Toward the end of 2008, a bit more than ten years ago, I shut down my previous business on Cape Cod, shut down the old Microsoft Small Business Server 2003, and shut down a few other servers for the last time. Instead, I went to the cloud. Ironically, I became certified with Microsoft as a Small Business Specialist in mid-2008, the same year that I abandoned Small Business Server for myself.

To replace the email functionality of SBS 2003, I went to Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange, actually provided by a Canadian company, SherWeb, who is still very much in business and still a Gold Microsoft Partner. For only a few dollars (I think it was $10-12) a month, I had all the features of the on-premises server-based Exchange, as well as document storage in the cloud with SharePoint, which came with the subscription as part of the packaged bundle.

For my two line-of-business (LOB) IT management tools, I elected each of their cloud-based versions. Same with the phone system – the IP PBX was now placed in the cloud.

I kept running QuickBooks locally for some time, although the data file and the backup file were both stored in SharePoint. Inuit doesn’t recommend this, but I was solo at that point, so there was no sharing of the working QuickBooks file. Eventually, though, I moved to QuickBooks Online.

Microsoft Office 365 was officially launched in late June 2011. I stayed with Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange for about six months but then moved to this new platform in January of 2012. That was over 7 years ago.

Since then, I have been introducing Office 365 to my customers, and no one is left that isn’t subscribed to this cloud-based platform.

When I first started with Office 365, what is now OneDrive for Business was then called SkyDrive Pro. I can’t tell you what improvements I’ve seen since then. What an evolution that I’ve experienced first-hand.

And now I use Microsoft 365 Business, which is a bundle of Office 365 Business Premium, Windows 10 Pro, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). EMS is the umbrella for several Microsoft technologies, such as Intune for device management, Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, Azure AD, and Azure Information Protection. My subscription was a break-even upgrade from Office 365 Enterprise E3, which was also $20 per month.

I also have an Office 365 Enterprise E1 account for support@resolute-it.com, which is more closely related to the Hosted Exchange account I had long ago with SherWeb. But with this Enterprise account, I can associate my Phone System and Calling Plan subscriptions. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s VoIP offering cannot be added to Microsoft 365 Business, but only available as an add-on to an E-level plan. I have to say that after using many VoIP systems in the past, I am very pleased with this Office 365 and Microsoft Teams-integrated phone system.

It’s been a long ride and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

 


From Wikipedia: “Form follows function is a principle associated with 20th-century modernist architecture and industrial design which says that the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose.”

The form that your IT infrastructure takes on or manifests also relates to the functions of your business. Your company might have frontline workers that share a computer, or you might have people that have a dedicated workstation, as well as they have a mobile device or two.

An aspect to consider here is the trend for organizations to extend their presence beyond the four walls of their primary HQ building, perhaps in the form of branch offices, home offices, or co-working spaces such as WeWork and other office sharing locations offer.

Just like in architecture, many business structures are cookie-cutter in nature, but these generic plans fail to address the unique needs of every business. Likewise, IT managed services are often offered as generic Bronze, Silver, and Gold packages, but not every organization fits perfectly into one slot of the other. And certainly, not every company fits into a one-size-fits-all scenario, such as where your IT provider multiplies the number of your users or devices by a certain amount to determine a monthly fee.

In architecture, before a building is designed there must be a site plan developed to understand the landscape and how a structure might best fit. Similarly, in businesses we see a wide terrain of varying operating systems, differing machine vintages, line-of-business applications that are respective to your industry, and unique end-user abilities. And as email hosting, identity management, and file storage are all moving to the cloud, then less on-premises servers will determine the size and cost of your telco closet.

Culture is another consideration in both architecture and technical solutions. Societal culture can be defined as an evolving set of collective beliefs, values, and attitudes, while business culture is related to behavior, ethics, etiquette, etc. For example, a current trend in new office spaces is for architects to include ‘huddle rooms’ for teams of 3-6 enthusiastic people rather than traditional conference rooms fit for a dozen staid board members. Huddle rooms must be outfitted with technology to fit the smaller collaborative group with WiFi, digital whiteboards, webcams, and multiple or side-by-side displays.

Before you choose a metal-colored package, please consider that your firm is a unique entity and environment. Design your technology to harmonize with your business’s own culture, its own spirit, and its own purpose.

 

Business Agility with Teams
One of the buzzwords heard often in business circles is ‘agile’ or more specifically, ‘business agility’.

Its origins lie in a group of software developers from the early 2000’s that strived to innovate with a more dynamic approach. They formed a manifesto that is described by the following concept and quoted here in its entirety:

“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Manuel Palachuk describes business agility in today’s world as “highly accountable teams [with] more action than mantra.” He says, “It is managing the work, not the people.” He promises to cover this more in his upcoming book: Agile Service Delivery – The Secret To Making Work Flow

This modality screams of Microsoft Teams to me. What better way to dynamically accomplish tasks for the greater good than when sharing the fun within Teams? As a Teams member of a team, you can collaborate with colleagues on projects by co-authoring Word or Excel documents simultaneously. Communication happens anytime from anywhere by either chat, voice, or video calls. And it’s not just about working within the confines of the organization as Teams allows guest users. As Microsoft describes it, “Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork.”

A paradigm shift within the Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem has been the adoption of Microsoft Teams as the new voice platform; Teams is taking over where Skype for Business will eventually leave off. I’m currently using the Phone System and Calling Plan from Office 365 as my business telephone system. I run Teams constantly on my computer, however, I keep it running as an app on my mobile phone, too. When a call comes in, I hear it ringing through my Bluetooth headset that’s connected to my iPhone. But aside from mobile devices, the new IP desktop phones from Poly and AudioCodes are sporting large displays without a physical touchpad – the screen *is* the touchpad, as well as it displays your colleagues’ smiling faces during an online meeting. Put any of these telephony devices in the hands or on the desks of your home-based end-users and they’ll become virtually down the hall, not only to you as the leader, but to other Teams members and yet reachable by the outside world.

But back to agility – I see a trend. I see businesses leaving the concept of even having a building or headquarters any longer. Workers can remain productive from home or they can stake out some co-working space such as offered by WeWork and many others. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear of a fellow IT consultant who has been tasked with the challenge to accommodate remote workers due to the downsizing of a company’s workspace. More often than not, I listen to them agonize as they attempt to bring legacy ways to the modern world. But again and with the fundamental need to feel the presence of fellow collaborators, what better way to keep connected with the rest of the team than with Teams?

I might not describe ‘business agility’ with the insight and clarity as Mr. Palachuk might within his upcoming book, but it’s become overwhelmingly evident that Teams will be there as the ideal platform when you want to become an agile company.

policy as change

 

Over the past few years, Microsoft has been conducting a marketing campaign that proposes the “Modern Workplace”. The premise is described as working within teams, but as geographically dispersed groups from anywhere at any time. But it seems that there’s been a bit of metamorphosis as they now refer to this movement by the generic term, “intelligent workplace”, especially with the advent of AI. The Microsoft 365 General Manager, Lori Wright, used this term in her recent blog post in celebration of the two-year anniversary of Microsoft Teams.

The article cites eight new features coming to Microsoft Teams, including:

1.    Customized backgrounds

2.    Content cameras and Intelligent Capture

3.    Microsoft Whiteboard in Teams meetings

4.    Live captions & subtitles

5.    Secure private channels

6.    Information barriers

7.    Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in chats and conversations

8.    Live events in Microsoft 365

 

But no matter the terms or the latest features, I’ve developed a passionate affirmation that Microsoft Teams is rightfully experiencing exponential growth and success as the new platform for collaborative teams. As a matter of fact, I now use Microsoft Teams as my support platform – end-users can break into a one-to-one chat with me at any time (from any device), which might become a 1:1 meeting, which might also include bringing on an additional meeting member whose presence we would find as available within Microsoft Teams by a green presence checkmark within their avatar; and I might share my desktop or an application with both of them to illustrate a point

Unfortunately, there are some organizations that refuse to embrace such pioneering changes as they are truly happening already in today’s intelligent workplaces. So I stand by a new policy – I cannot support any backward notions or static protocols – it goes against my impassioned principles to accept the old ways until the end of time. Without change, there would be no butterflies, only fossils.

And I repeat from my LinkedIn profile:

“To work with me means that you’ve decided to take your business to the next level. You don’t want to purchase, support, or worry about another on-premises server. But keeping your employees securely connected and productive regardless of location is invaluable to you.”

Even Satya Nadella’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” vision has evolved. He recently said, “It’s no longer about being device-first, it’s about putting the human first and it includes all the devices in their lives.” He goes on, “Computing is embedded in our world in every place and in everything,” he said. “There’s computing in every industry – oil and gas, retail, agriculture, financial services. And there’s computing in everything from connected cars to connected refrigerators, smart surgical tools, and even smart coffee machines.” Not a word about the Windows 7 machine on your desk because the computers in our lives have transformed.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Jackson office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Bozeman office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Billings office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Tucumcari office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Carlsbad office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.

 

Resolute IT performs all of its consulting services on a 100% remote basis.

By covering all hardware under a support agreement through the device’s respective vendor, we have no reason to ever set foot inside your door. For example, the copier or multi-function printer is often covered under such an onsite maintenance plan. And Dell (or HP, Lenovo, Apple or Microsoft) have support plans for business and enterprise. Hard drives and operating systems are so much more resilient than in previous times, so support incidents are rare compared to years ago.

As the network has now been extended far beyond the walls of the office, specialized routers, switches, and unified threat management (UTM) devices are less prevalent and far less relevant. Productivity now takes place anywhere and at any time, while the security surface is now located at the managed end-point or document level by policy, not within the office perimeter as defined by tethered cabling.

Remote Control tools are abundant these days. Even Microsoft recognizes remote support services by virtue of its Remote Assistance feature built right into Windows 10.

As a result of this paradigm shift in the way that we can provide support, you have many more choices when deciding upon a consulting firm to manage your technology affairs. ‘The cloud’ means that we can now store documents and messages in a data center, as well as some applications are web-based or delivered via the web. But this also holds true for your support services – we use remote control software, automated remote monitoring and management tools, online support portals, cloud-to-cloud backup services, and of course, chat and voice through conventional means (phone and email), as well as through Microsoft Teams – we now establish a Teams team for ongoing chat, voice and video call support within every client’s Office 365 tenant.

So rather than leaning over your shoulder in your Roswell office, we can all remain in our comfort zones while receiving help and sitting in front of our own device screens within our internet-connected world.