May 18, 2022

How I built a helpdesk reporting system using Looker and BigQuery

At Cobry, we love data. We’re always searching for new ways to use our data, and since Google Cloud Platform is the cloud of choice for everything from data storage to machine-learning analyses, we have the finest tools at our disposal to make our data dreams come to life.

So, how do we manage our data? And where does it even come from? You may not think that you have any data to process, but if you use even a single SaaS tool, chances are you have plenty to start analysing. Do you run adverts? That’s data. Are you selling things? Data! What about your support desk? That will be generating data too!

Nowadays, basically everything your enterprise does will generate data in some way. And if you’re not capitalising on that data, you’re leaving yourself in the dark. Modern businesses make data-driven decisions, and that is what enables them to succeed over their competitors. For example, when Tesco introduced the Clubcard scheme, they “learned more about [their] customers in three months than [they] had ever learned in thirty years”, enabling them to become the UK’s dominant supermarket.

With this in mind, I began working on a data pipeline for Cobry. Specifically, we were aiming to analyse our own support desk so as to better understand our clients’ needs and identify where we could go further to help them succeed. Our support desk tool of choice is Freshdesk, and so this is where our data journey began. 

The Technical Considerations

Do I need streaming or batch data?

Data comes in many forms, and the type of data impacts how your data architecture will look. The two general forms of data for which you will create pipelines are streaming and batch data. Streaming data is a constant flow of real-time data, such as data generated by the stock market. Batch data, on the other hand, is retrieved periodically in large amounts, such as ‘every purchase made this month’. 

Which mode of data you choose will depend on your ultimate goal. If you’re aiming to make weekly or monthly reports, then batch data is a good choice because it updates your data all at once at a specified frequency. However, if you need fresh or live data, a streaming pipeline is a better choice since the figures will update as soon as new data is generated. 

How can I design with cloud principles in mind?

Like everything we do in the cloud, the goal is to make this pipeline secure, reliable and scalable. This is made relatively easy by GCP’s managed services, which automatically provision more resources as and when they are required, which keeps costs minimised. This process is known as elastic scaling. These managed services also offer multi-regional redundancy, so the pipeline is sure to be reliable.  We can also take advantage of other services on GCP - such as the Secret Management System - to keep usernames and passwords, API keys and other sensitive information encrypted and hidden from code files.

For our Freshdesk pipeline, we decided that monthly reports were the goal, and so with these considerations in mind, I started to architect a batch data pipeline on GCP:

There are four main services used in this pipeline: Cloud Functions, Cloud Dataflow, BigQuery, and Looker. There are a few other services at play as well, such as Cloud Storage, which we use as a data lake, and Cloud Scheduler, which is used to set the frequency of the pipeline’s ETL (extract, transform, load) cycle. In fact, thanks to Google's fantastic code libraries and managed services, and Apache Beam’s high compatibility with Cloud Storage and BigQuery, the whole pipeline required as little as 250 lines of code!

Step 1: Retrieving Data with Cloud Functions

Cloud Functions is a fully managed environment in GCP for running instantaneous workloads without any operational overhead. You can write scripts using some of the most popular programming languages, such as Python and Node.js, and you can trigger them in a number of ways, such as via HTTP(s), cron schedules, message queues, and certain events which take place in GCP. Cloud Functions are ideal for short, event-based executions, so it’s perfect for executing a small script once a day.

To begin the extraction of data from Freshdesk, I wrote a short python script that connects to their API, retrieves all of the latest ticket changes and then stores them in Google Storage. I’m then able to upload this script to Cloud Functions, and then I can trigger the script using a cron job managed by Cloud Scheduler, which runs the code once a day. And just like that, we’ve got our data on the Google Cloud Platform!

Step 2: Transforming the Data with Cloud Dataflow

Now that our data has arrived in GCP, I have to convert it to a more easily analysed form. Currently, the data is unstructured in Cloud Storage. This is essentially acting as a data lake, where we can store all of our data in one place before moving it selectively to be used elsewhere. 

Cloud Dataflow is a managed service for running Apache Beam workloads. You can create templates using their SDKs in various languages and then execute them on GCP in either streaming or batch form. GCP also offers many pre-existing templates, which means you often don’t even need to write any code. I wrote my own template in python, which takes the raw, unstructured JSON data we extracted into Cloud Storage and converts the values to BigQuery compatible formats. It then adds the new data to a BigQuery table containing all of the previous ticket updates. With Dataflow, we’ve taken care of transforming and loading our data into our data warehouse (that’s BigQuery).

Step 3: Creating a Data Warehouse with BigQuery

BigQuery is a relational database solution for storing large amounts of data ready to be processed. It’s highly available and can link to many other data analysis tools, from simple (but powerful) tools such as Google sheets to full-scale data analysis platforms like Looker. BigQuery’s role in this pipeline is to act as a data warehouse. Initially, our data was unstructured and stored in Cloud Storage. This is good for raw data as it means we can do absolutely anything with it, but it also means that we can’t easily access or query it. Once we move the data into BigQuery, it becomes structured, and we can query it using SQL - in other words, our data is now ready to be analysed.

Step 4: Visualising our Data with Looker

Now that we have our data in BigQuery, we can easily visualise it by connecting it to Looker. Looker is a powerful data analysis platform typically used for business intelligence reporting. Its goal is to create a unified data culture for businesses where data is clear and readily available to be analysed in new ways. Once I connected BigQuery to Looker, I was able to define data models using Looker’s intuitive LookML modelling language to refine the data in a manageable way.

The Results and Business Outcomes

Helpdesk Transparency

Our managers and directors have a direct picture of our helpdesk performance. We can pull this up in performance reviews, QBRs and forecasts. 

Helpdesk Autonomy

Our helpdesk staff can now generate reports on statistics through Looker. They can go and create reports themselves, using the same data that the rest of the company is using. Our technical team also has the ability to change the definitions of these metrics as business needs change.

Potential for additional services

Our customers come first, and we aim to be as transparent as possible. Having this helpdesk information in a system that allows for better reporting means that we can potentially include ticketing dashboards externally for our customers. This way, they can keep tabs on how much help their employees and colleagues get from us.

With the pipeline complete, I can create brilliant Looker dashboards and reports. They can be automatically emailed to stakeholders periodically, so we’ve been able to realise our data dreams using GCP and Looker!

Make your data dreams come true

To find out how you could make your data go further, get in touch with Cobry. Our team of experts will blend their deep knowledge of GCP’s data tools with your organisation’s needs. We’ll get your data infrastructure up and running, and you’ll be able to start making data-driven decisions in no time.

Drop your email and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

May 16, 2022

How to make your business more sustainable (with examples from Cobry)

“Sustainability” largely entered the business lexicon around the time of rising environmental consciousness, when talks of “going green” were becoming increasingly pronounced. A few years ago there was a dramatic shift in the business landscape, spurred on by a tide of public opinion that called for changes to the way we do things in order to take us back from the cliff edge of global warming - for, as any climate change activist will readily point out, there is no Planet B.

Sustainability is often synonymised with being environmentally friendly, and this is indeed half the deck. This does mean there is also another half to it: the human side. The UN Sustainable Development Goals, used by many organisations (ourselves included) as a measurement of how sustainable their practices are, have ten of these goals relating to how we live as a society. Diversity, justice, good working conditions and innovation are just as important to sustainable development as eliminating your carbon footprint.

To put it in simple terms, sustainability can be thought of as an elimination exercise: an elimination of activities that will, sooner or later, result in somebody saying: “we can’t keep going like this”.

So how does one move towards sustainability? Having been through a sustainability push ourselves, here are some of the methods we use!

Going green: the environmental side of sustainability

How can you ensure that your operations are the greenest they can be? There are several solutions that we implement.

  • While the installation of recycling bins has become something of a sustainability cliche (and some even more cynical people may call it a hallmark of greenwashing), it is worth mentioning and implementing since landfill contributes to 11% of global CO2 emissions. With both points in mind, we’ll just quickly say we do it and move things along!
  • Select an office space that uses renewable energy: this was one of the key reasons why we moved our offices to where they are currently located.
  • Encourage staff to use greener methods of transport: Cobry participates in the cycle-to-work scheme as well as the more recently released electric vehicles scheme, and our offices are located near bus and train stations to encourage staff to take public transport.
  • Go paperless as much as possible - not only will it save you money in printing costs, but it’s also much friendlier towards trees. All of Cobry’s documents are stored electronically, on Google Workspace, ensuring that our paper usage is kept to a minimum.

Taking care of your staff: The human side of sustainability

Staff sustainability is one of the key reasons why sustainability is more than a nice-to-have, for several reasons. An enthusiastic workforce is one that is more productive, is more likely to go the extra mile and is easier to retain. And increasingly, customers pay very close attention to how a company treats its staff when making purchase decisions.

Therefore, taking care of your staff is a core part of sustainability. There are several ways you can achieve this.

Salaries are worth discussing in their own paragraph. Anything less than a suitable wage is a false economy: you can have all the coffee machines in the world in your office and throw a pizza party for the ages, but as long as staff can’t make ends meet you’ll be saying goodbye to them soon enough. Becoming a certified living wage employer, as Cobry is, is one way to ensure that your staff will have enough to survive and thrive relative to local costs of living. Note to any companies based in London: as the Big Smoke is pricier, the living wage there is two pounds higher than in the rest of the country.

Moving onto other benefits, here are some that Cobry provides to every staff member:

  • Constant learning opportunities, in the form of in-person training and online courses and reading materials.
  • Provision of out-of-work benefits, such as socials and free books.
  • Free coffee, which we get delivered to employees’ homes.
  • Participation in government schemes such as the electric vehicle and cycle-to-work schemes - some of these can be joined at no extra cost to your business.
  • Flexible hours - staff members can have all sorts of different personal preferences for when to work for various reasons. Some may be balancing work and care responsibilities, some may feel more productive at different times of the day and some may prefer to take a longer lunch break.
  • Generous pension contributions - even if your team is young, it’s never too early to prepare them for retirement.
  • Allowing people to work remotely - Cobry is a remote-first workplace, and four of our current eighteen staff members live outside of Glasgow where our offices are based. Reduced stress, increased inclusivity for disabled individuals or parents, and the ability to work from areas with lower costs of living are just some of the reasons why working from home has been a boon to the human side of sustainability.
  • A four-day workweek - this was probably the most ambitious benefit Cobry sought to provide to staff, and after a successful trial that found it significantly reduced stress and burnout, and that the aim of achieving the 80/100/100 rule (80% time, 100% pay, 100% productivity) had been accomplished, we decided to make it an official policy. Flexibility is key here: staff can choose which days to take off, can split time off across multiple days or can choose to opt-out altogether.

The company you keep: ensuring your suppliers are sustainable

However green your own operations are, partnering with less-than-responsible organisations will spill over onto your sustainability score. Additionally, responsible suppliers can become a strong talking point marketing-wise. Note that suppliers are not just limited to groups that supply your product’s components (which may have been the first thought to enter your head if you’re a service provider).

For example, consider where you get your coffee from (everyone loves a good cup of coffee, don’t they?) - we get ours from Dear Green Coffee, a Glasgow-based supplier with sustainability right at the heart of what they do - a recently certified B corp, they make sure to treat people and the planet well by not only looking inward but also vetting suppliers carefully.

Digital infrastructure is another supplier to consider for sustainability wins. One of the major reasons we partnered with Google is that it is the greenest cloud solution available: already carbon-neutral, by 2030 Google aims to have its data centres running on completely carbon-free energy and deliver six times the computing capacity of alternatives for the same amount of power. Additionally, Google provides its solutions for free to many sustainability-oriented nonprofits, and all Google Cloud customers can access a tool called the Carbon Suite which enables them to calculate their carbon footprint.

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With sustainability close to our hearts and technical expertise to match, Cobry is the ideal partner to move your organisation to a more sustainable way of doing things with Google Cloud (as well as a myriad of other benefits). Get in touch with us to get started!

May 9, 2022

Why it’s essential to have a grasp of your data

Why data is important to making decisions, how to spot common data problems, and how to fix them.

Read more

April 14, 2022

Three things to consider when you’ve been SAAS shopping

It feels good, doesn’t it?

Your team has a new collection of software and tools that will make your work much easier - hello automation, hello efficiency, welcome to a brighter tomorrow for your business. 

A completed SAAS “blowout” is one of the best parts of digital transformation, whether you work in a new business or are in one that’s undergoing change. Now that you have been on this shopping spree though, there are a few things to consider to ensure that the blowout doesn't become a bother.

How will you pool together all the data these applications generate?

This is one of the most common problems and/ or missed opportunities businesses that have been splashing the SAAS cash will face. SAAS tools often have their own data collection abilities (if you want to check, look for a “download as CSV” option), but the way this data gets used often results in it becoming unreliable and a source of frustration. Data gets siloed when there are multiple pieces of data used by multiple teams in multiple locations: the marketing team is using Google Analytics, the Support desk are using Freshdesk, the sales team are using Hubspot, but some of them use Salesforce and some of them use a spreadsheet. The accounting team uses Xero, Quickbooks, practice ignition, Docusign… you get the idea.

The key to getting around this is to have what data practitioners call “one source of data truth”: a single, centralised database or data lake (the latter is best if not all the data is coming in columnar format), where all the data is available under the same definitions and everybody has access to its latest version. Since databases don’t present data in an easily digestible format, a self-serve BI tool such as Looker to analyse and visualise this data through dashboards makes for a valuable piece of the puzzle.

What will you do with all these new logins?

SAAS tools typically come with their own authentication, which raises questions around security - and, tied into this, accessibility. You will need a way of ensuring that the number of new sites to log into does not become a liability - ditto having a single password for everything, which can be a security risk. The flip side is ensuring it doesn’t create inefficiencies with staff members having to remember which password goes for what. 

Password managers are particularly useful in this regard as they ensure you only need to remember a single password to access the rest - this does mean you will need a PM whose own security makes it digitally impregnable. For that reason, among others, we recommend 1Password.

Will there be training required in any of these tools?

Some tools are simple and intuitive to use, others less so. Don’t get us wrong, sometimes complexity is a good thing, but it can mean training may be required. One possible avenue is to scour the net for online courses or tutorials. Many of these, including ones provided by the tool itself, are free. You may also find that training sessions are available, whether through the provider themselves or a third party (such as Cobry). And finally, if you’ve been assigned a customer success manager, book a call with them as they will, through getting to know your organisation and its goals, be able to recommend the parts your organisation will find useful.

How Cobry can help

With our years of tech expertise (techspertise?), Cobry can assist in every single aspect mentioned within this blog post:

  • With our knowledge of Google Cloud Platform, we can help you in every step of the data governance process from collecting the data with ETL pipelines to analysing it with Looker.
  • We hold training sessions for all of our customers, primarily in using Google Workspace, and can also organise sessions in other tools upon request.
  • With our Solution Stack we can advise on any additional SAAS applications to nicely round off your SAAS toolkit. We’re partnered with all listed organisations (including 1Password), and by purchasing them through us we can help you get started with them at no extra cost to you!

April 11, 2022

Building your data infrastructure: first picks from the Google Cloud toolbelt

Google Cloud Platform presents the ideal one-stop-shop for all things data, from collecting it to applying it in your everyday activities. We’ve put together this cheat sheet to demystify the whole process!

Read more

February 22, 2022

8 reasons Cobry chose 1Password as our password manager (and why you should too)

Cobry is an official 1Password partner. Read on to find out how 1Password can strengthen your organisation's cybersecurity down to the individual level!

Why does my organisation need a password manager?

No longer is the security of your organisation’s data and files just the IT crowd’s problem: every employee now works as a part-time cybersecurity guard. 

Any good cybersecurity initiative should take the Human Factor into account, and our memories can only hold so much information. When was the last time you remembered a single incarnation of something as secure as bn2ecf@M-HX$gHq*, let alone a new one for every site?

Enter password managers such as 1Password. 

Much like writing down all your passwords on a notepad, except much more secure, password managers store every password for every site in one place, one you can access through a master password. A single password. One password, if you will.

Why is 1Password the ideal password manager?

It enables you to perform a mini security audit.

1Password has a feature called Watchtower that enables you to quickly review all your passwords. Clicking the dropdown will quickly show you if you’ve reused any passwords, if you have stored logins for unsecured websites or if any of your websites have had security breaches. It will also flag up any passwords its systems categorise as “weak” or “terrible”.

1Password's watchtower feature is shown on the left, with all its features listed.

Their own security is top-tier.

1Password data is encrypted using AES 256-bit encryption, which is also used by major banks, Google and government institutions such as the NSA and US Military. Even with a supercomputer, it would take at least 220 nonillion years to crack - a number that is neither made up, exaggerated, nor younger than the universe.

It’s not just for passwords.

1Password also enables you to store information such as credit card details, documents, medical records, secure notes and databases. Clicking the plus sign beside the search bar will provide more specific suggestions on what you can add.

You can organise your data into what 1Password calls “vaults”.

You can set up as many vaults as you want, based on whatever segmentation you would like: data type (credit card details, passwords, ID documents, etc); the purpose for which this data would be used (e.g. social media logins, project documents, etc); and who can access each vault. One handy feature is travel mode. When enabled, it will only permit access to vaults that have been marked as “safe for travel” and prevent customs officials from clapping eyes on any non-essential docs.

1Password vaults are shown, together with the option to manage colleagues' access.

Your data is kept secret.

True to having tip-top security, 1Password forgoes the quick quid it could make from using trackers or displaying adverts. Perfect for those who value staying incognito!

You can leave the password creation to 1Password’s Chrome extension.

Remember our old friend bn2ecf@M-HX$gHq*?

Let’s take a step back: wouldn’t it be nice if you could generate something that impregnable in one click? With the 1Password Chrome extension added, every time you click on the password box when signing on for a service will be met with a hard-as-iron suggested password. Accepting it will store it, as well as your email address, in your account. The next time you log in will only require a click or a scan of your finger or face. 

Speaking of which…

Multi-factor authentication is built-in.

1Password constantly stays ahead of the authentication curve to offer users the latest and greatest in login experiences: two examples they have recently integrated into their systems are facial recognition and fingerprint scanning. So, as long as it works on your device itself, it will also work on 1Password!

The user interface is easy to navigate.

From getting started on your account to adding and accessing items, 1Password’s intuitive interface enables you to hit the ground running as a new user. 

Getting started

The best way to see how user-friendly it is? Give it a try! 1Password is offering a free 14 day trial for business accounts, and you don’t need to enter your credit card details!

Since you've made it this far, clearly this is resonating! We're official 1password partners, so drop your email below and one of our super-talented team members will help your organisation get set up with this trial at no extra cost to you!

April 4, 2019

G Suite Billing – Everything you need to know

Update 07/04/2022: G Suite is now Google Workspace - however, the information below still applies.

G Suite was designed with simplicity in mind, as Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

This extends not only to the apps being used on a daily basis, but also to managing your G Suite billing and account from the Admin Console. Most of your company details, security settings and payment options can be managed from here, including; company profile and logo, new users, password resets, primary contacts and security settings.

However, there are some key settings that cannot be amended from the Admin Console, for which you will need the help of either Google Support or a Google Cloud Partner. In this blog, we’re going to cover all of the administrative tasks involved with managing a G Suite domain, such as billing, company details, new and suspended user accounts and switching currency.

G Suite Payment Methods

Google accepts payments for service subscriptions in more than 230 countries using major credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. In some locations, you can also pay by direct debit from a bank account.

The exact payment methods and currencies you can use depend on the country you select when you first set up your G Suite domain. You can see the options available in the UK below and the rest of the world via this link.

United KingdomBritish Pounds Sterling, U.S. DollarsBank account (direct debit)*Credit or debit card*Only in British Pounds Sterling and with "Business" tax status

If the payment method you want is an accepted form of payment, but does not appear for your country, contact your Google Cloud Partner, or get in touch with us at info@cobry.co.uk and we would be happy to help you with this.

Google Cloud Partners are also able to accept different payment methods, such as bank transfer. If this is your preferred payment method, you can get in touch with Cobry to arrange an update to your G Suite billing.

G Suite Billing plans

When setting up billing for your G Suite account, you can choose between 2 different payment plans, detailed below:

  • Flexible Plan - You’re billed on a monthly basis for each active user account.
  • Annual Plan - By committing to a year of service, you can gain a discount for a minimum number of licenses.

Adding More G Suite Users

Regardless of your payment plan, you can add new users to your account as and when required. This will lead to an increase in your payments to cover the new licences. However, when using an annual plan, you can not remove user licences until it's time to renew your contract.

If you need to add new users, you can either purchase licences from your Admin Console if you’re in a contract directly with Google, or you can ask your Google Cloud Partner to provision the licences and create the user accounts for you.  

Renewing Your G Suite Annual Plan

It’s recommended if you have an Annual Plan with Google that you set up an automatic renewal so that you don’t forget to renew and end up with a service interruption. Alternatively, you can switch to a Flexible Plan at the end of your contract which will renew on a monthly basis and allow you to add and remove users as required, at any time.

If you have an agreement in place with a Google Cloud Partner, then you may have more options in terms of renewal, such as an annual commitment - paid monthly. This brings all the benefits of locking in a lower price but also helping cash flow by paying monthly. If this is something of interest, you can contact Cobry via info@cobry.co.uk to arrange.

Suspended G Suite accounts

If you’re contracted directly with Google and your automatic payment fails, you will have 30 days to update your payment method or your service will be suspended. When this happens, you can lift your suspension by paying your balance.

If your licences are provided by a Google Cloud Partner, then they may have different terms and conditions. For example, Cobry provides businesses with an invoice and flexible billing options to lower the risk of account suspension.

Update G Suite Business Address

If your business has moved since you set up billing for your G Suite domain, you can update the address in your Admin console. (See next section below for updating Country and Currency).

  1. Use an administrator account to open the Google Admin console.
  2. From the Home page, go to Billing.
  3. Next to your subscription, click Actions > Access billing account.
  4. Under Settings, click Manage Settings.
  5. To the right of Business name and address, click Edit.
  6. Update your business address and click Save.

Changing G Suite Account Currency and Country

When you first set up, choose your country and currency carefully, as you can not change these selections by yourself.

To update this, you must contact your Google Cloud Partner, or if you don't currently work with a Partner, you can complete our customer transfer form via the button below and we will update these details for you.

Please note that as a UK Google Cloud Partner, we can only do this for customers looking to update their accounts to a UK address.

Google Cloud Partner Benefits

If you don’t currently have a Google Cloud Partner in place, there are definitely good reasons to consider partnering. Some of which can be found below.

  • Expert Advice
  • Best Practice
  • Admin Help
  • Licence Discounts
  • Staff Training
  • General Support
  • Workflow Design
  • Help with new features

As Scotland’s number one Google Cloud Partner, with particular expertise in G Suite, Cobry helps organisations make the move and prosper in the cloud every day. We are always happy to speak to new organisations looking for help and advice on G Suite; whether you’re in the early stages of considering the move or have been using it for a number of years, you can get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk

Contact

If you would like to find out more about managing your G Suite domain, or you’re interested in having Cobry manage it for you, you can get in touch with us at info@cobry.co.uk and we would be delighted to have a chat.

Stay up to date

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay up to date on all things G Suite, including; new features, security updates, tips, tricks and all the latest news from Google and Cobry.

March 19, 2019

G Suite Price Increase

G Suite has many strengths - Security, Collaboration, Flexibility, Scale, and plenty of others - but one undeniable strength is cost. Every company we switch to G Suite has saved significant sums on software licencing. The amazing thing is that ever since it launched over a dozen years ago, Google has never implemented a G Suite price increase - despite adding many, many features in that period. Very few products or services of any kind could say that. But, the day has come - finally, a small increase is arriving. Google will be raising its prices for the G Suite Basic and G Suite Business tiers for the first time since that launch way back in 2006.

G Suite Evolution

These increases are to reflect the huge amount of new features that have been added to the cloud service, such as video conferencing in Hangouts Meet, team messaging in Hangouts Chat, increased storage amounts and other security and productivity tools and services. You can see the addition of services over the years in the graphic below.

G Suite Price Increase

G Suite Basic prices will increase from £3.30 to £4.60 per user per month, while G Suite Business will increase from £6.60 to £9.20 per user per month. The G Suite Enterprise tier will not be affected by these increases and will continue to be billed at £20 per user per month.

G Suite pricing has always been kept simple (offering 3 different options; Basic, Business and Enterprise), compared to Office 365 which offers many different pricing tiers and can often be quite difficult for organisations to get the best value for money.

The G Suite price increase is worldwide and will come into effect on the second of April. We feel that the increase is a very fair reflection on the value that customers receive through new features and functionality. Google states that the addition of artificial intelligence and machine learning has tripled the value delivered in G Suite, so an increase of around only 20% is very reasonable.

Important Notes

  • If your organisation is currently on an annual contract, the new pricing will be applied from your renewal date.
  • Price increases are applied globally, with adjustments for certain regions.
  • If you have an agreed contract in place, this will be honoured.

For illustration purposes, a small business with 5 users of G Suite Basic will see their annual costs go from £198 to £276. A medium sized business with 100 users on G Suite Business would see their total annual costs go from £7,920 to  £11,040.

Recommended Action

If you’re currently on a monthly G Suite payment plan, we recommend contacting your Google Cloud Partner, or us via info@cobry.co.uk, to update your subscription to an annual plan. This will allow you to lock in the existing pricing for an entire year before being affected by the price increase.

This is a very straightforward process which simply involves generating a G Suite transfer token from your admin console, and we can handle the rest for you.

Missed the deadline?

If you're reading this after 02/04//2019, that means the pricing has already increased. However, we can often access and provide custom deals to new Cobry customers who make annual G Suite commitments. Get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk to find out more.

Upgrading?

If you are considering upgrading from Basic to Business or Business to Enterprise, we can also often provide special deals to make the step up in price more manageable, just get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk.

Contact

If you would like to find out more about the upcoming price revision and how it may affect your domain if you’re on a custom deal, or you just want to find out more about G Suite before making the move to the cloud, you can get in touch with us at info@cobry.co.uk and we would be delighted to have a chat.


Stay up to date

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay up to date on all things G Suite, including; new features, security updates, tips, tricks and all the latest news from Google and Cobry.

March 12, 2019

Worried about phishing? Get hooked on these 9 new security settings in G Suite

Are you a business owner or IT manager?

If you are, then as you're reading this blog post right now, your users are being targeted by phishing campaigns. Let me use 3 statistics to illustrate what I'm getting at:

1. “By the end of 2017, the average user was receiving 16 malicious emails per month.” - Symantec, 2018

16 emails a month.

Say your organisation has 50 staff - that’s 800 opportunities every single month for hackers to manipulate, exploit or seduce your staff into unwittingly giving access to your systems and data.

Now say your organisation has 500 staff, I'll let you do the maths...

2. “76% of organizations say they experienced phishing attacks in 2017.” - Wombat, 2018

Are you part of the lucky 24% of companies that haven’t been attacked? I know where I’d put my money... 

Every business needs to be thinking about protecting their data.

3. “92.4% of malware is delivered via email.” - Verizon, 2018

Looking at this last stat, can you really afford to pass up on the opportunity to protect against over 90% of the risk of your users getting malware?

Why do hackers want my data?

Hackers, scammers and modern-day digital data pirates are using all kinds of digital weaponry to try and get at your organisation’s data.

Why? For several reasons:

  • Perhaps they want to encrypt your files and demand a ransom to unlock them.
  • Possibly they are looking to steal your customers' database and sell it on the dark web.
  • Or maybe their goal is simply to cause maximum disruption to your operations. Just because they can.

Either way, it only takes one wrong click to compromise an account and start a destructive chain of events - that will at least disrupt your operations or at worst could even cause your organisation to go out of business.

Okay, I've read the stats and I get it - hackers are trying to steal my organisation’s data... But what can I do about it?

Now that you’re scared out of your wits that any minute now some mysterious and sinister-looking, shadowy figure is going to jump through the screen and demand a large sum of Bitcoin in return for the decryption of your files… let’s have a look at what you can do to protect yourself and your organisation against some of these threats.

This time last year, Google introduced 9 new email security settings specifically designed to fight back against the ever-rising threat of phishing attacks. These settings provide warnings when Gmail detects a potential suspicious email to end-users that look like this:

Phishing

We can split these 9 settings into 3 sections:

Attachments

Attachments

  • Protect against encrypted attachments from untrusted senders
  • Protect against attachments with scripts from untrusted senders
Phishing

Links and External Images

  • Identify links behind shortened URLs
  • Show warning prompt for any click on links to untrusted domains
Phishing

Spoofing and Authentication

  • Protect against domain spoofing based on similar names
  • Protect against spoofing of employee names
  • Protect against inbound emails spoofing your domain
  • Protect against any unauthenticated emails

Anti-Phishing Settings

All of these settings are absolutely first-rate features that will ultimately save the organisations using G Suite heaps of time and money, where others will struggle.

It's all well and good training staff to be vigilant against unusual emails - this is definitely an effective measure and is a service that we offer.

But when your users are getting almost an email per working day (remember the stat from earlier - 16 emails a month?) from increasingly clever hackers, it's often only a matter of time before there's a slip-up.

As humans, we aren't perfect.

This is where Google is really taking the initiative and harnessing very clever technology to combat these attacks at a user level.

So how can I take advantage of these settings?

To answer this question, let's split businesses into two categories:

  1. My business uses G Suite - you can find these settings in the admin console of your G Suite setup. We’d love to help show you how to switch these on, so if you need any technical help, just give us a call on: 0141 432 0870 or contact us via info@cobry.co.uk.
  2. My business does not use G Suite - we’d love to understand your business and explore how these settings, as well as other aspects of G Suite, would benefit your organisation. The first step is to give us a call on: 0141 432 0870 or contact us via info@cobry.co.uk.

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March 7, 2019

Cloud Myths

Since the term “Cloud Computing” was first coined in 2006, by then Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, there have been countless myths surrounding the concept. In this blog, we’re going to cover the 5 most common cloud myths that we encounter when speaking with customers about how to best store their data, including price, backups, encryption, security and physical locations.

If you can think of some other big cloud myths that we may have missed, please let us know in the comments and we can add them in below!

Cloud Myth 1: Cloud infrastructures are unsecured

Fact - it’s actually more secure for small businesses to use cloud services.

One of the most common misconceptions about cloud services is that they lack appropriate security measures. Many users think that any data stored in the cloud could be easily accessed by anyone, from anywhere. This is completely untrue. Cloud services providers like Google employ hundreds of security experts and spend millions of pounds each year, innovating to improve on security and offer new techniques such as two-factor authentication to keep your data safe.

Cloud Myth 2: Cloud services are expensive

Smaller organisations often can’t afford to have their own IT department, nevermind training them to handle online security threats. However, cloud providers offer services like multi-layered security systems and antivirus protection that keep their infrastructures safe from hackers but are also available at affordable prices through subscription services per user. Compare this to the huge setup costs and wages that are involved in running an in-house IT department and the value of a subscription service quickly shows its worth.

Cloud Myth 3: The cloud lacks proper encryption

Fact - Google encrypts all core G Suite data, inside and outside of Google.

Most people misunderstand how encryption is implemented to keep your data safe. For example, encryption is generally used for data in transition, where data is protected from anyone seeing it as it travels from one internet address to another. But encryption can also be applied to data at rest. This means that data is encrypted on a storage drive - like all data is when it’s stored within Google Drive.

Cloud Myth 4: You can always recover your cloud data

Fact - Cloud solutions are not natively designed for data restoration.

Cloud providers do offer different levels of data recovery services but not all solutions are designed to make all data available to customers. With many online services, the only built-in backup available for your data is the recycling bin, which is usually deleted automatically after 30 days. Having your data in the cloud does not mean that it is backed up - this data is still vulnerable to accidental/malicious deletion from employees and sophisticated cyber attacks. It is always our recommendation to use a cloud-to-cloud backup solution which provides automatic daily backups of your data and can restore any lost files at any time.

Cloud Myth 5: We need to have our data in our country

Fact - How data is secured is more important than where data is located.

When using Google Drive, data is stored and processed in several data centres around the world. Google's security practices are consistent across all relevant locations. Storing data in a particular country doesn't necessarily protect it from access by foreign governments. Microsoft was ordered to produce the mail content of a customer whose information was stored in Ireland. As well as this, localizing data in one country can also slow down collaboration and innovation.

Contact

If you would like to find out more about moving to and working in the cloud, or you would just like to learn more about G Suite and what it can offer your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via info@cobry.co.uk. We would be delighted to have a chat about how we could help.


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