Mobile-First, Cloud-First Microsoft Product Line

September 26th, 2014

Microsoft has announced that they would be both a mobile-first and cloud-first company from here on out, but what does that mean exactly? There are several announcements among this that can be used to provide clarity.

Hybrid Cloud Initiatives:

  • Extension of the ExpressRoute interconnect program: Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute enables customers to create private connections between Azure and on-premises environments.
  • Simplified cloud storage: Available in preview, Microsoft Azure Files enables a single file share from multiple virtual machines.
  • Compute-intensive virtual machines sizes available: In-region and cross-region virtual networking connections and reserved IP addresses.
  • API management: Available in preview, Azure API Management lets customers expose APIs through the cloud.

Security Initiatives:

  • Enhanced disaster recovery: Available in preview next month, Microsoft Azure Site Recovery, formerly Hyper-V Recovery Manager, enables enhanced disaster recovery in the cloud. With this new capability, customers can replicate and recover virtual machines and services to Azure in the event of an outage at their primary datacenter.
  • Advancing antimalware: Microsoft Antimalware for Azure, available in preview, offers customers the ability to install an antimalware agent for both cloud services and virtual machines.
  • New encryption technology for Office 365 business customers: Enhanced encryption technologies ensures that every file stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business is encrypted with its own key. The encryption technologies also distribute files across multiple Microsoft Azure storage containers, each with separate credentials, to ensure highly secure content storage.
  • Expanding data loss prevention: Existing Data Loss Prevention (DLP) capabilities available in Exchange will now expand to include documents stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business for Office 365 E3 enterprise customers. DLP prevents the sharing of sensitive content inside and outside an organization.

Mobile Initiatives:

  • Office mobile app management with Windows Intune: Intune and Office 365 will deliver protected mobile productivity across Office for iPad, iPhone and Android phones including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook Web App.
  • Microsoft Azure RemoteApp: Available in preview, Azure RemoteApp helps companies give mobile employees access to Windows applications across a range of devices.

Developer-Focused Initiatives:

  • .NET cloud optimized: The next version of ASP.NET vNext, a streamlined framework and runtime that enables developers to optimize cloud and server workloads with maximum agility and performance. ASP.NET will be a new Microsoft contribution to the .NET Foundation as an open source project.
  • Advancing mobile development: Visual Studio tooling for the Apache Cordova platform, allowing developers to build multi-device hybrid applications using their HTML and JavaScript skills. Visual Studio developers can now build Windows, iOS and Android native applications with either .NET and Xamarin or hybrid applications with Apache Cordova. Microsoft also released Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RTM including support for universal Windows apps.
  • Enterprise agility: Microsoft extended Visual Studio Online, the cloud-based application lifecycle management offering, by releasing a set of APIs and service hooks that integrate with third-party services. The new APIs make it easier for organizations to adopt Visual Studio Online without abandoning the tools they’re using today.

To read the original article, please click here.

Microsoft offers free help for new Office 365 rollouts

September 19th, 2014

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New Office 365 customers who buy at least 150 seats of the online apps suite will get deployment help from Microsoft at no additional charge. Microsoft says that they will ensure that the Office 365 service is provisioned and ready for use in your organization. The services will be provided in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, Portuguese and Spanish.

For customers that want assistance with additional tasks, such as email and document migration, Microsoft is offering through March 31, 2015 what it calls an “adoption offer” to help with that. New customers who buy at least the 150 seats can then choose between two alternatives. The “adoption activities” option provides an unspecified amount of money to a partner to foster adoption of the suite among employees.

To read more, please click here.

Cloud BI: Going Where the Data Lives

September 12th, 2014

More than ever, cloud adoption has become a recent trend for companies as they are generating and storing more data in the cloud.

Joao Tapadinhas, a Gartner analyst said, “As more data sources move to the cloud, it makes more sense to also adopt cloud BI solutions because that’s where the data is. It’s easier to connect to cloud data using a cloud solution.”

Historically, cloud BI products have been most appealing to smaller businesses, in part because those are less likely to have an IT department that can manage an on-premises product. However, analysts are starting to see larger companies adopting cloud BI, typically starting with individual groups or departments. Of the companies that made the move to cloud BI say that the benefits include fast time to market, no need to maintain on-premises software and simplicity of use, which outweigh any downsides.

Is your company moving to the cloud BI? What benefits have you found by switching over?

To read the original article, please click here.

SharePoint & OneDrive for Business: Protect and Search for Your Sensitive Data

September 5th, 2014

Need to keep your data safe? OneDrive for Business and SharePoint are some of Microsoft’s technologies which enable users to store, share, edit and collaborate with documents in the cloud. One benefit of having documents in the cloud is Data Loss Prevention (DLP). These are policies which backup data to prevent losing work or information due to user error or system error. Another facet of DLP is keeping data safe from people who are not authorized to view or edit the data. Microsoft has a new tool available to help accomplish this. Now users of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business can search for sensitive data across their files in the cloud.

A document containing credit card numbers or social security numbers would be an easy target for thieves or hackers, and once it’s found it be further evaluated. Knowing which documents contain sensitive data is the first step to keeping those documents safe.

How does Microsoft protect these documents? Microsoft uses pattern recognition software to sift through such documents for sensitive information. Currently, they has 51 built-in sensitive information types such as, social security numbers, passport numbers, banking account numbers, etc. Now, the compliance officer at a company can use simple queries to find any documents which may contain sensitive data and deal with them accordingly.

Senstive Info

To view the original article, click here.

Do you think this will reassure concerns about security in the cloud? Let us know in the comments below.

Infographic: Big Data & the Cloud

August 29th, 2014

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Gartner names Microsoft a leader in Four Magic Quadrants

August 22nd, 2014

Microsoft is currently positioned as a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrants for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, x86 Server Virtualization, Enterprise Application Platform as a Service and Public Cloud Storage Services.*

Only Microsoft has achieved recognition as a Leader across all four capability areas. This in turn validates their strategy to enable the power of choice as we deliver industry-leading infrastructure services, platform services and hybrid solutions.

The four areas are as follows:

Cloud Infrastructure as a Service

Microsoft feels the pace of innovation in their cloud solutions led to much greater customer adoption in the past year, contributing to a very strong showing in the Cloud IaaS space.

x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure

Recognized as a leader for the fourth year in a row, Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V continues to deliver an enterprise-class datacenter that customers can depend on.

Enterprise Application Platform as a Service

Azure has added over 200 new services since last year, delivering a more complete portfolio and enabling customers to focus on creating the next generation of amazing apps without having to worry about managing the full stack.

Public Cloud Storage Services

One of two vendors listed as a leader in this area. Microsoft believes the integration of their server, management and cloud offerings was the key to success.

To read the full blog, please click here.

*Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Lydia Leong, May 28, 2014; Gartner, Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure, Thomas J. Bittman, July 2, 2014; Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Application Platform as a Service, Yefim V. Natis, January 7, 2014; Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Storage Services, Gene Ruth, July 9, 2014.

**Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.**

Microsoft Gains Momentum on Cloud Rivals Amazon and Google

August 15th, 2014

A survey of CIOs at 152 companies with 1,000 or more employees — most of them with over 5,000 employees conducted by the research firm Pacific Crest Securities has Cloud computing concept.
found that Microsoft’s cloud services appear to be quickly catching up to Amazon and Google in ability to supply companies with cloud services.

In the survey, CIOs were asked to list the services on which they expected to increase spending in the coming year. Microsoft’s Azure and Office 365 beat both Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, and was the second most preferred supplier for public and private cloud services behind VMware. The overall strength for Microsoft: big as it is, Amazon’s AWS tends to be more popular with earlier-stage (and therefore, smaller) companies.

According to the survey, one thing that large enterprises tend to like is Microsoft’s cloud tends to work nicely with existing Active Director Infrastructure, the system used to sign into older Microsoft products such as Exchange. They also like it because they get access to a lot of Microsoft products that they couldn’t get from a standard installation of Microsoft Office.

To read the original article, please click here.

eBook: Information Week Reports – 2014 Cloud ROI Survey

August 8th, 2014

This survey finds that one in five companies doesn’t calculate ROI for cloud projects and half can only do a ballpark comparison between cloud and on-premises data centers. Take a look at the survey below and learn how two companies calculate cloud ROI. Click on the image below or here to read the survey results.

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To read the original article, click here.

Three Steps to Build a More Agile Infrastructure

August 1st, 2014

The new cloud computing model can help transform your approach to infrastructure in fundamental ways. However, with such vast opportunities within the cloud, it may be difficult to determine a starting point.Cloud Computing - Datacenter 2

The Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Team has a three step process they blogged about last week which is worth a look, in pursuit of the goal of Agile infrastructure:

1. Rethink your traditional manual approaches in the datacenter.

One way to make your infrastructure run smoother is to reduce the manual processes for network management. The main objective when looking at your current on-premises infrastructure is to determine where your existing processes are lacking. To get the most out of the cloud it is best to identify one or two areas where you want to effect change the most, then explore how software-defined approaches could get you optimal results. Discovering ways to standardize, streamline, automate and simplify across your organizations usual processes will allow you to benefit the most.

2. Get past the more flexible and simplistic objections to the cloud.

Many organizations have a list of reasons why they feel cloud computing shouldn’t be a part of their infrastructure strategy, many of which are compliance requirements and regulatory hurdles. Your organization is probably already using many SaaS applications, using Azure Trust Center as a resource for answering any security or compliance questions is a great place to start. Cloud storage is a great starting point; you can begin moving infrequently accessed data in order to free up space on-premises.

3. Identify where the cloud will bring you the strong benefits.

There isn’t one right answer as to why you should shift your infrastructure to the cloud. If you know in advance how much scale you need or that you need significant scale, cloud deployment makes a lot of sense. If your business has developed applications that support a new line of business where the demand isn’t easily predicted you can take advantage of cloud scale on-demand instead of investing in a lot of infrastructure right off the bat. Cloud is a great solution for applications with predictable spikes in demand that would otherwise put a lot of pressure on your existing infrastructure.

Each step can allow your organization to increase efficiency, reduce costs and still allow you to have money left in your budget to make your infrastructure a competitive advantage.

To read the original article, click  here.

Adopting the Cloud Drives Business Agility and a Competitive Agile Advantage

July 25th, 2014

According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review (HBR) Analytic Services, companies that are adopting cloud computing are winning the competitive advantage, and especially achieving business agility, which was found to the leading driver for adopting cloud among all respondents.

HBR surveyed 527 Harvard Business Review readers in large and mid-sized companies in a wide range of industries around the world. 44 percent of the respondents came from organizations with more than 10,000 employees and 34 percent from organizations with between 1,000 and 10,000 employees.Businessman working with a Cloud Computing diagram on the new co

Question: Are you or have you adopted the cloud in your business?

  • 70 percent of respondents had adopted cloud computing for some production use cases
  • 35 percent of adopters are very aggressively moving forward where ever it makes sense

Question: What is the result cloud adoption has had on your business?

  • 56 percent of aggressive adopters told HBR they were gaining a significant advantage as a result

Question: What is your leading driver for adopting the cloud?

  • 32 percent (of all respondents): business agility
  • 41 percent (of aggressive adopters): business agility
  • 14 percent: increased innovation
  • 14 percent: lower costs
  • 13 percent: capability to scale up and down in response to demand

Question: Have you entered into a new market since you adopted the cloud in past three years?

  • 49 percent of aggressive adopters - yes
  • 35 percent of moderates  - yes
  • 36 percent of cautious adopters – yes

Question: Have you been a part of a merger or acquisition since adopting the cloud?

  • 49 percent of aggressive adopters - yes
  • 29 percent of moderates - yes
  • 31 percent of cautious adopters - yes

Question: Among the companies that had already begun to adopt cloud computing, how has it improved company functionality?

  • 37 percent said it had simplified internal operations (e.g., HR, CRM)
  • 33 percent said it led to better delivery of internal resources (like web hosting or storage)
  • 31 percent said it led to new ways for employees to work, connect and collaborate
  • 23 percent of the respondents also cited faster rollout of new business initiatives to exploit new opportunities
  • 23 percent said they experienced improved ability to acquire, share, analyze and act on data

Overall, companies moving aggressively to adopt cloud computing are winning the competitive advantage by reducing complexity and increasing business agility. These companies that are leveraging the cloud for this advantage have two things in common: a champion at the C-suite level and a CIO that can drive change.

To view the original article, click here.