I don’t know about you, but for me, the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of confusion and upheaval. From minor concern to major threat, the COVID-19 landscape has changed rapidly. In just a week, much of America and beyond has begun rapidly transitioning to a remote workforce, and schools have closed. But as we are trying to understand our new normal—because this may be normal for at least a little while—many of us are quickly realizing we’re not really prepared to work like we did in an office setting. While we’re used to having a few remote co-workers dial in, it’s a whole new world to have everyone trying to learn new tools and get spun up quickly. There are also other concerns, such as helping our IT teams manage this new task, or making sure we’re backing up our work, like we would at the office.
There is good news, though. I’ve seen a great outpouring of support from businesses all over the world to help everyone keep working. A lot of businesses are offering free trials, or extended use of their tools to help us work together remotely as we try not to devolve into one giant pajama party—at least not until the end of the day. And there are companies offering even more, from remote desktops and meeting software, to security and backups. Plus, there is something useful for businesses of every size.
There are so many offerings right now it can be hard to know what’s available to you, who’s offering what, and how long you can expect to have it. So I’ve taken some time to peruse the major offers and have collected them in one place. This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a collection of resources to help get you and your company up and running as fast as possible. I figure we could all use a little extra help sorting through the noise right now.
And if you need help understanding, setting up, or untangling which of these offers is going to be best for your company’s unique needs, there are Account Managers here at Connection ready to take your call and help you get your remote workforce set up. We’ve got to help each other in times of uncertainty—and that’s what Connection is here to do.
If your company runs on Apple, this offer is for you. Addigy offers cloud-based Apple device management. It will make sure your IT team can keep track of all the Apple devices in your company, regardless of if your employees are working from home or in the office. It lets you set up processes and ensure security by blocking access to sensitive documents on non-trusted networks. They are offering a 60-day trial to ensure people can keep their Apple products safe and secure during this time. They also are offering a couple hours of onboarding to help you get started. You’ll need to reach out to get set up, as your company needs to be registered correctly. We can help you at Connection, so do not hesitate to call if you think this is something that could ease the transition.
Adobe is offering quite a few solutions and are starting with students. In order to enable kids to keep learning while schools are closed, Adobe is offering the Creative Cloud free to students through May 31, 2020. This will allow kids to keep creating, even while they are driving you crazy at home. There are plenty of amazing programs in the Creative Cloud, and it will allow teachers to offer creative new ways to enable distance learning.
Adobe is also providing access to Adobe Connect for 90-days free of charge for anyone who signs up for a free trial license between now and July 1, 2020. Connect is another remote meeting platform which allows up to 25 participants to meet remotely. It’s a great way to stay connected as we all get used to remote work.
Keeping your employees, and your network, safe is critical as your employees begin working from home full time. Make sure they have access to a VPN, which will keep unwanted access out of your network. Aruba is offering free evaluation licenses to anyone who needs VPN access. This VIA (virtual internet access) service, will help keep things running smoothly and keep everything safer. It’s free for 90 days right now, or until the end of June 2020, whichever comes first.
Cisco has stepped up to ensure everyone can meet, regardless of where we currently have our computers. Webex is a great platform for hosting virtual meetings. Right now, Cisco is offering a free 90-day trial license of their Webex platform for hosting virtual meetings. With the trial license, you can hold a meeting with up to 100 participants and no time limits. This will help you to continue to have meetings with as many people as you need to get your work done. They are also offering toll-free dial-in numbers in addition to their usual VoIP capabilities, to make sure people can join no matter their remote setup.
For current users of Cisco Umbrella, or new users who are looking to protect their workforce from bad actors, Cisco is offering additional help. Umbrella protects users from malicious Internet destinations whether they are on your network or not. It’s unfortunate, but some unsavory people will try to use the crisis to harm, and this service can help protect your company. Current users can exceed their user limit to help support the increase in mobile workers, and new customers will be able to access a free license for 90 days.
Cisco is also extending the same offer for Duo Security. Duo Security can verify your users’ identities and establish device trust before giving them access to applications. The zero-trust model will prevent one bad actor from being able to have access to your entire ecosystem and will reduce risk. Once again, Cisco is letting current customers exceed their user limit to support a bigger remote workforce and offering new customers a free license for 90 days.
You can also get access to Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client or extend it for free. This tool allows your employees to work from anywhere on company laptops or personal mobility devices. It makes sure they have access to your network, and that your security team has the visibility and control to identify who is accessing your infrastructure. Existing users can exceed their user limits to support an increased remote workforce and new users can access a free license for 90 days to get started.
If you’re just adopting Microsoft Teams, or if you are suddenly using it a lot more than you used to, you want to make sure you’re using it to its full potential. Learning a new tool can be a struggle at the best of times, but thankfully CoreView can help. CoreView is offering free use of their CoreLearning and CoreAdoption tools to anyone who needs them. These training tools can help you and your team, utilize Teams, to its full potential. The support it provides can help ensure the transition to Teams is a successful one.
Google’s offerings only affect their current users. If you’re looking to trial a new option, this won’t be the one for you. But current G Suite or G Suite for Education users are going to see a pretty substantial upgrade to their ability to meet remotely through July 1, 2020. If you have the G Suite, you will now be able to host meetings for up to 250 participants per call, live stream for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and record meetings and save them to Google drive to share or watch later. They also are offering a lot of really good resources to help you transition. You can find them linked below.
- How to Set up Chromebooks for e-Learning Days at Home
- Distance Learning Hub
- The Keyword Education Blog
- Best Practices for Chrome Enterprise Admins to Enable a Remote Workforce
Jamf leads the market when it comes to managing and configuring Apple devices. To help the shift to remote, anyone currently using Jamf may enroll an unlimited number of personally owned Apple devices for no additional cost through September 2020. If you are new to Jamf and need to manage your Apple devices, you just need to sign up for the minimum number of devices to have access to the unlimited device tier right now. They are waiving all onboarding requirements to help get companies up and running faster and they are offering as many free training courses as possible to assist you in setting up your at-home workforce.
Jamf is also doing what they can to help healthcare workers on the frontlines. Any healthcare provider who uses Jamf for telemedicine or to communicate with patients and loved ones can use their Jamf products for those devices at no cost through September 2020. Making sure healthcare workers can do their duty is the highest priority right now, and Jamf is focused on that goal. Just like the workforce version, healthcare providers who do not use Jamf for their Apple devices can purchase the minimum number of licenses and take advantage of the unlimited device offer.
Schools not currently using Jamf are also being extended the offer. For a period of 4 months, schools can access an unlimited number of apps for teachers, students, and parents. This should allow schools who use apple devices to continue teaching and help parents to make sure their kids are keeping on top of their work. There is no purchase required now, but if you like the service you can purchase the licenses after the 4-month trial.
Lifesize Video Conferencing
Right now, Lifesize is offering free video conferencing accounts. Any new user can sign up for six months free of charge. This platform delivers high quality video calls with up to 25 people, and you can connect easily from any device. Video calling is one of the best ways to combat the isolation of remote work—you won’t realize how much you miss your coworkers until you see them on a computer screen after a couple of days of working from home. They also are extending this to their current customers, and if you have a Lifesize account you can add more users at no cost to meet your new remote work needs.
Another meeting solution is LogMeIn’s GoToMeeting. You can get a free site license for 90 days. You’ll need to reach out to a representative, such as Connection, to get set up, but that’s to help make sure you get the right level of seats for your company. The offer goes up to 3,500 seats, which means it can help companies from small to large without concern. LogMeIn is also offering RescueAssist support through this time, to ensure your transition to GoToMeeting is successful.
If you’re looking for a whole suite of options, Microsoft has everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. Let’s start with schools, as a lot of people are trying to figure out what to do for distance education. If you have an email address ending in .edu, you can sign up for Microsoft 365 for free. This isn’t a trial—it’s free. This offer is good for teachers, students, and schools. Make sure you take advantage of it.
If you don’t currently have Microsoft 365 or Teams for your business, you can sign up for a six-month E1 trial license for free. This will enable you to use all of the Microsoft programs you need to complete your job and collaborate from afar. You will get access to Teams, which helps provide instant communication between members of your team. I have used Teams, and it’s a chat client which integrates with every other Microsoft productivity tool, which makes it great for collaborating.
If your company already uses the Microsoft stack, but you don’t have access to Teams, Connection has you covered. We’ll get you set up with a six-month trial of Teams to make sure you can make the most of the integrated chat client. Just give us a call, and we’ll help get you started.
Another security option available right now is Mimecast’s Web Security Service. They are offering a fully featured 90-day license with no strings attached. The service protects you from web-based cyber-attacks and will help to keep your employees safe while they work. The service comes with setup and support so if this offer is interesting to you, reach out to us at Connection to get set up.
If you need to get set up on Desktop as a Service to access your network, Nutanix can help. Right now, you can get a 30-day trial of their Frame DaaS. Frame is HTML-5 browser-based and runs on just about any computer, which makes it a good choice for getting DaaS up and running quickly. It works on any cloud service and can often get your desktops running in under an hour. Connection can get you started with Nutanix, so call if you think this offer would help you.
If you’re worried about security as everyone goes remote, I understand—keeping computers outside of your office secure can be a struggle. If your employees can’t be on your network, or even if they can, ensuring the technology they are working with is not compromised is going to be really important. Trend Micro is offering free home security to anyone who needs it. They are offering Maximum Security free of charge for six months, so take advantage of this while it lasts. Give us a call, and we’ll help get you and your workforce set up.
Figuring out backups can be tricky as more and more workers go remote, but VEEAM is helping to make that transition go smoothly. As we all reach for ways to communicate, it’s very important that we don’t forget about other aspects of our businesses which might be vulnerable as our workforce becomes remote.
The first of three offers is Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows Free Edition. It is a backup manager which offers multiple backup and recovery options. It easily backs up laptops and desktops to an external hard drive, NAS (network-attached-storage) share or Veeam Backup and Replication Repository. This will protect you from ransomware, hard drive crashes, accidental deletion, or corruptions. It’s a good way to make sure everyone can access their files, no matter the situation.
Another back up options is Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365. The free version allows you to back up 10 users and 1TB of SharePoint data. It’s important to make sure you have a backup of your Office 365 data, as it’s not offered as part of your subscription. While it doesn’t cover a large number of users, it should be enough to make sure critical assets aren’t lost.
Their final offering is Veeam Backup & Replication Community Edition. This backup protects VMware and Hyper-V, physical servers, workstations, and cloud instances. You can protect up to 10 workloads, which can be any combination of the above. Once again, it only covers 10 areas total, so it’s not an all-encompassing solution, but it can help ensure your most critical data is safe while you transition.
A lot of companies are stepping up to help educators figure out distance learning, and ViewSonic is right there with them. They are offering a free copy of the premium tier of myViewBoard™ through September 30, 2020. It provides a digital whiteboard, so you can continue to teach the way you like to, without giving up the board. It’s available to schools and educators, so please call us, and we’ll help you get set up.
VMware has been helping businesses shift to remote workforces for a long time and is well equipped to help you get remote-ready. As you can imagine, they’ve been fielding a lot of calls to help, and they are taking action. They are offering a couple ways to help get your workforce mobile. For the first offer, you do need to be a current Azure client—as you need to bring your own Azure Capacity ID. If you have that, you can use Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure for 45 days, free of charge. It delivers you a desktop-as-a- service solution and requires no on-site infrastructure or hardware.
VMware is also offering is access to Workspace ONE for 30 days free of charge. This platform will allow your IT administrators to control your users’ mobile devices, cloud-hosted virtual desktops, and applications. They can do all of this from the cloud, so if they are working remotely, they can still maintain the visibility they need. I know 30 days isn’t much, given the school closures, but I have a little bit of good news. Connection is uniquely positioned to help you extend this offer. Currently, you can speak to a VMware EUC Channel Partner—which we can help with—to extend the offer up to six months.
Collaboration is one of the biggest struggles in shifting remote, but thankfully there are plenty of options available right now. 8×8 has made the free version of their remote meeting platform more robust to help keep connected. Right now, the free version offers unlimited meetings with up to fifty participants. There is no time limit on the meetings, so you can meet as often and for as long as you need to keep moving projects forward. 8×8 also has an app for Windows, Android, and iPhone.
Connection Is Here to Help
Right now, things are weird—there’s no denying it. But we’re banding together and getting through it. There are so many offers and programs available to help your company adapt that it can be overwhelming to try to choose quickly. Picking the right one will enable you to keep teaching or keep working the way you want to. If you need help, call us at Connection. We’re standing by to get your company or school set up on any of these offers. We’ll work to understand your unique needs and get you up and running as fast as possible. Reach out to your Account Manager if you already have one or call us to set up a consultation. Good luck out there and stay healthy.