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Microsoft Azure Named Leader in Public Cloud Storage Services

microsoft-azure-logoExciting news as Gartner research recently published their Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Storage Services and recognized Microsoft Azure as a leader for the second year in a row based on completeness of their vision and ability to execute.

The amount of digital data produced each year is growing exponentially. According to IDC, by 2020 total digital data will be close to 40 Zetabytes (40,000,000PBs) and majority of it will be stored in the cloud.

In 2012, Microsoft Azure was storing 4 Trillion objects. In January 2015 the number of objects stored in Microsoft Azure reached 10 Trillion. That’s an enormous amount of files! According to Microsoft, 75% of those files are less than 10 MB in size. Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 – Is the “Archive Mailbox” Still Relevant?

The practice of email “archiving” probably goes back as far as email itself. Over the years, the reason for archiving emails has changed and as the corresponding technologies have evolved, it brings into question whether this practice even needs to continue.

Before enabling functionality that moves email data from it’s original location, it’s worth discussing if it is even necessary. To do so, we should ask the following questions:

Why do we archive?
Does this help or hurt our end-user experience?
Does this benefit our legal requirements?

The article below provides some history around the practice of email archiving and why it may no longer be relevant.
Read the rest of this post »

Azure: Did You Know? Upgrade Domains and Fault Domains

Microsoft AzureHave you ever wondered how Microsoft provides an SLA of 99.95% for Azure? 99.95% is quite high, it means that the Azure service is available the entire year with only 4 hrs and 23 minutes of downtime. How does Microsoft guarantee this level of service?

Fault Domains

A fault domain is a physical point of failure. Think of a computer (or a rack of servers) that is physically plugged in to a power outlet in one location. If a power outage happens, that computer goes offline. If a flood happens at the datacenter, the computer goes offline. If a missile hits the building, the computer goes offline. You get the picture. Read the rest of this post »

Exchange Online – After the Migration… Now What?

On June 24th, Microsoft hosted a “Beyond Build and Ignite” event at our local MTC office. The event was well-attended by clients looking for additional information on top of the hours of video content available from the last month’s Ignite event.

In addition to Perficient being one of the sponsors of this event, I was given the opportunity to present as part of the “Cloud Productivity” track. Keeping with the “beyond” theme, my session was titled “Exchange Online: After the Migration… Now What?”.

The idea around this session was that Exchange Online offers a number of features that aren’t always deployed right out of the gate. In many cases, it makes perfect sense to wait on the enablement of these features until the mail migration is completed and implement them as part of a “phase 2″. You likely already own these “phase 2″ features and I’ve identified them in the presentation slide deck below.
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Posted in Office 365

Morphing into a digital business with Microsoft’s help

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Perficient is all about helping customers with their Digital Transformation initiatives, and there’s a lot of curiosity around the topic. While most people think of digital marketing and customer experience first and foremost, just as Nigel Fenwick, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research mentioned during a webinar last week, business efficiency and optimization is really about creating value for the customer. Digital Transformation is about finding new ways to work smarter, move faster and be more effective as both an individual and a company – and that’s what Microsoft is known for.

So, with the goal being digital maturity, how exactly do you get there? As Nigel eluded to, an excellent digital customer experience is only half of the equation – digital operational excellence is the yin to your customer experience’s yang. About a year ago, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “Our industry does not respect tradition – it only respects innovation,” and I think that’s true of a the vast majority of industries today. Customers have more options than ever, and they know what they want and how to get what they need quickly.

You’ve probably invested in Microsoft platforms and products that will help you on your digital transformation journey. But do you really know how these digital technologies can change the way business is done? Digital businesses are innovating with data, adapting business through intelligent operations, becoming more agile and responsive with smart machines, using machine learning and advanced analytics to stay ahead of customer needs and market changes, and providing an engaging customer experience with digital technology.

Join us for a webinar tomorrow, “Reimagine Your Business in a Digital-First World with Microsoft,” where Rich Wood will describe how Microsoft technology can be used to create a holistic digital transformation across the enterprise, and embrace the four megatrends to increase productivity, improve customer service, expand market share, and ultimately, increase revenue. Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 – When to Consider a Third-Party Identity Provider

Office 365 offers several different identity options. Well known are the options to use “cloud identities” or directory synchronization from your on-premises Active Directory. For authentication, Microsoft offers the option to use “password hash sync” or Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) along with your on-premises Active Directory.

There is, however, another option when it comes to identity. There are several third-party identity providers (IdPs) that are validated for use with Office 365.

When does it make sense to use a third-party IdP?

What should you look for when considering one?
Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in Office 365

Azure: Did You Know? Block vs Page Blobs

storage1Azure storage service supports two types of blobs (blob, or BLOB, stand for Binary Large OBject, i.e. an unstructured binary data): block and page blobs. Blob type is selected when blob is created and then it can’t be changed. Although both blob types allow for storage of large binary objects in Azure, they are optimized for different storage scenarios.

Read the rest of this post »

Introduction to Azure Search

Azure-Search-logo-bigPull out your cell phone, go to any app, and chances are that app has a search box. The same is true of most websites. Our ability to find information in a cloud-first, mobile-first world is driven by search capabilities.

Azure Search is a search-as-a-service solution that allows developers to incorporate great search experiences in applications without managing infrastructure or needing to become search experts.

Because of Google, Yahoo, and Bing; users are accustomed to a minimum level of quality with their search experience. If your application does not provide that base level of functionality, your users might get frustrated and leave, then your application could be headed for failure. Read the rest of this post »

New Microsoft Trend: “Intranet in a Box” Built on SharePoint

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If you walked the exhibit hall at last month’s Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago, you might have happened upon a conversation, or even a booth, touting the concept, “Intranet in a Box.” In fact, while attending Ignite, I recall talking about it with a colleague of mine, Rich Wood. Last week, he wrote an article over on CMSWire discussing the new trend.

Rich talks about how both inspiration – and confusion – came out of Ignite, as noted below:

Microsoft shared a lot about the future as Redmond sees it at last month’s Ignite conference. It’s a future that looks, by turns, both inspiring and somewhat confusing. When Microsoft peeks ahead into the space-time continuum, it sees the future of communication as Skype for Business, and the future of information discovery looking a good deal like Delve and other search-based applications.

The future of teamwork through this lens looks distinctly like Office 365 Groups. Except when it resembles Yammer… or maybe SharePoint. All three together in some sort of mashup? “Where the roadmap is heading,” we were told.

Interesting? Certainly.

Vague? Definitely.

Confusing? Absolutely — unless you find some good counsel to help make sense of how this can benefit your organization.

So, what’s to come? Rich sets us straight when it comes to SharePoint being synonymous with intranet solution (it’s NOT).

Let’s be clear: Microsoft has never claimed to offer an intranet solution. And it still isn’t. Sure, a whopping proportion of the world’s intranets are built on SharePoint every year — but Microsoft has always stopped short of calling SharePoint an intranet solution. That’s because it isn’t. SharePoint is a platform, not a packaged solution. We’ve been hearing that for years, because it’s true. But will it remain that way?

The times are definitely changing, and between Microsoft and its partners, Ignite showed us that more and more packaged solutions, using SharePoint as their baseline, are available to take some of the pain and cost out of intranet design and delivery. None of these solutions alone — these “Intranets in a box,” if you will — are being marketed as truly viable monolithic corporate intranet candidates, but they each address a specific business case that used to require moderate-to-heavy customization.

But times are changing. Business needs are changing, and Microsoft is not only getting on board with the boxed intranet trend – they are setting the agenda. Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 Deployment, Security and Management – Tips for Success

shutterstock_240543970To help companies rapidly deploy and fast-track Office 365 service consumption, we’ve been teaming up with Centrify. Centrify Identity Service (CIS) for Office 365 runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and is a comprehensive solution for Active Directory-based SSO, user provisioning and mobility management.

Together, we recently held a webinar on the topic “Proven Practices for Office 365 Deployment, Security and Management.” Joe Palarchio, a lead technical consultant within Perficient’s Microsoft practice, kicked off the session by reviewing a few statistics that were mentioned during sessions he attended at Ignite:

Nearly 80% of the Fortune 500 have Office 365

35% of Exchange install base is on Office 365

More than 80% of Office 365 Enterprise customers have two or more workloads

He made the point – the cloud should no longer be considered bleeding edge, and companies of all sizes have adopted it with great success. Joe also noted that the second statistic, the Exchange install base on Office 365, is climbing rapidly. Joe went on to share best practices… for example, to get started, you need to acquire licensing (trial, EA), identify an appropriate pilot group, and consider workloads such as OneDrive for Business or Office 365 ProPlus.

Accept changes in terms of network, security and provisioning. Also – seek support and experience when necessary. Look for certified vendors, leverage Microsoft documentation and work with a deployment partner. Side note: We have a change management practice here at Perficient that has helped many customers move to Office 365 successfully. You can read a case study detailing change management with Partners In Health here.

Joe also reviewed common mistakes to avoid and discussed the first step to the cloud: identity and authentication. Next, Chris Webber, Director of Product Marketing at Centrify, spoke further about your security goals and deployment goals around cloud identity and authentication. He showed attendees how Centrify Identity Service enables you to secure and simplify your Office 365 deployment. Centrify Identity Service is powered by Azure and validated by Microsoft. You can request a free trial or watch this short video to learn how to centralize and automate deployment of Office 365 and other apps across data centers, Macs and mobile. Read the rest of this post »