Agile IT Microsoft Solution Blog

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.  


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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.
 

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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
 Here at Agile IT, we struggle to think of a single company that doesn’t use Office.  Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are staples in every organization.  With Office 365, you can access, edit, and share your documents from anywhere.  Even more excitingly, you can do it from anywhere- without downloading extensions for your browser, and without the fear of losing file fidelity or formatting.  So what are you waiting for?  Contact the experts at Agile IT today to set up your free consultation and get started in the Cloud.
 

Technology is the great enabler of creativity and productivity. So when you encounter technology that inhibits your ability to collaborate, you have to wonder what went wrong. To choose the right technology for collaborating on Office documents on the Web, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Do you use browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari?
You don’t want to be constrained by your Internet browser. After all, the browser is only a means to the end of being productive on the web. Office Online works consistently across all major browsers, including Internet Explorer (IE), Chrome, Firefox and Safari. You do not need additional software such as extensions to make this work. You can view Office documents with consistent file fidelity in these browsers. You can edit Office documents using Office Online across these major browsers without worrying about losing the Office file format or the formatting of the document itself.
The experience of Google Docs is skewed toward Chrome browser. Even in Chrome, however, you need to install the “Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides” extension to be able to edit Office documents in the browser. In other popular browsers like IE, Firefox or Safari, Office documents are opened in view-only mode. If you still want to edit the Office document in these browsers, you will have to convert the standard Office document to Google’s proprietary format and risk losing complete file fidelity and formatting of the document.
2. Do you share and collaborate on Office documents?
Do you remember when you last worked on an Office document all by yourself? If you are like me, it’s been a very long time. Most work today happens in collaboration with others.
Sometimes, I leave my comments within the Office document, so others can incorporate my feedback into their work. The flexibility of working on documents without worrying about whether the team is able to meet at a particular time or in a specific place is liberating. Being able to access, review and comment on the documents while on the go gives me the freedom to choose where and how I work. Many of you seek real-time coauthoring of Office documents, so you can see in real-time who else is working on the document. Office Online offers that capability as well.
Office Online enables you to access and collaborate on Office documents whenever and wherever you need. It is the easiest way to share and the most collaborative way to work on Office documents. You can even share Office documents with people who have not created a Microsoft account. So, if you are wondering how you could share and collaborate with your friends with a Gmail account, Office Online works for you as well. Just share the document using Office Online, enter the email address of the person, and voila!
While Office Online encourages collaboration on Office documents, Google inhibits sharing and collaborating on Office documents in Google Docs, Sheets or Slides. The only way to collaborate on Office documents in Google is to email them in the old-school way. If you really want to write comments, and share and collaborate with others within the document, Google offers you only one choice. You have to convert the document from standard Office format to Google’s proprietary format. And this results in risking the complete file fidelity and formatting of the document.
3. Do I need to spend time fixing formatting of Office documents?
With the ever-increasing number of devices available today, Office documents are created, shared, reviewed and worked on across different form factors. As you work with these documents, you expect them to look similar no matter how you access them. That’s the promise of Office file fidelity. Even when features are not supported across various platforms, modern Office experiences such as Office Online and Office for iPad enable you to keep the fidelity of the document intact. This promise helps you avoid spending time trying to fix document formatting and instead allows you to be productive and to save time and effort on the project.
Those of you who use Google Drive to store your documents often complain how you lose formatting of your documents when you are working on Office documents using Google. Whether you use Google Docs after installing the “Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides” extension in the Chrome browser or use the latest Docs, Sheets & Slides apps on iOS and Android, you continue to lose document formatting on these devices. For schoolwork, students have to assign someone to fix, format and finalize all formatting changes before submitting term papers. At work, end users have to spend invaluable time and effort to fix the formatting of documents before finalizing their analyses and presentations.
With over one billion users worldwide, Office is the de facto productivity standard. Technology should not limit your ability to share and collaborate on Office documents. Instead, it should simplify the experience and enable creativity. Check out these videos for Word Online, Excel Online and PowerPoint Online to see how Office Online helps you collaborate on Office documents on the web.
Start using Office Online to create, share, collaborate, and coauthor Office documents today!
This article excerpt, by Sanjeevini Mittal, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1tt9ViA
smb-cloud-computing

AgileDataCenter is made for businesses of all sizes.  AgileDataCenter Dedicated Server Environments are 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.  With the power of Agile IT and Windows Azure behind you, imagine what you could accomplish.  Contact Agile IT today to get started. Read more

Kennametal
 Whether you’ve got 14,000 employees or four employees, allowing them to communicate with you and with each other is vital to success.  Kennametal found the answer in Office 365. We have seen countless stories of organizations in diverse industries upping their game with Office 365- whether they be in manufacturing and engineering, like Kennametal, or banks, non-profits, education, government.  Office 365 is right for so many industries. Contact Agile IT today to find out if it’s right for you.
 
Being a CIO is about more than just achieving benchmark performance and lowest costs for technology assets. I believe it’s really about collaborating with your business leaders to drive better overall results for the company. At Kennametal, we recognize the huge impact it makes on getting those results if we have the right people onboard, particularly when they work together.

 

But with nearly 14,000 employees in more than 60 countries, it can be challenging to find and connect the individuals who have the experience and insight needed in a given situation. We do our best to bring colleagues face to face when they’re working together on big projects and initiatives, but it isn’t always feasible to take people away from their families and other Kennametal responsibilities. That’s why we look for other ways to open paths of communication and foster close working relationships. We develop manufacturing products and solutions, and for an innovation-based company like ours, any way we can get people collaborating, brainstorming and sharing ideas is good.

 

That’s one of the reasons we adopted Microsoft Office 365. Our engineering teams use its functionality for videoconferencing, instant messaging and ad hoc conversations, and document collaboration—tools that give them the next-best thing to being there. Kennametal also has created a companywide intranet called the Hub, where our engineers, scientists and manufacturing technicians all access company news, get business intelligence about competitors, and participate in internal conversations using our Yammer enterprise social network. It’s a real game changer for us to be able to reach our 5,000 factory workers more directly. In the past, they had to find a kiosk in the factory if they wanted corporate information, but now they use their personal smartphones to access the Hub anytime. Available from anywhere because it’s based on Microsoft SharePoint Online, the Hub has strengthened the sense of community for our factory and corporate employees alike.

 

Recognizing the extensive knowledge and experience in our workforce, particularly among our engineers and materials scientists, we’re taking advantage of our new toolset to proactively capture and disseminate that knowledge and, ultimately, innovate faster. We use the Hub to track the areas of expertise among employees and share their information across teams and geographies and between our younger employees and those nearing retirement. We’ve asked our employees to fill out profiles about everything from the schools they’ve attended to the projects they’ve worked on. This makes the Hub a valuable knowledge management resource that supports both long-term collaboration and short-term problem solving. For example, when manufacturing technicians from around the company encounter an issue, they can check the Hub and to see who has the expertise to help, and they reach out to each other—their ability to collaborate is limited only by our imagination.

 

On the flip side, as we bring in younger employees, we want to meet their expectations of having access to just about everything at their fingertips. We believe that technology choices like Office 365 will help us attract and retain new talent to continue the Kennametal tradition of innovation.

 

This article excerpt, by Steve Hanna, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/10L4TBT
sharepoint.blog.image
 SharePoint Online is here to revolutionize the way you interact with your employees – and the way they interact with each other.  Studies show that when employees have a quick, reliable way of communicating with each other, they are more productive and tend to be better informed of the latest trends in their fields.  Let Agile IT show you what SharePoint can do for your organization – contact us today.
 
Employee engagement is about employees giving extra effort above and beyond regular job duties. But how many companies use technology to drive the engagement they so badly want and need?
Consider this. Technology can help you:
  • Get the most out of your employees.
  • Encourage collaboration and social interaction.
  • Connect disconnected workers.
  • Measure employee engagement.
Think about the lack of collaboration within the healthcare industry. Most providers have a mindset that if they aren’t right in front of a patient, they aren’t productive.

Imagine what nurses in one neurology unit could learn from those on the same unit in a sister hospital? Even the larger networks of facilities don’t facilitate this learning effectively.

Nurses increasingly use hand-held devices to communicate with each other, docs, and technicians. If you could provide them with mobile access to a community of nurses working in a similar discipline, what might they innovate? Would they like their jobs better?

Here are some more examples of how technology can help.

Employee Travel
Many probably already use online tools like TripAdvisor to make personal travel plans. What if they could share with fellow employees the tips and tricks that make business travel better? Let them post reviews of the contracted hotels in a city. Let them recommend places to eat. Get some champions to share key parts of the travel policy in the same community. You can also trend travel expenses. It may be possible to reduce travel expenses through this type of sharing.
 
Intranet News
For many years now intranet news has been a one-way push from the corporate communicators to employees. Making news a collaborative opportunity for any author opens the door to more interesting and meaningful content. Incorporating rating and sharing pushes it beyond the everyday network of users. The more value that employees gain, the more engaged they’ll be.

Innovation
Ask employees to submit suggestions and ideas. True engagement occurs when you enable them to vote on ideas and track the winning ideas through feasibility study and implementation. This encourages more and more idea submissions and voting. The ROI can spiral into millions of dollars of savings, new business and productivity.

The Role of SharePoint
SharePoint can serve all of these needs. If you make strategic choices that support business goals, you can get employees more engaged with each other, the organization, and their work through a great SharePoint intranet.

This article excerpt, by Stacy Wilson, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1nOp1rB
finnair
 As technology grows and changes, industries are forced to adapt.  The airline industry is a prime example of this, as many airlines merge, and more regional airlines pop up.  Read how one airline manages to stay ahead of the pack by utilizing Office 365.  Contact Agile IT today to ensure that you too are making use of the technology available to your business.
 
The airline industry has seen its share of turbulence over the last decade, as mega-airlines merge and acquire smaller players, more regional airlines take to the air, and customers aggressively seek online bargains. Finnair, Finland’s largest airline and the fifth-oldest airline in the world, has remained successful because it knows how to adapt and find smarter ways to operate.

 

In the face of many new low-cost air carriers springing up across Europe, Finnair still dominates both domestic and international air travel in Finland. “We have survived because we’ve been successful at keeping our costs under control, but we also understand that you can’t cut costs at the expense of customer satisfaction and employee effectiveness,” says Kari Hänninen, architect in Corporate Information Management for Finnair. “We have to compete for the best people, who want a modern work environment where they are valued and listened to.”

 

Gain rock-solid, spam-free email
Finnair decided to unplug its expensive email and file-share servers and throw away its mix of document-sharing tools. In their place, it gave employees subscriptions to Microsoft Office 365.

 

“We ran a small pilot program of Google Docs, but Google doesn’t work well with Office, which all employees use, and its pricing model is not that great,” Hänninen says. “Microsoft had a far stronger federated enterprise solution, better support, a more convincing story around total cost and a more enterprise-ready, innovative solution.”

 

Finnair pilots, gate agents, mechanics and office staff now have anytime, any-device access to their email, which helps keep everyone on the same page. Office 365 filters all Finnair email for spam and malware to help keep communications more secure. “We switched from Postini to Exchange Online Protection (EOP), the Office 365 spam filtering technology, in just one day,” Hänninen says. “The EOP interface is familiar and easy to use and the filtering is excellent. We get rock-solid protection with financially backed service-level agreements. And because it’s part of Office 365, it’s more cost-effective to manage.” Finnair is able to easily create targeted email filtering rules for different roles.

 

Help employees find their voice
It’s easy for Finnair gate agents, cabin crew, and pilots to feel disconnected from decisions being made at headquarters. Employees use social networking capabilities built into Office 365 to participate in relevant conversations. “It’s very easy to get a snapshot of issues, to contribute, and to invite others to join a conversation,” Hänninen says. “If you have something to contribute that could help the business, now you can. It really helps people feel that they are heard and also helps them get the information they need to make better decisions.”

 

Reduce costs by 15 percent
Although the benefits of bringing its workforce closer together have been far-reaching, the reality is that there would have been no refresh unless it had involved saving money. “With Office 365, we have eliminated recurring software upgrade costs and the extra cost of Postini,” Hänninen says. “Over six years, Office 365 will be 15 percent less expensive than maintaining our own email servers. Plus, paying for software as a per-user fee makes it much easier to predict and budget.”

 

This article excerpt, by Office 365 Team, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1qtPmLu
social_media2

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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fedramp
 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: http://bit.ly/1rfQMKq 
OneDrive-Logo

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 OneDrive.com

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 OneDrive.com 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.

 

cancer
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: http://bit.ly/1jJtK1t
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 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: http://bit.ly/1tvQanA
 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
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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: http://bit.ly/1mQMiHk

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.