Posts Tagged 'Microsoft'

Office 365 Service Requests: Customer Service in the Cloud

Season’s greetings!

Seems like forever ago since my last post. I have been heads-down working on the upcoming Learning Tree Office 365 course.

As part of writing the course I have had to provision multiple Office 365 subscriptions. The development team is using Office 365 as a way to collaborate on the course documents. It is perfect for us since we have team members from Los Angeles to France! I have also had to create accounts to develop and test the hands-on exercises. Finally, we need multiple subscriptions on an ongoing basis to accommodate our students during class.

Last week I discovered that I had oversubscribed and I had an account I was paying for and not using. Even worse was that I had inadvertently requested a year’s subscription not the normal month to month that I usually do. Since there appeared to be no way to cancel the subscription from the Office 365 portal I worried that I was going to have to eat the cost.

That is until I decided to use the portal to submit a service request to Microsoft. I had not done that before and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical as to how well it would work, if at all. Well, to my pleasant surprise I received a phone call from a Microsoft Customer Service representative within 24 hours. Since I was not at my office when the call occurred she left a voice-mail and followed up with an email requesting that I confirm some details about the account. Within a couple hours after that I received another phone call and confirmation that my subscription was cancelled and that I would no longer be charged for the service.

I have to say that I had a perception of anything in “the cloud” as being largely impersonal and difficult when you needed to actually talk to a human. That most certainly was not the case in this instance. It seems like the Service Request mechanism in Office 365 actually does work; at least it did in this case. So, now I can get back to writing the course and not have to worry about that subscription anymore.

Keep a lookout for Learning Tree’s Office 365 course. We are targeting May, 2012 for our first public event. It should be a good one, even if I do humbly say so myself! J

Kevin Kell

Office 365: A Cloud-based Productivity Tools Solution

It is with great pleasure that I can announce the development of this new Cloud and Office course by Learning Tree International!

Microsoft Office 365 offers access to familiar Office applications that are updated and licensed directly from the cloud. There are also online versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync Online productivity services. This course will cover the collaboration and productivity tools of Microsoft Office 365. It will target anyone managing or working in a cloud-based environment, people moving an existing Office infrastructure to the cloud and users interested in the collaboration features of Office 365.

The course will appeal to IT Professionals who are considering an Office 365 cloud-based solution in their organizations. This includes Systems Administrators, Network Administrators, Application Developers, IT Managers and Knowledge Workers. The course assumes a basic understanding of Microsoft Office, Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange and either Lync or Communications Server 2007.

There are many cool things about Office 365. Even beyond that, Office 365 represents a real break-through for organizations wishing to realize benefits of the cloud in a familiar Office environment. Come to this course if you would like to see an objective treatment of Office 365 and for critical thinking tools to help you evaluate Office 365 for use in your own organization.

Kevin Kell

Microsoft and The Cloud

Observations from Microsoft Tech-Ed 2010

I have spent the better part of this past weekend reviewing material from this year’s Tech-Ed conference which took place in New Orleans last week. In this post I offer my take on what seems to be Microsoft’s emerging position and strategy concerning cloud computing.

Certainly there is the Azure Platform as we have already discussed. To me, however, there seems to be much more to it both in their latest product offerings as well as in their own internal IT infrastructure. Since Microsoft tends to make and shake up markets it is usually worthwhile to pay attention to the directions they are taking.

In the opening keynote Bob Muglia, President of Microsoft Server and Tools Business, re-introduced the notion of “Dynamic IT”. According to Muglia Dynamic IT, which is all about connecting developers and IT operations together with systems, processes and services, has been at the core of Microsoft’s long term (ten year) strategy since 2003. Now, seven years later, Microsoft sees the cloud as a key component in the Dynamic IT vision. At a very fundamental level Microsoft views the cloud as delivering “IT as a Service”.

Microsoft sees five “dimensions” to the cloud:

  1. Creates opportunities and responsibilities
  2. Learns and helps you learn, decide and take action
  3. Enhances social and professional interactions
  4. Wants smarter devices
  5. Drives server advances that, in turn, drive the cloud

It seems to me that, to a greater or lesser degree, they are now offering products and services that address all of these dimensions.

Among the leading cloud providers Microsoft is uniquely positioned to extend their existing product line (servers, operating systems, tools and applications) into the cloud. Microsoft is hoping to leverage its’ extensive installed base into the cloud. In my opinion Microsoft’s ability to enable hybrid cloud solutions, especially those involving on-premise Windows deployments, is second to none. Now, with the availability of AppFabric for Windows Server 2008 this is even more so the case.

Will Microsoft succeed with this approach? Or will the market move away from the software giant in favor of open source solutions? What about Google, which, by comparison, is starting from a relatively clean slate in terms of an installed base? Obviously it is too early to tell.

One thing is for sure: cloud computing is real and it is here to stay. However it is likely that in the relatively near future the term “cloud computing” will fall into disuse. What we now know as cloud computing will probably just come to be what we will consider as best practices in IT. Competition in the industry will move the technology forward and consumers will have many choices. I expect that Microsoft technologies will continue to be a viable choice for corporations in the years to come.

Kevin


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