Agile IT Microsoft Solution Blog

 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  While this may have been true years ago, the technology and trends of today are showing that this is outdated thinking.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”.

Click -to-Run is a method of installing the Office suite to PC’s and MAC’s through the use of streaming. Microsoft appears to be moving away from the traditional msi installer and redirect its efforts towards the Click-to- Run feature. The Click-to Run feature has been great solution for the END user to download a copy of the software for the PC, but it has been a challenge for companies that may need to get the software out to larger groups that had previously relied on the use of the Office Customization Tool (OCT) to customize the delivery of the deployments to end user. As the Office 365 Click-to-Run method continues to build steam in become more widely accepted the functionality has started become more versatile giving way to easier deployment methods. I cover a few of the different methods for delivery in a different blog (MDT, Windows Intune, Group Policy, & Staged Installer using a Shared Drive).

While Microsoft has not found a way to provide customizations at the same level as OCT it has added a new feature that will allow you to choose between which products of the Office suite you would like to stream down, this is great news because not only does it prevent the use of unwanted applications but can significantly reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to steamed. Here’s how it works:

Step 1. – First, you’ll need to download and install the Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run. Save it to your desktop or some location you can easily retrieve it from.

Step 2. – If you do not already have an extraction tool such as winzip or 7-zip you will need to download a copy as you will need it extract files. I recommend 7-zip as it is free and does not require a license.

Step 3. – Next go to the location where you downloaded the Office Deployment Tool and right click on the Icon. And extract the files to a folder (you can choose to just extract to the same folder or create one for extracting to this location).

Step 4. – Once you have extracted the files you should see a setup.exe file, EULA. Txt, and a configuration.xml file. On the configuration.xml file right click on it and open it with note pad.

Step 5. –For this example we are going to assume you are installing 32 Bit version of Office. If you want to install the 64 bit version you simply need to change the “32″ in the configuration file to a “64″ Add Office Client Edition tag. Remove the contents of the existing configuration file that is in place and replace it with the one that have provided here:

Step 6. – Now that you have replaced the contents of the configuration file there is just one more adjustment we need to the xml. We need to add a entry to omit all the programs from Office you don’t want installed. To do this locate the tag line that states<Language ID=”en-us” /> and press enter to make a space for your new entry. Let’s say that we don’t want Microsoft Access and Lync installed we would create an instance for each item that we want to omit. The entry would be <ExcludeApp ID=”Access” /> .You would then press enter to create a space for another line entry and type <ExcludeApp ID=”Lync”. Save the changes to the configuration.xml file.

When complete you configuration.xml file should look something like this:


<Add OfficeClientEdition=”32″ >

<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>

<Language ID=”en-us” />

<ExcludeApp ID=”Access”

<ExcludeApp ID=”Lync”


</Add> –>


<!– <Updates Enabled=”TRUE” UpdatePath=”\\Server\Share\Office” /> –>


<Display Level=”None” AcceptEULA=”TRUE” />


<Logging Name=”OfficeSetup.txt” Path=”C:\MININT\SMSOSD\OSDLOGS” />


<Property Name=”AUTOACTIVATE” Value=”1″ />



You are now ready to stream down only the Office products you want!

Jerry Stidham
Agile IT
Cloud Deployment Specialist

If you’ve been worried about the Heartbreak virus, here’s some new good news from Microsoft regarding their Azure Web Sites.  Microsoft continuously upgrades their security measures to stay in line with regulatory compliance standards, such as HIPA, FINRA and FISMA.  Agile IT is proud to be a Microsoft Partner and be able to tell our clients in complete sincerity that their information is safe in the Microsoft Cloud.

This article excerpt, by Chris Talbot, originally appeared here:
Security may not be as big of a concern when it comes to cloud as it was a few years ago, but it still comes up as an important concern when CIOs are polled. So Microsoft‘s (MSFT) latest security upgrade to its Azure Web Sites cloud service makes a lot of sense.
Following security issues surrounding the NSA and the Heartbleed vulnerability, Microsoft has employed elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) to make it more difficult for nogoodniks to break into customers’ offerings on its platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
“Securing your site with SSL has never been more important, but even though encryption isn’t new, cryptographers keep looking for ways to be more secure, and we in Azure Web Sites are always looking for ways to support the latest and greatest,” wrote Erez Benari, program manager for Azure Web Sites, in a blog post.
Benari goes fairly deep into the mathematics of ECC, but in the end, he noted the ECC encryption is harder by a factor of 10 than classic private/public key generation. Not insignificant, by any means, and Azure customers and partners are likely to be the beneficiaries of such cryptography on the Azure Web Sites service.
“What all this means in the real world is that instead of buying a regular SSL certificate to secure your site, you can choose to purchase an ECC certificate instead, thus having better security. ECC certificates are relatively new to the market, and so not many certificate providers offer them. One such provider is Symantec, and another is Entrust, and other providers will soon jump on the wagon as well,” Benari wrote.
Agile IT

Press Release:

SAN DIEGO – June 19, 2014 – With Cloud computing becoming more and more accepted as the standard for many industries, organizations need innovative cloud computing companies that have the knowledge required to tackle their cutting-edge technology challenges.  Agile IT, based in San Diego, has been recognized as one of those companies, recently being named one of the 20 Most Promising Cloud Computing Companies by CIO Review magazine. Read more

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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.

Click here
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.