Vol. 20, #25 - June 22, 2015 - Issue #1035
Migrating a small business to the cloud
- Editor's Corner
- Take part in our survey
- Shameless self-promotion
- Migrating a small business to the cloud
- Send us your feedback
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- This Week's Tips
- Fixing the pulsating donut in Windows 8.1
- Manually purging the Windows 8.1 update cache
- Exporting Outlook calendar to Outlook.com
- Events Calendar
- North America
- Webcast Calendar
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Cloud computing
- Security and Privacy
- SharePoint, Exchange and MSOffice
- Windows PowerShell
- Windows Server
- Recommended TechGenix Articles
- Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
- Windows Server News
- Consider perks, drawbacks of the multi-cloud model
- Two tools to help prepare for a workload migration
- VMware workspace management tool brings Citrix support
- A speedier Web client arrives in vSphere 6.0
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- Amazing iPad Magic On The Ellen Show
- 'Apple Engineer' Talks About The New 2015 MacBook
- iPad Magic - Stockholm
- Apple 1984 Superbowl
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Deep Packet Inspection for Quality of Experience Monitoring
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
Last week in Issue #1034 More Windows 10 resources, we included an Ask Our Readers request from a reader named Matt who said:
Thanks for the newsletter. I read your remark about tapping into the experience of your subscribers and that got me thinking. I'm starting to look into cloud servers and what I can do with them with regards to removing the hardware expense from my client's budgets. I deal with small companies, up to about 10 staff. Hardware & software upgrades really kill businesses of this size as it's normally something they don't consider as they are usually flat out each day running their businesses.
So I'd like to ask your readers, what real world experiences are out there that some people have gone through migrating a small business from in house hardware to cloud based hardware and software. For example, has anyone moved from an in-house exchange server to a hosted exchange solution and so on. Are there hosted solutions for things that you may not even think about that small businesses may find useful? Would you do it again, was the business happy with the end result etc.
We received numerous helpful comments and recommendations from readers in response to Matt's questions, so we thought we'd devote this week's issue of WServerNews to this topic which obviously struck a chord with our newsletter community. And if you have some additional suggestions you'd like to make on how small businesses can migrate to the cloud, email us at [email protected] and we'll include the best comments in an upcoming issue of WServerNews.
Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at [email protected]
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I found out this week from Microsoft Press that my free ebooks Introducing Windows Server 2012 and Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2 have now been downloaded over 1.5 million times! And if you add to this the downloads of my other free ebooks on System Center and Microsoft Azure, plus the more than one dozen free System Center ebooks that I was the Series Editor for, the total number of downloads now exceeds 3 million!!
You can download these and other free ebooks published by Microsoft Press from the following page of the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
These ebooks are available in PDF, EPUB and MOBI format so you can read them on any device format.
And now on to the main topic of this week's newsletter...
Migrating a small business to the cloud
We'll start off with the following email from a reader named Sam who has successfully done several small business migrations to the cloud:
I have performed 9 small business migrations to the cloud, currently finishing a medical clinic. I would need more info to give Matt a blueprint. Here are a few of the requirements that you need to meet in order to have a successful move to the cloud:
1. A reliable cloud provider like Microsoft, Amazon, Google to name a few, do not forget that there are many local companies with excellent services. Spend time researching them (BB ratings, references) including pricing, there are wide price differences based on the type of service like server memory, storage capacity, RAID, speed of transmission, 24x7x365 support, OS installed (Linux, Windows), hosting, etc. Always keep in mind that they are holding your data. Be sure that you let the prospective provider understand what is it that you are trying to do, be very specific (printers in use, test equipment used by the customer, site controllers, off-site access for teleworkers, hours of operation, backup and restore, etc.,) a good provider can help you a lot and point out a few aspects that you might want to include like a local backup of your data for peace of mind. If the data is sensitive make sure that the cloud provider is certified (i.e. OSHA certification for medical data)
Example: One of my customers is using SaaS with VDI and she is very satisfied (10 users, one server). Her hardware was originally designed for XP.
2. A reliable, fast internet connection. Unless you plan to run a hybrid cloud; no internet means no server equals business down and back to pencil and paper or closing the business till the internet is restored. This is the #1 reason for cloud services failure. Whatever hardware you have at the place of business needs to be reviewed in the context of cloud services which is very different from normal usage since now you also have virtual desktop available. In my experience, only equipment that is less than 7 years old passes and some need an upgrade. Do not forget to upgrade the switch to a fast switch, network cables, backup batteries etc.
Example: One of my customers lost 2 days of business because the internet was down and they had no access to their data.
3. Look into the software supplier, some offer a cloud solution out of the box (QuickBooks, Officemate, etc.) If they do it is almost a "piece of cake". Do not fall for the trap that it must be their designated cloud provider, unless you have already chosen them. If none of the SB have software that is cloud-ready, it's still not a big deal but it takes a little longer. It is OK to have more than one cloud service for different apps.
Example: An accounting/tax preparer (20 users, 2 servers) moved all their Intuit programs and data to the cloud overnight (it was a very along night). The hardware was originally designed for Windows 7 and 2012 R2 servers.
4. In the long run it is cheaper, but it is not a bargain as the initial investment can be large. Calculate you TCO including your recurring monthly fees ($50 to $200 a month). You have to accommodate for business disruption and be prepared to spend a few nights in there and re-train the users (e.g. "What you mean by save my documents to the network drive?" etc).
Those are some excellent tips and gotchas to be aware of, thanks!
Next we have a story from a reader named Alain in South Africa who is currently in the process of migrating his small business into the cloud:
The question posed is perfectly poised for my small business to also take a note of the lessons…..
I guess that I am halfway to the cloud at the moment. My business exploded at the beginning of the year from one to 3 people….. phew – talk about growing pains! Whilst the numbers appear insignificant, the actual changes that are required to the thought processes are huge!
I have decided to go the MS Office365 route for communications (hosted exchange) and for the Office productivity suite. Its' a no-brainer, because I now have access to my emails on all devices, and also have Office on my devices. The overall cost of this function is a pure expense to the company, so no depreciation to take into account in the accounts.
For accounts, I have stayed with a desktop application, since that is what my support structure uses. I am cloud connected, though because we share the files using Dropbox….!
For payroll, I have engaged with an online payroll system, which is absolutely fabulous. Its all self service including leave requests and approvals, and it does some of my monthly tax returns as well. Awesome! I would love to use a cloud accounting package as well, on the basis of how easy this is to use.
My business' products are all cloud based, and have been since 2002. I offer an online Document Compiler that manages user templates, aimed at the procurement market (tender documents and contracts). I also have the publishing solution for that, with advanced elements including online tender submissions, and the whole platform is growing – all cloud based.
My problem lies in that I have a fairly large volume of data, which does not lend itself to the cloud. I have a good dose of everyone's paranoia about giving my data to a third party to look after – they might go bust, or they might not have the security I would prefer…. You've been the whole mile. I have a sort-of solution that I use now, which entails a local file server (local in the office) with a dedicated hosted server that acts as an offsite backup of my files. The problem lies in that data transfer costs in South Africa are enormous, and the bandwidth is so tiny that its just not possible yet to manage this data. When fibre eventually reaches us, then maybe it will be a solution, but with "broadband" speeds of under 2Mb this just ain't working. I would be very keen to find out what solutions other people have for this type of scenario.
Thanks for a great newsletter! Keep it up!
Thank you too for sharing your story in detail like this.
Another reader named Ben who works for an architectural firm had this to share:
I've gotta recommend Rackspace hosted Exchange for small businesses. I have just under 50 users and we did the changeover a little over a year ago. It has been AMAZING. We used to run each individual PC with Outlook and POP3. It was a PST nightmare. I transferred everything to Rackspace. Yeah, you could go the O365 route for email but Rackspace's support is outstanding. Plus with Rackspace archiving nothing ever gets "lost".
No Exchange server to manage, upgrade, troubleshoot, etc. And if you are a Spiceworks member, you get Rackspace email for half price. Plus having all of your email across all of your devices is priceless.
As for other hardware, most small businesses live and die if their computer system is up or down. I still can't bring myself to put my local data in the cloud. There's no way that I could explain to my boss why a building full of people can't do anything just because a tornado knocked out all of our WAN connections.
Considering the great cloud backups solutions, like CrashPlan, there's no reason why any small business should be without SOME kind of backup.
A reader named Jeffrey shared the following experience migrating a client's business to some cloud services:
I migrated a small client from on-premises patch management (WSUS) and antivirus to a cloud based service called ControlNow formerly owned by GFI:
They also provide additional monitoring, web filtering and remote control services my client has not purchased. The antivirus (VIPRE) works great, and the patch management service provides third-party patch management (Adobe, Java, Google products, etc.) which improves overall security, but the patch management service is still a work in progress. The services are reasonably inexpensive, and managed through a web portal (after installation of a local agent on each managed device). Currently, the services are Windows only. GFI sells a similar service for consultants who want to sell a branded managed service to multiple clients. The GFI service includes additional features such as remote scripting.
Finally, a reader named Ken shared this story with us:
I am a small business that host apps for small business such as QuickBooks, FBS Accounting etc. A year ago I was supporting 5 physical servers at a local server hosting company. Early this year I moved all of them to the cloud and was able to consolidate the # of servers to 3 virtual servers. At the same time I moved from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2. Of course there was a learning curve on Windows Server 2012 R2. Works great and would do it again in a heartbeat. Nice too not have to deal with physical server hardware.
Send us your feedback
If you have more recommendations or stories on migrating small businesses to the cloud, feel free to email us at [email protected]
Recommended for Learning
Free ebook: Microsoft System Center Data Protection for the Hybrid Cloud
Microsoft Press has just announced the release of their newest free ebook, Microsoft System Center Data Protection for the Hybrid Cloud (ISBN 9780735695832), by Shreesh Dubey, Vijay Tandra Sistla, Shivam Garg, and Aashish Ramdas; Mitch Tulloch, Series Editor. You can download all formats (PDF, Mobi and ePub) at the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
You can read more about the book in this post on the Microsoft Press Blog:
Microsoft Virtual Academy
On-demand: Azure Active Directory Core Skills
In this course, Part 1 of the "Enterprise Mobility Core Skills" series, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson and Microsoft Technical Evangelist Simon May help you prepare your environment for mobility with Windows 10, including Identity and Access Management (IAM) in Azure AD, single sign-on, user self-service management, multifactor authentication, and more. Watch here!
On-demand: Windows Azure Pack: Database as a Service (DBaaS)
Learn the specifics of the database as a service (DBaaS) offering within Windows Azure Pack. DBaaS provides a powerful, resilient, shared SQL Server backend for users to consume through self-service or programmatically through rich APIs. By consuming DBaaS, application owners and developers can self-provision and consume exactly what they need for their applications and workloads, all at incredible speed. Get tips, tricks, best practices, and more! Watch here.
Quote of the Week
"Technology frightens me to death. It's designed by engineers to impress other engineers. And they always come with instruction booklets that are written by engineers for other engineers, which is why almost no technology ever works." --John Cleese
Until next week,
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Are you on a budget or still experimenting with VM backup? Veeam Backup Free Edition v8 is the perfect solution because it’s: powerful, easy-to-use and free forever. Download now!
Gow (Gnu On Windows) is a lightweight alternative to Cygwin.
WordMat is an add-on to Microsoft Word which creates a tab with math functionality.
Fixing the pulsating donut in Windows 8.1
Recent updates to Windows 8.1 seem to have bunged something with either Microsoft Office or Microsoft OneDrive. Some users are reporting that their mouse pointer keeps changing to the spinning wheel every few seconds causing their applications to become sluggish. It's not clear at this point what the problem is, but several colleagues who have experienced this have told me they've found solutions.
One colleague said he fixed his system by using the Quick Repair option for Office which is available from the Programs And Features item in Control Panel. Another colleague said he solved his problem by running the OneDrive Troubleshooter but noted that it took a few hours for the troubleshooter to finish its work. You can find more information about how to run the OneDrive Troubleshooter here:
Hopefully the next round of software updates from Microsoft will fix this issue. Meanwhile if any of our readers have any further information about this issue or any workarounds for resolving it, email us at [email protected]
Manually purging the Windows 8.1 update cache
I think I recall reading somewhere that Windows 8.1 will periodically purge its cache of software updates that have been applied to the installation to recover disk space. A colleague informs me however that he has used the following short script to manually remove old updates from the cache:
rmdir /q /s %WINDIR%\Installer\$PatchCache$
DISM.exe /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup /resetbase
As with all scripts this one is provided to you "as is" with no warranties, so use it at your own risk.
Exporting Outlook calendar to Outlook.com
The site Outlook-Tips.com has a helpful tip about how you can export a calendar from Microsoft Outlook and import it into the calendar of Outlook.com:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
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Architecture Matters: The Service Fabric of Our Lives (In The Cloud)
Creating a Cloud Data Location and Jurisdiction Policy (Part 1) (CloudComputingAdmin.com)
Security and Privacy
Tips to prevent Zero-Day Malware with EOP (EOP Field Notes)
Developing and Assessing your DLP Strategy (Part 3) (WindowSecurity.com)
SharePoint, Exchange and MSOffice
Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection - now available (EOP Field Notes)
Scheduling Mail Reports in Office 365 (EOP Field Notes)
PowerTip: Find Specific PowerShell Cmdlet Help (Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog)
Hands-On Practice: Creating and Configuring VMs using PowerShell (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
PowerShell Script to build your Nano Server Image (Nano Server)
How to use WDS to PxE Boot a Nano Server VHD (Nano Server)
Saying Goodbye to On-Premises Exchange (Part 1)
Doing your Database on AWS (Part 2)
Getting Started With Azure Pack (Part 3)
Developing and Assessing your DLP Strategy (Part 4)
IPv6 for Windows Admins (Part 3)
Consider perks, drawbacks of the multi-cloud model
While deploying multiple cloud platforms offers the enterprise greater flexibility and choice, multi-cloud management is still a major pain point for IT. Uncover some of the top benefits and possibilities that come with IaaS, and learn how to overcome complex multi-cloud management challenges today.
Two tools to help prepare for a workload migration
Flexibility to scale workloads up and down is just one benefit that comes with the public cloud. But, if you are struggling with workload migration, look no further than Microsoft’s MAP Toolkit and VM Readiness Assessment Tool. These two tools help to seamlessly move a virtual or physical workload to Azure. Get an in-depth look at these two helpful tools today.
VMware workspace management tool brings Citrix support
Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp customers who use vSphere can now use VMware for their workspace management, too. VMware has combined recent acquisitions to deliver a workspace management tool aimed directly at Citrix customers. Learn more about this new tool and find out why Citrix customers might not be quite ready to jump ship yet.
A speedier Web client arrives in vSphere 6.0
In March, VMware released vSphere 6.0, leaving most admins curious about what would happen with the vSphere clients in the final release. Depending on your feelings and stance toward the vSphere Web Client, it could be either good or bad news. Learn more about working with the speedier vSphere 6.0 today.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
Amazing iPad Magic On The Ellen Show
Simon Pierro, an amazing magician from Germany, performs magic using an Apple iPad at the Ellen Show:
'Apple Engineer' Talks About The New 2015 MacBook
Hilarious! Apple engineer talks about the new 2015 MacBook that has only one port and a 480p camera:
iPad Magic - Stockholm
"We Love Stockholm" - An iPad magic act with Charlie Caper and Erik Rosales:
Apple 1984 Superbowl
The Apple Macintosh 1984 Superbowl spot changed the world of Super Bowl ads from mere commercials into works of art:
WServerNews - Editors
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.