Intermedia Office in the Cloud vs. Office 365

A local Indianapolis dental office has decided not to update their local Exchange software and asked me to review hosted Exchange providers and online office productivity suites from Intermedia and Microsoft. They both are cloud-based and use Microsoft Office products, but each has slightly different features and benefits.

  • Intermedia’s “Office in the Cloud” boasts migration support and has less limitations than Office 365, but no productivity software – it’s only a communications platform
  • Office 365 has a plan that includes email, all of the communications offered by Intermedia (except hosted PBX), and offers cloud and desktop versions of Office software

In order to help the dentist choose a possible plan, I needed to go over some of the features of Sharepoint (Microsoft’s Intranet software) and Lync (Microsoft’s chat software) to see how many bells and whistles he wanted. I boiled all the various choices down to these two plans, which really depended on whether or not he wanted the productivity software or just communications software:

  • Office 365’s E3 plan comes with email, Sharepoint, and desktop versions of Office 2010 for $20 per user per month. The only thing it doesn’t have is the Lync phone services.
  • Intermedia’s Professional plan which comes with migration support, hosted email, and Sharepoint, but no Office applications (online or off) for $12 per user per month.

Here is a diagram I made up to help explain visually the differences between Intermedia Office in the Cloud™ and Office 365™:

Intermedia vs Office 365

Why Microsoft? Why Not Google?

Most of my local Indianapolis clients use Google Apps for their email (Gmail) and Intranet sites (Google Sites), but this particular dental office is a Microsoft shop. It’s what they understand and they didn’t want the learning curve of learning something new or having to pay someone everytime they had a question. While it is true that you can use Outlook with Google Apps, that’s not for everybody. Outlook with Exchange offers many more things you can do with Outlook than Outlook with Google Apps. One example is email directory integration.

Why the Cloud? Why Not Install Locally?

Essentially the business owner is choosing to outsource all of their hardware costs, all of the hardware maintenance, and some of the software support to a managed service provider on the Internet. Instead of paying a large upfront cost for a new server, new software licenses, and the IT installation costs, the business owner is choosing to pay one low, predictable cost per month for a predictable service as a product. Even Dentrix has jumped on the cloud with their newest, Dentrix Ascend software, which runs in Chrome. If you’re considering a jump to cloud apps, consider reading 5 Ways to Compute Cloud Computing ROI.

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Eye-Fi Wireless Card Helps Improve Dental Process

A Eye-Fi wireless flash card turns almost any digital camera into a wireless camera. This type of wireless card helped solve a problem at an Indianapolis dentist who needed a fast and easy way to take new patient photos.

Eye-Fi Camera CardEach new dental patient was supposed to get their picture taken so it could be added to their Dentrix patient records. Before the Eye-Fi wireless card they were forced to turn off the camera, take the flash card out, place it into a flash card reader, copy the files, then go back to Dentrix to add the patient photo.

With the new Eye-Fi wireless card they now take the picture and go straight to Dentrix to add the photo from the network drive. Now new patient photos actually get taken because there are less barriers to the process. This is just one of the ways you can use this type of technology, but it’s not without some issues.

Eye-Fi Connectivity Issues

During a recent Windows Update, Windows DNS took over the communications port used by the Eye-Fi transfer software. After reviewing Eye-Fi Support, I found that the Eye-Fi wireless card communicates on port 59278. Windows DNS had taken over that port and Eye-Fi stopped working properly.

Resolution “The Fix”

I edited the Registry to exclude port 59278 for use by the Eye-Fi. This change only takes effect after the computer has rebooted. Occasionally more Windows Updates would occur and this process would need repeated, but it’s since stayed working for a while now.

Eye-Fi (X-Fi) Troubleshooting

Make sure the computer is logged in and that the orange ‘wi-fi’ symbol in the lower-right system tray is running. Dentrix does not require the server to be logged in to run, but the program that captures pictures on the network (Xfi) does require it. If Windows is logged in the program may not be running for some reason. Attempt to start the program from the Start menu. It will either start or give an error message. The worst case scenario is that you’ll have to manually copy files over using the media card in the camera.

Connectivity Issues Due to DHCP Limits

DHCPThe DHCP server that hands out IP addresses can become full and stop handing out IP addresses. This can happen when wireless access points share DHCP leases. The Eye-Fi camera card attempts to get a new IP address every time the camera turns on. If it has no address, it can’t communicate on the network.

This issue can be fixed by a) deleting all the old instances of DHCP leases b) expanding the total number of IP addresses allowed in the DHCP range and c) restricting the number of days an IP address exists from the default 8 days to 5 days. This same issue would also prevent new mobile phones and tablets from joining the Wi-Fi network so that could also be a clue as to why the Eye-Fi card can’t connect.

Indianapolis Dental IT Consulting

My name is Erich Stauffer and I am a local IT business consultant who offers dental IT consulting to dentists in the Indianapolis area. I specialize in Dentrix, but have clients using Soft Dent as well. Most of the time issues are related to technology, which is why I am a Microsoft Certified Professional with A+ and Network+ certifications to back up the years of experience I have serving small business customers in the Indianapolis area. If you’re interested in a free consultation or technology review, please contact me.

IT Business Analyst with Dentrix Experience

I do IT services for dentists and dental offices, specifically Dentrix training and implementation, Google Apps intranets, and WordPress websites.

I’m an IT Business Analyst that provides IT services for dental offices. I’ve been providing IT services for 7 years after graduating from IU in Indianapolis. I’m A+, Network+, and Microsoft certified. I have experience with Dentrix G4 and G5 and am looking for other dental offices who are considering switching to Dentrix.

IT Business Analyst and Indianapolis Dentrix Expert

I recently upgraded a dental office in Indianapolis from Dentrix G4 to Dentrix G5. I’ve also helped them with their dental website design and online marketing efforts from Facebook to Twitter to Google Adsense. In addition to technical design and implementation, I also do business consulting in the form of staffing models.

It’s become cliche to say you’re experienced at Microsoft Office, but I’d say I’m a pretty advanced Excel user. I even made an analogy at my last Indianapolis Marketing Meetup meetup that Google Analytics’ database could be manipulated similarly to a pivot table in Excel. Excel is a great tool and one I’m fond of for organizing and displaying information, which is something I really like doing.

In fact, you could boil almost everything I do down to organization and display because whether I’m setting up a Windows server, a network architecture, a website in WordPress, an Intranet in Google Apps, or a custom dashboard in Excel, I’m always doing the same thing: categorizing, organizing, and displaying information so it’s easy to follow, easy to read, and useful.

Do I always succeed? No, but I’m continually seeking ways to get better – and I adapt to my users. Dentrix is a perfect example of this. I didn’t set out to learn Dentrix, but when no one in the dental office knew how to use it, they asked me to learn it and teach others – so that’s what I did. Now I realize that Dentrix is just CRM software to organize and display patient information to dentists. Who would have thought?