5 new products that supercharge Amazon Web Services

AWS SuperchargeAmazon held its annual Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last week, and as in previous years, it rolled out a number of new capabilities, tweaked existing services, and introduced new tools for AWS and its partner ecosystem that could shake the foundations of other businesses.

The stories coming out of re:Invent fit several broad themes. Amazon emphasized its readiness to support large enterprises, improve integration among its many offerings, deploy secure platforms and environments, deliver significant performance, and still stick to its successful “pay for what you use” model to help manage and reduce costs.

Here are the five most promising new Amazon offerings, and how each can reshape or enhance your business performance with AWS. (more…)

How Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite licensing affects you

cloud networkMicrosoft will launch its new Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) offering on Dec. 1, 2014, the latest step in its broader shift in licensing models to a “mobile first, cloud first” strategy. ECS will be a bundled subscription SKU offering containing Office 365 (O365) Plan E3, Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), and Windows Client OS Per User. This new offering will be available to organizations looking to transition to the cloud mid-term, at renewal, or as part of a new agreement.

ECS provides organizations with a true user-based licensing model, removing the per-device licensing requirements on the Windows Client OS. However, with any new licensing change come requirements on how organizations can procure and manage the new offering in their environment going forward. Provided below is an overview of the ECS offering and important considerations when moving forward.

Understanding the changes to ECS

The traditional on-premises Desktop Platform licensing options — e.g., Office Pro Plus and Windows Client OS — have primarily been device based. The Client Access License (CAL) offered per-user or device licensing depending on how an organization’s users/devices were accessing its server technology. With the introduction of O365, Microsoft initiated user-based licensing for Office Pro Plus, available in the form of a standalone Office Pro Plus for O365 subscription or as an O365 Subscription Plan E3/E4.

In April 2014, Microsoft introduced EMS, which provided even more flexibility to procure cloud services in a user-centric approach. The final transformation comes with the release of Windows Pro Per User subscription license, which shifts from device- to user-based licensing. This change is best illustrated in the chart below. (more…)

Avoid unnecessary pain by properly planning your move to O365

planningMicrosoft’s Office 365 (O365) continues to draw more organizations to the benefits of the cloud. O365 is Microsoft’s fastest-growing commercial product ever, and the cloud software suite was a key driver in the 147 percent jump year over year in Microsoft’s commercial cloud business revenue during its fiscal fourth quarter of 2014.

But while millions of licenses have been sold, not all have been deployed. Some organizations might be slow to take advantage of the O365 licenses they purchased, whether because it’s their first attempt at a cloud implementation, because IT is mired in maintaining the current infrastructure, or as is often the case, because they didn’t invest enough time in planning.

Planning how to deploy and secure O365 is a frequently overlooked topic. Here’s where to start: Take stock of your current IT expertise and resources, and identify any limitations that might hinder rollout of your new investment. There are a number of options available to help make the move to the cloud, so knowing where your organization stands early on will help you choose the one that gets you up and running on O365 faster.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine the best approach for your move to O365. (more…)

VMworld 2014: 6 more announcements that had the conference buzzing

VMworld 2014VMworld was jam packed this year, with more than 22,000 attendees from 85 countries traveling to San Francisco — the largest crowd to date. Every session my colleagues and I attended was standing room only, with customers and partners alike packing the rooms to capacity. It’s truly a testament to the esteem VMware has garnered in the IT industry.

Last week we shared with you some of the biggest announcements and new products VMware introduced. Now we’ll review some of the other highlights and news from the event, offer a glimpse of the future of IT we saw at VMworld, and explain how you can make the most of the announcements and future insights.

1. The VMware vCloud Air Network debuts.
The VMware vCloud Air Network builds upon the company’s VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP) to offer more flexibility for organizations turning to hybrid cloud solutions. The result is the world’s largest network of validated cloud services based on VMware technologies.

What this means for you: Organizations can take advantage of incremental services from other providers using the vCloud Air Network while maintaining their existing internal VMware infrastructure. This also creates greater flexibility for organizations that must keep data in state or country due to compliance rules. (more…)

The top 5 announcements made at VMworld and what they mean for you

VMworld 2014VMware just made some major announcements at this week’s VMworld. We want to make sure you not only have the latest information, but also understand what the announcements mean for you, and how we can help you make the most of the new technology.

Here are the five biggest announcements from VMworld: (more…)

Microsoft’s O365 price change: What every customer needs to know

O365 BannerMicrosoft Office 365 (O365) has seen its fair share of changes, both in features and functionality and in price point. Most notably, in May 2012 and then again in September 2013, Microsoft decreased pricing on O365 by roughly 15 percent in both instances. Now, effective August 1, Microsoft increased pricing by 15 percent on its O365 Service Plans E1, E3, and E4, aligning them with the pricing offered back in May 2012.

This price change affects both Enterprise Agreement direct and indirect programs whereby an organization is adding O365 plan subscriptions to the agreement for net new users or is transitioning qualifying licenses with Software Assurance (SA) to O365 plan subscriptions.

In conjunction with this O365 price change, Microsoft will also be offering a new, discounted SKU for customers that have invested in fully paid perpetual licenses with SA and are looking to transition to O365. This new SKU, called O365 from SA, will be available to purchase at your agreement anniversary date or upon renewal of enrollment. Eligibility is dependent on your organization’s current on-premises entitlements at the time of transition.

The following table illustrates when customers are eligible to apply an O365 from SA user subscription license (USL) to their agreement either at agreement anniversary or agreement renewal. (more…)

The 4 biggest Office 365 migration challenges and how to overcome them

Overcome-Office-365-Migration-ChallengesOffice 365 (O365) makes it easier for small, medium, and large organizations to create, communicate, and share in the cloud. Leveraging the Microsoft cloud can greatly reduce corporate expenditures on infrastructure and upkeep, and save money on hiring costly data managers to maintain systems.

While some companies have already made the switch to O365, many remain uncertain about the transition, with most fearing the migration process itself. As with any major transition, an O365 migration can present some roadblocks, but many are easily addressed for a smooth transition to the cloud.

Here are four of the biggest challenges SHI sees companies face when migrating to O365 and how to solve them. (more…)

IaaS buyer’s guide: Which provider is best for your business?

Choose infrastructure-as-a-service providerInfrastructure as a service (IaaS) is among the fastest-growing cloud solutions, predicted to expand 41 percent per year through 2016. It’s not hard to see why. Organizations scrambling to virtualize storage, hardware, servers, and networking components not only stand to reduce operational headaches and total cost of ownership, but gain a more scalable system and free IT staff to focus on more strategic work.

But deciding on the right solution to meet an organization’s needs isn’t always an easy task. From Amazon Web Services (AWS) to VMware vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) to Windows Azure to HP Public Cloud to Rackspace to Hosting.com, IT organizations have their fair share of IaaS offerings to choose from. Here’s a guide to help any organization, large or small, hone in on the most appropriate IaaS cloud solution. (more…)

What’s your disaster recovery plan? How to tell if the cloud is right for you.

Disaster recovery: the plan every business must have but hopes it will never need. While disaster recovery traditionally means a replication of data systems either on premises or outsourced to a secondary location, disaster recovery in the cloud has opened new, and often better, options for many companies. But the cloud also comes with several concerns that every business needs to take into consideration.

For any company thinking about cloud disaster recovery, here’s everything you need to know.

Cloud disaster recovery vs. on-site disaster recovery and secondary data centers

Before the cloud, businesses relied on on-site data centers or secondary data centers in remote locations for disaster recovery, and these systems still make sense for some companies today. But they often require an investment of tens of thousands of dollars. When disaster strikes, these systems offer peace of mind, but in the meantime, they can drain IT coffers as infrastructure, maintenance, and man-hours add up. Even secondary data centers, which take care of upgrades, repairs, and other needs, can cost upward of $50,000 initially, with additional ongoing infrastructure costs, even for a small company.

Unlike these traditional disaster recovery systems, cloud disaster recovery eliminates the costs of physical infrastructure and adds several other advantages. Currently there are two big players in the cloud infrastructure space: Microsoft’s Windows Azure and the leader in disaster recovery, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Today, I’m going to focus on the latter.

If you’re thinking of adopting cloud disaster recovery, and AWS in particular, here’s what you can expect: (more…)

3 ways IT departments are using Windows Azure for IaaS

Most IT directors, IT professionals, and network administrators are asking themselves which enterprise technologies they should move to the cloud, and what platform they should adopt. The answer to the latter depends largely on the business goals the organizations hopes to achieve. When it comes to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), we’re seeing tremendous demand for Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-based platform.

After initially falling into the category of Platform as a Service (PaaS), Windows Azure IaaS offerings have made a name for themselves by providing customers access to several different services and capabilities, including virtual machines (VMs), test and development environments, and storage services, among others.

Here’s how Windows Azure’s IaaS offerings assist many IT organizations. (more…)