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Coronavirus COVID-19 Policy

With the Coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak now developing in the UK, Manx Technology Group is closely following information and advice from the Isle of Man Government, UK Government, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and CDC.

MTG has developed plans that ensure any impact on our service provision is minimised or mitigated. Read more

Six reasons to use Yammer in your business

We look at a number of reasons why you should be using Yammer in your business. Yammer is an application included in Office 365. While many organisations may be using Office, Exchange E-mail and Sharepoint, we look at how  Yammer can be used in your organisation.

What is Yammer?

Yammer is often described as Facebook for business, a social network platform for business. It allows staff to share information, post updates and interact with one another. 85% of Fortune 500 companies use Yammer, we take a look at some reasons your organisations should consider using it.

Six Benefits

1 – Increase engagement

Yammer makes it easy to post updates, generate interest and increase engagement in your company. Staff members can post updates, polls, events and announcements; to which their colleagues can like, vote and comment. In any size business, improving dialogue and communication in any business can lead to greater employee engagement (which can contribute to a positive corporate culture).

2 – Reduce e-mail noise

“Happy birthday”, “Cakes in the kitchen” and associated e-mail banter. It can clog up your inbox, or it may be completely suppressed through IT and HR policies. Yammer offers a solution. Updates and announcements posted on Yammer reduce clutter. Staff members know to view Yammer for updates and announcements.

3 – Enhance culture and build connections

Improving engagement, giving employees freedom and promoting communications in the business all has a positive impact on corporate culture. Yammer also acts as a conduit for messaging and updates that define and reinforce your company culture. Developing culture is one reason many organisations adopt Yammer, and for good reason.

4 – Web and mobile apps

Yammer can be accessed through your web browser (many organisations set it as the home page), while it also has an easy-to-use mobile application. The mobile app keeps employees, groups and teams connected no matter where they are.

5 – Governance and security

As Yammer is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of products, it sits within the security and governance framework provided as part of O365. Organisations can be confident in the knowledge that security, auditing and privacy extends to Yammer – allowing them to remain compliant.

6 – Gifs, Emojis and Memes

Did mention that Yammer has built-in support for Gifs, and naturally, Yammer serves as a focal point for memes and emojis.  These features allow you to bring some fun to Yammer.

Yammer implementation and adoption

Microsoft has an excellent resource that outlines Use Cases, Communities, Innovation and Adoption strategies for organisations considering Yammer.

Download Yammer Infographic

The following infographic entitled What can you learn with Yammer? is an excellent primer that describes what you can do with Yammer.

Find out more

If your organisation already has Office 365 or is looking to deploy Office 365 and Yammer is of interest – speak to our solutions team to learn more. You can reach them by e-mailing sales@mtg.im, calling +44 1624 777837 or clicking ‘Request a Quote’ on our website.

Internet of Things – Low Power WAN Technologies

An LPWan (Low Power Wide Area Network) is a type of wireless network , well suited for IoT and sensors, where low-power, long-range data communications is a requirement. Typically LPWan technologies have data-rates of less than 100Kbps so are not comparable to broadband, but are well suited to data transmission from IoT sensors.

The primary attributes that distinguish an LPWan from other network technologies include:

  • Long Range. The specialist technology and PHY stack of LPWans mean its range can extend from 1KM up to 10-15KM in outdoor settings. The penetration of LoRaWAN and similar technologies that employ 868MHz can also be greater than technologies such as WiFi and Zigbee.
  • Low Power. LPWan technologies and chipsets are optimised for low power use, making them ideal for IoT and sensor applications where mains power may not be an option. LoRaWAN enables devices will happily run on batteries, sometimes combined with renewables such as solar.
  • Low Cost. The optimised almost simplified nature of LPWan technologies reduces their overall component cost. Not only are the communications modules in the sensors relatively inexpensive, but the cost of deployment LPWan networks is also significantly reduced, particularly when compared to 4G/5G networks.
LPWAN Technologies compared
This diagram highlights the critical differences between LPWan technologies in terms of range and data rate.

There are several different LPWan technologies, but the most common tend to include:

  • LoRaWAN (Long-Range WAN) is an LPWan that uses LoRa technology and provides high-range, low-power and secure IoT communications.
  • Sigfox is similar in some respects to LoRaWAN but is a technology developed by the French global network operator Sigfox.
  • NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) is a cellular technology focused on low-cost, low-power and high-density deployments.
  • Zigbee/XBee/802.15.4 – common with home IoT applications with but variants designed for extended range and outdoor use.
  • Wi-SUN/802.15.4G – similar to 802.15.4 but with a modified PHY layer designed for utilities and smart metering.

Alongside these LPWan technologies, some IoT applications may use:

  • WiFi. The use of WiFi is still a reasonable option where there is a power source, WiFi network and your application is well suited to an IP-enabled environment. Despite the availability of LPWan technologies in Libelium and other IoT solutions, we may opt for WiFi in some scenarios.
  • 3G/4G. You can use more common cellular/mobile data technologies for your IoT project but, unlike their LPWan counterparts, 3G/4G is more power-hungry than LoRaWAN (i.e. x10). With 3G/4G cards, often the setup time takes longer (i.e. to associate with the network), and the configuration and dependencies are more complex.
  • Zigbee/XBee while not strictly an LPWan technology is something commonly used in IoT solutions. The technologies can also use mesh technology to extend their effective range and enhance their resilience.

Which Low Power WAN technology should I use for my project?

When considering the most appropriate wireless technology for your IoT project, you should consider the following:

  • Power availability. Do you have access to mains power, or will your application be reliant upon battery or solar power?
  • Frequency of measurement. How often do you want to take measurements?
  • Sensor setup/calibration time. Some IoT sensors take some time to start and calibrate – this needs factoring into your power budget.
  • Network availability. What network coverage is available in the location where your IoT solution will be deployed? Some areas may have 3G/4G, but lack LoRaWAN or Sigfox. Many network operators are yet to augment their networks with NB-IoT.
  • International markets. Different countries have different regulatory regimes insofar as licensing and spectrum allocation is concerned. These differences may mean you need a different LoRaWAN card for operating in EU than Australia. Depending on the international reach of your solution, this should be a consideration.
  • Public or Private deployment. For focused, private deployments –  you may opt to deploy your own Low Power WAN or LoRaWAN network. Other scenarios may be more suited to traditional methods such as 3G/4G.
  • Hardware support. Check what your sensor platform supports communications methods. Libelium Plug & Sense supports LoRaWAN, Sigfox, WiFi, 3G/4G, NB-IoT and Zigbee – but other platforms may not have this flexibility.

Can I calculate IoT power usage?

Yes – but you need to be able to understand:

  • IoT chipset power consumption.
  • Communications card power consumption.
  • Communications setup, transmission and shutdown timings.
  • Sensor power consumption.
  • Sensor startup, calibration, measurement and shutdown timings.
  • Battery size/capacity.
  • Frequency of measurement.
  • Measurement result size.
  • Is solar or renewable power an option?

Only when you have answers to these questions is it possible to estimate the power usage and thus battery lifetime.

More information

If you would like to learn more about Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, Low Power WAN options, or if you require assistance with your IoT project, please speak to our solutions team. They can be reached by e-mailing sales@mtg.im, calling +44 1624 777837 or selecting ‘Request a Quote’ from our website.

Small Business IT Security : Sophos Intercept-X

Sophos Intercept-X is an advanced endpoint protection solution that uses artificial intelligence to detect both known and unknown threats. Sophos Intercept-X uses next-gen techniques, alongside more traditional methods to protect computer systems. The use these advanced signature-less technologies has meant Sophos is consistently ranked as one of the industry’s top-rated malware detection, exploit and endpoint protection solution.

Why is this particularly relevant to a small business? 43% of all data breaches impact SMBs (small-medium businesses), so they are not immune to cybersecurity threats. Subscribing to an advanced endpoint protection solution helps ensure data and systems are safeguarded against modern threats and malware.

Deep Learning Technology

Artificial intelligence built into the Sophos product is able to detect both known and unknown threats, based on behaviours and a variety of other parameters that would indicate malware. Signature-less protection ensures your systems can be protected against known and emerging/zero-day threats. The enhanced protection means that Sophos Intercept-X is able to detect and block malware that may slip past competing products.

Exploit Prevention

A common attack vector for a virus or malware infection is for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in unpatched application software or out of date operating systems. Exploit prevention built into Sophos Intercept-X is able to recognise exploit tools and techniques, therefore providing an additional layer of defence. This angle of attack is why businesses are encouraged to move away from dated operating systems such as Windows XP and Windows 7.

Ransomware Protection

Cryptolocker and other ransomware can cause havoc for business owners, particularly small businesses. The behavioural analysis system built into Sophos called CryptoGuard silently observes process and application behaviour that are attempting to modify or hijack your data and documents for ill intent. Cryptoguard will stop this activity and revert your data back to its original form.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Sophos Root-Cause Analysis
Root cause analysis allows you to pinpoint the source of infection or malware.

EDR is a valuable feature of the Sophos security suite that enables you to investigate threats further, understand their origin and respond in a confident manner. While detecting and preventing a malware attack is one thing, understanding how it infected the organisation is another – this is where EDR helps.

Layered Defence

MTG recommend that you employ a layered defence model when considering IT security in your business. Our ITaaS customers benefit from several different security components; Fortinet Firewalls with UTM, Cisco Umbrella Secure-Internet Gateway, Sophos Endpoint Protection and Intercept-X, File Audit and User Lock – and regular security check-ups. It is also important to focus on user education and staff training; the human element is particularly vulnerable to phishing and other attacks that are difficult to prevent with just technical measures.

How much does it cost?

We provide Endpoint Security for a monthly subscription, as part of our ITaaS offering. You pay a fixed fee per month, per staff member, which includes Office 365, Sophos Endpoint, Cisco Umbrella and other software that enhances security and increases productivity. The subscription-based model provides predictable costs that scale with your business.

Small Business IT Security

MTG employs Sophos certified engineers and architects who can select and implement a full security fabric for your organisation.

If your business would like to learn more about Sophos Intercept-X, our managed IT solutions, or if you are interested in a review of your IT or security setup – please speak to our solutions team. You can speak to our team by calling +44 1624 777837, e-mail sales@mtg.im or select ‘Request a Quote’ from our website.

Desktops vs VDI – Horses for Courses

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) has gained popularity in recent years, with many organisations using tech from VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft for their VDI platforms. Despite the growing use of VDI; traditional desktop deployments are still going strong. Which is best, VDI or Desktop? It depends on your business! When it comes to Desktops vs VDI, there are several items you need to consider. Read more

Smart Parking Sensors – UK & Ireland

Smart Parking sensors are intelligent IoT nodes that are installed in parking spaces, or within road-side spaces, and are able to detect the presence of a parked vehicle. The sensors can then trigger events for use with intelligent parking apps or for intelligent parking enforcement. Manx Technology Group can design and supply Smart Parking solutions for parking applications in the UK or Ireland, including the sensors, LoRaWAN network, back-office systems and Smart Parking Apps. Read more

IoT in Utilities (Water/Sewage)

Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can enhance the operating models and efficiencies of utility companies, particularly those involved with water and sewage. Utility companies are no stranger to IoT technology, with numerous deployments of smart-grid and smart meters throughout the world.  IoT technology is, however, developing fast, and the newest range of sensors and comms technologies have the potential to transform the industry. Read more

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Enterprise video conferencing with Microsoft Teams (for less than £1k)

A central feature of Microsoft Teams is its support for vibrant video and audio conferencing. Microsoft report that 91 of the Fortune 100 companies are using Teams – and the fantastic news is these same enterprise features used by the Fortune 100, are available to small business owners and SME organisations. In this blog post, we explore some of Team’s video features and provide two examples of inexpensive video conferencing solutions for business – that can rival (and even outperform) much more expensive enterprise systems. Read more

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