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Copilot for Microsoft 365: It’s got lots of friends

In Part 4 of our Copilot for Microsoft 365 spotlight series, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis highlights neighbouring technologies, including Copilot for Azure and Copilot for Sales.

By Neil du Plessis | Cloud Security Architect, BUI

The artificial intelligence that powers Copilot for Microsoft 365 is also used in neighbouring Microsoft technologies for the modern workplace. Copilot for Azure, Copilot for Sales, Copilot for Service, Microsoft Copilot Studio, and Microsoft Copilot for Security are either coming soon or already available to Business and Enterprise customers. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. Copilot for Azure

Microsoft describes Copilot for Azure as an AI-powered assistant that simplifies the design, operation, optimisation, and troubleshooting of applications and infrastructure within the Azure ecosystem. It utilises Large Language Models, the Azure control plane, and insights about your Azure and Azure Arc-enabled assets to help you streamline cloud orchestration and management.

Highlights: Copilot for Azure can help you design and develop your cloud applications, choose the best frameworks, languages, and tools, and test and debug your code. It can also help you deploy and manage your applications by providing automation, scalability, and monitoring. In addition, Copilot for Azure can recommend ways to optimise costs and improve security and compliance in your environment.

Availability: Copilot for Azure is currently in preview, and existing Azure customers and Microsoft Partners can apply to participate. If you’re interested, review the registration process before filling in the application form.

2. Copilot for Sales

Copilot for Sales is designed to help your sales teams boost productivity, improve customer engagements, and close more deals. It takes the foundational capabilities of Copilot for Microsoft 365 and enhances them by connecting to customer relationship management platforms (like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Salesforce Sales Cloud) and providing sales teams with relevant in-app insights and recommendations to enhance customer interactions.

Highlights: According to Microsoft, Copilot for Sales empowers your sellers to simplify daily tasks, personalise customer interactions, and streamline workflows. From drafting emails in Outlook and setting up meetings in Teams to creating pitch decks in PowerPoint and data visualisations in Excel, Copilot for Sales is geared to help sales teams accomplish more in less time with AI-powered communication, content, and CRM activities.

Availability: Copilot for Sales is available now for $50 per user per month, which includes the requisite Copilot for Microsoft 365 licence. If you already have Copilot for Microsoft 365 (via your Office 365 E3, Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, or Microsoft 365 Business Premium subscription), then you can get Copilot for Sales for an additional $20 per user per month. The Copilot for Sales pricing guide has further details, terms, and conditions.

3. Copilot for Service

Copilot for Service applies artificial intelligence to your call centre operations to help your customer service and support teams handle customer interactions more efficiently. Copilot for Service brings together all relevant content from your CRM platforms, websites, SharePoint sites, and third-party knowledge bases (like Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Zendesk) and puts it at your agents’ fingertips through conversational AI.

Highlights: Your customer service and support teams can enter natural language prompts and Copilot for Service will generate answers based on your organisational content – from call centre playbooks and user manuals to customer records and case histories in your CRM tools. Your agents can do this in their flow of work during real-time engagements with customers to handle queries faster, resolve issues earlier, and improve customer satisfaction over time.

Availability: Copilot for Service is available now for $50 per user per month, which includes the requisite Copilot for Microsoft 365 licence. If you already have Copilot for Microsoft 365 (via your Office 365 E3, Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, or Microsoft 365 Business Premium subscription), then you can get Copilot for Service for an additional $20 per user per month. The Copilot for Service pricing guide has further details, terms, and conditions.

4. Microsoft Copilot Studio

Unveiled by Microsoft at the 2023 Microsoft Ignite conference, Microsoft Copilot Studio is a low-code tool that enables you to tailor Copilot for Microsoft 365 and build your own AI-driven copilots by leveraging conversational features like custom GPTs and generative AI plugins.

Highlights: With Microsoft Copilot Studio, you’re able to personalise Copilot for Microsoft 365 according to your business needs. You can develop, test, and publish standalone copilots and regulate and secure them with the appropriate permissions, data access, and user controls. You can also see the end-to-end lifecycle of your customisations and standalone copilots in one place, which makes building, deploying, managing, and analysing them easier and simpler. In addition, you can use Microsoft Copilot Studio to link Copilot to other data sources to access any system of record, including SAP, ServiceNow, and Workday.

Availability: Microsoft Copilot Studio is available now, and the integration with Copilot for Microsoft 365 is currently in public preview. The Microsoft Copilot Studio website has further details, terms, and conditions.

5. Microsoft Copilot for Security

Microsoft Copilot for Security was also announced at the 2023 Microsoft Ignite conference, where Microsoft explained it as an AI-powered cybersecurity product that “enables security professionals to respond to cyberthreats quickly, process signals at machine speed, and assess risk exposure in minutes”.

Highlights: Microsoft Copilot for Security combines an advanced Large Language Model with a security-specific model informed by Microsoft’s unique global threat intelligence and more than 65 trillion daily signals. The result is a sophisticated, security-focused AI assistant that can provide actionable responses to your natural language questions. These responses can be in the form of text, code, or a visual that helps you understand the full context of a security incident, its impact, and the next steps you should take for remediation and defence hardening.

Availability: Microsoft Copilot for Security is currently in private preview through an invitation-only Early Access Programme for customers and Microsoft Partners. BUI is participating in the Microsoft Copilot for Security Partner Private Preview, and is working with Microsoft product teams to help shape product development. Learn more in our news update.

With Copilot for Azure, Copilot for Sales, Copilot for Service, Microsoft Copilot Studio, and Microsoft Copilot for Security, Microsoft is expanding its range of AI-powered technologies to help you streamline cloud orchestration and management, boost sales productivity, improve customer service, spur innovation, and secure your data and resources. The sooner you start exploring these tools, the sooner you’ll be ready to empower your teams for even greater success.

BUI Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis is a certified CISSP and Microsoft Cybersecurity Expert specialising in holistic, cloud-powered defences for modern workplaces.

Wondering if Copilot for Microsoft 365 is right for your organisation? Join the BUI team for an interactive workshop and we’ll assess your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness and define a road map for your adoption journey. The workshop is conducted virtually, and is suitable for senior business development managers, line-of-business leaders, managers, technical decision-makers, and end-users. Register your interest by completing this digital form and we’ll contact you directly.

Copilot for Microsoft 365: How to prepare yourself

In Part 3 of our Copilot for Microsoft 365 spotlight series, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis outlines the steps to take to prepare yourself for AI-powered productivity.

By Neil du Plessis | Cloud Security Architect, BUI

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is an innovative tool that can transform how you work with computers. However, as with any new technology, it requires some preparation and adaptation on your part to ensure the most beneficial results in the long run.

Jared Spataro, the Corporate Vice President of Modern Work and Business Applications at Microsoft, once said that “becoming an AI-powered organisation doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch”. And he was right: you have to understand Copilot’s features and functionality before you can harness its full potential. Here are three important steps in the preparation journey.

1. Learn how to use Copilot for Microsoft 365.

Copilot is a powerful AI assistant that can help you with numerous tasks and activities in your Microsoft 365 apps, but it’s not a magic solution to every problem. You will need to learn how to use Copilot effectively – by composing clear prompts, providing relevant details and parameters, and reviewing and refining outputs.

You’ll also need to explore the frameworks guiding and controlling Copilot so that you understand how data security policies, privacy policies, and responsible AI checks are applied. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available online, from technical documentation to in-depth tutorials and walkthroughs. You can also watch these introductory videos to see how Copilot for Microsoft 365 works:

Carmen Zlateff, Microsoft Windows vice president, explains how Windows 11 and Copilot work together during her presentation on stage at the Microsoft Copilot event in New York City in September 2023. Image credit: Microsoft

2. Develop your prompt engineering and critical thinking skills.

Even though Copilot can help you augment your capabilities, it’s no substitute for your unique human intelligence. Remember that Copilot uses generative artificial intelligence to draft responses to your prompts, providing an output based on your input.

A well-structured, specific prompt with appropriate context will yield a more accurate result than a vague query. If you take the time to develop your prompt engineering skills and evaluate, analyse, and even interrogate Copilot’s output, you’ll be better prepared to use the tool properly.

It’s also essential to apply your professional judgement, ethical standards, and niche industry or domain knowledge to your tasks and projects with Copilot. After all, the tool doesn’t have the benefit of your personal experience, expertise, or emotion.

3. Keep practising – and find a community of Copilot for Microsoft 365 users.

Copilot is designed to be your digital assistant. Your AI sidekick. Your know-a-lot companion in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams, and Word. But there will be a learning curve at the beginning – for you and the tool.

Because Copilot learns from context and adapts over time, it may not generate perfect responses to your queries from the start. You’ll need to experiment with different prompts and fine-tune your inputs to get high-quality outputs, so keep practising.

It’s also a good idea to join an online forum or community group of fellow Copilot users in your industry to take advantage of their shared knowledge, resources, and tips for success. The Copilot for Microsoft 365 community on the Microsoft Tech Community website is filled with news updates, event details, and discussions related to Copilot for Microsoft 365.

Learning how to use Copilot effectively, developing your prompt engineering and critical thinking skills, and tapping into the knowledge of fellow Copilot users can help you prepare for a new world of work with this AI-powered helper by your side.

BUI Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis is a certified CISSP and Microsoft Cybersecurity Expert specialising in holistic, cloud-powered defences for modern workplaces.

Wondering if Copilot for Microsoft 365 is right for your organisation? Join the BUI team for an interactive workshop and we’ll assess your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness and define a road map for your adoption journey. The workshop is conducted virtually, and is suitable for senior business development managers, line-of-business leaders, managers, technical decision-makers, and end-users. Register your interest by completing this digital form and we’ll contact you directly.

Copilot for Microsoft 365: AI to help you work smarter

In Part 2 of our Copilot for Microsoft 365 spotlight series, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis reveals how this AI-powered assistant can help you be more creative and productive.

By Neil du Plessis | Cloud Security Architect, BUI

More than three-quarters of early users said that once they tried Copilot for Microsoft 365, they didn’t want to give it up. Why? Because having this AI-powered assistant as their workplace aide helped them to save time, unleash their creativity, enhance their skills, and unlock the full potential of their favourite Microsoft 365 apps.

In the Work Trend Index Special Report published by Microsoft last year, the same early users said that Copilot for Microsoft 365 empowered them to do more – and do it more efficiently than before. From creating presentations in PowerPoint to managing emails in Outlook, Copilot helped them achieve their goals.

But how exactly can Copilot for Microsoft 365 help you and your teams? How can you take advantage of this technology in your business right now? Let’s explore three everyday use cases for Copilot for Microsoft 365 in the modern workplace.

1. Copilot can help you write better and faster.

Whether you need to write a blog post, a newsletter, a proposal, or a summary, Copilot can help you with the creative process.

You can tell Copilot to draft an outline, a title, a hook, or a conclusion for your document based on your topic and purpose. You can get Copilot to check your grammar and spelling and edit, rewrite, or paraphrase your text to improve the tone, style, and clarity.

You can also direct Copilot to help you with formatting, referencing, and citing your sources so that your entire document is eye-catching, precise, and correctly attributed.

With Copilot as your co-creator, you can speed up the writing process and craft compelling content that meets your needs. Watch these videos for a closer look at what’s possible with Copilot in Word.

With the Designer integration in Copilot in Word, it’s easy to bring your ideas to life with eye-catching visuals that match the text in your document. Image credit: Microsoft

2. Copilot can help you analyse and visualise data.

Whether you need to work with numbers, charts, tables, or graphs, Copilot can help you with data analysis and presentation.

You can get Copilot to perform calculations, apply formulas, filter data, or create pivot tables in Excel, based on your data set and goal.

You can ask Copilot to help you interpret and make sense of your data by providing summaries, trends, or insights in natural language.

You can also use Copilot to generate charts and graphs so that you can visualise your data, highlight relevant information, and vividly present your findings.

With Copilot by your side in Excel, you can enhance the way you work with and analyse data. Watch these videos to see how Copilot filters, formats, and reviews data.

3. Copilot can help you manage and organise tasks.

Whether you need to plan a project, schedule a meeting, or follow up on an email, Copilot can help you with task management and day-to-day organisation.

You can ask Copilot to create a project plan, a timeline, or a checklist in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, based on your project scope and deliverables.

You can instruct Copilot to schedule a meeting, send an invitation to your chosen attendees, and create an agenda to match the meeting topic – all from within Outlook or Teams.

You can also get Copilot to help you respond to emails, create tasks, and set reminders in Outlook or Teams, based on your email content and priorities.

With Copilot as your digital assistant, you can stay on top of your tasks and organise your calendar more efficiently. Watch these videos for an overview of Copilot’s functionality in Outlook and Teams.

Real-time intelligent assistance from Copilot for Microsoft 365 enables people to work more creatively and productively. More than 80% of surveyed users said Copilot makes it easier to get started on a first draft; take action after a meeting; and catch up on what they missed. More than 70% said Copilot helped them complete work faster and save time on mundane tasks. And 68% said Copilot improved the quality of their work.

Going forward, those who embrace Copilot for Microsoft 365 as an ally at work and take the time to build new digital habits will benefit the most from this powerful technology.

BUI Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis is a certified CISSP and Microsoft Cybersecurity Expert specialising in holistic, cloud-powered defences for modern workplaces.

Wondering if Copilot for Microsoft 365 is right for your organisation? Join the BUI team for an interactive workshop and we’ll assess your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness and define a road map for your adoption journey. The workshop is conducted virtually, and is suitable for senior business development managers, line-of-business leaders, managers, technical decision-makers, and end-users. Register your interest by completing this digital form and we’ll contact you directly.

Copilot for Microsoft 365: Key news updates to know

In Part 1 of our Copilot for Microsoft 365 spotlight series, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis unpacks the news you need to know about this AI-powered assistant for the modern workplace.

By Neil du Plessis | Cloud Security Architect, BUI

Copilot for Microsoft 365, the advanced AI assistant embedded in Microsoft 365 apps like PowerPoint and Word, made waves in workplaces worldwide after it was ANNOUNCED IN 2023.

The tool enables people to perform tasks and generate content using natural language commands and is ALREADY CONSIDERED A GAME-CHANGER for productivity and human-computer interaction, even as Microsoft continues to refine its capabilities and features.

So, what can we expect from this innovative technology going forward? Here are four important updates to know about Copilot for Microsoft 365.

1. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now generally available to businesses of all sizes.

On 1 November last year, Microsoft made Copilot for Microsoft 365 available to Microsoft 365 customers on Enterprise plans. Since then, Microsoft has removed the Microsoft 365 prerequisite and minimum-purchase restrictions to expand its Copilot for Microsoft 365 licensing model to include enterprises using Office 365 E3/E5 and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

As of 15 January 2024, Enterprise customers (Office 365 E3, Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5) and Business customers (Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium) can purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 as an add-on to an existing subscription for $30 per user per month.

2. Copilot for Microsoft 365 will be supported in more languages and regions this year.

Initially, Copilot was only available in English for users based in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Today, it’s available in 36 regions across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and Microsoft is working hard to expand both audience and market reach.

In addition to English, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is supported in Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. Microsoft plans to support several more languages over the first half of 2024, including Arabic, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft chairman and chief executive officer, speaks on stage at Skylight at Essex Crossing in New York City during the Microsoft Copilot event in September 2023. Image credit: Microsoft

3. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now integrated with more apps and services.

Microsoft is enhancing the workplace value of Copilot for Microsoft 365 by adding new features and integrating it with more apps and services – both inside and outside of the Microsoft 365 suite. For example, Copilot works seamlessly with Loop and SharePoint, and is coming soon in Planner, OneNote, and Stream to allow users to access and manage files and tasks through natural language prompts and queries.

Copilot can also connect with third-party apps and services, including Salesforce, Jira, Dynamics 365, Bing Web Search, ServiceNow, and Zendesk, enabling users to perform actions and gather external information without leaving their current app.

Copilot can also leverage the power of the Microsoft Graph and third-party integrated applications like SQL and Confluence to provide users with personalised, contextual suggestions and insights based on their preferences, history, and activity.

4. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is becoming more accurate and reliable by the day.

Microsoft is committed to improving Copilot for Microsoft 365 so that it consistently produces relevant, high-quality output for users based on their prompts and context. To achieve this, Microsoft has been refining Copilot’s processing and orchestration engine, updating its Large Language Models, and gathering public and partner feedback through early access programmes, preview programmes, and dedicated community forums like the Copilot Feedback Hub, where users can share their observations, suggestions, and experiences with the tool.

These efforts continue to yield results: Copilot’s accuracy and reliability have improved significantly since launch; 70% of early users have reported increased personal productivity; and 77% of early users have said that once they used Copilot, they didn’t want to give it up.

With its expanded licensing model, broader language support, increased integration with apps and services, and improved accuracy and reliability, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is set to become a critical tool for businesses of all sizes.

As Microsoft further refines Copilot’s capabilities and features, we can expect this AI-powered assistant to revolutionise organisations everywhere by empowering people to do more with their favourite Microsoft 365 apps every day.

BUI Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis is a certified CISSP and Microsoft Cybersecurity Expert specialising in holistic, cloud-powered defences for modern workplaces.

Wondering if Copilot for Microsoft 365 is right for your organisation? Join the BUI team for an interactive workshop and we’ll assess your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness and define a road map for your adoption journey. The workshop is conducted virtually, and is suitable for senior business development managers, line-of-business leaders, managers, technical decision-makers, and end-users. Register your interest by completing this digital form and we’ll contact you directly.

Broadcom’s VMware takeover: Navigating turbulent waters

Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware warrants careful consideration by both VMware users and the broader technology community, writes BUI National Sales Manager Paul Wallett.

By Paul Wallett | National Sales Manager, BUI

Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware in November 2023 ignited a fierce debate within the technology community. While some applauded the $69-billion deal as a strategic move to streamline operations and simplify the virtualisation and cloud computing market, others voiced concern about its effects on VMware’s products and customers. In the short time since the takeover, there have been significant developments that VMware users and the IT industry now need to navigate.

Impact on VMware customers

I’ve used VMware solutions myself and have seen firsthand how they can enhance business efficiency, agility, and innovation through virtualisation and cloud technology. With products like VMware SD-WAN and VMware SASE consistently acknowledged for being reliable and able to cater to organisations with diverse infrastructure and operational requirements, it’s no surprise that VMware’s portfolio has been a popular choice for so many businesses and enterprises for so long.

However, since Broadcom assumed control of VMware, the VMware product landscape has been transformed, with two key announcements directly impacting existing customers.

Firstly, Broadcom’s introduction of a subscription-only model for most VMware products is a sea change for customers who have traditionally favoured perpetual licences. The shift eliminates the option of perpetual licences, potentially disrupting customers’ long-term investment planning and leading to higher costs in the form of recurring subscription fees.

Secondly, Broadcom’s decision to discontinue 56 standalone VMware products – including flagship offerings like vSphere, vSAN, and NSX – has roiled VMware customers worldwide. For countless organisations, these products are the backbone of core IT functions such as virtualisation, storage, and networking. Their discontinuation has left customers scrambling for alternatives and grappling with the gruelling task of migrating to other platforms.

Implications for the IT industry

Beyond the immediate concerns for customers, Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware has wide-ranging implications for the technology industry.

VMware’s virtualisation and cloud computing leadership fostered a vibrant ecosystem of partners, resellers, and service providers. However, Broadcom’s restructuring efforts – including the termination of partner agreements and the introduction of an invitation-only partner programme – have disrupted these relationships, causing waves of uncertainty within the IT industry.

Furthermore, Broadcom’s focus on maximising revenue from enterprise customers risks alienating loyal small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and managed service providers (MSPs). The transition to subscription-based licensing models and the discontinuation of key VMware products may impact SMBs and MSPs disproportionately, limiting their access to VMware’s technologies and services and prompting them to look elsewhere for similar IT solutions.

Charting a course for the future with BUI

As Broadcom continues to reshape VMware with streamlining initiatives and new product plans, customers will face more turbulent waters. Those who navigate the stormy conditions with care will emerge stronger. And fortunately, they don’t have to brave such challenges alone: BUI remains steadfast in its commitment to help people thrive in the evolving world of virtualisation and cloud computing.

From crafting tailored migration strategies to implementing robust cybersecurity measures and optimising network performance, BUI offers comprehensive solutions to enable performance and productivity in the digital era. Our expert technologists can provide the guidance and support that customers require as they adapt to Broadcom’s VMware changes.

If you’re wondering what’s next for your VMware technology stack, trying to make sense of the revamped licensing environment, or thinking about alternative virtualisation solutions, then contact BUI today. We can evaluate your IT setup, take stock of what you have and what you need, and identify the best resources for your particular goals. With a trusted technology partner like BUI on your side, you can confidently chart a course for the future and get back to business as usual.

BUI National Sales Manager Paul Wallett has 20+ years of experience in the technology industry and an extensive background in business development, sales management, and operations management.

BUI supports global security awareness campaign

BUI supports global security awareness campaign

BUI is proud to participate in Cyber Security Awareness Month as a Champion Organisation for the sixth consecutive year. Founded in 2004, Cyber Security Awareness Month (held each October) is the world’s foremost initiative aimed at promoting cyber security awareness and best practices. The campaign is a collaborative effort among businesses, government agencies, colleges and universities, associations, non-profit organisations, communities and individuals to educate others about online safety.

“Knowledge and vigilance are essential when it comes to cyber security,” says BUI Global CEO Ryan Roseveare. “You need to know what to look out for. You need to know what to do when you see a red flag. And you need to be alert whenever you’re online. Cyber Security Awareness Month plays a key role in educating the public about common cyber risks and encouraging everyone to become more vigilant. BUI is pleased to join the international community in this focused effort to improve cyber security awareness worldwide.”

From smartphones to web-enabled home devices, technology is deeply intertwined with our lives. And while the evolution of technology accelerates, cybercriminals are working just as hard to find ways to compromise technology and disrupt our personal and business activities.

Cyber Security Awareness Month aims to highlight some of the emerging challenges that exist in the world of cyber security today and provide straightforward, actionable guidance which anyone can follow to create a safer, more secure digital world for themselves and their loved ones.

Starting this year, the new theme of Cyber Security Awareness Month is Secure Our World. The main messaging revolves around four cyber security practices:

  1. Creating strong passwords and using a password manager. The strongest passwords are long and unique, with a mixture of character types (lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols).
  2. Enabling multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, adds an extra layer of security to digital accounts by making secondary authentication mandatory.
  3. Recognising and reporting phishing. Public awareness is essential as cybercriminals continue to refine their tactics for phishing scams conducted through emails, text messages, chats, and phone calls.
  4. Keeping software updated. The latest updates and security patches are important to install to ensure that operating systems, internet browsers, and applications are safeguarded.
  5. Cyber Security Awareness Month continues to build momentum and impact with the goal of providing everyone with the information they need to stay safe online. BUI is proud to support this far-reaching online safety awareness and education initiative, which is co-managed by the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

    For more information about the 2023 Cyber Security Awareness Month campaign, you can visit the CISA and Stay Safe Online websites. You can also follow BUI on LinkedIn, Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) for helpful tips and resources throughout October, and join the global conversation by including the hashtag #CyberSecurityAwarenessMonth in your own social media posts.

Improve your security posture with an award-winning technology partner.

Cybercriminals are targeting enterprises big and small to try to gain access to sensitive, confidential, or proprietary data and resources. How are you protecting your IT environment?

Stay ahead of threat actors by choosing a comprehensive managed extended detection and response service from BUI. Contact our team to explore Cyber MXDR today.

BUI earns ISO 22301 certification

Our commitment to ensuring business continuity – even in the face of disruption – has been recognised by the British Standards Institution.

We’re proud to announce that we have earned ISO 22301 certification after a rigorous independent evaluation by the British Standards Institution last month. The ISO 22301 badge is recognised internationally and sets the standard for Business Continuity Management Systems.

“This certification highlights the strength of our company’s business continuity strategy,” says Gayle Roseveare, our Chief Operating Officer (COO) here at BUI. “It proves to our staff, partners and customers that we’re prepared for any eventuality – and that we’re able to serve and support the people who rely on us, no matter what. Our ISO 22301 badge represents our commitment to effective risk management, organisational resilience, and reliability – even in the face of disruption,” notes Roseveare.

What is ISO 22301?

Developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation, ISO 22301 lays out a framework to help companies like ours create, implement, and maintain a comprehensive business continuity management system (BCMS). The main aim is to ensure that companies are protected against unforeseen business challenges and equipped to respond and recover when such events do occur.

“BUI is a global company with offices in East Africa, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States,” says Roseveare. “On any given day, our teams are provisioning cloud infrastructure, monitoring and securing digital environments, and delivering a wide range of IT services to customers. We operate around the world and around the clock – and we have to be able to do so continuously. Whether there are power outages in South Africa or internet connectivity issues in Europe, we need to ensure we can deliver uninterrupted services to our customers. Our ISO 22301 certificate validates our planning for disruptive incidents and disasters.”

Why is ISO 22301 certification important?

“In an unpredictable business climate, it pays to be prepared,” explains Dhiren Boodhia, our Group Governance and Compliance Manager. “And that goes double for service providers like us. To earn our ISO 22301 certificate, we had to demonstrate that we have a thorough BCMS in place; that the staff in our various offices understand the BCMS and the processes required to sustain it; and that we are focused on maintaining business continuity and sustainability regardless of market uncertainties and challenges. I think the ISO 22301 badge is an important differentiator – especially when customers are looking for a steadfast technology ally that is as dedicated to legal and regulatory compliance as it is to protecting the business resources of the organisations it works with,” he says.

For customers who choose to partner with BUI, there are five key benefits, adds Boodhia.

  1. Consistency. ISO 22301 emphasises the importance of consistency when it comes to best practices and business processes. “We’ve been assessed on our capabilities around risk assessment and impact analysis as well as our strategies for mitigating disruptions. Our teams excelled in every area – and that means our customers can expect the highest standards of service and care from everyone at BUI,” says Boodhia.
  2. Data protection. With the cyber threat landscape evolving so quickly, data privacy and data security are critical considerations for customers. “ISO 22301 includes extensive conditions for data protection and data recovery,” notes Boodhia. “Our ISO 22301 badge, together with the ISO 27001 certification we achieved for our commitment to information security management, should give our customers even greater confidence: we handle all data respectfully and safely.”
  3. Faster recovery. “ISO 22301 requires us to have a holistic strategy in place to deal with disruptions and disasters. It also mandates a detailed recovery plan to ensure that downtime is minimised – for our company and for the business organisations we serve,” says Boodhia. “BUI customers can be assured that, in the event of an issue, our teams will follow a step-by-step framework to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.”
  4. Greater compliance. By achieving ISO 22301 certification, BUI has met the global benchmark for business continuity management, adds Boodhia. “Many of our customers operate in highly regulated industries, like financial services and healthcare, and they must adhere to their own standards in terms of the services they provide to their clients. BUI is committed to maintaining essential functions during adverse circumstances – and that’s a big plus for customers who have strict compliance obligations.”
  5. Peace of mind. ISO 22301 calls for certified organisations to update and improve their business continuity processes to ensure that their strategies remain current, relevant, and effective. “We’re obligated to adapt and enhance our BCMS plan as our company grows,” explains Boodhia. “It’s good news for our customers because it means we’re always prepared. Whatever happens, the BUI services and solutions that so many businesses utilise every day will be available.”

Our commitment to your success

ISO 22301 may be our newest certification, but it’s also a testament to our unwavering focus on our customers, notes our COO. “To be a dependable, reliable technology partner, you need to anticipate the challenges you’re going to face and then take the necessary steps to ensure that you can address those challenges as soon as they arise. We’re being proactive today so that we’re ready for tomorrow – and always on hand to help our customers be productive, secure, and resilient,” Roseveare concludes.

Do you have a disaster recovery plan in place?

Our experts can help you craft a comprehensive backup strategy aligned with your business structure, your IT resources, your budget, and your goals.

Contact our team to arrange a discussion today.

Start planning your StorSimple data migration today

Microsoft support for the StorSimple 8000 series will end in December 2022. Have you started planning your data migration yet?

On 31 December 2022, Microsoft will end support for all StorSimple 8000 series devices and StorSimple Data Manager and Snapshot Manager software. This end of support (EOS) date will coincide with the discontinuation – or end of life (EOL) – of the StorSimple service.

If you’re using StorSimple as your hybrid cloud storage solution, then it’s important to understand how EOS for the 8000 series and EOL retirement of the service itself will impact your enterprise. Here’s what you need to know…

EOS for the StorSimple 8000 series is effective on 31 December 2022. On that day, Microsoft will end support for:

  • StorSimple 8000 series (8100, 8600, 8010, 8020) devices
  • StorSimple Data Manager
  • StorSimple Snapshot Manager

EOL for the StorSimple service is also effective on 31 December 2022, which means the following will no longer be available:

  • All cloud management capability
  • Access to live data and backups
  • Access to customer support resources (phone, email, web)
  • Hardware replacement parts and repair services for StorSimple 8000 series devices
  • Software updates for StorSimple 8000 series devices

StorSimple users are being encouraged to finalise a migration strategy as soon as possible to avoid losing critical stored data when the StorSimple service is discontinued at the end of the year. Today, we’re answering the most common questions about StorSimple migrations to help you take your next steps…

Q. Why is Microsoft ending support for the StorSimple 8000 series?

A. The StorSimple 8000 series follows Microsoft’s Fixed Lifecycle Policy. Mainstream Support ended on 1 July 2020 and Extended Support will end on 31 December 2022.

Several other StorSimple products – including the StorSimple 5000 series, 7000 series and 1200 series – also follow Microsoft’s Fixed Lifecycle Policy, and adhere to their own EOS timelines:

Since its launch in November 2014, the StorSimple 8000 series has been embraced by enterprises looking for the best of both worlds: the scalability of cloud storage for limitless capacity, and on-premises physical or virtual storage arrays for performance and flexibility. Now, as Microsoft continues to expand its portfolio of Azure hybrid storage capabilities with new services for data tiering and cloud ingestion, there are more options for customers to store data natively in Azure.

Q. I have data stored locally on my StorSimple device. What will happen to that data, beyond the StorSimple EOL date in December 2022?

A. You will lose all data stored locally on your StorSimple device, which has a limited, local cache capacity. Microsoft has advised customers: “Once the StorSimple cloud service is shut down, you will not be able to access tiered files that your local device only holds a cloud reference for… Eventually, the device will stop working when it is no longer able to reach the cloud service.” To preserve your data, you need to migrate it into a new solution before the StorSimple EOL date in December 2022.

Q. I have a StorSimple 8000 series device on-premises. What will happen to it, beyond the StorSimple EOL date in December 2022?

A. Depending on your contractual obligations, you may be able to keep the device hardware. Microsoft has indicated that it will not ask for leased devices to be returned. Bear in mind that your device will stop working; the StorSimple service will stop working; and hardware and software support will no longer be available from Microsoft.

Q. What are my StorSimple migration options?

A. As a StorSimple customer, you have a range of choices for migrating your data – but the right choice will depend on your particular business environment. You’ll have to evaluate your existing StorSimple deployments and workloads, and then match them with an alternative solution that can support your current file-storage demands and scale to meet your future requirements. Need help? Talk to our experts, who can recommend the right solution for your enterprise and customise a migration strategy to streamline your StorSimple move.

Q. How long will it take to complete my StorSimple migration?

A. Every StorSimple migration project is different and time-to-completion will depend on the structure of the existing StorSimple deployment, the data volumes in play, and any bandwidth limitations, among other factors. The depth and breadth of the planning and preparation done beforehand will also affect the speed and progression of the migration, so make sure that you engage with your cloud solution provider in advance.

The timelines announced by Microsoft (EOS for the StorSimple 8000 series and EOL for the StorSimple service) are concrete – and there are only a few months left until yearend. If you haven’t started planning your StorSimple data migration yet, then you should prioritise the task immediately so that your stored files remain accessible beyond 31 December 2022.

‘Find your passion and make it your life’

BUI Technical Consultant Emily Bekker tells us how she embraced her inner nerd and defied expectations to pursue a career in technology.

“I did one of those aptitude tests in high school and the recommended job for me was ‘mechanic’ or something hands-on like that,” says BUI Technical Consultant Emily Bekker as she describes an early discussion about her career path. “The test revealed that I used both sides of my brain equally… Left and right, or logical and creative, pretty much the same. I was advised to look at professions where I’d get to use the two abilities together, but I already knew I wanted to work with computers. I knew that my analytical nature would serve me well,” recalls Bekker.

When she matriculated in 2005 and announced her plans to pursue CompTIA’s A+ and Network+ certifications, there were a few raised eyebrows in her Free State hometown. “My family and friends were supportive, but they were also really surprised. There were a lot of conversations that started with ‘why’,” laughs Bekker. “Even in the early 2000s, I guess the idea of a young woman wanting to study something so technical was a bit strange to people. And maybe there were expectations for me to explore art instead,” she muses.

Bekker comes from an artistic family and has been drawing and painting since childhood. “When I was little, I wanted to become a graphic designer,” she confesses. “But I got my first computer in primary school and I was fascinated by it.” Bekker’s PC DOS 6.1 provided hours of entertainment when it worked – and when it didn’t. “I was a total nerd… I still am! I’d spend all day trying to find the problem and fix it. I was curious about technology, and I was determined to learn as much as possible about my computer, step by step.”

Curiosity and critical thinking

While she’s always been inquisitive, Bekker credits her parents for the measured, methodical approach to problem-solving that she’s employed throughout her career. “My mom and dad are very grounded and very rational. They taught me how to think critically and how to look at things from different angles,” she explains. “These are valuable skills to have when you’re in an IT job, especially one where troubleshooting is an integral part of your day.”

Armed with her A+ and Network+ qualifications and a solid foundation in hardware and software support and network maintenance, Bekker joined a computer sales-and-repair store in Welkom. “It was my initiation into operational support, but I learned so much about sales, customer service, and business processes,” she says, adding that the position paved the way for her later roles with larger corporate and retail establishments, as well as a lengthy spell with a gold-mining firm.

“Working in the mining sector was an eye-opener for me,” remembers Bekker. “I knew, going in, that it was a male-dominated industry, but I’m not sure I was prepared for the level of gender bias I experienced back then. It was intimidating at first, but I wanted to prove myself. I also wanted to prove that success didn’t come down to gender.” Bekker’s tenacity paid off, and she counts her seven years as an on-site support technician among her most formative experiences.

Making a real difference for customers

Today, as a technical consultant and key member of the BUI managed services team, Bekker provides operational and service support to customers around the world. “No two days are the same, and I love that about my job,” she says, explaining how she might move from server patching one moment to desktop troubleshooting the next. “I spend a lot of time talking to people, and it’s so rewarding to be able to help them. When I’ve answered their question or fixed their issue, and they can happily move on with their day, I know I’ve made a difference. There’s always something new to learn, though, and that certainly keeps things interesting!”

Bekker is currently studying towards her Microsoft 365: Modern Desktop Administrator (Associate) certification, and plans to expand her M365 skills in the future so that she’s equipped to manage and secure Microsoft 365 enterprise environments. “I’m grateful to have such supportive colleagues here at BUI, and to be part of a company where career development is not only encouraged, but enabled.” As an enthusiastic learner, Bekker admits she finds it tough to walk away from her textbooks. “But I’m taking Women’s Day off, for sure,” she chuckles, sharing her plans for a spa day with her mom.

What else is on the horizon for Bekker? She hasn’t closed the door on her childhood aspirations and may still add “graphic design” to her list of skills – but technology remains her favourite niche. “I’m always telling people to get into the IT field… A logical brain and a healthy sense of curiosity will take you far in this industry. And don’t let anyone box you in: when you find your passion, make it your life,” she concludes.

Endpoint solutions: BUI earns 10th advanced specialization from Microsoft

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been awarded the Microsoft Modernize Endpoints Advanced Specialization for our holistic expertise in endpoint deployment, management, and security.

The Modernize Endpoints Advanced Specialization is our 10th such premier accreditation from Microsoft and our fourth in the Modern Work category, which includes Adoption and Change ManagementCalling for Microsoft Teams, and Teamwork Deployment.

To achieve it, Microsoft partners are required to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of Azure technologies and Microsoft 365, including modern and virtual desktop administration in enterprise environments. “We undergo an in-depth audit, and it’s a review of our skills, competencies, and business performance,” explains Managing Director Ryan Roseveare. “But more than that, it’s an evaluation of our ability to provide the highest levels of service. I’m proud to say the BUI team passed with flying colours once again.”

“Advanced specializations like this are important differentiators,” adds Chief Technology Officer Willem Malan. “Customers are looking for cloud partners they can trust to deliver sound guidance and superior support on every project. The Modernize Endpoints accreditation proves not only our technical aptitude, but also our success in managing access to corporate resources across mobile, desktop, and virtual endpoints. It’s a hallmark of service excellence that gives customers peace of mind. I’m thrilled to see BUI – and our Cloud Centre of Excellence in particular – acknowledged in this way.”

Effective endpoint management

In today’s hybrid workplaces, effective endpoint management is critical for productivity and security alike, says Cloud Centre of Excellence Lead Dhiren Boodhia. “More and more enterprises are giving their people the power to work from any device, in any location, and it certainly paves the way for greater collaboration across teams and time zones. But to enable remote and on-the-move employees to carry out their tasks effectively and safely, you have to deliver reliable services, consistent user experiences, and comprehensive security, no matter the endpoint in play.”

The evolving cyberthreat landscape means it’s also crucial to manage and safeguard endpoints from the get-go, notes Malan. “Your devices must be up-to-date and protected, your operating systems must be secure by design, and user access to your applications and data must be controlled. This is all possible with Microsoft technologies. Here at BUI, we’re already leveraging our expertise in security, virtualisation, networking, and identity and access management to help customers transform their endpoint estates for a more modern, secure way of working,” he says.

Roseveare welcomes Microsoft’s latest recognition of our team’s focus and acumen. “The Modernize Endpoints Advanced Specialization verifies that we can support businesses throughout the process of endpoint modernization, and empower them to give their people seamless work experiences, every day. We look forward to strengthening our relationship with Microsoft, and helping our mutual customers thrive with tools geared for the hybrid workplace,” he concludes.

Build business resiliency with endpoint management for the hybrid workplace.

You can give your remote and hybrid teams a more flexible, secure workplace that allows them to use whatever device they want to carry out daily tasks.

Talk to our experts about modern endpoint management, with cloud-powered tools for additional security, and build your business resilience with a trusted partner.