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…)

4 questions customers are asking about licensing Office 365

Microsoft has attempted to simplify the licensing of Office 365, but the rules can still be confusing, especially when migrating from a perpetual-based licensing model to a subscription. To clear the air, we’ve compiled and answered four of the most common licensing questions organizations ask when looking to transition to Office 365.

What is a CAL Bridge?

Microsoft introduced the Client Access License (CAL) Bridge to help organizations transition their on-premises workloads to the cloud while maintaining their enterprise-wide commitment and licensing rights. Each CAL Bridge consists of CAL Suite workloads that aren’t included in the corresponding Office 365 service plan.

Consider this example. The Core CAL Suite grants all of an organization’s users and devices access to on-premises servers that run any of the following workloads:

  • SharePoint Server
  • Windows Server operating system (OS)
  • Lync Server
  • Exchange Server
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection

When an organization transitions to Office 365 Plan E1, its users gain cloud access to some of those same workloads. However organizations must still remain licensed for the workloads not included in Office 365 plan E1. The Core CAL Bridge accommodates the change in access rights for those users. Instead of licensing users for Core CAL Suite, an organization can license its users for Office 365 plan E1 and Core CAL Bridge for Office 365.

The new licensing configuration divides users’ licensing workloads as follows:

Office 365 Plan E1 gives users licenses to SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, and Lync Server while Core CAL Bridge for Office 365 provides licenses to Windows Server OS, System Center Configuration Manager, and System Center Endpoint Protection. (more…)

Cloud content management, storage, and collaboration services from Box now available

As part of a new partnership agreement, SHI is now authorized to offer the complete Box suite of cloud content management and collaboration services.¬†Box’s cloud services enable businesses to securely share, access, and organize content from any device and any location.

By purchasing Box services through SHI, customers can merge IT spend and simplify vendor management. We’ve already processed Box orders for Fortune 100, academic, and commercial SMB customers, and interest is growing rapidly.

Read the press release for more information.

News roundup from Cloud Expo West

Cloud Expo West wrapped up yesterday, sending attendees back to their home states and offices with much to think about, particularly how their organizations must continue to innovate and adapt to the growing availability and adoption of cloud services.

If you weren’t able to attend the show, or if you did go but didn’t have time to stop by our booth or keynote sessions, here’s a quick wrap-up of the topics we were discussing and headlines we made.

SHI CEO Thai Lee Explores the Changing Atmosphere of Cloud Computing. Thai Lee opened Cloud Expo West with a keynote presentation that emphasized the value of examining the IT trends of the past in order to better meet the current and future needs of customers.

SHI Cloud Marketplace Simplifies and Optimizes Cloud Services Management. On Monday we followed up Thai’s presentation with the introduction of our Cloud Marketplace, an online portal that enables organizations to securely compare, procure, and manage cloud infrastructure from a variety of providers.

Quietly Efficient SHI Opens New Marketplace for Cloud Services. eWeek reporter Chris Preimesberger stopped by our booth and spoke with John Yung, CEO of Appcara, the web developer SHI worked with to develop the Cloud Marketplace. Preimesberger’s article relays more details about how the Marketplace operates and how businesses can use it.

SHI unveils Cloud Marketplace at Cloud Expo West 2013

Today at Cloud Expo West 2013, SHI unveiled the new SHI Cloud Marketplace, an online portal where customers can securely source, procure, and manage their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions. In the SHI Cloud Marketplace, customers can research, compare, purchase, and deploy a growing list of cloud offerings from Amazon (Amazon Web Services), Rackspace, Microsoft (Windows Azure), VMware (vCHS), HP Cloud, and SHI Cloud.

The SHI Cloud Marketplace’s comprehensive functionality runs laps around other cloud platforms. Most marketplaces either allow customers to compare services but not purchase them, or purchase services but research them elsewhere. The SHI Cloud Marketplace combines both features while also offering access to SHI’s volume licensing experts for recommendations and compliance assistance.

Check out our official press release for more details.

cloud services marketplace

What you need to know about Windows Azure’s pricing and licensing changes

Effective today, Microsoft is changing the way it sells and licenses Windows Azure through the Enterprise Agreement (EA) program. The changes apply to all enrollment programs, including the new Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE), which also goes live today.

The Azure pricing update involves three major changes:

  1. Simplified pricing
  2. A new consumption allowance that eliminates overage fees
  3. A single subscription option

Below we’ll take a look at each of these changes and outline how organizations can license Windows Azure via SCE moving forward. (more…)

3 reasons to buy Amazon Web Services through SHI

You asked for it, and we got it! Due to popular demand, SHI has added Amazon Web Services (AWS) to our cloud products and solutions portfolio. This new partnership will help customers streamline the sourcing, procurement, and management of their AWS Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) assets.

The AWS cloud computing platform is composed of several remote computing services provided by Amazon. We’re currently focused on offering the three most popular AWS solutions.

  1. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) — a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud that’s designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.
  2. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) — a highly scalable, reliable, and low-latency data storage system in the cloud.
  3. Amazon CloudWatch — a system that monitors AWS cloud resources and the applications customers run on AWS.

AWS offers businesses an easy-to-use, cost-effective, and scalable solution to manage their computing needs, all housed under a single umbrella. While the technology benefits and business case in favor of the AWS platform are numerous, sourcing AWS through SHI offers even more advantages to our customers. Here are the top three reasons why AWS is better with SHI:

  1. Cost savings. SHI’s overall purchasing volume can translate into potential cost savings for customers compared to buying it individually from AWS.
  2. Consolidated and consistent IT procurement. Buying AWS through the same account team that supports traditional volume licensing software and hardware assets enables organizations to leverage the rules of a managed procurement channel. Customers gain immediate visibility into AWS usage through regular SHI reporting and business reviews, and can see that it is properly classified as part of their overall IT spend.
  3. Expertise. SHI’s volume Licensing Executives (LEs) can help explain how Infrastructure as a Service and other cloud purchases impact an organization’s volume licensing scenario. Armed with a unified purchase history that serves as a snapshot of an IT environment, SHI’s LEs can provide the insight and expertise that will help customers reduce redundancy while remaining compliant.

(more…)