Coretek Wins! – 2018 Citrix Innovation Award for Partners

2018-01-10T01:32:24+00:00 January 10th, 2018|Azure, blog, Citrix, Cloud, Microsoft, Micrsoft Cloud Solution Provider|

We won the 2018 Citrix Innovation Award for Partners!!

Thank so much to Wolverine Worldwide, all the people that voted for us, and of course all the awesome Coretek teammates that made it happen.  Much more to come!

See the details here:

https://www.citrix.com/go/innovation-award/partner-innovation.html

Which Azure Plan is Right for You?

2017-07-27T00:47:04+00:00 July 27th, 2017|Azure, blog, Cloud, Microsoft, Microsoft Infrastructure, Micrsoft Cloud Solution Provider, Office 365|

As you start to explore the world of Microsoft Azure Cloud Services, you will start to see there are many options.  Let’s discuss the three types of Microsoft programs for you to purchase.

#1 – Pay-As-You-Go Subscriptions

Pay-As-You-Go subscriptions are simple to use and simple to set up.  There are no minimum purchases or commitments.  You pay for your consumption by credit-card on a monthly basis and you can cancel anytime.  This use-case is primarily for infrastructure environments that are setup for a temporary purpose.  It’s important to understand that organizations using this model pay full list price for consumption and do not have direct support from Microsoft.

#2 – Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA)

Microsoft Enterprise Agreements are commitment based Microsoft Volume Licensing agreements with a contractual term of 3 years.  Enterprise Agreement customers can add Azure to their EA by making an upfront monetary commitment for Azure services.  That commitment is consumed throughout the year by using a combination of the wide variety of Microsoft cloud services including Azure and Office 365.  This is paid annually in advance with a true up on a quarterly basis for overages.  Any unused licenses are still charged based on the commitment.  If you are a very large enterprise, the greatest advantage of an EA is having a direct relationship with a Microsoft sales team.  Also, EAs offer discounts based on your financial commitment.  And while there are many pros to the EA approach, understanding and controlling the cost of consumption can be a challenge for customers within EAs.  Personally, I recently took over the management of our EA and can attest that this can be very complicated.

#3 – Cloud Solution Provider (CSP)

When using Microsoft Cloud Services through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, you work directly with a partner to design and implement a cloud solution that meets your unique needs.  Cloud Solution Providers, support all Microsoft Cloud Services (i.e., Azure, Office 365, Enterprise Mobility Suite and Dynamics CRM Online) through a single platform.  CSP is similar to the Pay-As-You-Go subscription in that there are no minimum purchases or commitments.  Your consumption is invoiced monthly based on actual consumption (either via invoiced PO or credit card, your choice), and you can cancel at anytime.  This will significantly simplify your Azure and Office 365 billing process!  CSP offers many advantages over Pay-As-You-Go Subscriptions and Enterprise Agreements, and in most cases can be a more cost effective solution.

As a CSP, Coretek helps customers optimize their consumption cost by working with our customers to ensure they have the right Azure server types assigned to their workloads.  We also work with customers to shut down services when they are minimally used after business hours.  As part of Coretek’s Managed Support, our team provides proactive maintenance to ensure your infrastructure is running in an optimal manor including monitoring and patching of your servers.  Coretek’s Azure Management Suite (AMS) Portal enables business users to understand where the cost of their consumption is being utilized.  The AMS portal can display real time consumption cost based on department and projects.  It also enables business users to understand what Microsoft licenses are being utilized and who they are assigned to in a simple graphical format.

Coretek Services – Improving End User Experience and IT Efficiency.

Microsoft Azure – Global. Trusted. Hybrid.  This is cloud on your terms.

Why use Cloud App Security when my firewall already does this?

2017-07-27T00:00:58+00:00 April 12th, 2017|blog, Cloud, Microsoft, Micrsoft Cloud Solution Provider|

Microsoft’s new Cloud App Security (CAS) is a new product feature that comes with Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 line of products.  The solution is a cloud-based application model built on Azure Active Directory but can also be used independently, although the dataset will not be as rich.

The idea is for customers to be able to gain deep insight into what apps their end-users are consuming, identify data drift and leakage, be able to “sanction” or “unsanctioned” applications, and even generate a block script to block those unsanctioned apps at the firewall level.  There are two paths to gathering this data:  Firewall Logs and Connected apps.

DISCOVER

You can discover information by manually importing firewall logs or even setup a connector VM which will gather the logs and upload them to the CAS for you.  This is not much different than technologies offered by the firewall providers themselves and, in many cases, will not provide as quick of a reaction as you’d receive from those vendor provided solutions.  The connector, by default, uploads logs from the firewall every 20 minutes and imports those into the CAS.

What I believe separates Cloud App Security different from the firewall provider solutions is that it integrates with Connected apps.  A Connected app is an application where CAS leverages APIs provided by the cloud provider.  Each provider has its own framework and limitations, so the functionality for each may depend on how much the provider has extended the API.

There are currently few Connected Apps that CAS supports but I’ve found that the biggest bang for your buck will be the Office 365 suite of applications.  This allows the CAS to see usage of the standard suite of Office apps and your Azure AD connected users.

INVESTIGATE

With the data gathered from the Connected apps, you can see information on File usage, owner information, app name, Collaborators, and more.  You will be able to tell who is accessing what files and who those files have been shared with.  You can drill down on particular user activity and see all of the apps and traffic volumes for their particular usage.

The Cloud Discovery Dashboard provides a rich view of information from a graphical perspective including dashboard items like App Categories which highlight usage based on categories such as CRM, Collaboration, Accounting, Storage apps, and more.  Other items on the dashboard show top discovered apps, top users, and even a geographical map of usage based on where the apps are being used.

CONTROL

Through alerts you may be made aware of Risky IP addresses, Mass downloads, New Cloud app usage, and more.  If a particular user is a concern, you even have the ability to suspend usage of a particular connected app for a particular user.  This adds a layer of security that a standard firewall report may not provide – especially if the user roams to another location off-premise where your firewall is not present.

Using the policies feature, I can set an alert, notify the user and CC their manager, or even suspend the user based on the several configuration policies that are available to me via the console.  This allows me to mitigate threats as they happen instead of waiting for a review of alerts or logs, possibly days or even weeks after the events occurred.

To summarize on Microsoft’s Cloud App Security, I would have to say that they are opening the door to rich integration with cloud based apps and providing another avenue to secure your corporate data.  With the deep integration of Office 365, those that have the E5 licensing should definitely take advantage of this product.  Even those interested, but not licensed can subscribe for a trial version and use the firewall discovery solution to get an immediate view of what’s being used internally.  This will allow your organization to have that much-needed discussion on BYOD and the security risks that ultimately partner with an open door policy.

If setup properly, adding Cloud App Security to your environment can greatly increase the level of security your organization has regarding the mobility of your data and users!

For More information, review the following useful links:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/cloud-app-security

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-app-security/enable-instant-visibility-protection-and-governance-actions-for-your-apps

https://github.com/Microsoft/CloudAppSecurityDocs/blob/master/CloudAppSecurityDocs/what-is-cloud-app-security.md

 

Coretek Services Named Microsoft Global Managed Partner

2017-07-27T00:00:58+00:00 December 9th, 2016|Azure, Microsoft, Micrsoft Cloud Solution Provider, News|

Farmington Hills, MI – December 9th, 2016 – Coretek Services, a global leader in managed hybrid IT solutions, has been named a Global Managed Partner by Microsoft Corporation. The prestigious distinction encompasses 20 companies worldwide, 6 of which are in the United States.

Coretek Services Managed Cloud for Azure utilizes the cloud platform and Coretek’s extensive suite of managed services, tools and experience to get customers up and running in their Azure environments quickly, securely, with less overhead and more predictability. Coretek’s managed cloud offering is one of the first of its kind to provide customers a single platform for infrastructure services on the Azure Platform.

“We are extending the value we deliver to our clients through our Managed Cloud for Azure,” said Ron Lisch, CEO of Coretek Services. “Through our services, we enable our clients to more effectively plan, build and run enterprise applications on Azure. Our collaboration with Microsoft further strengthens our leadership in offering the choice and control of managed cloud IT solutions.”

 

About Coretek Services

Coretek Services is a Systems Integration and IT Consulting Company that delivers high value and innovative solutions.  Coretek works with your team to custom-design an IT architecture based on each clients’ unique requirements; the solution encompasses server and desktop virtualization, optimization of a virtual desktop environment, cloud desktop, mobile device management, infrastructure consulting and project management.  Our goal is to help our clients achieve Project Success. No exceptions. For more information, visit coretekservices.com.

The Advantages of Working with a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP)

2017-07-27T00:00:58+00:00 October 2nd, 2016|Azure, blog, Cloud, Microsoft, Micrsoft Cloud Solution Provider|

There are many cloud services platforms — and numerous cloud service providers — to assist your organization with the strategy, deployment, and management of your cloud initiative.  In this ever-growing landscape of cloud providers, how do you choose the partner that is best for your business?

We have uncovered the key attributes which will determine your cloud projects’ success when selecting a cloud solution provider: experience, value, and fit.  Evaluating these three credentials of your cloud provider candidates will drive your cloud strategy, deployment, and management success rate.microsoft-cloud-solution-provider

Experience

First, you want a provider that has several cloud veterans that are constantly in touch with the state of the industry.  Coretek Services employs folks that are cloud product veterans in Azure and many of the other cloud technologies.  In fact, members of our team have been instrumental in building the Azure cloud solution when they were employed at Microsoft.

Next, you want to know that your provider isn’t “cloud only” but also has experience in data center infrastructure, virtualization, mobility, security, and your specific business domain such as healthcare, manufacturing, and others.  Few cloud service providers can offer you this additional depth of experience.

Value

You want your provider to provide value beyond just the cloud product being delivered.  This means that you want your new cloud partner to have significant relationships and partnerships with other technology vendors as well as the necessary expertise in those platforms.

As a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), we have a significant value partnership in Azure.  We have relationships with the product development teams and input into the feature development process.  It allows us to represent cloud computing trends that our customers are experiencing to the cloud product development team.

cloud-service-providerWhile you get a great product in Azure because Microsoft is focused on delivering the very best, we are free to build value-added features for our customers.  For example, we can tailor automation to your business to make your cloud usage more efficient, such as decreasing services when your business is closed or by increasing services when demand bursts to higher levels.  This allows you to control your costs and forecast your needs well in advance.

Simply put — you get the best of both worlds.  It allows your organization to receive the best that Azure can provide along

with the detailed focus of your IT business needs, which Coretek Services provides.

Priority and Fitcsp

As a Microsoft CSP, we quickly identify the technical problems and bring the right solutions and people rapidly to your assistance.  Coretek Services makes your organizations needs a top priority.  We will fit into your business in the way that is most appropriate to you providing professional services, managed services, or the mix that you desire.

We believe in one thing.  Customer Success!  No Exceptions!

Hyper-V, Windows 10, and Insider Preview…

2017-07-27T00:00:58+00:00 July 21st, 2016|blog, Hyper-V, Microsoft|

I am guilty of running Windows 10 with the Insider Preview “Fast Ring” in production as my day-to-day laptop.  I also maintain a lab of Hyper-V Virtual Machines (VMs) on my laptop that use shared virtual networking with the built-in interfaces, so I can have the equivalent of a NAT environment for my VMs.

Mind you, it’s really been great in almost every way — except that every time I get an update to the Windows 10 Insider Preview (and that is ever few days lately), I have to re-configure my interface sharing and NAT so my VMs can reach the Internet.  So, I thought I’d whip up the steps for you, in case you face the same thing.

So first, after you notice that your VMs don’t have Internet access — and then you remember that you got another Fast Ring update recently, you do this:

Open the Hyper-V Manager on the Windows 10 laptop, and click on “Virtual Switch Manager…” from the Actions area.

Capture1

Select the virtual switch to be fixed, in my case named “Internal-NAT switch”, and change from Internal to Private, and apply.

Capture3

You may notice that the Hyper-V interface disappears from the laptop Interface list.  Select Internal again to change from Private, and click OK.  The Hyper-V interface reappears in the interface list.

Capture2

Right-click on the WiFi interface (or whichever you wish to share networking with the VMs), and choose Properties.  On the Sharing tab, ensure the box is checked for “Allow other network users…” and click the drop-down list under “Home networking connection:”.  Change from “Select a private network connection to choose the Hyper-V interface, and click OK.

Capture4

Note that the previous step has not *always* worked for me, though it usually does.  A couple times, I’ve had to either a.) un-check the check box and save before re-enabling sharing, or in rare cases, b.) go into Device Manger and remove the WiFi interface, reboot, and return to re-enable sharing.  Anyway, if all goes well and you’ve re-enabled sharing, your VM pings will start going through as the networking gets reconnected.

Capture6

I’ve become quite used to doing this series of steps and have got it down to a quick few moments, but it always seems to catch me off-guard each time it happens.  I hope it helps you a bit!