The 3 most common questions we hear about Office 365 deployment

Office 365 DeploymentYour organization has purchased Office 365 (O365). Now what?

If you’re tasked with deploying O365 and are unsure what to do next, you’re not alone. From uncertainty about which workloads to move, to a lack of technical expertise, many IT professionals we’ve spoken with have run into roadblocks in the way of completing an O365 migration. And pressure from the C-suite to move to the cloud doesn’t help.

Based on our recent conversations, we put together a list of the three most common questions we’re asked about O365 deployments. In addition, we’ll be conducting a free webinar to demystify the process and delve into the core technical components of a deployment. Take a look at the questions below and sign up for one of the webinars to kickstart your O365 deployment.

We bought O365, but how can we deploy it? How do we best consume the service?

It’s common for organizations to have under-deployed O365 assets – they just don’t know the best way to make use of their new services or conduct the deployment. Some companies, because they question the security of the cloud or simply hesitate to enact such a drastic change, simply sit on assets they’ve bought.

An O365 deployment can be accomplished either by an organization’s own IT department or with the help of a Microsoft partner that can help “turn on the lights” for your O365. When you consider your deployment options, investigate Microsoft incentive programs that help offset the costs of deployment.

With Microsoft set to offer new incentives in the coming months – details of the next incentive round will likely be announced in June – organizations that start planning now will be better prepared to qualify for them. These plans will provide a roadmap that can help you or a partner actually conduct the deployment.

What workloads should we move to the cloud?

While executives are pushing their organizations into the cloud, IT departments have to worry about the nuts and bolts: In the cloud, which workloads can be effectively run and which information can be properly stored?

The most common O365 workload we see moved over to the cloud is Exchange, followed by Lync and SharePoint. Lync is actually fairly easy to deploy in the cloud for organizations that run it on premises already. These are the most common workloads, but all Office products – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, Access, and OneNote – are available through certain O365 licensing.

What skills and tools do we need to deploy all the necessary workloads?

A full O365 deployment is a daunting task simply because many organizations lack the tools or technical expertise required. Even planning a deployment can be overwhelming, and many IT professionals realize they need help in both the planning and the migration. Deploying from old infrastructure and servers (like soon-to-be-retired Windows Server 2003 components) presents its own set of difficult challenges that can stifle progress.

For some organizations, a lack of manpower in the IT department or the preliminary cost of a deployment are hurdles they cannot overcome. So when organizations rely on a Microsoft partner to help with deployment, they receive a new level of technical knowledge and different processes that help vault them past these common issues.

How to get your O365 cloud deployment off the ground

Once you have the basics down — whether you want to deploy yourself or with a partner, what you plan to deploy, and what resources you need — it’s time to take a closer look at the technical requirements. In our O365 webinar, we’ll look at everything from the core components of O365 to identity management to migrations of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.

If you’re a corporation, education institution, Texas education institutiongovernment agency, or Texas government agency that needs help deploying your O365 services or even figuring out how your organization can best take advantage of the service, register today to secure your spot in the webinar, and feel free to leave a comment below with any questions.

How this organization overcame 3 common cloud migration challenges

Cloud-and-retailThe word cloud can mean many things depending on your comfort level and knowledge of the technology. The cloud is everything from the personal file sharing folder connected to your email address to the full soup-to-nuts solution that runs retail websites.

While the cloud offers a number of advantages and efficiencies, some companies and their IT departments remain hesitant about moving their services to the cloud. Consider the story of one of my clients: A bricks-and-mortar retailer was running its website on its own servers, but was interested in moving to a cloud-based solution – Amazon Web Services (AWS). It faced several challenges on the road to cloud migration, including concerns about performance and security for its customers, the need for a different IT mindset, and a desire for visibility into the system.

Its story offers a few factors for any organization to consider if you’re debating moving your website or services to a cloud solution. (more…)

A new way to get the most out of Microsoft Azure

cloud dataMicrosoft Azure is one of the fastest growing cloud services providers for enterprise businesses. A recent survey showed that about one fifth (19 percent) of enterprise businesses with more than 1,000 employees reported using Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and 15 percent used Azure’s Platform as a Service (PaaS). That’s an increase from a year ago of 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively, outpacing the growth of cloud competitors.

But many organizations that have purchased Azure through their Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) still haven’t capitalized on its full capabilities. In many instances, organizations commit a set dollar figure to Azure, but fail to fully utilize it. It’s why Microsoft, SHI, and CommVault have partnered to help organizations migrate a range of services and applications into Azure, and utilize long-term data backup and storage.

Through this partnership, organizations with Azure agreements can easily move data or migrate fully into Azure. (more…)

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…)