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Entries for June 2010

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Written by: Jared Morgan  

You can view other customer stories from our blog here. Do you have a story to share? Let us know and we may feature your story on our blog.  

Founded in 1867 in Paducah, Kentucky, Bradshaw & Weil is the oldest business in Paducah. They are an independent insurance agency that is licensed to operate in 14 states. 

 

Jared received his Bachelor of Science in Youth Ministry from Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, in 2003. After school and working in youth ministry, Jared returned to western Kentucky to join Bradshaw & Weil as a commercial producer in 2004. Jared’s primary responsibility is sales, but he is also responsible for the technology used in the agency.

Bradshaw & Weil is a small insurance agency with nine employees. In the past, we spent tremendous amounts of money on technology and support. When I joined the agency in 2004, I started doing all the tech support. I quickly learned that:

  • My primary position is sales. When I’m spending time on tech support, I’m not making money.
  • I don't have the resources to support a full server in the office.
  • I don't have the resources to recover from a significant failure in a reasonable amount of time.

We began the push for cloud solutions in 2005. Using SaaS allows us to offload the responsibility for backing up data, recovering from failures, reduces our time setting up computers, fixing computers and maintaining servers. A nice side effect is that our technology is not tied to our location – we can work from anywhere with web access.

We started with client management software that was delivered over the Internet with data living on someone else's servers. We then started using free Google Apps in 2006 - our public Website is still hosted by Google Apps. Google Apps mail left a lot to be desired; no push email, no over-the-air (OTA) sync with wireless devices, limited syncing with IMAP in Outlook, etc.

In 2007, we decided to adopt a hosted solution. We searched for about six months and, after reading about Microsoft Online, we were immediately interested. We decided to use BPOS because it provided more features (Communicator, SharePoint) than Exchange Online (by itself) for not much more money. At the time, I didn't honestly know what SharePoint Online was, other than an intranet solution. 

As a small business, we are very representative of the baby boomer transition that is happening nationally. We had relied on our employees who were experts in our business, but somewhat technically challenged. We really needed to capture and institutionalize their expertise before they retired. We have been able to establish and document procedures and then post them on SharePoint Online. We track changes to the procedures, tech support issues, and we publish documents related to the business all through SharePoint Online. SharePoint is easy enough to use that I've been able to do most of the work with zero training.

It was difficult to move from a free service to paying more than $100/month, but we wouldn't drop BPOS for anything now. In addition, there is no way a business our size could access this type of technology in-house without spending at least $15,000 more on systems and support. When we upgraded our computer systems this year, we bought faster desktops and faster Internet access and shut down our old server. We no longer have a server in our office.

What I thought I was getting as a simple throw-in with BPOS, SharePoint Online has turned out to be as valuable as Exchange Online, if not more so. There are improvements I'd like to see made, but it would be hard to be more pleased with the service so far.

by host

Cloud computing has been getting a lot of attention recently, and rightfully so. The cloud is a relatively new venture that is taking the attention of individuals and corporations. How does a corporation justify migrating to the cloud? How does a corporation or individual choose which cloud offering is right for them? Our stories for This Week in BPOS News cover the above mentioned. You can review previous entries in the This Week in BPOS News series and let us know what stories hit your radar for this week.

1. 8 Ways to Measure Cloud ROI

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Most companies have stored information and valuable data on premise. Most people in fact store their data and belongings where they can physically be reached. Companies have been around longer than the existence of Cloud Computing. The benefits of the Cloud are obvious (especially to most readers of this blog), but there are those out there that still need some persuasion, or need to convince others. Our first story from CIO focuses on finding the ROI (Return on Investment) by switching to the cloud. CIO focuses and describes 8 measurements of cloud ROI:

The following are business metrics that can help translate the indicators from the capacity-utilization curve to direct and indirect benefits to the business.

Do you have any additional ways to measure Cloud ROI? I’m very interested to see how the community measures their own Cloud ROI. Leave a comment below.

2. Leaving Google Apps for Microsoft Online – Two New Examples

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Andrew Kisslo is a senior product manager at Microsoft that writes for the Why Microsoft Blog. I keep referencing his articles because he writes with such passion and vigor for the Cloud story. On Monday, June 21st, Andrew posted about two more examples of users leaving Google Apps for Microsoft Online Services. The two companies that this article points to are China Navigation and Intero Real Estate.

China Navigation is a 300 seat company that is located not only in China, but throughout Asia. They are in shipping management and “Email is the hub of their business to communicate with customer and partners throughout the world.”

Intero Real Estate has over 2,000 employees and is located a few freeway exits away from Google Headquarters. Intero felt it was necessary to reach outside their hometown to get the best cloud service available.

You can read more about each company case study in this Why Microsoft Blog post.

3. Cloud Computing: 10 Reasons Why Google Won’t Beat Microsoft in Cloud Collaboration

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The final article for This Week in BPOS News returns the focus to the cloud competition of Google vs. Microsoft. Clint Boulton from eWeek.com tries to settle the cloud and gives us 10 Reasons why Microsoft Online Services will stay on top of the Google competition. I highly encourage readers to click on the article because there is a slideshow embedded in this post.

Clint makes some intriguing arguments in his slideshow including pointing out that “Microsoft Now Lives in the Cloud.” Clint proposes his arguments in the following slides:

  • Bang for the Buck Lies with Microsoft
  • Serena Said It and Did it
  • Limited Browser
  • Customer Service
  • Enterprise?
  • Google Billboards?!
  • Good Enough

Each slide provides great evidence on Why Google Won’t Beat Microsoft in Cloud Collaboration.

Did you see a story you want to share with us? Leave your story in the comments section below. We want to hear from you. Let us know what other topics you’d like to see. You can comment on this blog post or send mail to our community mailbox. Follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

by host

Today’s blog post is a customer story written by Marco Orellana, CIO of Codelco You can view other customer stories from our blog here. Do you have a story to share? Let us know and we may feature your story on our blog. 

Codelco is a Chilean State owned copper mining company formed in 1976 with headquarters in Santiago. It is the largest copper producing company in the world with more than 18,000 workers and pre-tax profits of over $4 billion in 2009.

Codelco has a strong focus on innovation, technological excellence and knowledge management as basic requirements for competitiveness. We are constantly looking for ways to leverage technology to increase productivity and help drive business results.

I’ve been the CIO of Codelco for 7 years and believe our approach to IT is quite visionary. I’m responsible for developing new strategies for the mining business through the application of information, automation and communication technologies. This is the foundation by which we first began to consider the merits of ‘cloud computing’ and whether such a move was right for our business.

I believed we could gain greater efficiencies and reduce costs by moving some of our data to the cloud and I wanted to consider several vendors before making a decision. Although we had a long standing relationship with Microsoft, we considered other vendors based on the notion that we could save money and simplify our approach to messaging. It soon became clear that other vendors did not have the expertise to provide the security and reliability our business required. Additionally, we weren’t willing to trade functionality and interoperability with our existing line of business applications for services that offered little more than the allure of price.

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Having a world class communication and collaboration platform is important to our business. We were pleased with the efficiencies we’d gained from the on premises deployment of Exchange 2007 to 12,000 employees. When we discovered we needed a way to provide 7,000 deskless workers an e-mail solution, we opted for Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and were one of the first companies in Chile to do so. We’ve since added Office Communications Sever to our portfolio and currently have 700 users who are able to communicate and collaborate seamlessly through the familiar Office experience.

Whether you operate a global business or plan to become one, having an enterprise class communication and collaboration solution can play a big role in your long term success. We’ve found that moving to the cloud with Microsoft has been a great way for us to gain efficiencies and save money without sacrificing functionality.

by host

I was formatting our blog layout yesterday when I stumbled across our blogroll. Take a look to the right side of our blog to see a list of sites from all over the world dedicated to BPOS. While browsing through the blogs I stumbled across three articles that I want to share with you today. These pieces focus on the more technical aspects of Microsoft Online Services.

1. Microsoft Exchange Online ActiveSync User Report

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Chad Mosman from Message Ops writes an excellent blog that covers the technical spectrum of Microsoft BPOS. In his post “Microsoft Exchange Online ActiveSync User Report”, Chad reflects on a question from the Microsoft Exchange Online Support Forums. “There was a question about how to determine if a user was using Active Synch.” Chad took this question head on and created a script that could decipher this information. Chad describes how he solved the question using his self-made script and doing a little research. You can read all about it on his blog and download the script too.

2. Communications Server ‘14’ Full Disclosure

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Jeff Schertz from Pointbridge.com takes an in depth look at Microsoft Communications Server 14. He provides a brief overview of some of the new server features and wrote a follow-up piece that you can read here. In this latest post Jeff dives into some additional new features in the upcoming release. If you want to get a brief overview of what’s new in communications server ‘14’ then this article is a must read. This is also a great piece for those that want to learn the meaning to some buzz words including SBV, CAC, and Registrar.

3. BPOS TechEd Presentations – good stuff

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TechEd was held a couple weeks ago in New Orleans. We covered it briefly for our This Week in BPOS News story from 6/11. Brett Hill, from the Brett Blog, takes another look at TechEd and finds “these very good presentations about BPOS and integration.” This short post features a link where you can view the exhibitions.

What are your thoughts on these presentations?

If you like what you see please check out our blogroll and visit the sites listed. What kind of technical stories do you want to hear? Are there any topics in particular you want us to cover? Please let us know with a comment on this blog post or send e-mail to our community mailbox. Talk to us on Twitter and write on our Facebook wall.

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In this edition of This Week in BPOS News we take on multiple stories revolving around the cloud. We check the cloud’s forecast, try to understand its impact on business and review a not so accurate cloud calculator. So take a seat as we walk through this week in BPOS news.

1.       Technology Weather Forecast: Cloudy and that’s a good thing.

 

Apart from the brilliant pun, this first story takes the reader by the hand and walks us into the cloud. This is a great introduction for users and companies that are wondering if they should venture into online services such as BPOS.  Paul Hillam starts the article with a quote that can summarize our excitement here at Microsoft Online Services, There is one computer technology, and only one, that is or should be on everyone's lips right now: cloud computing.”

Paul then guides us through an analogy of cloud computing that makes it easy for anyone to digest. This is a great piece to show your skeptical colleagues if they do not understand the importance of cloud computing. If you need more information about the business value of the cloud then check out our second article.

2.       Business Value and Cloud Computing

  

This post from Dot Net Developer’s Journal focuses on the first mistake of making the move to cloud computing, “Failing to understand the business impact of leveraging a Cloud.” A few major questions are analyzed and dissected by author James Houghton. He covers the following topics:

  •        What are you trying to do?
  •        Is Cloud a better option than traditional approaches?
  •        Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!

The point of this piece is to foster a candid dialogue about the business value of cloud computing and is not mean to discourage anyone from pursuing their goal. It is also best to be well informed and educated, and this article can help.

3.       Lies, Damned Lies and the “Gone Google” Calculator

 Our third article has received a strong reaction ever since I posted it on our twitter account. Andrew from the Why Microsoft Blog takes a look at how one company uses the “Gone Google” Calculator to come up with some pretty fishy numbers. Andrew also compares his findings with Microsoft’s methodology with Forrester Research. Nothing gets past Andrew as he dives into the online savings calculator that he calls a “marketing gimmick.” There are some really good arguments made against the calculator and primary flaws are pointed out.

This is an interesting read for those comparing different online services. I recommend you check out this article to see how the Google Calculator really works. Andrew spent his time playing with the calculator but recommends the following;

“… I recommend you spend your time showing your CEO how Office, SharePoint and Exchange 2010 can save them money and make people more productive just like other companies such as Sony, Telus, Football Association, General Mills and Subaru.”

Did you see a story you want to share with us? Leave a response in the comments section below. We want to hear from you. Let us know what other topics you’d like to see. You can comment on this blog post or send mail to our community mailbox. Follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

Brett Hill

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