Save to… The Cloud with OneDrive

Save to… The Cloud with OneDrive

Here’s a great way to vividly demonstrate to yourself and colleagues the simplest and most intrinsic value a user gets from cloud computing.

You’ve Completed a Document.  Now what?

Stop to think about what you do every time you complete a document.

  • You may open up File Manager, find the document, and email it to a colleague or a customer.
  • You may open up File Manager, find the document, and upload the document to another drive or even a cloud service.
  • You could print the document before saving and mail the print to someone or present it to someone.

The point is that you will save the document and then, in some fashion or other, share the document.

Where do you save documents?

With the proliferation of tablets, mini-tablets, phablets, and smartphones we’re moving to a time when users will be carrying around less and less storage capacity.  As laptops give way to Ultrabooks with smaller, thinner, faster, more expensive solid state drives (SSD), again users will have less capacity to store documents locally.

Beyond that, many companies don’t want users storing their work on a local drive where nobody else can get to it.  Concerns surround the survival of those assets even if the user leaves the company’s employ, and the survival of the documents in the event of damage to the user device.  People have been forgetting to back up their own hard-drives since the first IBM PC rolled off the line.

The Cloud as Default Storage

Since Microsoft Office 2010, users have been able to save directly to the cloud.  Now, users can have a specific OneDrive folder set as the default location to which documents are stored, so whenever they save a document the Save Dialogue is open to OneDrive.  In many companies, network administrators may choose to “lock down” this default either through policy or configuration, making it impossible for users to save to anywhere but OneDrive.

Automatic Back-Up

Documents saved to OneDrive are automatically replicated across multiple data centers, precluding the possibility of documents being lost or destroyed due to physical disasters.

Simplified Sharing

One major advantage of saving directly to OneDrive is that it becomes simple and less burdensome to share documents.  Emailing documents back and forth creates a growing risk of version control problems that could be very costly to rectify later down the road as multiple versions of the same document are being circulated.  Many email systems will not allow the sending of very large documents.

By saving directly to OneDrive, rights can be assigned easily allowing users to open, edit, or just read documents by simply emailing a link to them.  Teams may all save their documents to a shared repository from which they can readily collaborate on the development of documents.

Your OneDrive CloudStrategy

Talk to CloudStrategies about how to derive significantly more value from OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.  Our experts routinely configure OneDrive solutions that take fullest advantage of all the new functionalities, and will work with you to design and deploy solutions to fit your specific needs.

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Who Really Needs Their Own Exchange Server?

Who Really Needs Their Own Exchange Server?

Nobody thinks they need their own private Post Office to send a letter.  In fact, nobody has built their own Post Office since the likes of William Penn, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin.

Yet many corporate managers feel they must have their own on-premise server running Microsoft Exchange to provide email and other messaging services for their users.

Cost?

Based merely on distributing the base cost of an Exchange Server among fewer than 50 users it becomes instantly apparent that small companies find it all but impossible to justify the cost of having their own Exchange Server.

Every analyst who tries to arrive at the exact number of users it takes to justify the expense uses wildly different variables and arrives at just as wildly different numbers.  One hosted Exchange provider claims you need to have more than 400 users to justify purchasing your own, while another claims, verbatim, “Unless you’re managing 5,000 seats or more you should not be in the game.  The one guarantee I can give you is that you will lose money if you’re trying to build out your own infrastructure with less than 5,000 seats.”

Those who demonstrate that the price per month per user multiplied by the number of users and then by 12 produces a large number that is far more than the price of their own Exchange Server.  They often do not take into account the hidden costs of owning your own, which according to RackSpace include:

  • Annual hardware costs—servers, firewalls, load balancers, operating systems, data center costs and power
  • Depreciation of existing hardware and costs of hardware refreshes
  • Financing of servers, storage, software, firewalls and load balancers
  • Exchange licenses
  • Maintenance and repair costs
  • Client software (Outlook) installation and maintenance
  • Storage costs—SAN, DAS or NAS
  • ActiveSync or BlackBerry Mobile Messaging—BlackBerry licenses, BlackBerry admin, BES Server, SQL
  • Staffing costs—staffing related to the design, deployment, hosting, administration and support of hardware, software, storage and mobile devices
  • End-user administration costs—staffing related user/mailbox administration

Now try to do the math.

 

Privacy?

Time and experience have demonstrated that hosted service providers of any type always invest far more in data and network security to preserve the privacy of messaging and other data than most any individual company would, and they are doing so very effectively.

Also, the Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report clearly indicates that from 85 to 90% of all data threats are executed by an internal actor rather than from outside.  That has been their report every year since 2010.  The majority of the people who will most likely try to breach your email are on your premises where you want to put that Exchange Server.

So the desire for privacy of messaging data is very likely better served outside your own four walls where only 10 – 15% of the people who are trying to get at it are located!

Messaging Strategy

There are many more logistic and other pragmatic reasons why your company will prefer hosted, cloud, or on-premise email.  As with most things cloud, one size does not fit all.  If time has come for you to upgrade, improve, or otherwise change email platforms, this is a good time to consult with your CloudStrategies Advisor for help creating your most cost-effective messaging strategy.

 

Make Microsoft Azure Your New Data Center

Make Microsoft Azure Your New Data Center

How’s this for an IT Manager’s nightmare?  Your company today announced that it had acquired its largest competitor.  Great news!!!  You’ve just been informed that you need to double the capacity of your data center… by tomorrow.

No Problem

Put the defibrillator back in the case on the wall and relax.  This will be no problem for you.  In fact, your biggest challenge will be getting the new company to give you the new workloads that need to be accommodated by your instantly expanded data center.  It’s a snap.  It’s a breeze.

It’s Azure.

Your Data Center Away from Home

No, you won’t have to find a supplier who will ship dozens of new servers to you immediately, nor recruit a team of bug-eyed techies to stand them all up overnight.  In fact, very little coffee will be required to accomplish this feat.

Microsoft Azure lets you accomplish what may be the ideal example of the hybrid cloud in action.  However many or few host servers you may be managing in your own data center you simply provision new enterprise-grade virtual machines on Azure as you need them. You can readily bring over your existing virtual machines or create new ones, each pre-populated with your choice of operating system and the enterprise apps you need.  You run these on the Azure Virtual Network, an isolated environment where you control DNS, subnets, firewall policies, private IP addresses and more.

Workloads are by no means limited to Microsoft platforms.  You can run Windows or Linux, and enterprise apps such as SAP, Oracle, SQL, and Hadoop on Azure VMs.

Make the Connection and Manage It All As One!

Connect your on-premise data center to your Azure data center as easily as connecting a branch office using the Azure Virtual Network and ExpressRoute over either a secure VPN or private connection.  You control all the networking and security parameters on Azure with the same tools as you do your own data center.  It all feels like one thing.  It’s all managed as one.

No need for additional Active Directory structures, either.  With Active Directory for Windows Server 2012 R2 and Active Directory for Azure you bring it all together in one forest.

It’s Not Just IaaS, it’s PaaS too!

Microsoft technology meets the multi-platform world on Azure.  You can develop and deploy modern applications that run on Android, iOS, and Windows which take fullest possible advantage of cloud technology.  You get some spectacular SQL and NoSQL data services, too, which give you deep insights into your data.  This is a cloud-based developers platform with serious horsepower.

And it SCALES!

Back to our original concern, growing your data center rapidly.  Need more VMs?  Just provision them.  Need more storage, processing power, memory or other resources.  Available upon demand.

Of course, you won’t be worried about establishing redundancy to assure business continuity or support disaster recovery.  With hundreds of data centers located in 17 different regions around the world, and with both Locally Redundant and Geo Redundant storage to serve your needs no matter what, Microsoft has that covered!

Time to Talk about Your Data Center in the Cloud Strategy!

Your CloudStrategies Advisor will take you through the process of migrating your workloads and applications to Azure, giving you greater scalability, sustainability, and system certainty than ever before.  Start with our Assessment program to determine just how much IT budget you can save, and just how far you can grow with Azure.

Personal Cloud: Microsoft Expands User Cloud Storage Choices

Personal Cloud: Microsoft Expands User Cloud Storage Choices

For over 30 years we have referred to our computers as a “PC” that we may have forgotten that the acronym stands for “personal computer.”  If we use personal computers, shouldn’t we also have personal clouds?

Many of you are already thinking, “well, isn’t OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) a personal cloud service?” and you are absolutely correct.  Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud storage service that goes one step further in that the Microsoft Office applications are all so well integrated with it.  It’s easy for users to save and retrieve their Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other documents for editing.  In fact, with the Microsoft Office Web Apps you can even perform many editing tasks without even having Office loaded on the PC you’re using.

Two recent introductions from Microsoft make the personal cloud experience even more robust!

Microsoft in a Multi-Vendor World

Thanks to Microsoft’s initiatives to participate in a world filled with PC and PC-related vendors, Office users now have even more choice available to them.  On November 4, 2014 Dropbox Inc. and Microsoft Corp. issued a press release announcing that they would be “integrating their services for collaboration across Dropbox and Microsoft Office on phones, tablets and the Web.”

As a result of this collaboration, Dropbox and Microsoft users will now be able to:

  • Access Dropbox from Office apps to get to their files and folders faster.
  • Edit Office files directly from Dropbox and sync them across devices.
  • Share new or edited files from the Office apps using simple Dropbox sharing functionality.

This will be especially powerful for those who use tablets or smartphones to access their files.  Now, instead of having to download a file for editing, those users will be able to open them directly from within the mobile Office apps, edit them, and share them without having to jump from one interface to another.  Also, those with small-capacity storage devices such as 128gb solid state drives popular in Ultrabooks, will no longer have to replicate locally to take advantage of native Office integration with Dropbox.

The functionality will first be included in the next updates to the Office apps for iOS and Android, coming in the next few weeks. The Web integrations between the Dropbox website and Office Online will be available in the first half of 2015. Dropbox will also make its application available on the Windows Phone and Windows tablet platforms in the coming months.

“In our mobile-first and cloud-first world, people need easier ways to create, share and collaborate regardless of their device or platform,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Together, Microsoft and Dropbox will provide our shared customers with flexible tools that put them at the center for the way they live and work today.”

“People around the world have embraced Office and Dropbox to empower the way they live and work today,” said Drew Houston, CEO and co-founder of Dropbox. “Our partnership with Microsoft will make it easier than ever to collaborate seamlessly across these platforms, giving people the freedom to get more done.”

You Can’t Beat Unlimited Storage

In perhaps an even more stunning announcement, Chris Jones, Microsoft corporate vice president for OneDrive & SharePoint, announced in an October 27, 2014 post on The OneDrive Blog, “Today, storage limits just became a thing of the past with Office 365. Moving forward, all Office 365 customers will get unlimited OneDrive storage at no additional cost.”

From the standpoint of “personal clouds,” it’s important to note that Microsoft has started by rolling unlimited storage out to Home, Personal, and University Office 365 customers prior to rolling it out to corporate and commercial customers using OneDrive for Business.  In fact, those customers will not enjoy unlimited storage until it is rolled out to them in early 2015.

Jones emphasizes the importance of application integration in personal as well as business cloud storage in his post, saying, “While unlimited storage is another important milestone for OneDrive we believe the true value of cloud storage is only realized when it is tightly integrated with the tools people use to communicate, create, and collaborate, both personally and professionally. That is why unlimited storage is just one small part of our broader promise to deliver a single experience across work and life that helps people store, sync, share, and collaborate on all the files that are important to them, all while meeting the security and compliance needs of even the most stringent organizations.”

Need it Now?

For those of you who are Office 365 Home, Personal, or University customers, you can move yourself to the front of the rollout line by turning on First Release in the service settings of your Office 365 admin center.  Visit Office 365 Release Programs for complete instructions!

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