Agile IT Microsoft Solution Blog


Recruiting using social media is a growing trend in today’s world.  In 2010, for example, 6% of all companies used social media to attract talent.  In 2014, so far that number is 94%.  Millennials and recruiters are changing the recruiting industry together.  Is your organization keeping up?
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 We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again… Cloud computing and Office 365 are not just for the private sector.  Governmental agencies are slowly but surely making their way to the Cloud.  With the way technology advances, it is inefficient and costly to be operating on hosted or on-premises servers.  With a move to Office 365, governmental agencies are finding lower costs and new capabilities.  So whether your organization is in the public sector, private sector, non-profit or education, contact Agile IT today to arrange your free consultation and start planning your move to Office 365.


According to IDC, the federal government will spend $118.3 million on public cloud solutions in FY14, and more than $1.7 billion on private cloud solutions. The private cloud expenditure is slightly lower than it was in FY13, while the public cloud figure reflects an increase of about 33 percent. Looking ahead a few years, however, private cloud expenditures are expected to grow dramatically, reaching $7.7 billion by FY17.


The increase in cloud usage is prompted in large part by a policy change that began in the federal government several years ago. At the end of 2010, the Office of Management and Budget established the “Cloud First” policy as part of an IT reform plan.


The plan was designed to modernize federal IT systems on a number of fronts, including reducing the number of data centers and fixing or eliminating unsuccessful IT projects. As with the use of cloud technology in the private sector, the goal of transitioning to the cloud was to reduce costs and increase efficiency, agility and innovation.


Each agency was required to identify, within three months, three services that could be moved to the cloud, to move one of them to the cloud within a year and to move the other two within 18 months. Given the technological and administrative challenges involved, it is not surprising that many agencies fell short.


In a well-publicized report issued by the Government Business Council and Accenture in December 2013, only 30 percent of the federal executives surveyed indicated that they had cloud plans underway. A much smaller percent of respondents had actually transitioned any of their applications to the cloud.


Other milestones, including the June 5, 2014, deadline for agencies to certify their cloud systems with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) also proved difficult to meet. Yet some agencies were successful, and those agencies that were able to launch cloud services are being rewarded with lower costs and new capabilities.


Numerous agencies—including the departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State and Treasury, as well as the General Services Administration—successfully met the initial requirement for identifying and deploying three cloud services.


In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) migrated to Microsoft Office 365, the cloud version of Microsoft’s productivity suite. In addition to fostering collaboration, the shift to the cloud is expected to save the agency $12 million over four years.


Two types of FedRAMP approval are available. One is through the Joint Authorization Board (JAB), which is the primary governance and decision-making body for the FedRAMP program. JAB provides Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO) for cloud solutions, and approves accreditation criteria for third-party assessment organizations (3PAOs). JAB approvals can be used throughout the federal government. Companies can also seek agency-sponsored FedRAMP approvals, which are only valid for that agency.


In the Government Business Council/Accenture report, the largest single concern expressed by respondents related to security. As compliance with FedRAMP continues to take root, that unease may diminish, but it remains a concern in the government sector as it does in the private sector.


Another challenge is staffing. Only a third of the executives felt certain that their agency had the staff necessary to execute a transition to the cloud. Half were not sure if the length of the procurement process was having an impact on cloud adoption, but the majority of those who did know felt that it was having an adverse effect.


Contracting procedures are also in a state of flux. Agencies are accustomed to paying a specified dollar amount for a specified service, and “pay as you go” is not part of that model.
This article excerpt, by Judith Lamont, Ph.D., originally appeared here: 

We heard this exciting news from Microsoft and wanted to share it with you:

Our goal with OneDrive is to provide a single place for you to store and share all the files in your life, regardless of their number or size. That’s why we’re excited to make it possible for you to store larger files, get them into OneDrive more quickly, and share them easily.

Larger file support

As the first step toward ensuring our customers have ample space, we recently increased our free storage plan to 15 GB and the storage for Office 365 customers to 1 TB. We also dropped the prices of all our storage plans.

As a follow up, we’re excited to announce that you can now upload files up to 10 GB using the desktop apps for Windows and Mac, all of the mobile apps, and the OneDrive website! We recognized that people not only have more files than they did before, but they have bigger files as well. This is a top feature request we’ve received and we’re excited to deliver it!

We’re also working on enabling this for our business customers and we’ll let you know when it’s available.

Faster syncing

As part of our push to continue improving the OneDrive desktop experience, we’ve increased the number of files that can be downloaded or uploaded at a given time on PCs and Macs. In internal tests, this parallel syncing netted an approximately threefold increase in syncing speed. Our performance enhancements have begun rolling out and will be available worldwide in the coming weeks.

Easier sharing straight from Windows Explorer

We are thrilled to deliver another top feature request that gives people who use Windows 7 and 8 the ability to quickly get links to content in their OneDrive folder without needing to go to the web. By simply right-clicking the item or items you’d like to share, you’ll see a “Share a OneDrive link” option that will create a sharing link and add it to your Clipboard. From there, you can paste it directly into an email, IM, or other message. This feature has begun rolling out to OneDrive on Windows 7 and 8 and will be available worldwide within a few weeks. We’ll update you as this becomes available on Windows 8.1 and Mac.

Folder uploads via

While today’s announcements mostly feature improvements to the desktop experience, there’s one more popular feature request we received for the OneDrive website. We’re pleased to announce that today we’re releasing the ability for you to drag folders directly into from browsers where folder dragging/dropping is supported (specifically Google Chrome).

We hope you are as excited by these improvements to OneDrive as we are. As always, please feel free to provide feedback on any features you’d love to see!

This article written by Jason Moore, Group Program Manager, OneDrive, and re-published with permission.  To view the original article, click here.


Office 365 isn’t solely for for-profit businesses.  Non-profits, education, and government can also greatly benefit from a move to the Cloud.  The American Cancer Society, one of the US’s largest non-profits, estimates that it will save $1.5 million this year alone, just because of a switch to Office 365.  If you’ve been waiting to make the move to Office 365, now is the time to act.  Start saving today- contact Agile IT for your free consultation with one of our Cloud Migration Experts.

The American Cancer Society is a community-based grassroots organization. We have people in thousands of communities around the country who are dedicated to our mission to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. That’s one of the things that make us so special: Wherever people are impacted by cancer—that’s where you’ll find us. In fact, extending a human touch is the essence of our research, fundraising, and outreach efforts, which are all about working together to save lives.


While the grassroots nature of our organization is the foundation of our success, it also has a downside. Over the 100 years of our existence, we had evolved into an organization with 11 divisions plus our headquarters in Atlanta. Before we moved to Microsoft Office 365, each division operated differently, using its own business processes and technology stacks. And, while many of our fundraising and mission delivery programs were the same, the way they were run was completely different. One example is our Relay For Life® program—one of the largest fundraising events in the world. Each division hosts a Relay For Life program in its region, but local offices used distinct processes, reporting tools, and collateral, in addition to varied communication and collaboration technologies.


At the American Cancer Society, we pride ourselves on spending as much of our donor dollars as possible on lifesaving programs and research, but our organizational structure had become an inefficient use of funds. Our staff members were struggling, too. Because people were wrestling with their communication and collaboration tools, they had less time for connecting with patients, constituents, donors, and volunteers.


On the IT side, we had nearly 200 physical servers across the country that supported Lotus Notes. Our technology was loosely cobbled together, difficult to support, and cost prohibitive for the organization. About two years ago, we decided to consolidate our business practices across the 11 divisions and headquarters. Our challenge was to gain the benefits of working as one entity while retaining the grassroots, personal touch that is our hallmark. We evaluated the marketplace and looked at multiple solutions. It quickly became clear that Office 365 was the right choice.


We now have a cloud-based communication solution that integrates with all our devices. Our Office 365 solution has completely changed the landscape of our work environment. For example, my team now uses Microsoft Lync Online for our weekly meetings, and we can easily include key members from across the country. We use Office 365 to collaborate on spreadsheets, documents, and Microsoft Project files, and team members share desktops so we can review information that ensures we’re on schedule and budget. I’m also more productive now. When I need to speak to colleagues in the field, I can quickly see who is available, start a meeting, and receive expert feedback immediately.


In terms of costs—specifically hardware, software, maintenance, and renewals—we’re going to save about [U.S.]$1.5 million year after year. That’s a lot of money that we can now channel into lifesaving programs.


Office 365 has also reduced our risk. The IT team is the guardian of proprietary cancer research data and complex financial information for the entire American Cancer Society organization. I feel comfortable now knowing that I have a world-class resource behind me to help keep our information secure. By using Office 365, we’ve transferred the responsibility for data security to Microsoft. They can manage and maintain it better, faster, and cheaper than we can.


The future looks even more exciting. In the summer of 2014, we’ll be rolling out two more Office 365 features that will save us even more time and money. Our worldwide coalition of partners will soon be able to take advantage of the federation capabilities provided in Lync Online. Connecting with partners across this communications platform will be an excellent opportunity to extend our knowledge and expertise on a global scale.


For more information, read the American Cancer Society case study.


This article excerpt, by Jay Ferro, originally appeared here:
 Cloud computing isn’t just for large-scale, enterprise organizations.  More and more small businesses are moving to the cloud, and enjoying the greater flexibility and freedom of movement that cloud computing offers.  With Office 365, you really can work from anywhere, anytime.  Contact Agile IT today to get started in the cloud, and never again be fettered by the confines of an office.
The co-owner of a small Florida-based company was about to have a baby so she sought a more flexible way to run her business.
She found the answer in cloud computing technology.
Julia Suriano, co-owner of Kebroak BBQ Company, a 7-person operation that imports and distributes charcoal to retailers and restaurants across the country, needs access to company information quickly and from anywhere.
“I may be with my kids but while I’m at their tennis practice, I can access my client information and make decisions and get information to people working in the office,” Suriano told Computerworld.
Kebroak BBQ is one of the many small businesses that are making the move to cloud.
According to a recent Emergent Research study, 74% of small businesses (companies with less than 50 employees) report using some cloud-based applications – most commonly email, online banking and social media.
As the gradual start grows, Emergent expects that the cloud computing will change how small businesses operate by 2020.
A lot of small business owners and managers have the same misgivings – mainly security and uptime – as their enterprise counterparts. At the same time, Emergent’s survey of 500 small business executives in June found that 37% are completely or very confident in the cloud.
That means 63% are not so confident.
“Even though they’re using the cloud, most of them still aren’t comfortable with it,” said Steven King, an Emergent partner and analyst. “When you start talking about putting your financials in the cloud – the systems you rely on – that’s when they cite security and downtime fears. That’s the point where they’re not comfortable with the cloud yet.”
Suriano said she hasn’t had any trouble with cloud outages or security issues but she has warned employees to be careful when storing information from outside of the office.
However, she said that warning employees to be cautious is a small price to pay for the benefits of cloud computing.
“I think there are more benefits than risks,” Suriano said.
King predicts that Suriano’s attitude toward cloud computing should quickly spread to other small business owners.
“The big shift to the cloud is going to give them efficiency – cheaper, faster and easier access to tools and applications,” he said. “If you’re a small business, you could have a customer relationship management system on your own server but that needs to be installed, maintained and supported. If you do that in the cloud, all of that work goes away so it becomes cheaper and easier to manage and install.”
That means small companies will have a better chance to take on not only other small competitors, but larger businesses as well.
“Looking at startups and the one- and two-man shops, the cloud is a godsend because then they don’t have to invest in buying servers and getting that IT infrastructure in place to launch or run their business,” said Jagdish Rebello, an analyst at IHS iSuppli. “They can host all of that on the cloud and put their focus on their business and not on IT.”
“They’re already starting to move a lot of their own applications and services to the cloud,” he added. “It will make smaller businesses more nimble and efficient. I think you’ll see businesses change the way they operate.”
This article excerpt, by Sharon Gaudin, originally appeared here:
 It often seems that in order for our information to be secure, we must keep it in an on-premises server (and back it up to an off-site hard drive?).  While this may have been true years ago, the technology and trends of today are showing that this is outdated thinking.  Recently, we’ve had more and more banks moving over to the cloud, in an attempt to stay ahead of the technology curve and gain advantage over their competitors.  While banking in the cloud is certainly more prevalent in Europe, it is catching on in the United States.  Be ahead of the curve- contact Agile IT today to get started in the cloud. Read more

Cloud computing has come a long way in the past few years, and is now being used to great effect in a wide span of industries.  The emergency management community is finding that cloud computing is changing the way they both prepare for disasters and respond to them.  The cloud is making it much easier to inform citizens of disasters, as well as letting them know how they can help.  Agile IT is proud to be a part of such an important and growing industry.

San Antonio Emergency Operations Center. Credit: Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

This article excerpt, by Eric Holdeman, originally appeared here:

Technology is beginning to dominate many aspects of the emergency management profession. This is particularly evident during disaster response. Today we have a number of large technology companies that offer their software or services for larger scale disasters. Chief technology officer for Microsoft Disaster Response, Tony Surma, answered questions about technology’s use in emergency management.

Surma is responsible for the worldwide team and program at Microsoft focused on delivering technologies and technical assistance to communities, responders and customers both in response to natural disasters and in support of proactive resiliency efforts. Surma answered the following questions in writing.

Where do you see technology being used today to advance the different missions of the emergency management community?

The role of technology in emergency management is to connect, inform and ultimately save the lives of those impacted by disasters. Technology restores connectivity to impacted areas so that governments can communicate with citizens and people can find their loved ones. Technology enables responders to coordinate rescue missions and work efficiently from the minute they arrive in a disaster zone, and helps businesses recover so communities can begin to rebuild faster. Lastly, after and in between incidents, technology helps us analyze, track and study natural disasters so that we can always be learning and developing better solutions — and prepare to save more lives.

How is the cloud impacting emergency management?

The cloud has been transformational for preparation and management of disaster responses. Disasters can knock out or overload local infrastructure, making access to data and communication systems nearly impossible. The cloud works around this challenge because data is stored and kept accessible far from the disaster zone. The cloud can also be quickly scaled depending on traffic and volume, so local agencies’ online presence after a disaster is secure from outages. For example, we help nonprofits and local agencies use the Microsoft cloud, Azure, with our ReadyReach portal solution, which allows sharing logistics quickly and broadcasting information to citizens, as well as informing those outside the disaster zone about ways they can help.

What role do you see big data playing in the future in regard to emergencies and disasters?

As greater volumes of data are generated and gathered during disaster response efforts, there is greater opportunity for research, analysis and visionary ways to build upon key lessons learned. As we are increasingly able to collect and extract more detailed assessments, we can proactively act before the next disaster. Working with our industry partners to build effective and collaborative ways to mine data, including social media, both during disasters and afterward is an important focus for us.

What is the future for information management during disaster response?

With the progressive, real-time open sharing of data during disasters, we expect to see a shift and rewiring of how disaster response is managed. Today we have phone calls, situation reports that come a day later, and a variety of data sources we rely upon to make critical decisions. An analogy I often use is the stock market. Think about an old-world model where you found out a stock’s price a day later in the newspaper compared to today’s integrated, immediate access that delivers the data needed to make important decisions nearly simultaneously to all involved. I see the future of disaster response similarly, that there will be a transformation in the way agencies exchange critical data in an open and real-time manner and make it available to people whose livelihood — and lives — rely upon it.

Agile IT

Microsoft-2014-Southwest-Partner-of-the-YearToday, Agile IT proudly announced it was recognized by Microsoft as the 2014 Southwest Area Cloud Partner of the Year. The award, which was conferred during the 2014 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, DC, highlights and recognizes the excellence and achievement of Agile IT in producing exceptional results for their customers.

Focusing on Office 365 migration and other Microsoft solutions such as virtualization, Agile IT is at the forefront of extending business productivity systems and delivering the benefits of cloud computing to transform the way in which hundreds of organizations work.

The award was presented by Eugene Chi, West Region General Manager for SMB Sales and Distribution.  John Gilham, founder and CEO of Agile IT said, “I’m extremely honored that Agile IT has been named by Microsoft as Cloud Partner of the Year for the third year in a row. It shows, once again, that Agile IT is best-in-class when it comes to providing cloud solutions that can totally transform IT for our customers.”

Agile ITs success in cloud computing is also good news for the local economy. Just last week, Agile IT was ranked 15th in the San Diego Business Journal list of the 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies in San Diego.

Having grown over 200% in revenue and staff from 2011 to the present, Agile IT employs 18 full-time local employees, along with staff at other locations across the US. “I’m tremendously proud of the team here at Agile IT and I’m confident that we will continue to grow”, Gilham said.

About Agile IT – Founded in 2006 by John Gilham, a former Business Technology consultant from Microsoft, San Diego-based Agile IT was one of the first service providers to deliver Office 365 solutions. Agile IT’s advanced expertise in Microsoft technologies such as Office 365, Windows Azure, System Center, Active Directory, and Exchange Server – along with a more broad focus of IT support, cloud computing and Office 365 migrations – is helping Agile ITs clients maximize their investment in technology systems and solutions.

get_recognition_imageHere at Agile IT we’ve been experiencing tremendous growth over the past couple of years, in terms of customers, employees and revenue. That growth was recognized last night at the San Diego Business Journal awards dinner, when Agile IT was ranked as number 15 in the top 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the San Diego region.

John Gilham, founder and CEO of Agile IT said, “I’m thrilled that the San Diego Business Journal has recognized our growth and bestowed this honor on us. We have a fantastic team here at Agile IT and it’s thanks to the dedication and skill of that team that we have achieved our growth.”

From 2012 to 2013, the number of full-time employees in San Diego increased by 80% and revenue almost doubled. Early indications for 2014 are that revenue will nearly double again and Agile IT are currently looking for more skilled professionals to join the team.

Recognized as one of the leading Microsoft Partners in the country, Agile IT continues to lead the way in innovative solutions to our clients’ needs – and the secret of Agile ITs success lies in the people we hire.

“It’s not so much about the technology, as the people”’ John said. “It’s great that we have powerful solutions to offer but without having dedicated, skilled people to implement and support the solutions, the technology is next to useless. I’m tremendously proud of the team here at Agile IT and I’m confident that we will continue to grow.”

As a best-in-class Microsoft Partner, Agile IT holds 8 Gold and 7 Silver competencies, as well as being a top-tier member of Microsoft’s elite SMB Champions Club and being recognized by Microsoft as a Cloud Partner of the Year for two years running. By listening carefully to our clients’ needs and addressing them with solutions that reinforce their business, Agile IT is transforming the way organizations use technology.

Asked what the future holds for Agile IT, John said, “The future’s looking very bright – the future is Agile.”

Contact Agile IT today
Choose Agile IT for your total IT transformation.

If you would like to know more about job opportunities at Agile IT, visit our Careers page for details of the positions we have available.

John will be speaking at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Washington, DC next week on “Maximizing Your Profitability with Microsoft Online Services in SMB”.

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Office 365 Success Stories

Microsoft Office 365 is at the forefront of productivity. For organizations of all sizes, Office 365 unites the familiar Microsoft Office desktop applications with the power of our most trusted productivity servers, into one connected online solution. No matter if you’re an entrepreneur just starting out or a multinational corporation connecting your employees across the globe, the best productivity tools are at your fingertips.

State of Minnesota – The executive branch of the State of Minnesota is made up of more than 70 agencies and employs 35,000 people. The State Office of Enterprise Technology (OET) provides services that improve government through the effective use of information technology. In 2010, OET decided to move the entire executive branch to the cloud-based services of Microsoft Office 365. With a hosted enterprise solution, IT staff can provide a highly reliable and secure platform while decreasing administration and costs.

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to view case study.

Patagonia – Patagonia, a global provider of outdoor apparel and gear wanted a new solution for unified communications to help employees around the world work better together. The IT staff also needed to upgrade its aging messaging solution. Based on a pilot test of Office 365, Patagonia expects employees to communicate more effectively and make better design decisions. Patagonia also believes Office 365 will help it reduce IT costs, improve business continuity, and support its environmental initiatives.

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to view case study.

Imagination Yoga – Imagination Yoga, which brings the benefits of yoga to children’s classrooms, struggled with communication among its owners. By adopting Microsoft Office 365, the company gained mobile access to email and calendar information, shared workspaces, and a centralized document repository. Imagination Yoga now runs more efficiently, can be more responsive, and is able to better focus on its mission to bring yoga to more children.

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to view case study.

Traveler’s Haven - Travelers Haven is growing rapidly and wants to better coordinate employee activities. The company is testing Microsoft Office 365 and already finds it exceptionally useful in improving efficiency and communicating with remote employees. Once the whole staff is using Office 365, Travelers Haven expects to save 30 hours a day, avoid U.S.$100,000 annually in IT costs, and feel comfortable opening new offices around the United States.

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to view case study

Intune Deep Dive

Active Directory (AD)
Active Directory (AD) is a directory service created by Microsoft for Windows domain networks. It is included in most Windows Server operating systems.
An AD domain controller authenticates and authorizes all users and computers in a Windows domain type network—assigning and enforcing security policies for all computers and installing or updating software.
SAML Endpoints
SAML 2.0 is a standard which ensures interoperability across identity providers and gives enterprises the freedom to choose a cloud providers without needing to worry about additional management.
Many Cloud services are SAML Endpoints. Some of the most well-known are are:
  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Remedy
  • ZenDesk
  • Zoho
  • Zimbra
  • CIsco Webex

and many more.