with First Class Technologies on 01543 414152.

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