The question to upgrade to a new operating system for any organization has far reaching impact to not only IT staff, but also to all of your users. There are always risks, the cost of support and the potential loss of productivity for the organization. With that said, should you take the time to evaluate Windows 10? I would recommend it as there are some very specific features and enhancements that are targeted at business users to increase productivity, performance and security.
At this month’s annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, corporate vice president John Case announced a new premium Office 365 Enterprise Suite called E5 available to eligible partners and their customers by year end. The new E5 suite underscore Microsoft’s mobile first, cloud first strategy by adding features that enhance real-time, day-to-day business communications; improve data analysis and reporting; and strengthen compliance and security threat management to an already robust business productivity suite of products. Case’s announcement should banish any detractors of the wildly popular Office 365 SaaS suite who critiqued the purchase and integration of Yammer and Skype.
So, Windows 7 has been out for six years and is the most reliable and stable operating system to-date. It is used on almost a billion devices around the world (870 million to be exact). Support doesn’t even end until 2020. It took a lot of effort and time to get off of Windows XP and, heck, it just works. Why would you ever want to upgrade to Windows 10? Great question.
In 2010, Microsoft ended mainstream support of Windows Server 2003. And you probably are aware that official end of life for all versions of this workhorse OS – that has served organizations well for over a decade – occurred on July 14, 2015.
End of support refers to the date when Microsoft will no longer be providing updates, automatic fixes or online technical assistance. The operational, regulatory and compliance risks of operating servers no longer receiving updates or technical support can be alarming. In addition, the potential costs of maintaining legacy servers and protecting them from an elevated risk of cybersecurity dangers can take a chunk out of IT budgets.
With Microsoft officially confirming the migration we’ve been expecting for the past year, many organizations are moving past the initial shock and diving into the nitty gritty of coordinating the move. We have the dirt on Windows 10 from our usual band of experts, so instead of letting our customers go fishing for this information, we wanted to clear things up so you aren’t in the dark.
There has been a lot written about Microsoft Azure from a technical perspective, but many of our customers still struggle with the essential question of, “What can I do with Azure?” Sure, many know that websites can be staged in Azure or that virtual machines can be deployed in Azure. Beyond that, most folks have no idea what else Azure offers in terms of services or solutions. This post will challenge you to think of Azure as your data center – an extension of your on-premises services – without boundaries!
Let’s talk about the columns three and four of the Office 365 Login User Experience Matrix found below.
Active Directory Federation Services (“AD FS”) is most often mentioned as the solution for single sign-on. Authentication federation works because one service/resource provider trusts another identity provider to complete the authentication on their behalf. The lingua franca for federated identities on the Internet is the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) which is an XML-based, open standard. Active Directory Federation Services can interpret SAML which makes it an excellent bridge between the tens of thousands of SaaS (and other) applications and Active Directory Domain Services. As a role within Windows Server, AD FS is licensed by purchasing a Windows Server license and for most of you will be covered by your existing client access licenses (CALs).
In October 2012, Microsoft acquired StorSimple and since then, Microsoft has turned the product into a highly-integrated cloud-based storage system. It’s probably been mentioned to you once or twice by your Microsoft account team, but I wanted to give a quick overview of the product in case you missed it. Being a licensing specialist, I figured you might appreciate my translation of this technology into layman’s terms.
Let’s talk about the second column of the Office 365 Login User Experience Matrix found below. Based on my anecdotal feedback from customers, I would say at this point Microsoft Azure Active Directory for Single Sign-On (“Azure AD for SSO”) is an Azure feature that is not very well-known yet, but just happens to be exactly what many customers actually want, especially if they’re utilizing many SaaS apps. Azure AD for SSO has gone by several names in its short lifetime including, “Azure AD Applications” and “Application Access Enhancements,” so keep that in mind as you conduct a search. The Azure AD for SSO federation SaaS application makes it possible to not only have single sign-on with Office 365, but as of this post, 2,476 other applications including popular apps such as box.net, Concur, Dropbox for Business, Google Apps, Salesforce.com and ServiceNow. Better yet, for some SaaS apps, adding a new user to AD DS and flagging them a security group or with an attribute can also automatically provision or de-provision an account in that SaaS. Here’s a full, up-to-date list of the SaaS apps Azure AD for SSO supports.
Microsoft has officially announced that the release for its latest version of Windows will be July 29, 2015. The Windows 10 release date has been widely expected for the past month, but looking back at late 2014, it seemed like a pipe dream. Reports from December 2014 show expected launch dates for the OS to range from late-August to November 2015. This will be 20 months after Windows 8.1 was released, further emphasizing Microsoft’s commitment to quick releases of its OS. This is further underscored by announcements that the next version of Windows will drop numbering and naming altogether – hinting that Microsoft is moving towards a subscription model similar to its Office 365 and Azure product lines.