Insights from DX3 Canada 2020

Insights from DX3 Canada 2020

By Aleks Hara, Director, Cloud Service Sales
March 16, 2020

On March 10, 2020, WatServ was pleased to attend DX3 2020, Canada’s largest retail, marketing and technology conference. Although day two of the conference was cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions, our team came away from the event with several insights.

In particular, DX3 painted a picture of the retail industry’s new landscape. Gone are the days when retailers simply had to open up shop and customers would come. Nowadays, customers expect retailers to come to them via personalized advertising and shopping experiences, unique and differentiated touchpoints and customer engagement in the places they’re already frequenting. Every retailer needs to be a technology company in order to survive and thrive in this fast, on-demand marketplace. Failing to connect meaningfully with customers usually ends poorly, as we saw with Forever 21.

So, how can a retailer create personalized experiences? How can they understand and connect with their customers authentically? The answer is data. Lots of data. And, lots of meaningful insights derived from the data.

Many of the exhibitors and sponsors at DX3 2020 were technology SaaS providers that offer solutions to ingest, digest and make sense of retailer data using things like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), proprietary algorithms and other software-based innovations. They provide big companies, like Canadian Tire, with tools to make better business decisions, specifically by leveraging data and transforming it into meaningful insights. These insights can be used to drive new ideas for products and services, as well as spark ideas for unique ways of connecting with audiences.

However, for data analysis to work, a retailer must first collect and provide accurate and relevant data. Before it’s ever analyzed and put into algorithms, it’s got to be the right data. The trouble is many retailers aren’t using the latest ERP or CRM tools and either simply don’t capture enough data or don’t capture relevant data points. 

To combat this, many of the technology vendors we spoke with at DX3 discussed the idea that, when leveraging new technology, companies should take a “crawl, walk, run” approach:

  • Crawl– Implement foundational IT systems that capture, store and segment relevant data.
  • Walk– Add AI, ML and other software to make sense of the data and provide strategy going forward.
  • Run– Rely almost exclusively on software results to make quick and agile decisions.

How can WatServ help? At WatServ, we play an integral role in the early (“crawl”) stages of transforming and updating database capabilities. By offering cloud technology services – such as putting SQL and Dynamics in Azure – we empower retailers to embrace the latest technology tools, which they can then leverage to process and refine their data. The lessons we learned at DX3 reminded us that a strong foundation, like the ones we provide to our clients, is critical to data-driven business success.

Thank you to everyone we met at DX3.

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.

WatServ Achieves SOC 2 Certification for CloudOps Managed Services

WatServ Achieves SOC 2 Certification for CloudOps Managed Services

By WatServ
February 4, 2020
In December 2019, WatServ achieved SOC 2 certification for its CloudOps Managed Services based on an audit of its Type I report.

Developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), SOC 2 is an auditing procedure that ensures service organizations manage customer data using controls for security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy.

WatServ’s SOC 2 report focuses on the three trust service principles that are of greatest importance to our customers:

  • Security Principle: This principle addresses the protection of system resources against unauthorized access. Access controls help prevent potential system abuse, theft or unauthorized removal of data, misuse of software and improper alteration or disclosure of information. WatServ uses various tools and technologies to ensure our customers’ information and systems are protected. For instance, we use firewalls, two factor authentication and intrusion detection to help prevent security breaches that can lead to unauthorized access of systems and data.
  • Availability Principle: This principle addresses the accessibility of WatServ’s or customers’ systems, products or services, as stipulated by a contract or service level agreement (SLA). Actions WatServ takes to ensure availability include monitoring network performance and availability, as well as providing disaster recovery, site failover and security incident handling.
  • Confidentiality Principle: This principle addresses controls that aim to restrict the access and disclosure of confidential data. At WatServ, the controls we have in place to meet these criteria include encryption, data loss prevention, backups and more.

WatServ was awarded with a SOC 2 Type I report with an unqualified opinion and no exceptions – the highest possible achievement. The award comes after a lengthy process of reviewing our practices, collaborating with customers to understand their requirements, and documenting our processes, procedures and controls.

What Does this Mean for Our Customers?

This achievement demonstrates WatServ’s commitment to ensuring continued operational effectiveness and assurance.

WatServ has always partnered with services providers who are SOC 2 certified for services such as data center hosting. Our SOC 2 Type I report now confirms service excellence and control for all facets of our CloudOps Managed Services.

Want to learn more about our CloudOps Managed Services? Go now.

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

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. 

 

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.

Migrating to the Cloud? Here’s Why You Should Choose a Cloud Solutions Provider that Takes Security Seriously

Migrating to the Cloud? Here’s Why You Should Choose a Cloud Solutions Provider that Takes Security Seriously

By WatServ
November 7, 2019

Is your business considering working with a cloud solutions company to provide cloud consulting, engineering or managed services? If so, you’ll be joining a rapidly expanding market. In fact, Gartner predicts the worldwide public cloud services market to increase by 17% this year, reaching $214.3 billion globally.

Migrating from conventional servers to the cloud can have many benefits for your business, including increased efficiency, scalability, resiliency and affordability. Cloud adoption can mean better flexibility, enhanced disaster recovery and accelerated digital transformation for businesses of all sizes.

However, before you take the plunge and choose a cloud solutions provider to engineer and/or maintain your cloud, it’s critical to ensure they take an important topic seriously: security.

In this article, we’re going to dig into this topic and look at 4 reasons why you should choose a cloud solutions provider that prioritizes your company’s security.

1. The public cloud introduces new security considerations.

As more companies move to the cloud – especially the public cloud – a host of new information security challenges are emerging. In fact, CSO recently put together a list of the top 12 cloud security threats, which include:

  1. Data breaches
  2. Insufficient identity, credential, and access management
  3. Insecure interfaces and APIs
  4. System vulnerabilities
  5. Account hijacking
  6. Malicious insiders
  7. Advanced persistent threats (APTs)
  8. Data loss
  9. Insufficient due diligence
  10. Abuse and nefarious use of cloud services
  11. Denial of service (DoS)
  12. Shared technology vulnerabilities

We’ve heard about many of these threats in the media – and we recently wrote about ransomware attacks on our blog – because these threats affect businesses of all sizes.

For instance, in the first half of 2019 alone, we heard about data breaches increasing by 54% from the previous year. And, with an estimated 3.4 billion phishing emails being sent out daily worldwide, almost all of us can say we’ve been on the receiving end of a phishing email.

Sure, not all of these cyberthreats target the cloud specifically, but with the cloud being accessible online, many of them do.

The takeaway: While security threats are a part of life regardless of where your data is stored, and the cloud introduces several new cybersecurity concerns, a good cloud solutions partner will understand these security threats and take them seriously. Most importantly, they will offer 360 insight on how to mitigate your risk – so your business can stay focused on leveraging the immense power of the cloud to benefit growth.

2. It’s up to the cloud customer (not the cloud service provider) to protect business data.

Did you know that cloud security is a shared responsibility? The best way to illustrate this is to take the example of a condo building. It’s up to the building owner to ensure adequate security is in place to protect the building – like having control over the front door and installing working smoke detectors in hallways and public spaces. However, what you do inside your condo is your own responsibility. If you leave a pot boiling on the stove and forget to replace your smoke detector battery, it’s at your own risk. Likewise, if you let someone into your unit and they steal your jewelry, that’s your mistake.

The same goes for the public cloud. Cloud service providers (like Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform) are responsible for the security of the cloud, but it’s the customers (you)  who are responsible for the security of what gets put into the cloud and how that information gets accessed.

This is an important distinction to remember, since the majority of security failures are a result of a customer not taking appropriate action to protect themselves or monitor for threats.

In fact, Gartner found that “through 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.”

The takeaway: You have a shared security responsibility when using the public cloud, with you holding a good chunk of that responsibility. Rather than face this responsibility alone, a good cloud solutions partner that prioritizes security will help you engineer and maintain your cloud in a way that minimizes your risks and provides continuous threat monitoring, detection and mitigation.

 

3. Security challenges are changing all the time.

When speaking about the latest round of research on cloud security, Gartner’s VP of Research, Jay Heiser, notably said, “CIOs must change their line of questioning from ‘Is the cloud secure?’ to ‘Am I using the cloud securely?’”.

This is a great way to look at it. There have been countless articles written and debates had over the question “is the cloud secure?” and “will I be more at risk if I move to the cloud?”, with customers looking for definitive answers. The truth is, the cloud, like anything else, will always be vulnerable to a mix of changing threats.

For instance, we’ve recently been hearing more about the threat of container software vulnerabilitiescryptographic exploits and meltdown or spectre as cybercrime becomes increasingly complex and sophisticated. Plus, internal threats will always remain a concern. The truth is, threats will never go away, so how you approach and handle them is what matters.

The takeaway: A cloud solutions partner that takes cloud security seriously can help you navigate these threats as they change from month to month and year to year. Threats will never go away, so adopting a mindset of “am I using the cloud securely?” will help you engage effectively with a partner that’s focused on adaptive risk assessment and mitigation.

4. There are steps that can be taken to mitigate risk.

Just as threats change monthly, so do technologies, tools and procedures designed to mitigate risk. A knowledgeable and up-to-date cloud partner can help you identify and navigate your vulnerabilities, so you can make an educated decision about your cloud strategy.

Some of the solutions that can be put in place may include:

  • Engineering your cloud environment using security best practices
  • Implementing or maturing security operations centers (SOCs)
  • Strengthen your existing security and governance procedures
  • Providing advanced threat detection and automated threat mitigation
  • Setting up continuous security monitoring
  • Ensuring good API hygiene
  • Providing managed endpoint protection and DDoS protection
  • Offering training to employees on threats like phishing and account hijacking
  • Looking at ‘passwordless’ methods of access management
  • Setting up procedures to review security analytics
  • Responding to incidents quickly and effectively

The cloud offers a huge range of benefits for businesses large and small. With almost 50% of data worldwide expected to be stored in public cloud environments by 2025, the cloud has shaped the world of computing in a whole new way.

By working with a security-focused cloud solutions provider, you can put your energy into leveraging the incredible power of the cloud – while also making informed decisions about risk and enabling adaptive approaches to risk mitigation.

 

Need help protecting your cloud? WatServ is a security-focused cloud solutions provider that helps companies safeguard their cloud through CloudOps advanced managed services. Speak with one of WatServ team members today to learn more.

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
July 27, 2018

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.

The Silicon Review Names WatServ as One of the 30 Fastest Growing Microsoft Solution Providers 2016

The Silicon Review Names WatServ as One of the 30 Fastest Growing Microsoft Solution Providers 2016

By WatServ
December 6, 2016
WatServ is happy to announce that it has earned a place in The Silicon Review’s 30 Fastest Growing Microsoft Solution Providers of 2016. Read more on their report here: http://thesiliconreview.com/magazines/watserv-the-worlds-largest-provider-of-hosted-microsoft-dynamics About The Silicon Review The Silicon Review is the world’s most trusted online and print community for business & technology professionals. Our community members include thought-provoking CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, IT VPs and managers, along with a multitude of diverse IT professionals. The Silicon Review encompasses nine technology and vertical communities: Software, IT Services, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Security, Telecommunications, Hot Start-ups and The Best Companies to work for. Each community leader is a proven subject matter expert who collaborates with industry gurus, technology managers, researchers, top technology journalists, consultants and industry analysts. Our team strictly focuses on accurate, timely delivery of informative articles that enhances spirited discussions in the future.

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
October 25, 2016
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.