Blog Archive

More Free Events for Partners

man_spyglass_books_1600_clr_17479

Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face a complex and changing landscape when it comes to understanding all of the different ways new technologies can help their businesses.

Many Microsoft partners are capitalising on the opportunity to grow their businesses by expanding their roles to that of a trusted advisor and business consultant — looking for ways to help SMBs modernise across the IT platform.

Microsoft is focused on helping you deliver solutions that address your customers’ key goals and business challenges. So you can use technology to help make them be more successful, whether by improving operational efficiency, protecting data, helping employees be more productive, or better connecting with customers. In fact, only Microsoft offers a complete platform with the flexibility to deliver the solutions your customer’s need, from server to cloud, desktop to mobile devices.

ModernBiz Technical Series

The ModernBiz Technical Series provides training, demonstrations and hands-on instruction on how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions to SMB organisations. This set of training courses is designed to prepare Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners to help customers get the benefits of the modern business by providing solutions and services that span the entire IT ecosystem, from server, to cloud, to devices.

In this training, you will:

  • Get hands-on experience: With a focus on building real-world solutions, this training consists of presentations, demos, and hands-on labs.
  • Get the skills you need to build real-world SMB solutions: This technical series is designed specifically for partners working with SMB customers to build solutions using the latest products and technologies from Microsoft.

Any of the ModernBiz Technical Series courses can be attended as a standalone course or as a part of the complete series.

Who should participate: The ModernBiz Technical Series course is for Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners who work with small and midsize organisations. The training is designed for those who are ready to learn more about meeting the technical needs of SMBs with Microsoft solutions.

Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers

Level: 200 (Technical) This training aligns to the Microsoft ModernBiz campaign for SMB partners.

There are free one or two day courses for each of these key technology areas.

Current Schedule:

South:

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 12th January (Reading)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 13th January (Reading)

Grow Efficiently Track 3 – 26th January (Reading)

Business Anywhere – 27th January (Reading)

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 2nd February (London)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 10th February (London)

Grow Efficiently Track 3 – 11th February (London)

Connect with Customers Track 1 – 1st March (Reading)

Connect with Customers Track 2 – 2nd March (Reading)

Safeguard your Business – 8th March (London)

Business Anywhere – 9th March (London)

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 22nd March (Reading)

Midlands:

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 3rd February (Birmingham)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 16th March (Birmingham)

North:

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 4th February (Manchester)

Business Anywhere – 15th March (Manchester)

Scotland:

Grow Efficiently Track 1 – 19th January (Edinburgh)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 20th January (Edinburgh)

Grow Efficiently Track 3 – 24th February (Edinburgh)

Business Anywhere – 25th February (Edinburgh)

 

Grow Efficiently

These courses are designed to help you migrate customers off legacy infrastructure and get the most out of their technology. Example topics are Windows Server 2012 on-premises, Azure infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Windows 10, Office 365, and Azure.

Grow Efficiently Track 1 is designed to teach you how to migrate SMB customers off of legacy infrastructure to either Windows Server 2012 on-premises or Azure IaaS

Track 2 covers how to migrate SMB customers to Windows 10 and get started with Office 365

Track 3 teaches how to integrate on-premises infrastructure with Microsoft Azure

Safeguard Your Business

In this track, learn how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions that help SMBs protect company information and improve business continuity. Modules in this track include Azure Backup and ASR, Securing Windows 10, Data Loss Prevention in Office 365, eDiscovery and Archiving in Office 365, and Office 365 and Azure AD Premium RMS.

Connect with Customers

These training modules cover Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as well as Office 365 collaborative services.

Track 1 is devoted to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, including Introduction to CRM Online, CRM Online Integration with Office 365, and CRM Online Integration with Power BI

Track 2 teaches how to implement Office 365 collaborative services and business intelligence to solve business problems. Example modules include Modern Collaboration, SQL Server 2014 Data Platform, Azure Relational Database Services, Creating and Exploring a Power BI Dashboard, and Reporting from On-premises Analysis Services with Power BI.

Business Anywhere

Here, you’ll learn how to enable SMBs to work from anywhere on any device. Topics include Windows 10 Management (with IE 11 and Edge); Mobile Device and Identity Management with Intune, EMS, and Office 365; Remote Desktop Service and Azure Remote App; Deploying Office 365 ProPlus; Skype for Business Conferencing; and Securing Windows 10.

Imageframe are pleased to be running many of these courses so come along and say hi!

Keep up to date with these and more on the Microsoft Partner Network UK blog.


Free Technical Events for Partners

man_spyglass_books_1600_clr_17479

Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face a complex and changing landscape when it comes to understanding all of the different ways new technologies can help their businesses.

Many Microsoft partners are capitalising on the opportunity to grow their businesses by expanding their roles to that of a trusted advisor and business consultant — looking for ways to help SMBs modernise across the IT platform.

Microsoft is focused on helping you deliver solutions that address your customers’ key goals and business challenges.  So you can use technology to help make them be more successful, whether by improving operational efficiency, protecting data, helping employees be more productive, or better connecting with customers.  In fact, only Microsoft offers a complete platform with the flexibility to deliver the solutions your customer’s need, from server to cloud, desktop to mobile devices.

ModernBiz Technical Series

The ModernBiz Technical Series provides training, demonstrations and hands-on instruction on how to use the latest Microsoft technologies to deliver solutions to SMB organisations.  This set of training courses is designed to prepare Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners to help customers get the benefits of the modern business by providing solutions and services that span the entire IT ecosystem, from server, to cloud, to devices.

In this training, you will:

  • Get hands-on experience: With a focus on building real-world solutions, this training consists of presentations, demos, and hands-on labs.
  • Get the skills you need to build real-world SMB solutions: This technical series is designed specifically for partners working with SMB customers to build solutions using the latest products and technologies from Microsoft.

Any of the ModernBiz Technical Series courses can be attended as a standalone course or as a part of the complete series.

Who should participate: The ModernBiz Technical Series course is for Microsoft value-added reseller (VAR) partners who work with small and midsize organisations.  The training is designed for those who are ready to learn more about meeting the technical needs of SMBs with Microsoft solutions.

Audience: IT Professionals, Consultants, SMB Resellers

Level: 200 (Technical) This training aligns to the Microsoft ModernBiz campaign for SMB partners.

There are free one or two day courses for each of these key technology areas.

Current Schedule:

South:

Microsoft Cloud for SMB – 19th October (London)

Connect With Customers – 26th October (Reading)

Business Anywhere – 27th October (Reading)

Microsoft Cloud for SMB and Grow Efficiently Track 2 (2day) – 3rd & 4th November (Bristol)

Microsoft Cloud for SMB and Grow Efficiently Track 2 (2day) – 9th & 10th November (Reading)

Safeguard Your Business – 16th November (London)

Safeguard Your Business – 1st December (Reading)

Microsoft Cloud for SMB and Grow Efficiently Track 2 (2day) – 7th & 8th December (London)

 

Midlands:

Microsoft Cloud for SMB – 7th October (Birmingham)

Business Anywhere – 18th November (Birmingham)

 

North:

Microsoft Cloud for SMB – 5th October (York)

Business Anywhere – 6th October (Manchester)

Connect With Customers – 19th November (Manchester)

Grow Efficiently Track 2 – 25th November (York)

Microsoft Cloud for SMB – 15th December (Manchester)

 

Scotland:

Business Anywhere – 12th October (Edinburgh)

Connect With Customers – 13th October (Edinburgh)

Microsoft Cloud for SMB and Grow Efficiently Track 2 (2day) – 23rd & 24th November (Edinburgh)

Imageframe are pleased to be running many of these courses so come along and say hi!

Keep up to date with these and more on the Microsoft Partner Network UK blog.


Never Pay for Windows 10 Again

Windows 8.1

Will Windows 10 be the last ever version?  Is Windows 10 going to be free?  Can you plan a surprise birthday party for a psychic?  Well, let’s tackle the first question here and the second question in our how to upgrade to Windows 10 blog post.

Never Pay for Windows Again

Currently, you might buy a pc and it will come with Windows preinstalled.  You’ve paid for the OEM (original Equipment Manufacturer) licence of Windows.  You’ll get feature updates and security patches from time to time and you can choose to install them or hide them.  It’s up to you (or you organisation’s IT policy).

With Windows 10, you won’t have a choice.  Windows updates will be applied when they’re ready.  So in a way, Windows 10 will be the last version because you will never have to pay for the next version of the client OS on the same pc; new features will just be installed.  If you need to buy a new machine, you’ll pay for the OEM licence as part of the pc’s purchase price and then Windows will just be kept up to date for the lifetime of the device.

You may be concentrating on the negative here that you won’t get a choice and must install new features.  Think about two huge positives though:

  1. you never need to pay for Windows again on the same machine and you’ll always have the latest version
  2. Software vendors and developers can almost guarantee that 90% of Windows users will have the same build

The second point there should make you smile if your pc has ever crashed or you’ve needed to phone support because an application isn’t working.  There are so many combinations of OS, patches, drivers, runtime files and versions around that reliability and consistency are devilishly hard to achieve.  Applications and peripherals should work far better if the manufacturers and developers can work to a stable and single platform.  Sounds a bit Apple-like doesn’t it?

Why is Windows Becoming a Service?

The world of software is changing to cloud aka software as a service.  With that change comes different release cadences.  If you’ve been in IT for a while you’ll be familiar with the terms 3.5 inch floppy, modem and three-year release cycles.  Office 365 has a monthly release cadence.  Azure enjoys weekly updates.  This is the way of the world; goodbye versions and hello evergreen services.  Innovation has become faster and users expect new features quicker.

What if I Don’t Want to Automatically Install Updates?

Microsoft thinks Windows 10 is going to have three demarcations of users: consumers, business users and mission-critical business systems.  For each type there is something known as a ‘branch’.

Windows 10 update Branches

 

Consumers will be subject to the Current Branch and will receive Windows updates as they are released.  Of course, they will have gone through extensive testing via engineering builds, internal testing, early adopters and the Windows Insider program beforehand so several millions of users will already have installed these updates.

Business Users will default to Current Branch but have the option to select Current Branch for Business (CBB).  This allows them to defer feature updates for up to eight months after they’re released to the Current Branch.  This provides ample time for testing, compatibility work and fixes and just to wait and see how the hundreds of millions of Current Branch users get on with the updates.  The updates can be deferred but they will need to be installed within that eight-month timeframe.  Organisations will be able to control and manage how updates (including critical and security updates) are deployed using tools such as System Centre Configuration Manager, Windows Server Update Services or a new Windows 10 service called Windows Update for Business.

Mission-critical systems such as medical, aviation, etc. have the option to deploy point-in-time releases known as Long Term Service Branch (LTSB).  These will not be updated with new features but will have security and critical updates although the organisation can manage and control the distribution of these updates.  LTSB releases will be supported for at least 5 years (10 years if the customers has software assurance).  New LTSB releases will be made available every two-three years and customers will have the option whether to install them or not.

In short, if you don’t want to receive Windows OS updates, you will need to be on the LTSB and that requires certain Windows editions.

Long Term Service Branch is only Available for Windows Enterprise edition

Windows 10 editions and update branches

 

Windows Home edition must be on Current Branch.  Windows Pro can be on either Current Branch or Current Branch for Business.  This means that both of these editions will be updated (CBB allows the updates to be deferred but only for up to 8 months).

Windows Enterprise edition is available with or without software assurance.  Windows Enterprise without SA allows the customer to deploy a point-in-time LTSB release, or previous ones (downgrade rights in other words) and for that release to still be supported for 5 years.  Windows Enterprise edition with SA also gives customers the rights to new LTSB release when they become available (every 2-3 years).  They can choose whether to install new releases or not.  SA also means the customer gains extended support so their chosen release will be supported for 10 years.

One important point to note is that Enterprise edition without SA will not enjoy updates on Current Branch either.  Customers with Home and Pro editions will always get the latest features for the life of the device.  Enterprise edition without SA will not.  The release that’s installed will eventually become out of date and the customer will need to buy a licence again to update.

Windows 10 Enterprise Edition with SA is available through all Microsoft Volume Licensing Programs (Open, Open Value, Select+, MPSA, EA, etc.)


How to Price Azure Backup

Safe backupAzure Backup is a great feature for simple disaster recovery to the cloud.  As with many of the Azure services, it improved and can now retain backups for a silly 99 years.  The pricing model originally depended on the total storage that was backed up but it was a lot more expensive than simple Azure storage and that made long-term retention uneconomical.  Pricing changed in April to reflect a more logical, but harder to understand, model.

Azure Backup differs from Azure Storage because it’s a service which includes bandwidth for transferring the data, the backup agent, compression and encryption.  You could simply run an on-site backup and copy up the backup files to Azure storage but you would not have encryption, you would need to manually perform the upload to cloud and if you wanted to restore any files, you might incur bandwidth charges.

The Azure pricing calculator is rather confusing but essentially when pricing Azure Backup you have the following two steps:

First, determine what you are protecting and how large each instance is.  You might be protecting a Virtual machine (this could be on-premises Hyper-V or an Azure virtual machine, Windows or Linux).  You might be protecting a Windows Server (perhaps running a server application or just a file server).  Finally, you might be protecting a Windows client machine as we blogged about previously.  Note that instances should all be 64-bit and some workloads, especially application servers like SQL Server or Exchange, will require System Center Data Protection Manager.

How to calculate Azure backup cost

Small and medium are pretty easy to calculate.  If you have large instances, you will be paying £6.109 (prices as of May 2015) per 500GB so a 1.3TB backup would cost you £18.33 per month.  A simple protection estate could be:

Instance Size Cost
 Windows Server 300GB £6.109
 Windows 7 laptop  45GB £3.0545
 Linux virtual machine 30GB £3.0545

And the cost for those would be £12.22 per month.  So that takes care of the backup service; the agent, compression, encryption and bandwidth.

Next we need to calculate the cost of the storage.  Microsoft have wisely brought this in line with the standard Azure Storage costs and you have the choice of locally redundant where your backup files are replicated three time within a single datacentre (e.g. Dublin) or zone redundant where they are replicated three times in one data centre and then three times in geographically paired datacentre (e.g. Dublin and Amsterdam).

How to calculate Azure backup cost

 

We’ve put a typical price per GB in the table above.  The actual figures vary with the amount of data you store and you can view current prices on the Azure Storage Prices.  Determining the amount of storage is a bit of a guessing game as it depends on how much the data changes (the churn), how many restore points you want to keep and the level of compression that can be achieved.  A file server with lots of Word documents will be compressed far more than a file server containing hundreds of .jpg images because the jpeg format is already compressed.  Azure will only charge for the actual storage used so your estimate doesn’t need to be accurate.  In our example, we might use the following factors:

1- the total storage of 375GB

2 – locally redundant storage because we only want an archiving and backup solution to replace tape-drives

3 – 20% of the data changes between backups

4 – 10% compression (this is conservative; a typical compression should be around 30-40% depending on the type of data being backed up)

5 – a backup every week

6 – retention period for the backups of 1 year (for a maximum of 52 backups stored after a year)

Our back-of-a-napkin calculation would be 375GB initial backup + 52 further backups would just be the data changes at 75GB (20% of 375GB).  Total of 4.275TB, with compression at 10% this comes down to 3.8475TB.

So after 1 year (at which point we will have a rolling 52 backups retained), our monthly cost might be £53.87 (for storage at a rough £0.014 per GB) + £12.22 (for the protected instances) = £66.09

For more technical information about Azure, sign up for one of our courses and gain your professional qualification.

 


Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Bootcamp Content

We recently had the pleasure of co-presenting a series of bootcamp events for Microsoft resellers alongside HP and Zynstra.  The content covered Windows Server 2012 R2, Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Service Provider Licence Agreements (SPLA), HP Hardware and Zynstra cloud appliances.

If you would find the content useful, we’ve made the available for you to download: the Microsoft and Zynstra slides and the HP slides.  Nothing like attending an event in person of course so if this kind of event is of interest to you please do contact us as there may be some upcoming events we can let you know about.


Microsoft Presales Technical Accreditation for Small Business

We are running a series of evening events for Microsoft called Technights.  These are across the UK and offer a great chance to meet and discuss with Microsoft representatives as well as other partners.  We’ll cover Windows 8.1, Office 365, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Azure and Windows Intune in a format which encourages questions and discussion.  The event also prepares you to take the new Small Business Presales Technical Assessment.

See here for details of the schedule and how to register.

You can also download the content below.

PST Small Business v1


What am I getting with Office 365?

Office 365 is a brand.  But Microsoft has a challenge to overcome by using that name.  Their challenge is that the Office name is so synonymous with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so on that customers and resellers can get confused with what Office 365 actually is.

In a nutshell Office 365 is either the Office suite of client applications (Word, etc.) or online cloud services such as Exchange, SharePoint and Lync or both of those.

Below is a table containing most of the commercial Office 365 options (aka plans) you can buy along with a summary of whether that plan includes cloud services and the Office client.  A high-level list of what’s included can be found on office.microsoft.com.

Office365matrix

 

The best place to determine the detailed feature demarcation between those plans is via the Office 365 Service Descriptions on TechNet.

O365ServiceDescription

 

Licensing is straightforward with Office 365. Whatever Office 365 plan you have, the licence is per-user. This is a big difference from on premise Office which remains per-device. If you have Exchange, Lync or SharePoint on premise you can choose to licence access to these on a per-device or per-user basis or even to mix and match but the Office 365 cloud services are only per-user.

Why is this? One of the principles of cloud computing is anywhere access and typically the user will travel more than the device. I want to access my services at home, at work, at the airport, around my mum’s house. One in five men have participated in a conference call whilst on the toilet (according to research on Wtop.com). It makes sense to licence the user because they can access from any device. I can email from any device, IM and join a video-conference from any device (that supports Lync), get to my files and sites and business intelligence in SharePoint from any device. And if the Office 365 plan includes the Office client, then that can be locally installed on up to 5 devices concurrently and these can be a mix of Windows, Mac, corporate machine or personally-owned PCs.

One other important aspect to Office 365 licensing is the concept of a USL or User Subscription licence. Most Microsoft server software requires a Client Access Licence (CAL) to enable access to the software’s features. Windows Server, Exchange Server, Lync Server and SharePoint Server all require CALs. Office 365 is no exception but we call a CAL a USL because you only subscribe to online services, they’re not perpetual unlike CALs which you don’t need to buy again every year. The monthly, per-user cost of Office 365 includes all the USLs you need however the Enterprise Office 365 plans also include an implicit CAL whereas Midsize Business and Small Business plans do not.

Why is this important? If you have a hybrid infrastructure with some on premise Exchange, Lync or SharePoint servers then your users will need CALs to access those as well as USLs to access their Office 365 services. Having implicit access rights granted within the USL means you do not need to maintain CALS for those users who are covered by an Office 365 plan (one which includes cloud services). This is detailed in the Product Use Rights document for each of the on-premises servers, an example of which is the Exchange Server 2013 Standard requirements below showing that an Office 365 E1, E3 or E4 USL is fine for access but doesn’t list Midsize or Small Business USLs.

O365ProductUseRights

 

In summary, Office 365 is a big beast which can encompass the Office client suite, cloud services or both depending on which Office 365 plan you have. Each plan differs in individual features but is broadly licensed the same way; per-user. A bonus of subscribing to the Enterprise plans that include cloud services is they allow the licenced user access to on premise Exchange, Lync and SharePoint servers without needing a separate CAL.