14 December 2021

December monthly news

Hello and welcome to our final monthly news roundup of the year. We’ve got loads to tell you, including our Christmas opening hours, and also that we won the Cloud Distributor of the Year award at the CRN Channel Awards.

Without further delay, let’s get things moving.

Here’s Tom Marwood, head of partner management here at Westcoast Cloud, with his summary of everything you need to hear about, including new products, new product names, and more.

Hacked off with hackers?

Cybercrime is booming. There was a 300% increase in attacks last year, and it’s not just big business that’s being targeted. Smaller businesses are in the firing line too.
Which is why having access to the best possible security systems is so important.
Microsoft Defender for Business does exactly that. It means that businesses with less than 300 employees can now build the kind of defence you’d usually only see at a major enterprise.
Better still, you don’t need to be some kind of techno Jedi to get it working. It’s been designed to be quick, easy and cost-effective to use.
Defender for Business was announced in preview last week.

Read all about it here.

Choose the right plan for your enterprise customers

On the subject of security, some of you are already familiar with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. But did you know that there’s a new licence plan in place?

It offers advanced tools to hunt for hidden malware in a corporate network and can spot any unauthorised devices that have been connected to a network.

Find out how we can help you get the right Defender for Endpoint solution to your customers.

Metaverse here we come

Starting next year, you’ll be able to create your very own little 3D avatar to use in Teams calls.

Working as your representative in the metaverse, your avatar will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even on days when you are definitely not.

Designed to keep engagement levels up, without the burden of always being on camera, there is a serious side to using avatars like this. But the biggest benefit might be that you’ll never have to tidy your hair up again while working from home.

Read more about avatars, holographic images and the metaverse.

Loop the loop

The development of avatars for use in Teams shows just how much the world of work has changed since 2019. Hybrid working is here to stay and technology is helping.

One challenge of hybrid working is that people don’t always come together to collaborate as much as they used to in ‘the olden days’.

Microsoft Loop is here to help. It’s a collaboration tool that automates a range of tips and suggestions.

Flexible enough to be used for simple stuff like messaging. But powerful enough to pull data from Dynamics.

Find out more about Microsoft Loop.

What’s in a name?

There were lots of name-changes announced at Microsoft Ignite in November. We’ve summarised the key ones for you.

  • Microsoft Threat Protection is now Microsoft 365 Defender.
  • Azure Advanced Threat Protection has changed its name to Microsoft Defender for Identity.
  • Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection is now Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.
  • Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection is now Microsoft Defender for Office 365
  • Azure Security Centre Standard Edition is now called Azure Defender for Servers.
  • Azure Security Centre for IoT is now called Azure Defender for IoT.
  • Advanced Threat Protection for SQL is now called Azure Defender for SQL.

You can find the full details here.

End of Open Licensing – Do Not Hang About!

On 31 December, Microsoft Open Licensing will come to an end. And if you’re anticipating any deals to close by year-end you might need to act fast to avoid disappointment.

Microsoft expects a rush of last-minute orders, but anything that isn’t processed in time will be voided as the clock strikes 12.

Our advice is simple – don’t leave things until the last minute.

Viva la vida!

Workplace Analytics has a new name and a raft of new features.

Say hello to Microsoft Viva, described by Microsoft as “the first employee experience platform for the hybrid era”.

From company culture to training tips – it will even make suggestions about items in your inbox that you should follow up on.

Read about Viva here.

New Commerce Experience: Coming Soon

We were all expecting it to be here by now. But the October launch of NCE has been delayed until the New Year.

One reason given for the holdup has been technical difficulties.

Another is customer feedback. We are committed to being the voice for reseller businesses like yours, and are routinely sharing your feedback with Microsoft.
So, please keep airing your views and opinions – and we’ll keep passing your concerns on.

This update for small businesses is Essential

Cost is at the top of the priority list for most SMBs at the moment, which is why we think the new Microsoft Teams Essentials package should be a must have for your digital toolbox.

 

Specifically designed with small businesses in mind, it offers great value at a great price and it boasts a host of useful features such as:

 

  • Unlimited group video calls for up to 30 hours
  • Group chat, file sharing, and calendaring
  • Chat and collaboration all in one place – no need to jump between platforms

Find out more about Microsoft Team Essentials here

Teams Phone with Calling Plan

Big news. Microsoft is on course to consolidate its entire Voice portfolio into one brand new SKU: The Teams Phone and Teams Phone with Calling Plan.

 

The Teams Phone and Teams Phone with Calling Plan will be available to purchase starting from 1st January 2022. And Microsoft 365 Business Voice will be phased out on 1st March 2022.

 

So, what does it mean for you?

 

For existing Business Voice customers: You’ll continue to use Business Voice until your subscription expires. After that, you’ll get directed to your new Teams Phone and Calling Plan bundle.

 

For new customers: As of March next year, all customers who want the MS calling plan will only be offered the new Teams Phone package.

 

Additional communications about the change are scheduled to go out on January 1st next year. Don’t worry, we’ll keep an eye out for you!

Find out more about the new Microsoft Teams Phone and Teams Phone with Calling Plan here

And finally…

Christmas is almost upon us. That means our normal business hours will be a little less normal for a while.

Our last working day is Christmas Eve and we’ll be back in the new year on the 4th of January.

During that time, our helpdesk will be around for phone-based support. So you’ll still be able to get hold of us if you need help between presents and turkey sandwiches.

It’s been an eventful year to say the least. Thank you for your continued support.

If we don’t get to speak to you beforehand, we’d like to wish you all the very best for the festive season.

Got a topic for us to cover next month?

Need a bit of extra support from your Westcoast Cloud team? Reach out to your Westcoast Cloud contact, or email us on marketing@westcoastcloud.co.uk