Here’s your chance to tell Microsoft how they’re doing.

Every fall and spring, a survey goes out to a few hundred thousand IT folk in Canada asking what they think of Microsoft as a company. The information they get from this survey helps them understand what problems and issues you’re facing and how they can do better. The team at Microsoft Canada takes the input they get from this survey very seriously.

Now I don’t know who of you will get the survey and who won’t but if you do find an email in your inbox from “Microsoft Feedback” with an email address of “ feedback@e-mail.microsoft.com ” and a subject line “Help Microsoft Focus on Customers and Partners” from now until April 13th – it’s not a hoax or phishing email. Please open it and take a few minutes to tell them what you think.

This is your chance to get your voice heard: If they’re doing well, feel free to pile on the kudos (they love positive feedback!) and if you see areas they can improve, please point them out so they can make adjustments (they also love constructive criticism!).

The Microsoft team would like to thank you for all your feedback in the past – to those of you who have filled out the survey and sent them emails. Thank you to all who engage with them in so many different ways through events, the blogs, online and in person. You are why they do what they do and they feel lucky to work with such a great community!

One last thing – even if you don’t get the survey you can always give the team feedback by emailing us directly through the Microsoft Canada IT Pro Feedback email address .

They want to make sure they are serving you in the best possible way. Tell them what you want more of. What should they do less of or stop altogether? How can they help? Do you want more cowbell ? Let them know through the survey or the email alias. They love hearing from you!

Cloud Computing with Microsoft

As the “Cloud” becomes more and more popular and business try to decide if it the right fit for them, the task is often complicated by uncertainty, policies and regulations governing data, technical vacuums, etc. that all combine to create enough mystery to put the idea on the back burner until more can be learned.

Office 365 and Windows Intune are great applications to get you started with Cloud Computing. Many of you emailed me asking for more info on what Cloud Computing is, including the distinction between “Public Cloud” and “Private Cloud”. I want to address these questions and help you get started. Let’s begin with a brief set of definitions and some places to find more info; however, an excellent place where you can always learn more about Cloud Computing is the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Public Cloud computing means that the infrastructure to run and manage the applications users are taking advantage of is run by someone else and not you. In other words, you do not buy the hardware or software to run your email or other services being used in your organization – that is done by someone else. Users simply connect to these services from their computers and you pay a monthly subscription fee for each user that is taking advantage of the service. Examples of Public Cloud services include Office 365, Windows Intune, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Hotmail, and others.

Private Cloud computing generally means that the hardware and software to run services used by your organization is run on your premises, with the ability for business groups to self-provision the services they need based on rules established by the IT department. Generally, Private Cloud implementations today are found in larger organizations but they are also viable for small and medium-sized businesses since they generally allow an automation of services and reduction in IT workloads when properly implemented. Having the right management tools, like System Center 2012, to implement and operate Private Cloud is important in order to be successful.

So – how do you get started? The first step is to determine what makes the most sense to your organization. The nice thing is that you do not need to pick Public or Private Cloud – you can use elements of both where it makes sense for your business – the choice is yours. When you are ready to try and purchase Public Cloud technologies, the Microsoft Volume Licensing web site is a good place to find links to each of the online services. In particular, if you are interested in a trial for each service, you can visit the following pages: Office 365, CRM Online, Windows Intune, and Windows Azure.

For Private Cloud technologies, start with some of the courses on Microsoft Virtual Academy and then download and install the Microsoft Private Cloud technologies including Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and System Center 2012 in your own environment and take it for a spin. Also, keep up to date with the Canadian IT Pro blog to learn about events Microsoft is delivering such as the IT Virtualization Boot Camps and more to get you started with these technologies hands on.

Finally, I want to ask for your help to allow the team at Microsoft to continue to provide you what you need. Twice a year through something we call “The Global Relationship Study” – they reach out and contact you to see how they’re doing and what Microsoft could do better. If you get an email from “Microsoft Feedback” with the subject line “Help Microsoft Focus on Customers and Partners” between March 5th and April 13th, please take a little time to tell them what you think.

Additional Resources You May Find Useful:

Springboard Series
Your destination for technical resources, free tools and expert guidance to ease the deployment and management of your Windows-based client infrastructure.
 

TechNet Evaluation Center
Try some of our latest Microsoft products for free, Like System Center 2012 Pre-Release Products, and evaluate them before you buy.
 

AlignIT Manager Tech Talk Series
A monthly streamed video series with a range of topics for both infrastructure and development managers. Ask questions and participate real-time or watch the on-demand recording.
 

Tech·Days Online
Discover what’s next in technology and innovation with Tech·Days session recordings, hands-on labs and Tech·Days TV.

De-mystifying Microsoft Licensing

Are you not quite sure what licensing to purchase or are you a bit confused with even what type of licensing requirements to look for?  It can be a little intimidating trying to figure out what you really need from a legal perspective and, of course, you want to be sure you are legal while at the same time not spending more money than is necessary.

While I’m no licensing expert, I have some information that might help you navigate you way through the system to purchase what you need for your environment.

 Hopefully, this will be useful to you.

You may want to review this blog post that lays out licensing basics for any organization that needs to license software for more than 5 or less than 250 devices or users. It details the different ways you can buy a license and what choices are available for volume licensing, which can give you pricing advantages and provide flexible options for your business.

As technology evolves and more organizations move to online services such as Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Windows Azure Platform, Windows Intune and others, it’s important to understand how to purchase, activate and use online service subscriptions to get the most out of your investment. Once purchased through a volume licensing agreement or the Microsoft Online Subscription Program, these services can be managed through web portals:

·         Online Services Customer Portal (Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Intune)

·         Dynamics CRM Online Customer Portal (Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online)

·         Windows Azure Customer Portal (Windows Azure Platform)

·         Volume Licensing Service Center (other services)

Learn more >>

 

Licensing Resources:

Additional Resources You May Find Useful:

  • TechNet Evaluation Center
    Try some of our latest Microsoft products For free, Like System Center 2012 Pre-Release Products, and evaluate them before you buy.
  • Springboard Series
    Your destination for technical resources, free tools and expert guidance to ease the deployment and management of your Windows-based client infrastructure.
  • AlignIT Manager Tech Talk Series
    A monthly streamed video series with a range of topics for both infrastructure and development managers. Ask questions and participate real-time or watch the on-demand recording.