The Single Cause Behind Most Vulnerabilities and How to Solve It

Having been involved in hundreds of vulnerability assessments I can confidently say that most issues have a single underlying source.  The discovered vulnerability could be an increased risk of ransomware exposure, buffer overflows, elevation of privileges, denial of service, weak encryption, etc.  Regardless of the diversity of the vulnerabilities, there is commonly a single deficiency within the organization that led to the risk.  It is a crucial component of any solid cyber security framework, yet it remains one of the least appreciated and maintained areas of Information Technology.  By now, you may have guessed, that I’m referring to patch management.

Inevitably, a vulnerability assessment will overturn workstations, servers, switches, firewalls, routers, wireless access points, hypervisors and countless other devices which all need to be patched. Consequently, the IT department is consumed with months of maintenance windows to get everything updated.  After many late nights, every piece of infrastructure is finally fully patched.  The IT department can finally get a good night’s sleep!  Unfortunately, it won’t last long because while all of those patches were getting installed more vulnerabilities were discovered which will require more patching.  This is the never-ending struggle of patch management.

It’s true that most IT departments have a pretty good handle on patching workstations and servers by leveraging automated patching solutions.  However, that addresses only a small piece of the typical IT infrastructure.  What’s a sleep deprived IT department to do to keep up with the tidal wave of patches? It’s simple, embrace Thrive’s NextGen services.

  • Offload all server and hypervisor patching responsibility by transferring workloads to one of Thrive’s many cloud solutions.
  • Deploy ThriveCloud managed firewalls, switches and wireless access points to allow for automated patch and firmware deployments during scheduled maintenance windows.
  • Leverage Thrive’s 3rd party patching solution to update often overlooked and highly vulnerable software like Java, Acrobat and Zoom.

For more information on Thrive’s NextGen managed services, CONTACT US TODAY!

Timlin’s Shift from SharePoint Designer to Flow & PowerApps

SharePoint Designer has been a go-to tool for SharePoint admins and developers for over a decade. And it has been a great tool, in the right hands of an accomplished developer.  When combined with the powerful forms capabilities in InfoPath, it proved to be a powerful tool to automate business processes but did require extensive expertise.

However, with the move to the cloud, Designer-based solutions have struggled.

Not only do Flow and PowerApps dominate the headlines, but they also enjoy nearly all of Microsoft’s R&D dollars for no/low-code solutions in Office 365.  SharePoint Designer has been stagnant with no new releases since the 2013 version.  Mainstream support for the product ends on 7/13/2021.  It is actually quite surprising that the tool is still used as much as it is.

There also have been recent advisories where Designer solutions could not be opened or edited for several days. And I have personally witnessed Designer blow away an entire section of a workflow when the desktop application suddenly crashed. Unfortunately, the version restoration capabilities available for Designer solutions running in on-prem environments does not work for SharePoint Online.

As risk continues to increase for Designer-based solutions, advancements in Flow and PowerApps make these the new, go-to tools for new solution creation at Timlin.

We have recently engaged with a number of customers with complicated SharePoint designer based solutions where we have rebuilt those solutions using the Flow and PowerApps tools.  With the recent innovations in Flow and PowerApps, the time is right to look closely at retiring SharePoint designer based solutions.  Thus, we recommend performing an inventory of your SharePoint environment and noting all Designer solutions and develop a rebuild strategy.

If you have any questions or need assistance, you can reach out to our team here and we will happily give guidance on performing a SharePoint inventory.

Top 10 Reasons You Need an Office 365 Center of Excellence

Adopting and using Office 365 is a big investment and enabling and sustaining the capabilities of the Office 365 platform can be challenging even for the largest organization. Just maintaining deep knowledge on the entire platform and understanding the implications of each tool and every enhancement on your environment alone can be daunting. It’s why taking the “if you build it they will come” approach to Office 365 is simply destined for failure.

“Just maintaining deep knowledge on the entire platform and understanding the implications of each tool and every enhancement on your environment alone can be daunting”

One proven solution to maximizing and sustaining your Office 365 and SharePoint solutions is to adopt a managed, Center of Excellence approach. Let’s explore the common challenges of companies with Office 365 and SharePoint solutions and how a Center of Excellence can remedy them.

  1. You struggle with user adoption or see other colleagues struggling to understand the value of Office 365. Users will not flock to the higher value features of Office 365 without training and support. They can send emails and use online file shares on their own, but social content, publishing, project management, document management, business automation, business intelligence, and a lot more, need support from skilled personnel.
  2. You know you need a broader Vision, Roadmap, and Plan. A plan is required to provide the platform tools, but there are a lot of moving parts required to effectively launch, train, and support your end users for an effective set of capabilities.
  3. You know there is a lot of capability in those menu items, but you don’t really know what they do or how to use them effectively. Office 365 is a big platform – it’s Microsoft Teams, Project Online, Planner, SharePoint & SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Exchange, PowerBI, Flow, Yammer, and PowerApps and more – and it takes dedication by multiple people to truly understand all the functionality. There is a lot of value to be gained with the right people to help you understand and leverage it.
  4. You need help with Governance & Communication strategies. Governance is a difficult undertaking for many organizations. You see the value in bringing in a partner that has experience in helping organizations understand how to undertake envisioning of key, strategic elements of platforms this large. A partner with a process and set of questions ready to hit the ground running will save you a lot of time.
  5. You can’t keep up with all the enhancements. Microsoft is releasing changes to the Office 365 platform at a brisk pace. Keeping up with the features in your tenant, applications, and the impact they have on your end users can be difficult to manage. You need someone who not only is abreast of all of the enhancements but also knows your deployment and is accustomed to reviewing your administration center, identifying the key information, and working within a framework to communicate the updates to you and your team.
  6. You need Training that is specific to your policies, guidelines, and intended use of Office 365. Generic training falls short when you’ve spent the time to deliver and support Office 365 in a way that works best for your users. You don’t want all that effort to be wasted with “one size fits all” training. You want to guide your users down the path you have built for them.
  7. You have varying needs that can be difficult to forecast. You may need architecture, development, analysis, or troubleshooting at various times. You also may not understand the best way to solve a problem because you don’t have the experience in-house to understand the depth of all the features available to you.
  8. Your IT Department wants to focus on solutions, projects, and innovation, not training and support. Time spent supporting user requests takes employees away from other priority work. Ad hoc responses and supporting users is critical, but it’s not what every IT expert or Business Analyst wants from their career. Keep your people happy and engaged in doing the work they enjoy that provides value to your organization. Delegate the rest.
  9. You need elasticity in your team. Sometimes you need more help for small projects, sometimes you need less. Many times, you have two critical issues or projects, and it’s difficult to triage. Employees go on vacation and many prefer not to be on-call. A small cost to provide around the clock SLAs may be highly valuable to your organization.
  10. You don’t have a full-time employee with enough skills across the platform.  Between a variety of skills (Business Analyst, Developer, Architect, Support Engineer, Workflow Specialist, Information Rights Guru, etc.) it is simply too difficult to have a single person or team fractionally available that knows you, your organization, and Office 365. It’s much more valuable and cost-effective to set this up as a service.

Learn more about the Center of Excellence framework by downloading our free whitepaper here.

Thrive Networks Named to CRN’s Managed Service Provider Elite 150 List

Company Recognized for Forward-Thinking Approach to Meeting the Needs of Today’s IT Channel

CRN - Elite 150 ListThrive Networks, the complete IT solutions for emerging to mid-sized businesses, has been named to CRN’s Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list as one of the MSP Elite 150. The annual list recognizes the top technology providers and consultants in North America whose cutting-edge approach to managed services puts end-user customers in the best position to improve efficiencies, cut costs and speed time to market for their own products and services.

This year, CRN’s MSP500 is broken down into three groups highlighting the MSP Elite 150, who are large data center-focused solution providers with a strong mix of on-premise professional services as well as off-premise services; the MSP Pioneer 250, who have a business model heavily weighted toward managed services focused on the small- and midsize-business market; and the MSP Hosting Service Provider 100, who own and operate their own data centers, providing a wide array of subscription-based outsourced services. (more…)

How to Optimize Desktop and End User Support

For many companies, desktop and end user support can be costly and time consuming. Especially if you have multiple computing environments with a variety of desktop applications and PCs of different models and ages.  Although desktop PCs are relatively inexpensive the cost for maintenance and end user support can be as much as five times the cost of the computer.

In the early years of computer technology, costs for desktop and end user support were reduced through (more…)