Monthly Archives: August 2017

  • What's The Difference Between Exchange Online Plan 1 and Plan 2?

    Microsoft Exchange Online

    Microsoft exchange online offers businesses fully-hosted email plans complete with online calendars and contacts. Access your data from anywhere with technology based off of Microsoft’s popular exchange server. The most significant attribute of exchange online is the hosted nature of emails which enable the services to be accessed through Wide Area Network(WAN). In turn, there are no packages to configure and deploy. Setup is easy. In fact, no physical servers are needed whatsoever. This greatly reduces the capital required for enterprise-grade email management.


    Exchange online comes with all Office 365 Subscriptions that include email services. It also comes separately as a standalone package. Exchange online is for customers who are in need of only the hosted exchange service without the add-ons. There are mainly two different exchange online subscriptions: exchange online plan 1 and exchange online plan 2.

    Exchange Online Plan 1 is the cheaper of the two plans. This plan offers a secure corporate email for as low as $4.00/user per month. Each user is provided with 50 GB of inbox storage and can send messages up to 150 MB. All of the features like inbox management, sharing of calendars and contacts is available. Inbox management uses machine learning algorithms to clear up clutter from the inbox just the way you want. This service automatically moves the old message from the inbox to In-place archive automatically to clear up clutter. This plan comes with web based email support, Outlook support is not included.

    Exchange Online Plan 2 is twice expensive then the Plan 1. It costs $8.00/user per month but with the extra cost a couple of handy feature like Data Loss Prevention(DLP), voicemail and practically unlimited storage. The size of the inbox for each user is increased from 50 GB to 100 GB. The primary storage is only limited by this space, the In-Place Archive has unlimited storage. Additionally, the In-Place Hold feature allows the users to protect deleted and edited mailbox items from primary mailbox and In-Place Archives. Unified messaging reports and inactive mailboxes are also available unlike plan 1. The built-in DLP allows the protection of sensitive information through rigorous deep-content analysis based on Personal Identifiable Information(PII) and Payment Card Industry(PCP). Plan 2 also comes with hosted voice mail which allow the user to answer calls with added features like dial-in user interface and automated attendants. Plan 2 also comes with only web based email support.

    Both Plan 1 and Plan 2 come with bleeding edge security measures. Every mailbox is protected with anti-malware and anti-spam protection. For more information on exchange online pricing and migrations, speak to a migrations expert to discuss your options.

    Find a customized solution for your needs. Royal Discount is a Certified Microsoft Partner and Cloud Solutions Provider specializing in mailbox and 365 migrations. To request a quote, or to speak to our sales & support team, contact us here.

  • How Does Cloud Migration Work?

    The Journey from On-Prem to the Cloud

    For most of human history, information was stored in nothing other than our minds and memories. But then came the development of spoken language, then written language, and then mass-production via the printing press. Then, in the 20th Century, the development of computing language enabled us to store more information in a finite space than ever before. But as we move further into the information era, the ways in which we store data continue to evolve at an almost alarming rate. As the “cloud” continues to advance in practical use and functionality, an increasing number of businesses—small and large alike—are participating in the data storage revolution.

    The use of “cloud” storage data, though still dependent on the use of a “ground” server to function, has essentially exhausted the material limitations of the past. Though at first the use of cloud networks was something whose use was limited for only the largest data companies (such as Google, IBM, and Microsoft), now, businesses of any size can participate in the secure use of cloud storage. As businesses and individuals continue to attest, the potential benefits from doing switching to a cloud network are not something that ought to be ignored.

    Migrated Cloud Users Working Together

    What are the benefits of storing data in the cloud?

    The first reason that many businesses are switching to cloud based systems is that it saves them a substantial amount on costs. Cloud-based technology enables companies to minimize (or avoid altogether) the costs of having to run their own servers, rent server space in inconvenient warehouses, and maintain a constant reliance on the use of cables, chords, and other data storage materials.

    Furthermore, cloud-based technology is not entirely dependent on any particular server and this offers both companies and individuals an additional sense of security. Before, many companies would be unwittingly forced to accept the risk that if one particular server were to crash, all of their valuable data could be lost. Sure, these companies could indeed back up their data on another server. But even when doing so, they still could not avoid the risk that the kinds of events causing their primary server to crash could also cause their back up servers to crash as well—hence, the cloud was developed.

    By using a cloud, data is securely stored in a way that is independent of any particular server, and therefore, the risk of it being lost is substantially decreased. Companies that switch to a cloud-based system, ultimately, are more secure, less expensed, and able to access their information from anywhere they may want to.

    What are the different stages of digital transformation?

    Transitioning from a traditional data storage systems to a cloud-based system is a very accessible process that, for some, may seem surprisingly simple.

    • Design- the process begins by examining the company’s specific needs, and declaring the applications that are most important. The cloud provider than creates a plan that will roadmap the optimal combination of capacity, security, speed, accessibility, and price. Most cloud platforms can be considered to be ‘hybrid’ varieties since—because different businesses have different needs—customization is usually the best approach.
    • Migration- in the digital transformation process, migration is the phrase used to describe when the data moves from the ground system to the cloud. The migration process is usually a collaborative effort between the cloud provider and the company’s IT network to assure that nothing gets lost and the transition is as smooth as possible.
    • Continued Innovation- even once the cloud system has been implemented, it can still be improved over time. Because these networks have such a degree of flexibility, the company running the cloud can continue to learn by experience and adapt appropriately.

    If you or your company are looking to switch to a cloud-based system, it is important to find a cloud service provider that is trustworthy and willing to adapt to your needs. Royal Discount is a Microsoft Certified partner specializing in Cloud Migrations, Service & Support. For more information on cloud services, or to speak to a infrastructure as a service expert, contact us direct.

  • Cloud Market Battle: Amazon vs Microsoft vs Google

    Microsoft’s Cloud Business is Growing Faster than Both Amazon and Google

    The progressive shift towards cloud-based networks has sparked a great deal of competition among potential network providers who dominate the industry. Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have all established themselves at the top of an increasingly crowded market, and though Amazon still maintains the largest share of the market between these three, Microsoft is ambitiously catching up.

    There are many reasons the industry hierarchy is constantly shifting. Here’s a look at these companies’ recent developments:

    • Microsoft- the company’s Intelligent Cloud division—which includes Azure and various other cloud services—was pleased to announce a 93% growth figure for the first quarter of 2017. Furthermore, the company’s commercial cloud business has achieved an impressive annual figure of $15.2 billion. These rates make the company the fastest growing in the market, and it is expected to continue to increase its share as its network is further refined over time.
    • Amazon- some figures claim that Amazon has upwards of a 40% share of the public cloud services market—substantially more than Google, IBM, and Microsoft combined. This is largely because, as a company, Amazon was among the first to exploit the market and continue producing high quality products. The 40% figure, however, is one that is likely to decline as industry competition begins to wear on.
    • Google- first and foremost, Google is an advertising company, but the rest of the company—largely enhanced by its increased provision of cloud networks—witnessed an improvement in sales revenues by nearly 50% in the first quarter of this year. The $3.1 billion yielded from these efforts is indeed an impressive figure, though still comparatively less than Microsoft.

    As time goes on, and the innovations created by one company challenge and inspire innovation to occur among others, it seems these companies will each inevitably be driven to some form of specialization. Furthermore, companies cannot forget the constant market presence that is held by IBM and other domestic producers. Nor can they ignore the increase in competition that is being posed by foreign providers—particularly those headquartered in China and Europe.


    microsoft cloud environment

    So, why is Microsoft experiencing the fastest rate of growth?

    The competition among these industry titans is intense, and each considers even a fractional gain of the market share to be a victory in and of itself. But Microsoft has been doing particularly well lately, and this is largely due to the popularity and usefulness of its newly developed cloud building platform Azure. Azure has been distinctively recognized as being business-friendly, easy to transition to, and capable of increasing both organizational efficiency and capacity.

    While Google’s revenue is predominantly produced from advertising (over 80% of all revenues as of Q1 2017), it has not been nearly as invested in its cloud platform as Microsoft has. Similarly, Amazon is a company whose AWS may maintain the largest market share in the status quo, but the company is largely invested elsewhere. Microsoft, on the other hand, has been comparatively able to specialize and develop Azure to make it the cloud platform of choice for new and expanding businesses.

    Considering that it is typically businesses that make up the majority of the demand for cloud networks, it is unsurprising that Microsoft’s conscious effort to appeal to their needs has been rewarded in the form of an increased share of the market. As technology continues to change, there is no doubt that more businesses will be looking for more complex and integrative IT solutions. As expected, the cloud networks of Amazon and Google are briskly expanding, but the network produced by Microsoft can be expected to grow at an even greater rate.

    For more information on Microsoft Cloud Services, contact Royal Discount today. Call us direct for a one on one licensing consultation - 1-877-292-7712.

  • How to Face a Microsoft Audit

    What Happens During a Microsoft Audit?

    It is no secret that most organizations dread software audits. Consequences for failed audits could mean hefty fees. Preparation can be time consuming and frustrating. The benefits of audits are seldom discussed and understanding these benefits, such as lowering costs by getting rid of unused licenses, can relieve some of the frustration that comes from audit preparation.

    The fact stands that every company has a right to protect their intellectual property. Microsoft is listed as one of five companies most likely to perform an audit. A Microsoft audit will not only benefit Microsoft, but will benefit your company by maximizing your current license position.

    As Microsoft tends to prevail in most audit conversations, it’s important to understand its audit process, along with the benefits. When Microsoft requests an audit, it is impossible to tell the reasons behind the request. In most cases, they will not take legal action against you and are just trying to verify that the company is “right licensed”.



    Types of Audits

    There are four types of requests that you may receive and they go as follows. You will get an email request to self-audit and reply to the email stating that you have performed a self-audit and believe you are in compliance or you will receive a letter or email requesting a self-audit including documents to fill out sent by the SAM manager, you will receive a letter. If compliance is still questioned, Microsoft might take more serious action.

    You could receive an email or phone call requesting to do an audit on behalf of Microsoft, or you will receive a letter or email from Microsoft Legal and Corporate Affairs, which could indicate that your company is on the verge of getting sued.

    Microsoft audits are a way to make sure that all the copies of the installed software in a company is licensed. In addition, they minimize the spread of viruses that can come from uncontrolled software copies. Though failing an audit might lead to fees, the audit itself can save a company from prosecution due to software theft. Overall, the Microsoft auditing process can be beneficial if the proper precautions are taken to prepare.

    How to Escape from a Microsoft Audit

    Royal Discount will never disclose private, personal or business information to Microsoft to initiate an audit. Our services are 100% confidential, and we can often negotiate a position for those who have already received a self-audit letter. Audits are initiated directly by Microsoft through their proprietary systems. These systems look for various red flags. These red flags are what initiate an audit. An example of a red flag event would be not investing in CALs with the purchase of SQL Server or Windows Server (if needed). For more information on audits, or audit prevention, contact our licensing desk for a free consultation.


  • Infrastructure As a Service Pricing Models Explained

    Changing Business Models: Effectively Utilizing Infrastructure as a Service

                Infrastructure, as an abstract concept, is something that all businesses realize they need, but have often assumed is something they can create entirely on their own or something that will simply be developed “with time”. However—particularly in the world of information technology—the concept of utilizing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) has emerged as a fundamental component of the business process. Improvements in infrastructure can often create a greater competitive advantage than any other part of a business. Consequently, many businesses who have utilized Iaas have seen both reductions in overall costs and increases in organizational effectiveness.

    Why is developing infrastructure important?

                Infrastructure is what enables the components of a given IT system to work as efficiently as possible. If the company is willing to invest in network products (such as the use of a cloud system), but the company is unwilling to assure these products are being utilized in an efficient way, then the initial investment will have been for nothing. In particular, when a company is using a consumption based technology—which is reliant upon a path between an end “consumer” and an original “producer”—the company needs to assure that this path is one that can operate as fluidly as possible.

    Companies can utilize their network and software provider in two notable ways: through the VAR Model and through the SP Model.




    The VAR Model

                The VAR (Value Added Reseller) Model introduces a provider that functions as a software, hardware, and networking middleman but—unlike the term middleman might imply—the provider is someone creates additional value along the way. In the world of information technology, a VAR does more than just simply supply the necessary ingredients for a business to function; it can provide the infrastructure that is necessary for the given product to function at its full capacity.

    Potential value that the VAR Model can produce for a company who seeks to develop its infrastructure includes:

    • Comprehensive costs-benefit analysis that can find ways to save long-term capital
    • Analysis that finds the bottlenecks and hold-ups in a company’s IT network
    • Preparing the company to expand its current IT operations or enable the company to transition to a different type of network
    • Assuring efficiency with consumption based technology (producer-consumer pipeline)

    The SP Model

                The SP Model (service provider) is similar to the VAR Model in the sense that value is added by an active intermediary, but more specifically, the supplier is also utilized as a service provider, and helps the company with things such as maintenance, diagnosis, and hosting. This is important for a company that wants to gain a competitive advantage through the implementation of automated usage controls (setting things up to run themselves). While increased infrastructure control can empower the end user to design a management platform that will consistently work per their specific needs, the simultaneous use of automated usage controls can help enable the company to avoid unplanned financial risks.

    Ultimately, it seems that the importance of a company using their network provider as a resource that can help them better develop their infrastructure is something whose importance cannot be overstated. If a company’s goal is to increase their share of their current market and gain a competitive advantage by developing superior infrastructure, then it is important for them to fully utilize the resources they have available. The future of information technology and data storage, it seems, is something that will be all about efficient collaboration.

    For more information on cloud service models, or to speak to a cloud licensing expert, click here.