The 8 Biggest Barriers to Cloud Adoption (with Recommendations to Overcome Them)

The 8 Biggest Barriers to Cloud Adoption (with Recommendations to Overcome Them)

By Kazim Somji, Chief Technology Officer
March 25, 2020

In January 2020, WatServ had the opportunity to attend and exhibit at Microsoft Ignite The Tour Toronto. Over the course of the event, we asked attendees who visited our booth to identify their number one hurdle when it comes to cloud adoption. Below is a summary of the top eight issues reported, along with recommendations from our team on how to address them. 

Top 8 Challenges to Cloud Adoption:

1. Insufficient Training

Organizations are struggling to train their employees on new technologies and to encourage adoption. 

Recommendations to address this challenge: 

A great place to start is with online learning and training resources provided from organizations like Microsoft and Google. For instance, Microsoft Learn allows employees to enhance their skills and achieve industry certifications on their own schedules. These types of online trainings usually have learning paths, from beginner to advanced, with avatars to track progression. 

Another method is to deploy champions across your organization whose role it is to coach employees and drive adoption of new technologies. To complement this, your company can put motivational parameters around the framework to further incentivize skills development and adoption. 

2. Complexity Due to Multiple Locations and Divisions 

Siloed IT infrastructure, systems dispersed across various locations and challenges with collaboration are common challenges facing organizations. 

Recommendations to address this challenge: 

Begin by analyzing the current state of your company’s technology delivery processes, organizational model, capabilities and other factors to identify improvement opportunities. After that, you can design a future state model incorporating value network design principles, adaptive organizational structure principles and agile best practices. 

In addition, providing coaching and support can help your team adopt improved delivery techniques and methods to solve immediate problems.  

Finally, in the longer term, implementing cross-functional teams can be helpful for supporting better collaboration and integration, while also avoiding shadow IT.  

3. No Strategy, So No Action

With budget constraints and competing projects, the focus of many organizations is solely on maintaining the status quo. New technologies and ways of adopting them are put on the backburner until they are deemed to be truly necessary. Deployments, migrations and implementations are put off because these processes can take weeks, months or even years to complete. 

Recommendations to address this challenge: 

IT should focus on demonstrating progress by developing an incremental working product. If they wait for the big strategy” to come along, it may never happen or may not be delivered as planned. Instead, by focusing on low hanging fruit first, IT can build momentum and showcase the added benefits of the cloud at critical moments. Together, this can change hearts and minds and pave the way for the introduction of a larger strategy. 

Another approach is to create a roadmap that is divided into several smaller projects and achieved incrementally. Each smaller project can provide its own benefit, which eventually accumulate into a much larger impact. Projects can be accomplished throughout the year without burdening financial resources. 

4. Worries About Data Governance

Although this can apply to many industry verticals, data governance is usually of most concern for government agencies and those in the public sector. There are many myths around this topic, spurred primarily by misinformation.  

Recommendations to address this challenge: 

There is a widespread belief that the cloud cannot protect information. Thisfor the most part, is not true. In fact, for companies that cannot keep up with regulatory changes and internal compliance, the cloud can make it easier. Hyperscale providers, like Microsoft, Google and Amazon review their governance frameworks regularly and can help guide you through the compliance process. They also offer the tools that can help your organization stay in compliance, such as DLP, data classification labels, encryption and so on. Furthermore, their guidance is written in plain language, making it easy to understand for you and your compliance specialist. Finally, public cloud datacenters hold more certifications and security measures than most private cloud or on-premises environments. 

As an example, making your organization’s data center PCI-compliant in an on-premises scenario is not particularly easy. However, the cloud can simplify the process. Similarly, if you want to implement capabilities like PIM (Privileged Identity Management) in an on-premises datacenter, it is complex. With the public cloudon the other hand, it becomes easier. There are still actions needed on the user’s end, and the cloud can’t account for all compliance requirements in all scenarios, but it does offer unique benefits for many customers. 

5. Worries About Data Sovereignty

This concern is felt primarily by the public sector, government, military and defense organizations – organizations that are heavily regulated and that face strict compliance rules. Data sovereignty rules often stipulate that data must be stored within the country and accessed by citizens.  

Recommendations to address this challenge: 

While data sovereignty requirements might have been challenging to manage in the cloud several years ago, both Microsoft and Google have since expanded their datacenters within Canada, and they continue to add more every year. For instance, Microsoft recently announced the availability of more zones in Central Canada. 

Furthermore, data can be restricted to specific geopolitical areas, making it easy to determine exactly where your data is. This, combined with the fact that hyperscale providers must pass heavy auditing processes, provides increased peace of mind. In fact, the Government of Canada recently chose Microsoft Azure, demonstrating that the days of data sovereignty worries are coming to an end. 

6. Challenges with Cost Governance

Some companies hesitate to move to the cloud because they are worried their costs will increase or that they will overprovision. 

Recommendations to address this challenge: 

Despite these worries, many companies that go to the cloud discover that cost governance is easier there. That is because cost management features of the cloud allow you to set budgets, make chargebacks to internal business units, receive alerts when a limit is reached and so onFor instance, you can set up a predefined rule that can turn off or restrict the use of a service when they pass a certain threshold. 

By providing access to data analytics, the cloud enables companies to better predict their costs over several years. Also, Microsoft and Google offer various discounts for upfront payments and so on, which can lead to overall cost savings. 

7. Analysis Paralysis

Sometimes a major roadblock to cloud adoption stems from simply too many options. Over-thinking or over-analyzing options can make it difficult to choose between Azure, Google Cloud Platform, AWS, on-premise and private cloud. 

Recommendations to address this challenge: 

As a starter, it’s important to remember that most customers are already in a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud scenario. For enterprise customers, Microsoft’s cloud platforms are likely being utilized in some form or fashion as the primary service due to existing relationships and legacy technology integrationwith Active Directory and other business applications. 

It’s also important to remember that all of the top three providers – Microsoft Azure, Google’s GCP and Amazon’s AWS – have cloud compute capacity and scale on demand. 

Here are some key areas to examine when assessing their offerings: 

  1. Depth and breadth of service – All of the major providers offer a vast range of services, from compute and containers to AI and ML, but if you have specific current or future business needs, you should compare offerings to see which provider best meets them. 
  2. Geographic needs – All three of the top providers have a global presence, with regions across most continents. However, some organizations have specific geographic restrictions due to factors like data residency or network latency requirements. If you are one of these organizations, doing an assessment of all providers is important. 
  3. Hybrid cloud – All three of the major providers enable hybrid cloud, but evaluating their individual capabilities is important to see which is the best fit. Some organizations that have a substantial legacy footprint will need to integrate with the public cloud for seamless management of identity and security. 

If your organization is having difficulty choosing an ideal scenario, cloud consultants (like our team at WatServ) can help identify your ideal future state and make the leap with confidence. 

8. Complexity with Current Workloads

For many companies, a major worry is whether their current workloads will run well in the cloud. This concern can be a major inhibitor to cloud adoption. 

Recommendations to address this challenge: 

To begin, an assessment should be conducted to confirm what should go to the cloud and how best to get it there. Sometimes it’s a simple lift and shift, other times it will involve a rebuildThe key is to assess accurately, do a proof of concept and, if needed, consult with external cloud experts to discover workarounds or alternate solutions.   

However, by not moving forward due to unknownsyou may be putting your business at riskRelying on old technologies usually means decreased productivity, increased security concernslowered performance and potential end of support from the vendor.  

 

Are you struggling to achieve cloud adoption? Does your organization need help getting to the cloud? If so, WatServ can help. Schedule a time to speak with our cloud experts today and get to the cloud with clarity. 

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

Considering Migrating to the Cloud? Here are Three Questions to Ask in 2020.

Considering Migrating to the Cloud? Here are Three Questions to Ask in 2020.

By Tyler Doerner, VP, Sales
March 3, 2020
Today, the number of cloud technologies available are practically endless. At the same time, the pace of cloud innovation and development from global giants like Microsoft and Google is truly unprecedented. Together, this poses challenging dilemmas as well as exciting opportunities for companies thinking about making the move to the cloud.
 
If you’re considering moving to the cloud in 2020, here are a few questions to ask yourself.

Will You Tackle Your Cloud Migration and Management Internally or Outsource it?

As we move into 2020, many companies are feeling the pressure to undergo digital transformation – or be left behind. This is further complicated by the fact that internal IT teams rarely have the skillset or bandwidth to support such fundamental change.  So, the question becomes: should you invest in the right people to manage your cloud internally, or outsource the tasks to a company specializing in cloud migrations and management?

More and more, we’re seeing companies choose the outsourcing route. They’ve seen that success most often occurs when internal IT teams shift their focus from maintaining systems to adding value to the business. In fact, many feel the future role of IT will be to work with internal stakeholders to identify business challenges and then seek out technology solutions to solve those challenges. As an alternative to having internal IT teams focus on maintaining network connectivity, patching servers, supporting desktops and so on, businesses are finding that when they outsource these activities, it frees up time to focus on core value-add capabilities.

What Does Your Ideal Cloud Scenario Look Like?

While cloud-based technologies and infrastructure are critical to the future success of most businesses, each use case should be evaluated for economic and business advantages. In highly regulated industries with data residency or sovereignty requirements – or where businesses operate in remote areas where internet connectivity is not reliable – the cloud may not be the right option for certain applications.

To solve for these issues, many organizations are turning to a hybrid cloud deployment. Most companies, whether they know it or not, are already in a hybrid cloud scenario for certain functions – think Salesforce.com for a CRM, Exchange Online by Microsoft for email or an on-premise ERP. These independent technologies may require integration but are deployed in different clouds by different providers.

Determining the right application and deployment scenario is critical to adding value to your business. Choosing the right option will shorten your path to success and deliver critical economic and technical benefits.

What Strategies Will You Use to Get to the Cloud?

There are numerous strategies that can be used when evaluating the future of your existing applications. However, there are three approaches that are often recommended:

  • Re-hosting – This is usually the first and most logical step for organizations looking to migrate to the cloud, especially if there are other external factors creating pressures like a datacenter contract expiring or datacenter issues. Re-hosting involves taking an existing application, and simply moving it to the cloud. The workloads being migrated are generally kept on premise or in a partner-hosted data center. By moving existing business applications to the cloud, you minimize disruption for end users, since they don’t have to learn a new application, while also getting the benefits of a modern cloud infrastructure. Once existing applications have been migrated, it’s easier to start an optimization project, since the applications, data and networking are already in the cloud.
  • Re-platforming – Once an application has been rehosted, the next natural step is to look at re-platforming. (You could also, of course, bypass re-hosting and go straight to re-platforming.) Re-platforming involves taking an existing application to the cloud and then modernizing the underlying technology. It looks to take advantage of the new platform to improve performance, reliability and reduce costs. Cloud service providers like Azure, AWS and Google have a suite of technology available for re-platforming databases, storage, backups, disaster recovery and so on.
  • Repurchasing – This involves looking at the business fit of an existing technology and deciding if it will continue to fit going forward. Sometimes applications can be made to fit and other times they need to be replaced with modern cloud-based applications. Think: moving a legacy CRM system to Dynamics 365 or Salesforce versus custom developing a CRM solution.

When an organization doesn’t have the internal IT capabilities or capacity to handle these activities, working with a knowledgeable provider can ensure a successful outcome.

Looking Ahead to 2020 and Beyond

Cloud innovation is moving at the speed of light. IT teams have much to think about. In addition, the role of IT is changing, and companies are expecting their internal teams to deliver on digital transformation mandates. For each cloud opportunity that’s created, challenges emerge. By understanding cloud options and engaging with the right experts to support internal capacity or bridge knowledge gaps, successful organizations will not only keep up, they can outperform.

Want to continue the conversation? Get in touch with our team of cloud experts today.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

It’s 2020. Do You Know What’s New in Azure Migrate?

It’s 2020. Do You Know What’s New in Azure Migrate?

By WatServ
February 18, 2020

Has your organization been hesitant to migrate to Microsoft Azure because of missing functionalities from Azure Migrate?

Are you considering using Azure Migrate, and wondering what’s new?

Over the course of 2019, Azure Migrate announced a series of updates to their services, adding a wide range of new and expanded tools and functionalities.

These changes strengthen the hub and provide additional capabilities to help organizations assess and migrate their on-premise infrastructure, applications and data to Azure.

If you were hesitant to use Azure Migrate before, it may be worth another look.

Here is a recap of some of the changes Microsoft made to Azure Migrate in Q4 2019:

  1. Addition of a physical server assessment feature. This means Azure Migrate now supports the assessment of o n-premise physical servers.
  2. Addition of an import-based assessment feature. Unlike before, you can now conduct assessments of machines using meta data and performance data in a CSV file.
  3. Better dependency visualization features. Previously, you needed to install agents for dependency visualization, but now it can be accomplished using both an agentless and agent-based approach.
  4. New application discovery features. Are you using VMware VMs and wanting to undertake discovery? Azure Migrate now supports application-level discovery apps, roles and features with the Azure Migrate appliance.
  5. Improvements to Virtual Desktop. You can now assess and migrate on-premise virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to Windows Virtual Desktop in Azure using ISV tools.
  6. Better services for web apps. Assessing and migrating web apps? The Azure App Service Migration Assistant is now part of Azure Migrate.

If you’re still using the previous version of Azure Migrate, you will continue to have access to your projects, but you’ll no longer be able to create new projects or undertake new discoveries. With the current version, however, users can create projects, discover on-premise machines and manage assessments and migrations.

These changes expand on the version update that occurred in July 2019. To learn more about the functionalities of this version, visit Azure Migrate’s website.

Wondering if Azure Migrate can help your organization? Speak with WatServ’s cloud migration specialists today by contacting us.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

Best Practices for a Smooth Office 365 Migration

Best Practices for a Smooth Office 365 Migration

By WatServ
February 11, 2020

So, you want to migrate to Office 365?

There are so many reasons why an organization would choose to migrate to the cloud. The most common reasons are based on some sort of organizational deficiency, such as communication, collaboration, business application performance, personal productivity, store/find/share data and mobility.

So, your decision is made and now you need to put all this new technology in front of your workforce and expect them to like it… because you care about them and it’s going to make their work life better! Well, getting from point A to point Z will most certainly disrupt their daily routine and cause angst among the masses. Here are some ideas on how to avoid the pitfalls of implementing Microsoft Office 365 and how to prepare your deployment team and end-users for the proverbial road ahead.

Choosing the Right Licensing Option!

This one is tricky. Only because as of July 2018, there are roughly 640 different licensing options to chose from! In all fairness, the total includes the different pricing for the Business, Government, Nonprofit, and Education SKU’s (Stock Keeping Unit), which multiplies each SKU by four. Each one has its own pricing model and discounts. The total also includes Dynamics 365, Office 365, Microsoft 365 and all the add-ons that are currently available with the online environment. There are about 280 available for Office 365 specifically. As you can imagine, it can be quite daunting to determine which SKU best fits your end-users.

I would suggest getting an overall snapshot of the different work-groups in your organization – Sales, IT, HR, Finance, Marketing, Operations, Production, etc. Once you’ve identified the different work-groups, you’ll need to break down the various work functions within each of those groups. Most users will need a license that includes Office 365 ProPlus to perform their work duties, but there may be some that don’t. For instance, does a temporary employee need Skype for Business or SharePoint if they’re just going to be doing spreadsheet work on a 6-month accounting project? Does a line worker in the plant need Outlook or can they get by with Outlook Online? Then there’s the add-in SKU’s to think about. You’ll need to determine who will need Project Pro, Visio Pro, Power BI Pro, and so on. There’s a lot that needs to go into figuring out the license pool.

Prepare Your Environment!

I think this is one of the most difficult tasks to complete prior to the migration, but quite possibly the most important task you can do to help the migration go swimmingly. This is true for small migrations too. You can never do enough pre-planning!

The types of issues that can pop-up due to lack of planning are plentiful. For instance, you need to make sure your on-premise Exchange server is running the correct version of Exchange depending on the type of migration you’re planning – Cut-Over, Staged or Hybrid. Here, you’ll need to spend some time cleaning up your local Active Directory to ensure you’re only bringing over the data/users you need and not all the lingering stuff you’ve been meaning to cleanup but haven’t dedicated the time to get rid of it. Now is the time to get that done! Likewise, if you’re planning on migrating a file share out to SharePoint, you’ll need to spend some time cleaning up the data and architecting the new folder structure, security access to the various Team Sites and overall access to the data by the end-users.

Another SharePoint gotcha is the proper migration of the meta-data associated with each file and folder. Simply copying the file is going to change the creation date, the change date, the author, the created by, etc., etc., etc.

One item that is overlooked, more often than not, are all the systems that rely on the Exchange server functionality. You think you’ve identified them all, but there’s always that old relic legacy system in finance that pops up and you get a call that says, “We have a problem!”. Some to look for are auto-invoicing customers from an ERP system, emails from alert systems, conference rooms and equipment, KPI reporting, HR connection to the AD, etc. Make sure to document and thoroughly test all systems that are integrated with your Exchange server prior to beginning the migration!

Microsoft provides a really good tool to help you determine if your environment is ready to go. Check out this Microsoft TechNet – Prepare for setup with health, readiness and connectivity checks.

Selecting the Right Team!

Without a doubt, the number one factor to ensure a successful Office 365 deployment is the team that’s going to support the decision to implement Office 365, deploy it, use it and support it! Without a committed project sponsor, a talented project manager, a smart migration team and a responsive training and support team, you’re doomed to fail. Choose wisely!

  • The Executive Sponsor(s) – the more the merrier! – The more top-level supporters within your organization that you can rely on when issues present themselves the better off you’ll be in the long run. More than one will not only make your life easier but, it will increase the user adoption rate and help with the business unit commitments across the organization.
  • Project Manager and Migration Team – These two groups will be working together throughout the migration project. The PM’s will be there to keep the project on task and minimize the chaos that will most definitely ensue. The migration team will be heads down making sure the migration batches are performing error free, all the scripts are running as expected, the Azure Active Directory (AAD) is fine and many, many other tasks simultaneously. These two groups will have their thumbs on the pulse of the project. They’ll know everything about everything – or close!
  • Champions – This is very important as these will be your frontline supporters. These are the individuals that are respected among their peers within their business units. These are the folks you’ll rely on to disseminate key project information and act as a buffer between your migration team and the end users. You’ll get to appreciate (and feel sorry for them) as you go through the deployment. Communication is key to a successful rollout and the Champions can help spread the word. Make sure the communications are short and concise. The last thing you want to do is spam out paragraphs and paragraphs of information that your users will not read. Think Twitter – you’ll probably need more than 280 characters to get your point across, but you know what I’m getting at.
  • Training and Support – I can never emphasize enough how important IT training is to everyone in your organization. It’s the core of how works gets done these days. So, it’s imperative that your user base understand, as much as possible, how the environment works. Not all users will accept innovation the exact same way or at the same pace. Your training group should understand that and create fun and interesting training modules that your organization can learn and have some fun at the same time. The approximate breakdown of users in a typical organization are Innovators (2.5%), Early Adopters (13.5%), Early Majority (34%), Late Majority (16%) and Laggards (16%). You should initially focus on the top 3 and the rest will follow eventually. The more training options you provide, the better your support team will be able to support your organization.

Another good source of information regarding success scenarios are on Microsoft’s FastTrack Center site – http://fasttrack.microsoft.com

Reference the “Microsoft Office 365 Adoption Guide” for more information regarding team selection and understand the various team members needed to be successful.

Select your Migration Strategy!

There’s a lot that will determine the appropriate migration option for your organization. The two biggest considerations are the Exchange server version and the number of users you’ll be deploying. If you have an Exchange 2013 server and less than 150-200 users, a cutover migration would probably work fine. A Staged migration can be used if you only want to migrate a batch of users, groups, offices or locations over at a time. Staged migration has Exchange versioning limitations too and should be used for a 200+ users or more. If you wanted to keep your on-prem Exchange server, but sync it with Office 365 in the cloud, then a Hybrid migration would be used. There are plenty more gotcha’s when trying to determine which option makes sense.

Cutover Migration

The most common migration used when moving your organization to Office 365 is the cutover migration. It’s the most straightforward and less complicated of the 3 options – Cutover, Staged and Hybrid. A Cutover migration is just like the name implies, you cutover every user to the new Office 365 tenant at the same time. One day they’re accessing their mailboxes on the old on-prem server, the next they’re accessing the new tenant. It requires everyone to be ready and to make the necessary changes all at once. It can get quite chaotic making everyone switch together.

Staged Migration

The Staged migration is ideal for bulk migrations selecting a group of individuals that will be migrated at specific time intervals. This type of migration is somewhat more complex as it requires your local Active Directory (AD) to be synced with the Office 365 Azure Active Directory (AAD) using Azure AD Connect. The two AD’s will coexist throughout the completion of the Staged migration. Once the last batch of users have been migrated, the on-prem Exchange server can be decommissioned and the Azure AD Connect can be uninstalled. The new Office 365 tenant can be managed using the AAD through the Admin portal online.

Hybrid Migration

The Hybrid migration is similar to the Staged migration because it too requires that the on-prem AD and the Office 365 AAD be synced via the Azure AD Connect tool. The Hybrid migration is meant to allow for both on-prem Exchange activity for a subset of your user base as well as options to place another set of users out on the Office 365 tenant. It’s a coexistence configuration where you can manage both on-prem Exchange servers and Exchange Online simultaneously.

How to Measure Success!

User Adoption is key. You can determine a successful implementation by measuring the adoption rate (Mailbox, Teams and SharePoint usage, Skype for Business IMs and conferences and minutes of Skype for Business). All of these reports are easily generated using the Office 365 Reporting site.

  • Training effectiveness – You should determine a baseline of your user’s knowledge on using the Microsoft Suite of products. Then after your deployment, you can generate reports using the O365 Reporting tool to compare pre and post migration rates. It’s also a good idea to continue providing the adoption metrics to the project sponsor and champions to determine the effectiveness of training and to determine where your training focus needs to be directed for various user groups. You should also build an FAQ database on Yammer to put basic questions like, “Where to start a conversation – Yammer, Skype for Business, Teams or Outlook?” “Where should I store a file – Teams, SharePoint or OneDrive?” And constantly promote the FAQ so new employees know where to go to find help.
  • Reduced operating costs – This information is key to the Executive Sponsor because everyone wants to know they’ve made the best possible decision to save the company some money – especially when it’s costing the company initially. You can combine the user adoption reports with the financial/accounting reports, Help Desk reports and travel expenses to get an idea of how Office 365 has affected your organization financially.
  • Increase productivity – This one is a hard metric to determine and even harder to present in a meaningful fashion. The increased adoption correlates to faster communication internally and externally, faster decision making and shorter time to complete certain tasks like customer order processing, automated invoicing, proposal generation. The goal is to provide metrics that show an increase in productivity and a decrease in time to complete tasks month over month.

Once you’ve let the dust settle from the deployment, it’s always a good idea to consistently check in on your workforce. I mean after all, you have just disrupted a major part of their work environment (for the better of course, they just don’t know it yet!). You can conduct end user surveys using Yammer groups and discussions to get immediate feedback to determine employee satisfaction. And, you get users using all the new technology that’s available to them with an Office 365 subscription.

Reference the “Microsoft Office 365 Adoption Guide” for more information regarding success measurement.

So that’s it in a nutshell! This isn’t meant to be a complete, in-depth guide to performing a migration in your organization. There’s plenty of geeky migration materials provided by Microsoft to accomplish what you’re looking to do. There are no shortcuts to managing a complex migration, but there is help if you need it. Let us know if we can be of assistance to your organization.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

Holiday Season Signals Make-or-Break Opportunity for Businesses

Holiday Season Signals Make-or-Break Opportunity for Businesses

By WatServ
January 28, 2020

We have made it through the first part of a very busy shopping season including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now we are in the middle of holiday shopping, which is often the best time of year for many businesses. This can be a make-or-break time for retailers, depending on whether distributors can get their goods delivered; and, even farther up the supply chain, whether manufacturers can supply the demand. Everyone in the supply chain has an opportunity to win or lose during the last few months each year and those that win are the ones with rock-solid business management systems in place.

Manufacturers, distributors and retailers need strong inventory management systems working at peak efficiency during the busy holiday shopping season. This isn’t the time to lose sight of raw materials during production or lose track of inventory on the shelves in retail stores or for online shoppers. Stock-outs make for particularly unhappy customers and at the worst possible time. The ripple effect from unsatisfied customers could be felt for months, if not years if a supply chain weakness snaps under the pressure of this busy time of year.

 

Strengthen Inventory Control, Satisfy Customers With Hosted ERP and CRM

 

Strong inventory management systems are not made from disparate specialty software or elaborate spreadsheets and internal processes. An integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution provides the comprehensive management system businesses need for a seamless, frictionless supply chain and inventory control. ERP is centralized, meaning core business information is easily entered, accessed and analyzed from a single solution, instead of stuck in data silos scattered across the enterprise.

When combined with a robust customer relationship management (CRM) solution, businesses add valuable customer-centric data into the equation. Both ERP and CRM offer powerful business intelligence features, such as dashboards that deliver key performance indicators and other metrics. You may discover trending products, customer behaviours or other factors that influence shoppers. With ERP supporting strong inventory management and CRM highlighting customer demands and trends, businesses can ensure shelves are stocked with the right items, in the right quantities at the right time.

WatServ, Dynamics hosting experts, is offering a special Cyber Monday Deal that ends on Dec 31, 2016. Deploy a hosted Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution and the cost for the first user is only $1. Be confident you have a strong ERP solution in place, backed by expert support and 99.99% guaranteed uptime for infrastructure and application reliability and performance. Contact WatServ for more information about this limited offer and ways to make your business stronger during the holiday season and for years to come.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

Growing Businesses Need Management Systems That Can Keep Up

Growing Businesses Need Management Systems That Can Keep Up

By WatServ
January 21, 2020

Successful businesses experience growth in a number of different ways from increased headcount, changing product lines, and a long list of satisfied customers. As your business is growing, you may notice that your management systems are not keeping up. Disparate accounting, inventory, and other specialty software impose limits to the volume and type of data you can manage. Don’t let your software hold your business back from meeting growth goals. Replace outdated systems with a modern management solution.

Growth is great, until the point where you outgrow business systems. Many entry-level systems have limits to the number of users that can enter or access data. There are also limits on the data that can be collected or managed. Too much data can bog down the system, slowing down searches or crashing when the infrastructure or application can’t handle large datasets. As users become frustrated with these limitations, they turn to spreadsheets or other manual processes and workarounds. Entering data repeatedly from system to system is both time-consuming and risky.

 

If you are experiencing growing pains or are planning for future business growth, it’s time to deploy a management solution that can keep up.

 

Support Business Growth with a Flexible, Agile ERP Solution

A flexible, agile enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can support your business through periods of growth and change. Right out of the box, ERP offers comprehensive functionality including the ability to manage financials, inventory and supply chain, manufacturing and distribution operations, human resources and payroll, and other core business tasks.

Robust ERP solutions, such as those in the suite of Microsoft Dynamics ERP offerings, include built-in workflows to streamline common processes, improving the productivity of your team. Dashboards and business intelligence features – highlight key metrics, making it easier for managers to follow trending data, such as sales, inventory levels or customer buying behaviors. With real-time data, managers can respond faster to deviations in budgets or strategic goals. Many ERP solutions are also customizable, providing the ability to address unique business operations or industry-specific compliance obligations. Cloud ERP deployments enable added mobility and scalability, allowing you to add or remove users as headcount changes.

Don’t let outdated software stifle growth, give your business room to grow by deploying a comprehensive ERP solution. Contact WatServ for more information about replacing basic software, with a flexible, agile ERP solution that can grow and change with your business.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

The Best Business Software Doesn’t Always Have a Hefty Price Tag

The Best Business Software Doesn’t Always Have a Hefty Price Tag

By WatServ
January 14, 2020

Large businesses need a management solution that can support all of the moving parts of the enterprise, not some of them. Using disparate, specialty software can be risky as data easily gets lost or altered when it’s transcribed from one software system into another. A cloud-based modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is more affordable than you think and can save you money in the long run.

Businesses often default to specialty software because they serve a specific purpose – accounting software for financials, inventory software to keep track of incoming and outgoing inventory, and the like. However, with data in separate software systems, it’s difficult to reach and, in many cases, difficult to trust. Redundant data entry between systems opens the door to typos, errors, lost data or other mistakes.

 

Making business decisions based on outdated, inaccurate data will quickly lead to expensive mistakes.

 

Replace Specialty Software with Cloud-Based Microsoft Dynamics AX

Replacing inefficient software with a modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution doesn’t have to be costly, take years to plan, or require a team of IT experts. A cloud-based deployment, like Microsoft Dynamics AX, greatly reduces capital expenses and time. You don’t need to replace aging infrastructure or equipment, which can be one of the most significant costs with a system upgrade. You can scale user licenses to fit your headcount; paying a per user, per month price. Your team also gains greater mobility by accessing Microsoft Dynamics AX anywhere, anytime through a web browser on laptops, tablets or smartphones.

Microsoft Dynamics AX is a comprehensive, integrated business management solution supporting financial transactions, inventory and supplier management, manufacturing and distribution activities, human resources and payroll, as well as other core operations. This centralized solution streamlines data entry, access, and analytics. Workflows save time and improve the consistency of common tasks. Business intelligence and reporting features provide leaders with the data needed to make smart decisions and strengthen regulatory compliance.

With cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics AX, you can monitor all of the moving parts of your business with greater efficiency, improving productivity and profitability. Replacing inefficient, specialty software with a stronger ERP solution is not only good for business, it doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Contact WatServ for more information and guidance when replacing outdated systems with cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics AX.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

Top 5 Announcements Revealed at Microsoft Ignite 2019

Microsoft Ignire 2019

Top 5 Announcements Revealed at Microsoft Ignite 2019

By Abe Kifle, Cloud Solutions Architect
November 15, 2019

This article was written by Abe Kifle, a WatServ Cloud Solutions Architect.

For over 10 years, I’ve been attending Microsoft Ignite, and its predecessor TechEd, and every year I come back inspired by the plethora of announcements and advancements made by Microsoft. 

This year was no different, with more than 150 announcements made at Ignite 2019 over the course of 5 days. 

Looking back at the announcements, here are my top 5 picks:

1. Azure Arc

Out of the many announcements Satya Nadella made during his Vision keynote speech, the one that drew the loudest applause by far was Azure Arc – and for good reason. 

Imagine deploying Azure services and management anywhere – on-prem, Edge, or other Cloud – just as you would do inside Azure to Azure resources. Thats what Azure Arc does. Not only can you deploy services anywhere, but you can also manage, apply policiesand leverage services like Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel, etc. With Azure Arc, enterprises will have a single glass pane to simplify the management of their complex and distributed environments. 

Microsoft’s Hybrid strategy (Azure Stack, ExpressRoute, AADConnect) was already well ahead of its competitors. With the addition of Azure Arc, as well as the new Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack HCI and Azure Stack Edge, Microsoft is solidifying its leadership in the hybrid space. In fact, in several sessions I attended, I kept hearing from Microsoft: Unlike others, we believe hybrid is a permanent, not temporary, state.” 

WatServ will be testing Azure Arc in our environment and then helping our customers implement and take advantage of it. 

Microsoft Ignire 2019
 

2. Azure Synapse

Another crowd-pleaser was the announcement of Azure Synapse. 

Azure Synapse is the next evolution of Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Azure Synapse brings together enterprise data warehousing and Big Data analytics. It gives customers the freedom to query data on their terms, using serverless on-demand or provisioned resources by combining data warehouses, data lakes and pipelines. 

Adding to the buzz, Microsoft showed a demo of Azure Synapse and it was able to query Petabyte scale dataset in less than 10 seconds.  

3. Project Silica

Microsoft also showcased a new media-storage medium that can survive for hundreds of years with its data intact.  

In an announcement that caught everyone by surprise, Microsoft revealed that it had collaborated with Warner Brothers to store and retrieve the entire 1978 Superman movie on a piece of glass. 

This is a proof of concept for “Project Silica,” a project at Microsoft that aims to use laser optics and AI to store data in quartz glass. 

Microsoft sees this solution as a way to drive down storage costs in the future. “One big thing we wanted to eliminate is this expensive cycle of moving and rewriting data to the next generation,” said a Microsoft lab director. “We really want something you can put on the shelf for 50 or 100 or 1,000 years and forget about until you need it.” 

4. Project Cortex

My next pick is Project Cortex. Project Cortex utilizes the Microsoft graph and various MS machine learning/AI models to help users understand organizational content. The content can be structured or unstructured, and Cortex tries to understand it and put it into context. This enables users to click deeper into the content type and ecosystem – whether it’s conversations, tables or documents – and benefit from deeper context applied to the content. 

The intent is to allow employees to quickly find information that’s spread across documents in Microsoft’s various services and make it available both through searches and algorithms in the form of hover-links inside Microsoft products like Office apps, Outlook and Teams. 

Project Cortex not only aims to make connections within MS systems, but also offers connectors using “Microsoft search” to use third-party repositories. 

Three high-level areas of focus include: 

  • Availability of knowledge and expertise for users 
  • Collection and organization of knowledge in a meaningful and contextual way 
  • Classification, protection and management of content 

5. Azure Stack, Rebranded

Azure Stack, which was announced three years ago, is a product that extends Azure services and capabilities on-premise. Microsoft has since evolved it, and Azure Stack has become a portfolio of services and capabilities of choice—from the datacenter to edge locations and remote offices.

a) Azure Stack Edge:
This is a cloud-managed appliance for edge compute, ML at the edge, IoT and network bursting to the cloud. At Ignite 2019, Microsoft announced and showcased a small, backpack-sized, batteryoperated edge device that could be used to process data and drone video.

b) Azure Stack HCI:
Here we see Microsoft getting into Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI), scalable virtualization and storage, which is useful in modernizing branch office computing. 

c) Azure Stack Hub:
This is the classic Azure Stack – fully-integrated, cloud-native applications using consistent Azure Services on-premise to meet regulatory or technical requirements. 

Conclusion:
While Microsoft Ignite may be over for another year, the excitement that began on November 3-8, 2019 will continue for months to come. At WatServ, we’re looking forward to implementing many of these great Microsoft technologies in our environment first, and then in many of our enterprise customers’ environments. 

Have a question or want to chat about my top picks? Get in touch!

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.​

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.

Top Five Cloud Computing Predictions 2013

Top Five Cloud Computing Predictions 2013

By WatServ
January 17, 2013
There has been a lot of talk regarding predictions of what cloud computing will bring in 2013. After reading through many predictions from multiple sources, we’ve gathered the ones that we believe are the most likely to happen. We also provided our insights on how to stay ahead of the game for each prediction. 1. We’ll start taking the Cloud Seriously when it comes to backup & DR – from CloudTimes Xath Cruz predicts organizations will prefer a cloud pay-per- use model instead of purchasing resources as disasters happens, due to greater cost efficiency and speed. The cloud will become the focus of business operations but won’t replace BCDR resources completely. We believe that cloud storage will provide the safety needed to avoid information loss if your operations somehow fail. As your information is safely in the cloud, you wouldn’t need to worry about hardware failure. Also, pay-per-use models provide the flexibility and speed needed for companies to reduce costs. We recommend that if you’re not already using a cloud based ERP system; you should at least make the investment to securely back-up information. 2. Enterprise realize that cloud computing means, well, cloud computing – from cio.com Bernard Golden predicts that we will see a lot more news articles in 2013 about organizational change and how to successfully implement private cloud computing. Golden believes organizations must thoroughly plan on integrating cloud computing from end-to-end before actual implementing. Thorough planning is the key for properly switching to a cloud computing system. We wouldn’t be surprised if we see many articles teaching IT users about successful cloud computing implementation. We recommend that you take into consideration every part of your business when planning cloud system integration. Experience has taught us that getting effective alignment of roles and responsibilities is the key. You can read Golden’s full article here. 3. Cloud wins confidence – from communities.intel.com Alan Priestley predicts that in 2013, companies will continue to adopt cloud computing even after a declining IT marketing in 2012. He also predicts that usage models will expand and broadening the type of cloud applications used. We strongly believe in the expanding use of cloud applications and the growth of cloud computing. Companies will begin to take the time to try to understand the applications of cloud, and eventually take a step forward in adopting it. You can read Priestley’s full article here. 4. More hosted private clouds – from forbes.com Joe McKendrick predicts that there will be an increase in hosted private clouds managed by someone else, off premise. It quotes, from IDC’s Chris Morris, For critical applications, only secure, non-shared private cloud will pass all compliance requirements Hosted cloud services provide the type of resources needed for maximum security for your most important applications. Hosted cloud services specialize in information security and are compliant with many certifications. The benefits of hiring a hosted cloud service are substantial as they provide many resources than one may not be able to invest in such as security. At WatServ, we have many security certifications such as SSAE16, HIPPAA, and PCI. You can read McKendrick’s full article here. 5. Hybrid IT – from canadait.com SoftCom predicts companies will continue to shift from on-premise IT to cloud computing in order to stay up to date with the latest software. Cloud will be expensed as a cost of business operation instead of expenditure needed for software and hardware. With the speed of technology advancements today, major software updates coming out more frequently. Already with a huge investment in software, are you still willing to spend another fortune to upgrade to the newest software, hardware, integration, and training? Cloud computing allows companies to upgrade their software more easily compared to on-premise IT. You can read SoftCom’s full article here. We’re sure to get back to you to see how these predictions do throughout the year. We hope our recommendations will provide insight into the benefits of cloud computing.

WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through demonstrated technology success and customer commitment.

About

WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and  services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with more than 10,000 users connecting from 30+ countries, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.

WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.