Taking your first steps into the cloud

‘The cloud’ sounds like a vast and complicated concept. But actually it’s just the internet – with a little something on top.

You may not be entirely sure what ‘the cloud’ means. If so, don’t worry – you’re not alone. A few years ago, a technology journalist at a cloud company’s press conference put up his hand and said to the serious corporate spokesperson, “When you say ‘the cloud’, you really just mean ‘the internet’ don’t you?”

The reality isn’t quite that simple, but it’s not far off. If you’ve ever shared a document online, or accessed your email through a web browser, you’ve used the cloud. That’s because ‘the cloud’ is a catch-all term to describe the use of the internet to deliver services.

We typically think of the internet as being the huge number of websites that we can access through a browser. But that part – the world-wide web – is only a sub-section of the internet. The internet is really the underlying infrastructure. It’s the vast network of connections that allows data to flow between points almost anywhere around the world.

You can think of the internet as being like a road network. A road can carry cars, but it can also carry buses, trucks and motorbikes. Similarly, the internet can carry web pages, but it can also carry emails, audio/video streams and applications. And it’s the ‘applications’ part that forms the basis of the cloud.

As internet connections and computers have got faster, it’s become possible to run applications and services remotely. This means that the applications that appear to be running on your computer, tablet or phone may actually be hosted hundreds of miles away, on a cloud service provider’s server.

What might those cloud services be? Almost anything you can imagine running on a computer. There are cloud services for just about every possible business eventuality. Microsoft Azure, for example, has more than 550 services at the moment, with more being added all the time. The most widely-used services are for:

  • storage – keeping files and data safe and accessible from anywhere
  • computing – fast access to processing power for a wide range of business tasks
  • backup – maintaining secure archives for recovery purposes
  • SQL – scalable databases for just about any conceivable business use

There are many reasons for choosing cloud-based IT solutions over in-house ones. These can include simplicity, cost savings, flexibility, scalability and reliability.

Ultimately, using the cloud means your business can become more nimble and productive. The cloud allows you to use – and pay for – only those services that you actually need; you can tailor your IT solution specifically to your business needs. It grows as you do – flexibly, rapidly and dynamically.

So, that technology journalist was partially correct. The cloud is the internet. But it’s also a whole lot more, it can give your business a real competitive edge.


Microsoft Sway

Sway! Is what’s new this month…. And we are not talking about a dance move 🙂

Do you find your newsletters, informational documents and knowledge articles hard to format and make appealing for your readers? Well you should check out Microsoft Sway.

Sway is a presentation tool that Microsoft developed in 2015 to make quick presentations, newsletters and other forms of informational documentation easy and quick to prepare for your audiences.

It can be used to easily format these documents into something that is quite fancy and doesn’t take hours to prepare. Some users have even started adopting Sway to create presentations and proposals. You can add various forms of multimedia such as pictures, texts and formatting styles, videos which you may want to upload or even embed YouTube into your Sway.

Sway has a couple of different versions and is essentially free to use. You can just sign into www.sway.com with a Microsoft account and start working away but if you have an office 365 account you get a couple of additional features such as removing the banner at the bottom that promotes Sway. This will make it look and feel a lot more professional. You can also add some privacy by setting it to “only my organisation can see this” or if you are preparing those external newsletters then it’s also possible to share your sway.

Sway can be embedded into your public facing website or your SharePoint and is the perfect medium to deliver those scrolling pieces of information to your organisation.

To check out our small Sway click http://bit.ly/2jsvnGY

Written by Saunit

The Windows 10 Creators Fall Update

By now you should all be running Windows 10 (or have at least planned your migration to Windows 10).

Microsoft changed the Windows ‘ecosystem’ when it released Windows 10 and since then they have been deploying major changes as updates that just happen. The latest of these updates has been labelled the ‘Creators Fall Update’ (I know … America has forgotten about the other hemisphere … it’s essentially summer here, America!! Not fall …)

This update brings some very helpful new changes to your computer. The best change for our Office 365 users is the new OneDrive Files On-Demand feature. This allows you to ‘sync’ SharePoint libraries and OneDrive storage but specify what files get ‘cached’ to your computer.


What does all this mumbo jumbo mean?

Well, your OneDrive may have 50Gb of files all safely stored in the cloud. Previously you might have synced this with your computer so that you could easily access it via the files and folder structure on your computer. But it meant that you had to have a copy of every file copied from OneDrive to your computer (even that photo library of Great Aunty Betty that you’ll never look at again). This would be a massive waste of space.

Now you can select files and folders to ‘Always keep on this device’ (so they are in the cloud and on your computer). This leaves the other files in the cloud but still just a click away in your file browser. So a green circled tick means it’s in the cloud and on your PC. A blue outline of a cloud means that its stored in OneDrive but you can access it via your PC’s file browser:



Another new feature is ‘Storage Sense’. Amongst other things it can be set to automatically delete any files in your downloads folder that have been there for 30 days without being changed.

There are also other major changes that you may not notice – they are hidden away in the back end. But they are making everything safer and better for you. For example, there’s a new feature that you can enable called ‘Controlled Folder Access’. That will stop anything considered suspicious from changing the contents of selected protected folders. This means that those ‘cryptoware’ attacks which hold your files to ransom will be stopped in their tracks – dead! You can read more about it here.

You will also find a currency converter built into the windows calculator … now it really is time to get rid of that Casio thing on the side of your desk!

You can check to see if your machine is already running the Creators Fall Version by right clicking the start button and selecting ‘System’. Under ‘Windows specifications’ it should list the version as 1709 (or greater, depending on when you read this). If it doesn’t, you can hit the start button again, then hit the cog icon for settings, press ‘Update & Security’ and then ‘Check for updates’.


If all else fails … let us know.

Teams Planner

Following on from our October newsletter were we introduced you to Teams.  We thought we would show you the planner in Teams.  We have really enjoyed using this feature.  We have put a demo together for you based on an Office move (see the November newsletter and our  Office Planner resource http://itengine.co.nz/resources/)


You can assign tasks to staff and even create check lists within those tasks

Once tasks are complete you tick them and they disappear off the list


You can also move tasks around the screen by dragging and dropping – now its complete I move to completed.