I live in Outlook, I think most people probably do too, so having recently moved the email for my domain over to something a little more reliable – BPOS – I thought it’d be nice to have access to that inbox through my Outlook, in addition to my Microsoft email. To help with the setup of email the Sign In application can do it all for you the client’s available from the Administration Center or the download site.
This however results in you having a separate profile within Outlook so it’s not quite what I wanted.
This is what you need to do to add an Exchange Online mailbox to an existing Outlook profile in Outlook 2010 (the basic steps are universal):
Done, if you start Outlook you’ll find your new account is available for you
Licensing is a complex subject and to be honest it’s not one that I talk about much because it’s a complex discipline in and of it’s own and there’s too much fun stuff to talk about in the client and cloud world. This document, Licensing Windows 7 for Use with Virtual Machine Technologies tells you all you need to know about licensing with Software Assurance and Windows 7 on Virtual Machines. Such nuggets as if you have Volume Licensing, an SA and the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade License (Volume Licensing Upgrade License) or Windows 7 Enterprise then you can run 4 virtual copies of Windows 7 on a server or desktop, just like this:
What’s more there’s a great FAQ in the document, some of which is worth calling out:
If I install and run four additional copies of the operating system, do I have to use Windows 7 Enterprise as the host operating system?
No. You may use prior versions of Windows, including Windows Vista Business and Windows XP Pro. In addition to third-party product to host the four virtual machine environments, Volume Licensing customers have some flexibility in how they can deploy Windows 7 in their organizations. As a benefit of Software Assurance coverage for Windows desktops, customers may leverage virtualization use rights. This use right allows running the software in up to four local virtual machines. While a customer’s right to use Windows 7 Enterprise may survive the expiration of their Software Assurance coverage, the Virtualization Use Right does not.
Can I store my virtual machine in a .vhd file on removable storage media and open the .vhd file on another PC?
Yes, as long as both PCs are licensed for Windows VECD and are not already running more than three copies of the software.
Can other users remotely access virtual machines that I’m not using on my PC while I’m using my PC?
No. The use of the software is limited to one user at any given time.
How do I license my employee and contractor owned PCs so that they have access to my centralized desktop PC environment?
Employee- and contractor-owned devices can be licensed with Windows VECD, which enables them to remotely access your centralized desktop PC environment. Additionally, for devices with a pre-assigned Windows 7 Professional license, they may run the permitted instances locally in a virtual machine on the Windows VECD licensed device.
Go grab the document here (email it to your Licensing dude if you aren’t a licensing dude) and learn about Desktop Virtualisation
When you read all the wonderful marketing hyperbole around the cost savings that cloud can help your CIO make, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were one of those cost savings. With a little thought, however, you’ll see that this technology change isn’t going to make you a pointless cost, but it will make you a valuable driver of efficiency and savings, and you’ll probably find that work becomes more fun .
Most of us get into IT or Technology because we love technology. A big, big part of that for me has always been that it’s constantly changing. Unlike being, say, an accountant we get the rules thrown up in the air every few years. We have to learn a whole lot of new skills in order to make those adaptations and that’s always been the way that technology has worked. We are, however, just coming to the end of one of the longest periods of IT stagnancy we’ve arguably ever seen where a global economic crisis combined with “good enough” technology to deliver a period of stability few of us in technology have had before. A stable period like that leads to many things, one of which is the dulling of our learning skills. Time for a change.
What are the top skills required as we move into the cloud era, how do you gain them and how will your job change?
The number one skill you’ll need in the future is going to be business knowledge, Just like everyone else in your business,you will need to know how it works. Many IT Professionals already do and please don’t take what I’m saying wrongly - it’s not that I believe that IT Pros are out of touch with the business – that obviously depends on your individual circumstances. Broadly speaking, though, experience tells me that not many IT people know their business. I left financial services IT not so long ago (I think it’s 8 months) and I can handon- heart say that most of my colleagues didn’t know an option from a guilt or what shorting is (I’m not sure I do), but perhaps more applicable, lots of IT Pros don’t understand the pressures that marketers or sales people are under and how they can help. The best do understand this, and aligning with the business in this way is the best way to do more with the cloud.
In terms of technical skills, though, here are my top 4.
Second, you need to understand the idea of cost. You need to understand that doing anything in the cloud costs money, just as it does, in a hidden way, in your own data centre. I’ll give you an example. You have data stored in the cloud but it’s not been accessed for six months. You need to pay for that storage. The same on-premises you’ve already shelled out for the hard disk. That understanding of cost will soon make you realise that you need to store some stuff in the cloud and some stuff not. For example, event logs from a web role for today – yes, store them in the cloud. Event logs for last month – no, archive locally or delete all together. Gaining this level of understanding will revolutionise what you do and clear clutter.
So which technology is that for the Microsoft cloud technologies? For Windows Azure you need to know about Active Directory Federation Services and Windows Azure Connect, with a little of Windows Azure Service Bus. If you’re thinking Windows Azure is just for devs then ask yourself this question: “Do the devs understand networking, Identity and all the rest of our infrastructure?” You also need to know PowerShell and System Center to be able to manage the cloud, but we’ll come to that in point 3 in more depth. You’ll find an understanding of SQL Azure DataSync will be seriously helpful if you want to use SQL Azure, too. If you’re making the move to Office 365 you’ll again need to understand ADFS, and you’ll also need to understand DirSync.
OK, it can work that way if the designers and developers built-in intelligence that really delivers that. With Azure they have use of an API to control scale based on the needs of the application. They need to have enabled that functionality and it’s not always the right thing to do. The classic example is pizza demand in the super bowl ad break - more orders = more capacity instantly added. That’s the reality but it doesn’t cover every eventuality. Imagine for a moment said pizza experts also know that the super bowl is happening, if they prepare for those additional instances then they have a better chance of hitting the demand at the right time, especially if the devs did something complicated too that meant that each additional role took 10 minutes to become live. Yes, it’s possible to code around that, but easier to work with an IT Pro to smooth those obvious peaks and use code to work for the unexpected.
Measurement and monitoring tied to business knowledge will allow you to deliver higher levels of value and be more of a hero. The reality is that you don’t need that deep an insight into the business to deliver exceptional value, and you can do this better with cloud because you’re no longer spending time keeping it running. Instead, you’re now helping them generate more money by matching demand curves.
You need to have an understanding of all this stuff to protect your customers and your company, and I can assure you that you can find all the above information for all Microsoft products. You’ll find most of it on the web or by asking your Microsoft team – I’m not going to point you to it because you won’t believe it if a company man tells you. OK, that’s not entirely fair - take a look at my blog and you’ll find the start of the breadcrumb trail.
So now you’re reading that list and thinking that’s not technical. You’re right, it’s a ruse.
Actually it’s all technical because all technical knowledge is knowledge about how things work. Most of this knowledge requires a technical expert to relate it clearly back to the business. It leverages your understanding of how things work and builds your intuition and intelligence to trust or distrust. Go forth and change the world of IT.
This article was originally posted on the Cloud Power Blog at ITpro.co.uk
As part of my dive into the world of Microsoft Online Services one of the things I’ve not been able to find in one place – please correct me if I’m wrong – is a list scenarios where BPOS can really help you out. Our various partners who help you get up and running on BPOS have some good stuff so what I’ve done here is aggregated some of that info and made it more generic.
You’ve realised that Email is low hanging fruit in the cloud tree
Email is really easy to move to the cloud. There are lots of distinct units (mail boxes) that mean the impact on testing and a gradual rollout to BPOS is simple to do. Not only that but there’s the high availability and low cost of management, you don’t need to patch or any of that stuff and you don’t need to buy the tin. You also don’t need to get in with both feet. Your cloud solution (or at least BPOS) can coexist with on premise (dare we say private cloud?) meaning you get to do this as you feel comfortable with it.
Your internal customers are used to email delivered from the cloud too, in fact they probably expect it – especially the younger members of your staff. They’ve grown up with services like Hotmail, Yahoo! mail, Gmail and the likes so they expect their email to always be there, to never go down, to never require maintenance, to have huge storage capacity (25gb is the default with BPOS). This is an example of where the consumerisation of IT is driving your users expectations. BPOS represents the best first step to the cloud.
You’ve out-grown your existing Exchange environment
Coexistence in Exchange means you can add to your existing Exchange infrastructure by connecting to BPOS. That means you get your GAL extended into the cloud and it all feels seamless for your users. There are times when you need to deploy new Exchange 2010 boxes internally but they are reducing. Compliance could be a major turn off but in the case of BPOS that’s not the case! SOx and the likes are supported by BPOS they aren’t by many other providers.
Storage is a big thing here. How much storage do your on premise Exchange users get? The 25gb offered by BPOS could be an expensive thing to grow to for all your customers, if you needed to buy the spindles and platters.
Again it goes down the cost of tin and maintenance, there are times when you’ll want to scale out your Exchange infrastructure but it now should be ROI costed against BPOS.
You’ve acquired a company on another system
I love this one. Your company bought another company, again, without thinking about how to integrate the IT systems. Email just works right? Well…er..er…
We’ve seen Exchange Online used for just this scenario quite a lot. You have to get people onto your email system yesterday, it’s imperative to keep the newly acquired business functional, profitable and (possibly) to show them who’s boss. The ability to integrate Exchange Online rapidly with your existing structure, you can do it in about an hour if the DNS gods are shing on you and the wind is in the right direction, is superb. They need access to your GAL, they’ve got it, they need to start receiving email @contoso.com , they’ve got it.
Not only that but all their mail can be in brought over too so they don’t loose their archive of 10 year old email Exchanges that they intend to use to justify that pay rise.
You need to move from another Internet based mail system
Same solution as above, mailboxes can be imported. That is super cool for moving from one provider to another, if they had an outage recently because they can’t really scale and don’t really have an enterprise ready solution. In fact this scenario applies to moving off of other in house email systems.
Asside: I once helped move from a green screen email system to a gui based one. Email volume tripled overnight and the reason was it became more usable. Unfortunately that solution didn’t scale, but it delivers a bit of sage advice. Be sure what you move to can scale beyond what you currently consider the norm.
You use SBS and you’ve outgrown your 75 user limit
SBS or Small Business Server includes Exchange and it’s all a small business needs to get started. However there’s a limit of 75 users and a tighter limit on the disk space you have installed in your box (that’s a physical limit not an OS limit). If you need more than 75 mail boxes or you need more space than you have in that box Exchange Online is for you.
SBS and Exchange Online have been used in other interesting places too, for example the two work really well for project offices. Everyone on the project only really works on the project but they need to be able to deal with email at a higher level.
You’re company has expanded into a new country and mail’s slow
This is another of my favourite scenarios, mainly because a friend of mine has been hit by the crippling situation that is SLoooooooooooooooW email. She’s just started work at a new company, the company is actually new to UK and it’s main offices are in India. Things are not so good from a reliability perspective and a speed perspective. For example they have on premise Exchange in India (where everyone is in the same building) but have a slow link out the Internet.
When something is sent internally it’s instant, when it goes to her it can take a while, especially when it’s a 10mb Excel doc. When she checks her email it has to cross that little tiny pipe to get back to her, whilst she’s waiting.
This could be solved by Exchange Online. If her company set up Exchange Online for her she’d be able to take advantage of her fast home broadband connect when she’s connected to the Exchange Online servers. Sure the files would still have to cross a tiny pipe but not whilst she’s waiting. Her experience would be better…in fact she might not be quitting next week.
In fact there is more to BPOS than just email, Sharepoint provides the perfect solution to this problem when it’s in the cloud. The ability to place a large file somewhere, or a report or just some info, and to only have to manage one place is astounding. When it’s in the cloud with BPOS it’s even better for people working remotely because you don’t need to worry about your network links.
You have a short term need for extra people with email
You need 100 seats now. You’ve got a massive sales drive hitting the ground and you need 100 new call handlers with email access like it was yesterday. BPOS can do that, you don’t need to wait to buy the tin, build it, connect it…none of that. You just do it. And when it’s done, as long as it’s been over a year you unsubscribe those seats and if it’s not you begin your cloud migration because you just proved that cloud email works.
I wrote this because cloud based email is worth thinking about. IT Pros need to be questioning when they can move to the cloud and Emails the easy way. I’d really love to know what you think, which is what the comments are for. Have I missed any scenarios that you think we all need to be considering?
Here’s more on BPOS by me you should signup for BPOS and start trying it out today too.
Before we get into this it’s very important to note that Windows Intune is in Beta and things will change. It will still be very cool though…
Managing the Windows PCs in your business is essential if you want to have happy users and want to reduce the threats posed by missed updates, malware and other hassles. It’s also a huge bonus when you know exactly what software is being used in your business (and that you’re licensed for it!) and I’m sure it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when you get to help out a user without having to leave your desk. Normally you need a server infrastructure to get the best of all this.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if you could manage all the PCs in your business without having deploy and manage a server infrastructure to do it? Well that’s where Windows Intune steps in to help you out. It’s our new cloud based management solution (currently in Beta) that allows you to manage all the PCs in your business from a console that runs in your web browser and sits in the cloud. No infrastructure needed.
The key things that Intune does for you functionality wise (and there are what I’d call bonuses, BIG bonuses in addition):
So what are the bonuses? How about Windows 7 Enterprise and Software Assurance? That’s a heck of a bonus no? That means that every PC that you install Intune on and pay for will always have the right to have the newest Windows version in line with the Enterprise SKU…and that means you get security features like BitLocker. That in my eyes is a heck of a bonus.
Who’s it good for
If you don’t have any PC management in your organisation and you’re small to mid size, in my opinion Windows Intune is a no-brainer. From day one of using Intune you’ll have a better understanding of your Windows client environment than you’ve ever had.
If you’ve got other PC management in place (that doesn’t have the power of System Center), you are small to mid size and you maintain infrastructure for it you should evaluate Windows Intune, it could save you a fortune.
If you don’t have software assurance then you should consider Windows Intune so you can keep your stuff up to date.
If your remote people have lots of issues that prevent them getting inside your network through your VPN then you should consider Windows Intune because you can manage that PC the second there’s an internet connection. Great if you enforce minimum requirements like having a minimum malware signature level before your users can connect.
If you’re providing a managed PC service for your customers then its awesome once you get your head around direct billing. If you’d like to know more about this let me know.
Finding the sides
Windows Intune isn’t supported on servers and whilst it’s got a fairly comprehensive feature set for managing PCs it’s not got the granularity required by large organisations yet and before doing a large deployment you’ll need to think about networking. Other than that, there aren’t really any, you can technically manage as many clients as you like.
So, lets take a look at some of the highlights of what Windows Intune has to offer and no I’m going through this step by step – there are videos for that.
Lets take a look: Updates
Windows Update is our biggest cloud service, in fact it’s THE biggest cloud service out there, there a millions upon millions of users getting updates from the service every day. Windows Update provides a fire hose of updates direct from source (yep that’s us) for every supported version of Windows and Office and more. Some businesses like a little more control over the fire hose which is why we provide a product called Windows Server Update Service for large businesses. WSUS gives them the ability to control what updates go to what PCs allowing them to create groups of PCs to receive the updates first to make sure they don’t encounter issues such as incompatibility their Line of Business (LOB) applications. The problem with this is that the WSUS server is inside the business network so clients can’t get those updates if they aren’t connected and also it requires infrastructure which smaller business might find costly to deploy.
Welcome Windows Intune.
Windows Intune adds a level of control to that fire hose, a more directed hose nozzle in if you will, allowing the administrator to identify the specific updates to allow and creation of groups of machines to target for specific updates. Just like you’d do in a test environment to ensure your LOB applications play nice.
Inside the console, which is available once you have your account, you find that it’s split into the different aspects that Windows Intune manages. Selecting Updates is the rather obvious way to manage updates and from here the Update Status panel shows you how many updates you have to approve and so on. Updates are split into Critical, Security, Definition Updates (we’ll do this in part 2), Service Packs, Rollups and Mandatory. This last section basically contains the updates necessary to manage a PC with Intune, you see we use the Windows Update service on the PC to keep things in check, neat eh…no extra load for a software update agent.
Updates can be approved or declined meaning that they will be blocked from installing. When an update is approved or declined the flag is set against a particular group of machines giving you some granularity of control…and it’s possible for a single machine to be a member of more than one group. Another very handy feature is that the properties of each update include detailed information about behaviour, severity of the problem being patched and deeper detail such as KB articles.
In part two I take a look at Intune’s Malware protection, Firewall and Remote Assistance and then we’ll take a look at Alerting, Software and Hardware reporting and licensing. Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss it.
Right now you should apply to join the beta – but remember we want people to try this out, we only have 10,000 places available and they’re filling up fast, but we want people with at least 5 computers to deploy to. You should also check out the official Windows Intune blog too for more.