Friday, September 09, 2011

Exchange Connections: The economics of moving to the cloud

The old expression "no one ever gets fired for IBM" shifted a few years ago to "no one ever gets fired for buying Microsoft." We get it. Microsoft technologies are a pretty safe bet for your business. This follows a certain school of thought in business that a technology is not truly legitimate until the big players have an offering. 

I'm not sure you can hear me over the roar of the media and the Microsoft marketing machine, but Office 365 and cloud services are the hot topics.  And, I generally loathe marketing terms such as "cloud". At any rate, cloud services deserve a second (or third) look. 

Cloud or hosted services are certainly nothing new. Since the first large scale mainframes came online, businesses have been outsourcing computer services that they could not effeciently or cost effectively offer themselves. Computerized accounting and billing services were outsourced way back in the 1960s. 
Outsourced e-mail and SharePoint services also not new as of 2011, either. Even in the late 1990s there were providers around the globe offering hosted Exchange services. Microsoft themselves have been in that business with BPOS and other offerings for at least the last 6 years. 

Office 365 is a bit different thought. Aside from the fact that there is a massive marketing effort surrounding Office 365 services, Microsoft seems to be betting the house on these services. The different tiers of service and pricing  seem to be Microsoft's recognition that different customers will have different requirements. They are making it easier than ever for us to move to the cloud including better interoperability with on-premise solutions such as Exchange Server 2010. 

So, even for the most skeptical of cloud curmudgeon, the cloud (and Office 365) should not be considered a viable alternative and not a bleeding edge solution. So, where does that leave us? 

I consider myself an "on premise" kinda guy.  I'm a systems guy at heart and am most comfortable somewhere between an engineering and an operations role. I like to have my hand in both sides of IT. But for many of us, the simple fact is that cloud or outsourced services is in our future and we have to accept that. 

So, I’m a tiny bit conflicted when facing the prospect of cloud-sourcing my favorite part about IT.  But, we have to take a bigger picture view of our jobs. Our first obligation is to provide reliable IT services to our businesses (or non-profit or government entity) and those services must be services that meet our end-user's requirements. But second, and almost important, is to provide those services at a cost that is as affordable as possible. 

When I started thinking about sessions for the Exchange Connections conference that would be of value to today's IT Professional, one of the ideas I had was to explore the economics of moving e-mail services "to the cloud" and what that means to an organization's IT team. We all have visions of mass layoffs, but I'm betting that is not usually the case. 

In order for us to be responsible IT Pros, we need to know not only what our service costs us to offer but also exactly what services we are providing.  In my session "Economics of Cloud Sourcing and what that Means to Your IT Team" I'll explore how you calculate not only the cost of the service you offer (such as the per month per mailbox cost of your system) but also determine what services you are offering to your business and your end users.

This will help you to make an "apples for apples" comparison of costs and services. Some organizations will find that they can do things in the cloud at 25% the price of their current on-premise solution while others are going to find that regardless of the cost savings they cannot duplicate the features or functionality in cloud that are required by their end users. 

IT Pros have a professional responsibility to their employers to approach the cloud with an open mind and eye towards helping their business succeed rather than promoting specific pieces of technology. And, for techies like me, that can be a tough exercise.

I hope you will join me for this session at Exchange Connections in Las Vegas and hear my own experiences and my journey towards weighing costs and services objectively.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Office 365 sessions for Las Vegas!

The industry is buzzing about Office 365. Come to Exchange Connections this fall in Las Vegas and find out what the buzz is all about.  Our Office 365 track covers the gamut of technologies including migration, interoperability, Lync--in-the-cloud features, and more. Session topics for the Office 365 track include:
  • Jim McBee - Economics of Cloud Sourcing and what that Means to Your IT Team 
  • Randy Williams - SharePoint Online and The Cloud. Forecasting Today and Tomorrow 
  • Michael B. Smith - Throw that old server away – moving Exchange to the cloud 
  • Mike Crowley - Exchange Online: Administration 
  • Byron Spurlock - Lync Server 2010 Cloud 
  • Siegfried Jagott - Rich Coexistence of Office 365 and Exchange 2010 
  • Mike Crowley - Exchange Online: Understanding Archiving and Compliance
Use the discount code SPKR and receive $50 off your conference admission.  Register BEFORE Sept 1 and get the early bird discount and save an additional $100 for a total of $150 off the registration price.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Exchange Server sessions at Exchange Connections this Fall

We have some outstanding Exchange Server related sessions scheduled for the Fall Connections show.  Exchange sessions at Exchange Connections includes:

  • Tim McMichael: Exchange 2010 Mailbox Role High Availability - What’s Under the Hood....
  • Tim McMichael: Exchange 2010 Mailbox Role Site Resiliency - Understanding Datacenter Activation Coordination
  • Jim McBee: Don’t Fear the Exchange Management Shell 
  • Siegfried Jagott: In-depth Message Tracking Using the Tracking Log 
  • Byron Spurlock: Lync and Exchange Integration
  • Jim McBee: My Exchange Server Is on a Fault Line (Establishing an Exchange 2010 Disaster Recovery Site)
  • William Lefkovics: Outlook Web App Customization in Exchange Server 2010 (Service Pack 1)
  • Michael B. Smith: To Backup or Not Backup - That Is the Question 
  • Michael B. Smith: SSL Certificates and Exchange – The (Next) Final Word
  • Siegfried Jagott: Rich Coexistence of Office 365 and Exchange 2010
  • Anthony Vitnell: Exchange 2010 Designing for Unified Messaging
  • Randy Williams: Integrating SharePoint with Exchange: The What's, Why's and How's

Not only are we providing some great, in-depth topics on Exchange server, this fall we are further exploring the integration of Exchange server with other technologies such as through Byron Spurlock's Lync session, Anthony Vitnell with Unified Messaging, and Randy Williams with SharePoint.

Register before September 1rst to get discounts up to $150 (using the SPKR discount code and the early bird discount.)


Monday, August 08, 2011

Lync and Unified Communiations sessons for Exchange Connections

 The convergence of voice, presence, video, voice-mail, and e-mail continues. This fall at Exchange Connections, we have some great Lync / Office Communications / Unified Messaging sessions lined up. We are very fortunate to have some of the industries leading experts joining us this fall including Rui Maximo, Anthony Vitnell, and Byron Spurlock. This fall's sessions include:
  • Byron Spurlock: Lync Server 2010 Cloud
  • Anthony Vitnell: Lync Server 2010 - Integration with the Cisco Telephony Platform
  • Byron Spurlock: Lync Deployment Notes from the Field
  • Anthony Vitnell: I’m Not a PBX Guy. How do I Design and Deploy Lync Enterprise Voice?
  • Rui Maximo: Configure Direct SIP with Lync Server and Skype Using Asterisk
  • Byron Spurlock: Lync and Exchange Integration
  • Anthony Vitnell: Exchange 2010 Designing for Unified Messaging
  • Rui Maximo: Defend Your Lync Edge Server from DoS attacks, Brute-Force Password Attacks and Account Lockouts
  Register before Sept 1, use the discount code SPKR, and get up to $150 off the registration price.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Exchange Connections conference discount code

Exchange Connections is just around the corner.  Register now for any of the conferences and get the early bird registration discount ($100).  If you use the discount code  SPKR  then you get an additional $50 off.  So, with the early bird discount and this code, you get $150 off the registration price!

See you in Las Vegas!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fall 2011 Exchange Connections Key Note Speaker - Kevin Allison

Kevin Allison, the GM for the Exchange Server program at Microsoft will be the keynote note speaker at Exchange Connections this fall in Las Vegas!   Hope you see you there!


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Session content and levels for Exchange Connections - Looking for feedback

Hi everyone, I am one of the conference chairs for the Exchange Connections conference.  That means, among other things, that I help chose the sessions that will be right for the upcoming shows. The fall show in Las Vegas (starting on October 31) is now in our sights.

  What type of sessions would you like to see in future Exchange Connections events? Should they be “deep dives” on a single topic?  Overviews?  Best practices / lessons from the field?   

  What other suggestions would you make to help make the Exchange Connections event the best in the industry?
   I invite you to contribute to this discussion on our Exchange Connections Facebook Community page.  Please visit