Agile IT Microsoft Solution Blog

blog3.24.15

As cloud computing becomes more prevalent and accepted, governments are beginning to take the leap and move over to the cloud. While moving to the cloud is a big step away from the traditional on-site servers, the benefits are huge.

Office 365 allows you secure access to your data any time, anywhere.  Agile IT is here to help make it a seamless transition, so contact us today to get started.


 

Can a model procurement agreement speed the adoption of cloud computing?

When cloud computing first emerged, government officials viewed it with some skepticism. Long accustomed to owning and controlling all of their IT hardware, software and networks, states and localities didn’t take very seriously the idea that they could, for a monthly fee, simply stream pretty much everything to a worker’s desktop. Delivering a Netflix movie was one thing, the argument went, but a robust data management system was quite another. Read more

dynamicsCRM

Microsoft has released its first update for Dynamics CRM for the Office Outlook client available here.  More updates will be released later this spring.  The pre-release documentation is already available by clicking here.  Information on setup and new content is available through the CRM Help Center, which has content and videos everyone can check out.  The center provides information for administrators, developers, and end user training.

Get ready

So what do you need to do to get ready for the new updates?  You can expect to see changes in Dynamics CRM Online, Dynamics Marketing, Social Engagement, and Parature to start.  The technical changes in the update will be various additions and deletions from the previous configuration list in order to stay current with technology.  More information is still coming for specific changes to the supported configurations.  The new releases for these features are slated to drop around the second quarter of 2015. Read more

This article below is part two in a two-part series about Moderna Therapeutics’ use of the Microsoft Cloud, and how as a biotech company they are able to use new IT resources to save lives.  Read part one here.

Agile IT has been a Microsoft Partner since 2006, and one of the things we’ve found to be true over the past (almost) 10 years is that Office 365 works across many industries and in many environments.  Whether your organization requires HIPAA PCI, or FINRA compliance, Agile IT and Office 365 have got you covered.  And if your organization requires none of those regulations?  Don’t worry- Agile IT and Office 365 STILL have you covered.


 

Flexible Work Environments Improve Productivity

Everyone at Moderna uses Office 365 to improve their productivity and increase their contribution to the company, no matter where they are working or what device they are using. All employees are “heavy users” of Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, and they expect access to their files anytime, anywhere. Read more

surfacepro3

New technology is thrilling… and kind of scary, at the same time.  We’re all used to using a laptop for our business needs.  But a tablet has traditionally stayed in the realm of “watch movies, check email, entertain the kids on long car rides”.  Microsoft is seeking to change that with the Surface Pro 3.  As we are wont to do here at Agile IT, we asked Tony (who did this series on Office 365) to chronicle his experience with it.

So read below, and when you’re done, contact us to learn how you can benefit from partnering with Microsoft and Agile IT.


I have been an avid fan of Microsoft for many years however the thought of replacing my laptop with a tablet left me skeptical.  I have owned several personal devices as secondary devices to pair with my laptop but have never depended on one as my primary work tablet.  After reading many reviews and articles, and watching a few independent user reviews, I decided to purchase one for myself.

Physical attributes

The Surface Pro 3 offers the versatility of a tablet with the sense and feel of using a laptop.  While this device is not exactly like a laptop, it serves as a very close second.  On the physical side it is much lighter and more portable than any laptop I have ever owned.  The detachable keyboard cover that allows me to “tilt” the screen like a laptop makes me feel at home.  At only 217 mm thick its almost like typing on top of a book cover.

Since I planned to use the device as a laptop I purchased the type cover which is the thinnest keyboard that easily connects to the Surface Pro 3 through a strong magnetic connection.  The device itself has an adjustable arm which allows me to sit it up on my lap or at a desk.  I recommend wearing pants while using this device on your lap as the adjustable hinge can become uncomfortable on your bare skin with extended use.  Typing on the keyboard is just as easy as typing on my laptop keyboard though the clicking sound the keys makes is slightly louder than a traditional laptop keyboard.  The backlit keys make it very easy to type in low light or no light.  The fact that the keyboard doubles as a screen protector is a handy feature as well.

The AC charging cable is very nice as it uses a small magnet to attract the cable to the tablet which makes connecting it a breeze.  The improved fin type design over the previous generation’s cable makes it easy for me to connect the charger in much less time than traditional micro USB connectors.

The surface pen feels more like a pen than a traditional stylus.  I love using the pen in Word and PowerPoint and plan to use it for photo editing and more later on.  The top button is useful to open OneNote.  More than a regular stylus, the Bluetooth connection pairs seamlessly with the tablet.  Just like using a mouse I can use the right click button on the pen for apps like OneNote to open a menu with options to change the pen’s on screen “ink” color, line thickness, and many other options.  When I click and hold it down I can select text.  The eraser button is easy to use to erase text or whatever I want to erase.  I can write and draw naturally with the tip.

Since I travel a lot I decided to purchase the car charger.  I have no problem plugging it into my 1970 Chevy or my 2013 Toyota.  I have noticed the battery life of the Surface Pro 3 could be improved for the next generation, however, considering how much I use it and the fact that I’m close enough to a power supply everywhere I work, power is not an issue.

Video

When I’m not working I often use my Surface Pro 3 for watching videos.  The video capability is great. I can easily view videos at full screen in daylight or at night.  I have a Google Chromecast that I paired with my Surface Pro 3 through the Chromecast app and can display TV shows, movies, and other videos on my large screen TV.  The only issues I have experienced with video use were due to either the Internet connection or website.

Portability

One of the main reasons for my purchase of the Surface Pro 3 is because taking my laptop with me everywhere I went was becoming a hassle.  Whether traveling by air or auto, the Surface Pro 3 is very light and portable.  I use it as a tablet when taking notes and convert those notes to larger documents or articles later on with the keyboard cover.

The Surface Pro 3 may not be a complete replacement for a laptop however I find it quite useful and while I still use my laptop at times I find myself migrating more data and files through OneNote to use on the Surface Pro 3.  This powerful tablet is more of a hybrid than a tablet with Windows 8 and Office 365.  As I continue to discover more features I find myself using it more often than my other devices.  Uploading and sharing files is a breeze through Office 365 and the fact there is no USB port or CD-ROM is not as big of an issue as I initially thought.  I highly recommend this device to anyone who loves tablets and is looking for an all-in-one type device they can use for many of the applications and software they currently use.

moderna1

Agile IT has been a Microsoft Partner since 2006, and one of the things we’ve found to be true over the past (almost) 10 years is that Office 365 works across many industries and in many environments.  Whether your organization requires HIPAA PCI, or FINRA compliance, Agile IT and Office 365 have got you covered.  And if your organization requires none of those regulations?  Don’t worry- Agile IT and Office 365 STILL have you covered.

This article below is part one in a two-part series about Moderna Therapeutics’ use of the Microsoft Cloud, and how as a biotech company they are able to use new IT resources to save lives. Read more

Olso_dd_02

In this series, we’ve been exploring Office 365 from a user’s point of view – how it works, how easy it is to adapt to, new features, cool features.  In part one, we looked at why someone would choose Office 365, what the migration process was like, and the ease of establishing Office 365 Groups.  In part two, we explored the different kinds of Office 365 Groups (public and private), went through the discussion group experience, and delved into Office Delve.

Today, Tony explores Office Graph, talks about the newness of subscribing to Office products rather than outright purchasing, is grateful for the ease of accessing his data from multiple devices, and discusses security in the Cloud.   Read more

professional services must act now

Never once has a business consultant told an organization “no, you’re fine- don’t ever change”.  Change is vital to relevance, in multiple aspects of your business. Here at Agile IT, we focus on technology- and as technology grows and changes, it is necessary to adapt.

The leaps and bounds that cloud computing has taken, even in just the last year, are astounding.  Are you still worrying about space on a hard drive, or making sure that you’ve emailed yourself the work that you want to do away from your desk, or having an outdated infrastructure?  With Microsoft Azure and Agile IT, you can stop thinking about your IT environment, knowing you’re in good hands.  Let us handle your IT, and let you do what you do best- continue to grow your business.

AgileDataCenter, Agile IT’s service that utilizes Azure, is designed to make it dramatically faster and easier to move the contents of your server to new hardware – whether on-site or in the Cloud – and to maximize your existing server(s) as you grow.  Contact us today to schedule a free discussion with our team, and see what AgileDataCenter and the Cloud can do for you. Read more

Office_Delve

This week, Tony continues his journey into Office 365 and looks at one of the latest features: Office Delve.

In part one of this series I explained my recent experience in changing over to Office 365.  I discussed the migration, the familiarity and compatibility Office 365 has with other Microsoft products and groups and how to establish them.  In this article I will further explain my experiences in using Office 365 for business use and how it has enabled me to remain mobile. Read more

ExternalImage

Jerry Stidham is a Cloud Deployment Specialist and all-around Microsoft guru for us here at Agile IT.  He has recently taken the time out from helping over 500,000 users migrate to Office 365 to explain some “industry secrets”.  To benefit from more of Jerry’s wisdom, check out our blog or contact us.

Amazon has recently announced that they will be offering enterprise level e-mail for customers. It will be competing with two already well established entities in Google and Microsoft and it most certainly will be an uphill battle for them. While it will not likely overtake either one of them in the foreseeable future it could dip into the smaller business market and make an impact.  Read more

Office 365 user

Office 365 isn’t just for sitting in an office and working solely from your desktop.  If you’ve been wondering what Office 365 is like for remote users, keep reading.  We were curious too, and so we asked someone who recently migrated to Office 365 to let us know how it went, and give feedback on the “user-friendliness” of Office 365.  This is the first installation in a series of posts about working remotely with Office 365.  Read what Tony had to say about moving to Office 365, and then contact us with any further questions, or to see if Office 365 is right for you (hint: it is). Read more

Print

When researching virtualization software it is important to understand they are not all created equal. It seems as though the world is going virtual and when looking at vSphere and Hyper-V there are some differences you should be aware of to avoid taking an unnecessary and costly risk in selecting a robust solution for a virtual data center. The first thing to consider is if you have a vested interest in either company. Do you currently own VMware or Microsoft products and if so have you contacted each company to see if they can offer a discount or additional support if you add vSphere or Hyper-V to your array of software from them? If you have no contractual ties with either vendor or are looking for a virtualization software suite that fits your organization’s requirements the following provides a brief overview of both Hyper-V and vSphere.

Hyper-V

Hyper-V is a Microsoft product that runs the Windows Server  family, from Windows Server 2008 R2, through Windows Server 2012. This software tool allows you to establish a virtual server environment. A virtual computing environment helps maximize efficiency of your network resources by using more of your hardware’s capabilities. Hyper-V allows you to create and manage multiple virtual machines off a single server. You can also run multiple operating systems on the same server with Hyper-V.

Hyper-V is installed from the Windows wizard and redesigns the architecture of the OS as it is installed to become an additional layer installed on the physical server. Hyper-V can be installed as a feature in Windows Server or as a stand-alone Microsoft Hyper-V Server. If you plan to purchase Hyper-V strictly for virtualization you are best purchasing the stand-alone server version to save money and maximize use out of your server as the stand-alone is not installed on a machine that already has Windows Server and is a scaled down version of Windows Server which does not have the additional features you won’t use in the virtual environment. The GUI is scaled down and un-necessary features are not installed on the stand-alone version either.

All functions in Hyper-V are managed through the Hyper-V Manager GUI. Using the Manager interface you can change, create, and delete virtual mahcines (VMs) as well as manage dependent operations within each VM. You can also create snapshots, import VMs, and enable replication.

Hyper-V is an excellent virtualization tool and is not just limited to Microsoft VMs. As mentioned earlier you can also create VMs using Linux that run with Hyper-V. Hyper-V is a great choice if you are already accustomed to Microsoft products in how they operate.

vSphere

vSphere is a virtualization suite by VMware which allows you to build VMs either in the Cloud, at remote sites, or within your physical data center. Cited as being the virtualization pioneers, VMware continues to make its mark on virtualization by developing tools and products such as vSphere which are prepared to bring VMs to mobile devices and the Cloud.

vSphere runs on any x86 application at scale and at full operational efficiency. The latest release is vSphere 5.5 also known as ESXi and is a bare bones hypervisor that installs on top of your physical server much like Hyper-V and creates partitions to run multiple VMs. The physical resources are shared equally across all the VMs you create so they can all run at equal times. vSphere’s management is available remotely and requires less than 150MB of disk space since there is no underlying operating sytem which requires fewer patches and provides a small attack surface.

The 5.5 platform provides replication and data protection which provides backup and recovery protection. Data protection has a wizard driven setup to easily deploy a data protection resolution within a vSphere VM environment. One of the highlights of vSphere Data Protection is that it reduces complexities in deploying a backup server as well as a reduced time to deploy a backup.

Conclusion

Hyper-V comes with the Windows Server family of products, and integrates well with Azure for a comprehensive virtualization solution. vSphere, on the other hand, has high upfront costs and costs more to maintain. Although both hypervisors provide a great way to virtualize your datacenter, provide security, data protection, and backup; in the long run, Hyper-V is the hypervisor of choice for today’s business.

 

Agile IT

Press Release

2014 Brings Continued Growth for Leading San Diego Microsoft Partner

With over 150,000 users successfully moved to the Cloud and business continuing to increase, Agile IT predicts 2015 will be another year of success.

San Diego, California – 20 January, 2015 – Today, Agile IT released its year-end summary, showing that business is booming for the San Diego technology company.

Ranked by the San Diego Business Journal as #15 of the 100 fastest growing private companies in San Diego, 2014 was a record breaking year for Agile IT, with the company receiving a number of other prestigious accolades. Read more

Print

The Benefits of Virtualization

In recent years the world of computing has gone from physical servers to Cloud-based servers and virtualization. Mobility, efficiency, cost, and availability are all factors driving this change in information technology (IT). Server virtualization has grown quite a bit in the ten years since its origin. While some organizations may count it as “new” others would not fall back to a physical platform for anything.

Virtualization has changed the way many companies do business by providing capabilities physical systems could not. When transitioning to a virtual environment, an organization should take full advantage of all the efficiencies and capabilities it offers. Organizations should completely virtualize their data center in order to reap the benefits of virtualization. This article examines some of the top benefits an organization can reap from moving from a physical to a virtual server environment. Read more

blog1.7.15

Microsoft knows you work on the go- and has taken steps to ensure you can access your files while traveling, in the park, or in the comfort of your home.  Microsoft and Agile IT want your business to be as mobile as you are.  Agile IT has been helping customers embrace Microsoft since 2006.  As one of the leading Office 365 migration specialists in the world, we are perfectly equipped to help you move to Office 365 in a cost-effective, efficient and seamless migration that will forever transform the way you do business. Moving any organization to Office 365 is a multi-phased project that requires expertise in project management, change management, technical consulting, and technical support. AgileAscend: Office 365 Migration Solutions enable you to draw on Agile IT’s expertise and experience to migrate seamlessly to Office 365 – on time, within budget and with minimal disruption to your business. Contact us today to see how we can help you get started in the cloud. Read more

nonprofit
Being a non-profit in a for-profit world can be hard, especially when it comes to keeping up technologically.  By moving to Office 365, many non-profits are eliminating the need for high-cost servers and technology infrastructure.  As one of the leading Office 365 migration specialists in the world, Agile IT is perfectly equipped to help you move to Office 365 in a way that is cost-effective, time-efficient, and seamless.  Let us migrate you to the cloud, and change the way you give back forever.  Contact Agile IT today to set up a free consultation with one of our senior technical advisors.  


Read more

Businessman Holding Stopwatch

Mark your calendars, because July 14, 2015 is going to mark the end of support for Windows Server 2003 R2.  There are currently 8 million installations of Windows Server 2003 still active- is your business one of them?  Even if your organization is already on Windows Server 2012, 8 million installations is a lot- someone you do business with could be using it.  What would the implications on your business be if they were shut down?  Read more

blog nov 28
In order for any business to be successful, there needs to be a solid IT infrastructure.  How are you supposed to focus on growing your organization if you’re busy focusing on your technological needs?  With Agile IT and Office 365, you can keep your business in the cloud and not have to worry about servers failing, running out of storage space, or any of the other myriad issues that come with having a hosted or on-premises server.  Contact Agile IT today to schedule a free consultation with one of our technical advisors and see how we can transform your IT.
 

Read more

emergingsecuritythreats
 By now, we’ve all heard the scary stories of hackers that have been circulating the last few months.  Luckily, Microsoft is proactive about security threats and ensuring that your data in the cloud is as safe as safe can be.  As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Agile IT is proud to move our customers into the Microsoft Cloud, knowing that Microsoft is always one step ahead.  Contact us today to make the move to Office 365, where you can securely, safely access your data from anywhere.

 

If you have been following the From Inside the Cloud series, we regularly bring you an insider’s view on how we operate and manage the Office 365 service for security, privacy and compliance directly from the people behind the service.

 

Recently, there have been a number of cyber security related news articles about vulnerabilities and exploits. If you are wondering if the Cloud increases your data risk, in this week’s episode we focus on the measures that our engineering team has in place to prepare for emerging security threats to the Office 365 service.

 

As we explain in this short video, we operate under the assumption that no computer system is perfectly secure, so we invest heavily in the “Assume Breach” approach.

 

Our colleague, Vivek Sharma, in his discussion on whether your data is safe at rest, highlighted the role of the Red and Blue teams as part of our “Assume Breach” approach.

 

And as core strategists of this approach for Office 365, today’s post focuses further on explaining the role of our Red team, an internal dedicated team of “white hat” hackers from varied industry backgrounds such as broader technology industry, defense and government, who conduct penetration testing on our system.

 

As a team, we push ourselves to creatively anticipate and simulate attacks from real-world adversaries using Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) that we know from ongoing research on emerging threats and trends. This then leads to the proactive exploration of vulnerabilities during a phase we call “reconnaissance” followed by “exploitation” where we try to bypass protections that may be in place and then lastly attempts to “access” the data. We in fact offer a number of examples of how we may go about this in this video.

 

Of course, as we do this there are clear rules of engagement to ensure that as we test the system we do not target customer data, impact service availability or compromise existing in place security.

 

Further, balancing the Red team is the Blue team whose role it is to monitor activities within the system to detect anomalous behavior and take action. As hard as the Red team is trying to find and exploit vulnerabilities the Blue team is trying to detect, investigate and mitigate security events.

 

Our red and blue teams work together within engineering to fix and harden the service. You can see and hear more on the Blue team’s work in our next post on Office Blogs, with lead engineer Matt Swann, who takes us behind the scenes of intrusion detection.

 

The combined efforts of our teams go toward improving detection by evolving our machine learning algorithms for the detection of anomalous activity as well as incident response.

 

We hope that today’s explanation offers a useful overview of how we prepare and plan for emerging security threats to keep your data safe.

 

Let us know what else you would like us to cover in this series—send us your comments and questionsand of course you can find more by visiting the Office 365 Trust Center.

 

This article excerpt, by Chang Kawaguchi, Travis Rhodes and Vijay Kumar, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1EpUR5J
The Coming of Age in Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has been around for years, in some form or another.  As its popularity grows, the way it serves us grows and changes as well.  On Monday, Microsoft announced changes that will make their cloud more powerful and accessible to the masses than ever before.  Agile IT is the Microsoft Southwest Area Cloud Partner of the Year for 2014, and one of the top 100 Cloud Computing Solutions Providers in the world.  Contact us today to see how we can help transform your IT infrastructure.  


 
Cloud computing isn’t merely changing the way much of the technology business works. Now it is changing itself, and putting even more computing power in more places.

On Monday, Microsoft, which operates one of the biggest so-called “public clouds,” or large and flexible computing systems available for remote rental, announced several changes to its data storage and processing services that will make them more powerful.

Microsoft also announced a partnership with Dell to sell a kind of “cloud in a box,” or hardware and software that created a mini-version of Microsoft’s cloud, called Azure, inside a company.

The idea is that a company could work with its own version of Azure, then easily move up to the giant version Microsoft has to handle big workloads. Hewlett-Packard may be after something similar with its effort to create a private-public cloud business based on the HP cloud, which uses a kind of open source software.

What all of this means is that cloud computing, which makes it easier to tie more things to computers and more easily manage software, is starting to appear in even more forms and types. Within each corporate proposition, including Google and Amazon, as well as Microsoft, HP and others, there appears to be an increasing trend toward offering more flexibility. Generally it’s done by abstracting what were functions of specialized hardware into more easily altered software.

Microsoft’s announcements this week came after the news last week that it would offer Windows Server technology on Docker, a fast-moving open source project (and start-up company of the same name) that takes cloud-type software abstractions even farther. Docker’s so-called “containers,” which were previously available on the Linux operating system, make it possible to build, deploy and update a software application anywhere in the world.

Adding to this confusing paradise of computing power, flexibility, and global software deployment, on Wednesday a company called Bracket Computing announced that it had a technology that makes it possible to run high-performance corporate computing systems across several public clouds at the same time.

While it now works only with different geographic locations inside the global cloud of Amazon Web Services, Bracket hopes eventually to enable companies to securely manage their computing across several public clouds at once. This kind of brokering, if successful, could mean further competition among the public clouds, either on price or service.

People who had worked with the Bracket System were impressed. “Even just with A.W.S., this is powerful,” said Frank Palase, senior vice president of strategy at DirectTV. “Abstracting over several cloud providers would mean we could have high levels of performance with no fear of outages,” since one system could be brought up if another failed.

It’s also possible that Bracket’s Computing Cell could hold containers, like Docker, inside its system.

For all the new terminology and hand-waving around these developments, at least one thing is clear: The cheap and easy cloud is also catching up in areas like reliability and management ease, where it has been criticized. Like all big computing trends, it has started rough, but it appears to be stabilizing and getting bigger.

This article excerpt, by Quentin Hardy, originally appeared here: http://nyti.ms/10M0OgV