Why I love my Windows Phone 8

By Guido Marchetti, Office 365 Specialist for O2 Telefonica, MJ Flood Technology.

It’s all about the latest and greatest smart phone. Apple and Android are without question the dominant market forces, for now. Apple clearly captured first mover advantage with its market leading and trend setting iPhone. Equally, Android has a number of manufacturers producing simply stunning devices, the best of which in my opinion, is probably the Samsung.

And then there is Microsoft’s offering which has undergone quite a number of reincarnations over the years. Microsoft could be accused of having a few ‘false starts’ under their belt with their mobile platforms, but their latest, Windows Phone 8, could be about to change all that.

Microsoft has a similar model to Google and Android in that they are making their own hardware for the device like Apple. But Microsoft has chosen a number of strategic partners to take their product to market. Nokia, which for a while struggled to keep pace with new operating system and form factor developments, represents what could be called the flagship partner. And it’s this relationship which is helping to support Nokia’s image as a serious mobile player once again. HTC and Samsung have also jumped on board, manufacturing outstanding handsets that look the part, and can now boast an operating system that was designed for a smart phone and not a PC.

And this is perhaps the secret to Microsoft’s new-found success in the mobile market. Market analysts, Gartner are even predicting that by 2015, Microsoft could be the third biggest player in the smart phone wars – quite a turnaround in a relatively short space of time.

So what makes Windows Phone a true warrior? Here are my personal perspectives of using the phone over the last few months.

I have been using a device from the Nokia Lumia range, but unlike Google the operating system is the same on all platforms. A word of note: some applications may differ as different vendors have specific apps pre-loaded onto their devices. For example Nokia has the free of charge Nokia Drive – a phenomenal navigation system that will call directions out to you as you move through the city.

There’s also Nokia City Lens, which uses your phone’s camera display to reveal the best shops, restaurants, and points of interest as virtual signs overlaid on the buildings right in front of you, so you instantly see what’s there – such clever tools for when you travel. But that’s not why I love my Windows Phone 8.

People Hub

This is where I find my contacts, and not just their phone numbers. Using People Hub settings, I can add various social media accounts, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter along with my corporate email and Hotmail accounts.

So what does this mean in practical terms? Well, this is such a clever tool that I don’t need to install the Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn dedicated apps. What? That’s right. I don’t need to install them as People Hub accesses all of these accounts and shows me the latest updates from these sources. I can even find an individual and focus on their activity under their contact details. It’s so simple, so intuitive and seamlessly plugs you into all of your important social media information, professional and private.


Microsoft really plays to its strengths here. Like other smart phones I can open mail attachments on my Windows Phone 8, but unlike other smart phones it won’t change the format and I can edit the document on the phone if I want to.

How? It ships with pocket versions of Word Excel and PowerPoint and let’s face it, the vast majority of us use those full versions. Suddenly, it turns a smart device from an effective email monitoring tool to an effective productivity device. Now don’t get me wrong, you wouldn’t edit a 70 page document on a smart device but you can make small urgent changes and when working on the move, this is very often all that is required.

There is also an Office Hub, where you can instantly access your corporate SharePoint and all associated business documents. You can also access SkyDrive – a cloud-based storage space for personal data and soon to be launched professional space. This ease of access to Microsoft based corporate tools combined with personal social services is what makes this phone so loveable for me.

Kids Corner

And finally a new development with Windows 8 and something that will appeal to all parents out there is Kids Corner. It’s a built in setting that allows us to segment specific apps and games for our children to play with. So if they want to play ‘Angry Birds’ for the next four hours non-stop, they can without any risk of stumbling into your email, or any other business related links you have live on the phone. It’s like logging a new user in without having to shut down your profile. It simply gets tucked away.

When you couple the above features, with the power of Windows 8 on the desktop that plugs into the same services as on your phone, you very quickly realise that you have a seamless and consistent experience across your desktop and phone and that to me is the really clever and innovative part of what Microsoft are doing.

It doesn’t matter what device I’m on; it looks the same, behaves the same and ultimately is the same with little loss of functionality or added complexity via third parties. Quite simply I’m productive no matter what device I’m using. I use Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and I love it. Yes it has its annoying little quirks but my experience has been nothing but positive.

So if you’re looking for a change, I would say give Windows Phone 8 a try, and who knows, you too might end up wondering why you didn’t try it sooner.

The IT support conundrum – in-house or outsource

by David Flood, Senior IT Sales Consultant, MJ Flood Technology

With the adverse effect of the economic downturn on many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), questions are being asked about IT support; is it a necessity or a luxury and more critically, should it be managed in-house or outsourced to an external provider.

As someone with over 15 years’ experience in this area, my advice is to use a combination of both.

Why? To put it simply, you know your company better than anyone. You know the strengths and weaknesses within your IT department and therefore know when and where you need to call on a specialist partner who can provide you with the expertise and/or service elements needed to ‘plug the gaps’, so to speak.

The answer to this question also depends to some degree on who you ask within the company.

From a financial director’s point of view, there is the guarantee of knowing on a month by month basis exactly what you are getting; the service provided by your internal IT department and the discreet elements from the third party provider. By choosing not to pursue this hybrid model, presents the prospect of a laborious recruitment process involving several staff members and a period of induction and training for the individual to bring them up to speed.

If you consider the man hours and financial cost of this approach (including the salary you are going to have to pay) and the on-going man hours involved, finance has to contemplate a substantial year one cost for the person hired for that specific job. According to the Aberdeen research group, you’re probably only getting around 60 per cent staff utilisation in that first year meaning 40 per cent of the time is non-productive.

The other glaring consideration – and apologies for stating the obvious – is that technology is moving at an incredible rate. Within the last five years alone, a number of disruptive advances have emerged. While some organisations are dipping their toes in some of these areas, very few are taking a strategic long term approach.

Consider some of the following developments which are revolutionising the way in which traditional IT services are delivered to the user:

  • Cloud Back-up Data is moving to the cloud so IT Departments have to understand the cloud, cloud computing as well as the myriad of international data compliance regulations currently in place.
  • Virtualisation Isn’t IT becoming more and more virtualised? This means the homogeneity of systems is no longer an issue for companies and buying the best or cheapest product regardless of manufacturer tends to be the norm, but it shouldn’t be. Simply start with what you need but ensure the right solution is put in place to allow you to expand with ease and with the minimal of expense.
  • BYOD Whether you like it or not, Bring Your Own Device isn’t going to go away and is increasingly becoming the reality most businesses face today. Within our client base, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the numbers of enquiries related to this and we have quickly built a reputation as one of the leading installation and support agents for devices, thanks to our strategic relationships with O2 and Zenprise. The use of such devices moves us nicely onto the next point…
  • Security For many SMBs, this area is poorly served by the security software industry but there is a gradual realisation by the major vendors, that holistic security for smaller enterprises is just as important and there is a real need to transition them away from their current mish mash of security tools to a more holistic approach.

So what does all this mean for modern IT support in the average SMB? Very simply, they have to expert in cloud technologies, virtualisation, multiple hardware platforms, multiple software disciplines, multiple operating systems as well as a security expert.

This is not realistic or affordable for the average SMB that really needs to be allocating scarce resources to business expansion or service development.

And with businesses no longer just supported by IT but totally reliant on it, any major IT service outage could have really serious implications for the health of that business.

MJ Flood Technology believes in “Business without Boundaries” and we’re passionate about being great at what we do; giving businesses the expertise, quality and level of service they deserve for a fraction of the cost.

I’d appreciate your own opinions or experiences on IT support. Feel free to engage with me on LinkedIn or on Twitter (@DavidFlood9) or by email ( dflood@mjf.ie ) or we can do it the old fashioned way over a cup of coffee and a chat!

Does your organisation have a robust backup and disaster recovery plan?

By David Flood, senior IT solutions consultant with MJ Flood Technology

Our recent survey into backup and disaster recovery practices covered by the Irish Times, has yielded some frightening statistics, which we should all be concerned about.

  • 40% of Irish organisations have no documented IT DR plan
  • 44% have no IT budget allocated to back-up or DR technologies
  • One fifth have confirmed a serious incident of data loss in the last 12 months
  • One in four do not back-up business data held at branch or remote sites
  • One quarter would require more than four business days to reinstate their systems following a disaster
  • These are quite startling, I think you’d agree but I can also see why businesses can leave themselves so open to the potential of a disaster.

I believe that advances in technology are to some degree, confusing a lot of small and mid-sized businesses – businesses that have one or two people providing support for the entire company are getting bamboozled with so many technologies, vendors, solutions and applications in the marketplace.

MJ Flood Technology is a case in point; we cover everything from tape units, remote support of back-up systems, back-up software and management technologies, cloud back-up services, cloud monitoring of back-ups, data hosting and this doesn’t even include any of our DR services.

Some organisations feel it’s best to get their service provider in for a day to assess their infrastructure and processes, document the findings and (hopefully) this will be enough. After all, they’ve only incurred the cost of an engineer to complete this.

But realistically, the approach needs to be much more holistic than that. There needs to be more communication between the IT department and its support provider to ensure the message is driven home to senior management of the actual financial, reputational and commercial risks for businesses if they fail to implement proper governance around data protection.

A holistic plan needs to be put in place with the service provider to educate management that no matter what they think about IT, data is the life blood of any business and should be afforded adequate investment in order to protect it. Only through effective communication can this be framed to address the regulatory requirements of the individual organisation as there is no “one size fits all” solution.

The knock-on effect from such an approach, if done the correct way will yield a number of benefits:

  • Addressing the regulatory requirements of your company
  • Through proper planning, downtime will be dramatically reduced due to regular testing of the service throughout the year
  • Business reputation will be improved through proper planning and execution of the plan.

On the positive side, our survey also reveals that over half those who responded confirmed that they foresee some form of IT spend on back-up in the coming year.

On the negative side, most companies haven’t quantified the cost of non-availability of key systems and applications or the actual cost of complete data loss. It’s a sobering thought but there are very cost-effective methods of data backup and recovery, which will afford even the smallest organisation a robust level of protection for their mission-critical data.

Think about it for a moment. What financial, commercial and reputational cost do you put upon recovering your data in minutes or hours instead of days or weeks?

Data loss can be catastrophic for a company but by working with best-of-breed partners such as MJ Flood Technology, you can go a long way to protecting the most precious asset in your business.

Business operations at risk as companies fail to invest in IT disaster planning

A substantial number of Irish organisations are putting their business operations at risk by failing to invest in IT disaster recovery planning, according to the results of a survey released today by leading IT services supplier, MJ Flood Technology.

The research into data management practices reveals that 40 per cent of organisations have no documented IT disaster recovery plan to deal with unforeseen events such as fire, flood or theft, which could negatively impact the delivery of critical systems and applications used to run their business.

A failure by 44 per cent of organisations to invest in appropriate disaster recovery systems coupled with poor practice in data backup is placing business operations at serious risk.

This is confirmed by the fact that almost one quarter of those questioned said they would require more than four business days to reinstate their systems following an unforeseen event.

“Many organisations, particularly smaller ones are hanging by a thread in terms of protecting their mission-critical business data,” says “Research conducted by us since 2008 reveals a consistent failure by senior management to recognise the acute financial, reputational and commercial risks for businesses that cannot retrieve and recover data. Data is the lifeblood of the digital age and should be afforded the robust protection it deserves with proper planning and adequate financial investment,” he says.

Almost one quarter (24 per cent) of organisations said that business data held at branch or remote offices is not backed up while 22 per cent admit that backup tapes or disks are not always removed off site according to best practice. Backup verification, or the process to ensure that all files in the backup are readable and can be restored, is also neglected by some. 21 per cent of respondents admit that these data integrity checks are only performed every six months.

Data loss also appears to be growing in frequency with 21 per cent of respondents confirming a serious incident in the previous 12 months, up from 13 per cent in 2011. 45 per cent acknowledge problems when recovering data, an increase of four per cent on 2011.

“The vast majority of IT professionals have never calculated the hourly cost of operational downtime,” according to Hennigan. “As a result, many prioritise IT spending for projects with higher perceived priority and a more demonstrable return on investment. It is encouraging though that over half of respondents (56 per cent) indicated some form of IT spend on backup in the past year. 25 per cent signal an increase in that spend in 2013.”

The research was conducted online during December 2012 and sought opinion from IT professionals across a wide range of industry sectors including financial services, insurance, manufacturing, food, utilities and public sector.

MJ Flood Technology is CA’s only Platinum Partner in Ireland, the highest level of accreditation possible in the CA partner program. This accreditation recognises MJ Flood Technology’s expertise in designing and deploying CA’s suite of innovative data protection products with its own professional services to unify and simplify complex IT environments to promote more secure data management.