3 Secrets to Getting the Most Business Value from Office 365

3 Secrets to Getting the Most Business Value from Office 365

We just did an entire webinar on how to get the most value out of Office 365 — and we did it all without mentioning a single feature. Not one.

How on Earth is that possible?

For the same reasons every technology project, ever, succeeds or fails: it isn’t about the speeds, feeds or special features. It’s about achieving a business use case and bringing value to end-users. Features are just the details to be worked out after!

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Getting secure in a mobile-first world with EMS

getting-secure-in-a-mobile-first-world-with-ems

We live in a time where a generation of workers has never plugged in a cable to get on the Internet. And while this mobile-first world has been great for productivity, it’s led to greater risk and challenges for the security team.

Today, security is so much more than just a firewall. As we saw in our recent webinar, co-hosted with Microsoft to discuss their new Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite, breaches are resulting from weak end-user passwords or error, as well as a lax attitude toward SaaS and third party “Shadow IT.” Add to that infrastructure complexity brought on by cloud and hybrid environments and everything you knew about security is changing.

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Project and Visio: SAme Friends, New benefits!

Proejct and Visio

The cloud has never looked so good

Microsoft Project and Visio are two products that are never quite treated the same as the rest of the Office suite. Customers move most of their productivity workloads to Office 365 (currently at 60 million users). But, we’ve found that Project and Visio workloads remain untouched, tied to the hardware they were installed on. Despite having rights to the latest version of Project & Visio, the typical Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) customer “deals with the pain” and sticks to legacy versions. They forego the innovative features Office products have embraced over the years and never quite make the shift towards the cloud.

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Avoid Office 365 gotchas with these key considerations

webinar-learn-how-to-deal-with-5-common-o365-technical-issues

One C-level executive was so excited to get going on her company’s new Office 365 bundle, that she asked to be first on the list to adopt it.

Everything was going great until a week later when she started missing important calls and meetings. Uh oh… All of a sudden IT leaders were scrambling to figure out what went wrong.

Can you guess it?

In the rush to get her on the platform, IT failed to give the proper permissions to the executive’s assistant. As a result, all the meeting requests the assistant usually handled never got read.

Sounds obvious, but we’ve seen plenty of examples just like this one. Unfortunately, this story points to a much larger phenomenon. Too many businesses make the switch to Office 365 without thinking through all the key considerations that might get in the way of success — and it’s not just the end-user perspective like the example above. These are serious issues, from infrastructure, finances and security.

At a glance: key considerations to make before adopting Office 365

So what can be done? We discussed this at length in our latest webinar – which you can watch below.

Shared Responsibility:

In the chart below, everything on the left-hand side is Microsoft’s job with Office 365. The rest is up to you. As soon as “the copper leaves the building” it’s on you to ensure your business is properly set up.

Security and data are a major concern here. But so is how your business processes need to adapt to Microsoft’s ongoing software updates. Last year alone there were nearly 500 updates released — each one would have to be vetted to ensure your individual Office 365 implementation and processes would continue, unfettered.

office-365-shared-responsibility

Internal Silos

Traditional businesses split roles into silos, from your server to storage to networking, right up to applications, telephony, and security. But when you switch to Office 365, these roles are merged and sometimes completely off-loaded to Microsoft’s team.

IT leaders must consider how this impacts their teams, and make a plan to include existing team members in future plans to ensure their own success and avoid fighting and loss of productivity.

Infrastructure and the network

Your data center is no longer down the hall, it’s in another part of the country. This has a significant impact on your line of sight when issues arise.

Simultaneously, this puts a drastically increased importance on the strength of your network. It is now more important than ever that you can handle the bandwidth to support cloud, ensuring reliability, scalability and end-user satisfaction (i.e. speed.)

Data Considerations

Office 365 is often thought of simply a new way to license – when in reality it has enormous implications on your data and the infrastructure used to store and move it. This cannot be overlooked.

You need to think through such things as the size of mailboxes and detailed user permissions. Use the 3 W’s and an H approach: What data do we need to migrate, Who has access to it, Why are we moving it, and How will we move it?

Operational Challenges

It would be incredibly rare if you had an Office 365 veteran in-house already. Therefore it is extremely likely mistakes will be made in both the configuration and ongoing management of Office 365, causing you undue costs and wasting your time in the process.

Understanding the skills gaps, and the need for expert guidance upfront and perhaps on an ongoing basis are crucial questions to address from the start.

Want more details on the considerations, and how Softchoice’s Office 365 tools and managed services can help you? Watch the full webinar recording now or contact your representative today.

Security and legal concerns with Office 365

Security and legal concerns with Office 365

Security concerns about the public cloud are on the decline – but they continue to slow down adoption.

In fact, in a recent survey of hundreds of IT decision makers, security was the leading reason (48.5% of respondents) why businesses haven’t yet made the leap to the cloud.

why businesses haven't yet made the leap to the cloud

In a strange twist, though, that same study — conducted by a cloud migration expert SADA — showed that cloud security was also the key driver of its adoption (51.5%). So, simply put: cloud security is both scaring business away and attracting it en masse.

What gives? Office 365 Adoption Shift is slow-moving.

As the ZDnet writer Joe McKendrick puts it, public opinion about the public cloud is shifting, but it’s a trend that has been evolving — slowly — over the last few years.

The reality is that public cloud has its own security risks and concerns, just like anything. But when closely examined, most leaders would have to agree the cloud offers more security, better compliance options, far more control and transparency than the fears would have you believe.

This was the key topic of discussion in our latest webinar on Office 365, where we dug into the security and legal concerns present with adopting the cloud productivity suite.

Key Security Concerns with Office 365: 

The core concerns about Office 365 centre around security, access, visibility, and encryption, namely:

  • Is my content safe in your data centers?
  • Who has access to my organization’s content in the service?
  • What visibility do I have into the activity on my content in the service?
  • Can I encrypt everything so that it’s not possible for you (Microsoft) to have access to my content?

As we have shown in our expert-hosted webinar, which was attended by IT leaders from across North America, is that under each of those key categories, Office 365 delivers a safe, secure and business friendly set of tools and solutions.

  • Security: Office 365 offers the highest security on all levels, from content to the network to the admin and all things in between. On top of this, it offers continuous security best practices and services, like penetration testing and granular end-user controls over configurations.
  • Privacy: With it’s “privacy by design” ethos, no one is ever able to use your data in a way that you do not approve of. This means Microsoft builds no back doors and provides no unfettered governmental access to your data.
  • Compliance: Microsoft’s broad and thorough approach to compliance is a big positive and helps to relieve a major concern many businesses are struggling to overcome. With it, you meet out-of-the-box standards such ISO 27001, HIPAA, FedRAMP/FISMA and SOC. You also have access to deep analytical auditing and reporting and much control over how your data is handled and where.
  • Transparency: With the “Transparency Hub” you get up to date insight on how law enforcement and other agencies attempt to request data and what Microsoft provided. You can easily see where your data is stored geographically, too, at any given time.

Of course, this does not mean that you are completely “off the hook.” Security on the cloud is always a shared responsibility — and you are still charged with much of the access, admin, and connections with the cloud applications that could provide other security issues not handled by Microsoft.

For a much deeper dive into all of the topics above, watch the recorded webinar above.

MPSA: Microsoft’s new licensing vehicle (and what it means for you)

MPSA: Microsoft's new licensing vehicle (and what it means for you)

Updated: May 6, 2016 (Originally published Sep 2014)

Many organizations have been taking advantage of the Select Plus Agreement over the past few years for ad-hoc purchases that don’t require a standardization across one of Microsoft’s three Enterprise Product sets. And whether using the Select Plus as a companion agreement to an EA, or as the main licensing vehicle, our clients have enjoyed the flexibility and control of their product selection.

Although the Select Plus is an “evergreen” agreement that was to never expire, Microsoft has recently introduced their next generation volume licensing agreement, the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), that will soon take its place.

The two agreements have many similarities such as both being evergreen, but the main difference is that the MPSA was created to allow purchases of Online Service, which continue to be the focus for Microsoft. If you’re currently enrolled in a Select Plus, or are considering a purchase through an MPSA, here are a few things you should know:

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