Upcoming ModernBiz Classes

Hi,

Thanks to all who joined me during the last ModernBiz sessions. It was whirlwind trip, from Vancouver to Edmonton, Montreal and Mississauga. I loved meeting all of you. In April, we do it again but instead of focusing on Azure as Infrastructure as a Service, we will be looking at allowing your clients to connect from anywhere, anytime securely. This includes Intune (great solution), Rights Management and Azure Active Directory Premium, all bundled together under EMS.  We’ll also be showing you the new Azure Remote App! I was playing with the new template last week, Coffee Cup video is coming, and it’s awesome.

Here are the dates and registration links for upcoming sessions:

Vancouver

Calgary + Bonus…details upcoming

Montreal

Mississauga

By popular demand we are running ModernBiz: Cloud for SMB monthly at the Mississauga office.

Hope to see you there.

Sharon

Categories: azure Tags:

Working on Vacation…Yet Again

A couple weeks ago, the kids and I went to Universal Studios in Florida (painful with the current exchange rate) for the week. Before we left I decided I wasn’t going to actively work for the whole week, but with todays technology it was too easy to keep up.

I pro-actively decided to leave my work laptop at home, and only took my 8 inch Dell Venue Pro (runs full Office) and a Bluetooth keyboard. I also had my Nokia 920, which is my personal/work phone and has an awesome camera. My daughter took her tablet and Galaxy S3 and my son took his tablet. I really did set out to have a work-free vacation, but I knew I would have Wi-Fi at the hotel and I added a “roaming” plan to my phone. I did let people at the office know that I would be checking email in the evenings and would respond to important email. Best intentions.

Family Vacation

Ahhh!

At Universal Studios, Wi-Fi was available – and faster than the hotels. I could stand in the long lines waiting for an awesome ride (and the rides were freaking awesome), and review some of the 200+ emails that came in during the week. Thursday, our last full day in Florida, we hung out at the hotel, and my daughter grabbed the Bluetooth keyboard and worked on her 1000 word essay on her phone, and was in contact with her teachers and classmates. Watching her made me think about all the emails I could take off the agenda efficiently, and I started sorting through the emails and responding to them on my tablet. Because I have full Office and OneDrive, I easily accessed required files to edit, send, or reference during a conference call.

I know some of you are thinking “you were on vacation, why were you working?” This was my choice; I love my job and what I do, and honestly by Thursday, I was bored. This isn’t the first time I have worked on vacation, and I blogged about a similar vacation experience a couple of years ago, but what struck me this time was just how much easier despite being in another country. Back in the day, when I vacationed locally, I would tether to my phone or use my data plan. If I travelled out of the country, I would not use my phone plan this time, as Wi-Fi was abundant and fast everywhere.

Does this mean I think everyone should work on vacation? Absolutely not!  Vacation is time for family and re-charging, but if you feel you have to work or opt to (as I did), todays technology has everything you need to work efficiently and effectively.

If you are like me and find it really hard not to work, there are now resorts that take your devices away from you for the duration of your stay. Here’s a list for the USA. Personally, I think it’s all about balance and that balance will  be different for each of us.

Are you able to disconnect for a weekend, let alone a full week? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Categories: Digital Life Tags: ,

Exam 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

As most Azure Certof you know, a lot of my day is spent around Azure. I started using Azure several months before I joined Microsoft via an agency. After a good two years of becoming familiar with Azure, I decided to write 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions. I’m not going to lie, it was hard, really hard, and time-consuming. It’s been a long time since I have heard my heart pounding that loud after clicking the “submit” button. Luckily (and yes, I think there was some luck or good guesswork) I passed. It was a great way to end the year!

 

Of course I can’t tell you what was on the exam, but I can advise you to be familiar with every study objective:

Exam Objectives 70-533

I think I have been lucky regarding my last several exams, as I have only had to write the upgrade exams; but that has also been a downfall. Everyone keeps telling me the new exams are Powershell heavy, but until this exam, I’ve been able to get by with my limited PowerShell knowledge. All I can say is know your PowerShell, not only for exams but for all MS solutions. I do love PowerShell and I know I have to use it more now that I have completed this exam. I always recommend PowerShell in a Month of Lunches as a great way to learn PowerShell.

My only other challenge was my lack of development. I really struggled with the web and cloud services objectives and my mark reflected those weaknesses.

Here’s a list of the resources I used to prepare for the exam:

Azure for IT Professionals

In-person events and other resources

Now onto 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions – once the exam is out of beta and I find some free time (that objective will be harder than the exam!). For those of you looking for study materials for this exam, Keith Mayer has a great study guide.

Let us know how your studying is going, and please feel free to join me at a ModernBiz session at a local MS office!

Categories: azure, certifications Tags: , ,

Getting to the Cloud the Right Way: Azure

Azure, Azure, Azure . . . that is where I spend most of my time lately. At the end of the 2014, I even wrote and passed exam 70-533, Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions. I’ve been playing with Azure for about two years, and I was first introduced to it a year before I started with Microsoft. No one is paying me to say this, but I love Azure!!! My favourite features are its flexibility and efficiency, and I get excited when a new feature comes out – and even more excited when I get to jump head first into that feature. Unfortunately I don’t get to play with all the functionality, which does frustrate me, but there are only so many hours in a day.

As Azure is becoming a viable option for the SMB market, IT pros are finding that it can be overwhelming at first. There are a lot of questions Azure beginners have, such as “where do I start?” “how do I do this?” and “what about that?” Or “I did this, but why isn’t it working correctly?” and the common statement “I didn’t know I had to do it that way.”

To help you become more familiar with Azure, Microsoft has several resources available for you.

1. Channel 9 – the ultimate resource for Azure. I highly recommend these well-recorded training videos.

2. Microsoft Virtual Academy - additional training videos not only on Azure, but everything else MS.

3. Microsoft Partner Network - your one-stop-shop to see what events MS is hosting, and how MS can help you for marketing, training, events, etc.

4. In person events – come spend a day with me! I’ll be in Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal, and Mississauga providing hands-on Azure training.

Mississauga Dates:

5. Expert Series - a bi-weekly series aimed to provide you with detailed technical assistance for your Azure business opportunities.

6. Azure Coffee Cup Series - quick Azure how-to videos demonstrating how to setup the most common services in Azure. Each video is conveniently about as long as it takes to consume your favorite caffeinated beverage.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you need any further assistance. You can contact me at asksmbca at microsoft.com.

Categories: azure Tags: , ,

Finding Qualified MS Help

I had no intention of making every post about Microsoft, but it seems like that is the life I now lead. I guess moving forward, most of what I’ll be blogging about will be Microsoft-focused. You have been warned.

I am asked daily for recommendations for companies to assist other companies, and I always point them to same site: Microsoft PinPoint. PinPoint matches clients with Microsoft Partners, particularly the ones who have the expertise you are most in need of. Clients can search for partners with a required skillset, industry, and/or competencies, and partners can register on PinPoint with the services they offer. I have always recommend working with a Microsoft partner, for a variety of reasons, and using PinPoint ensures that are you receiving assistance from a company who meets Microsoft standards.

pinpoint1

In the example above, I have searched for partners based on the business need “Cloud Computing in Guelph, Ontario” and I have 3 matches. If we examine the first result, BDO Canada LLP, we know the company has 2 gold Competencies, and has 11 positive reviews. We can then view the company details and decide if this company will meet our needs. We can also examine other results and compare them to see which one best fits our demands.

Pinpoint can help you find a qualified Microsoft Partner with just a few clicks of the mouse.

If you are a Microsoft Partner looking to expand your client base, you should register for PinPoint (it’s also completely free!) If you are already on PinPoint, please ensure your profile is up-to-date. Keeping your profile current can help companies in need of your service find you. As a Microsoft partner, for more information about PinPoint services, reach out to your partner manager. If you are unsure of who that is, please contact me for assistance.

P.S. I always recommend working with a qualified Microsoft Partner, and I’m not just saying this because of my association with Microsoft. Would you take your car to a non-certified mechanic? Why trust your data to an unqualified “professional”?

Server 2003 Resources for Partners

server 2003 websiteNow that things have settled down a bit, I can get back to spending more time here, on my little corner of the Internet. One of the many projects I have been working on lately has been a Server 2003 End of Support page for Microsoft partners.  As a partner, or even as an IT Professional, I found finding information for a specific Microsoft issue sometimes hard to find. One part of the answer may be in one location in TechNet and another part of the answer may be on the CanITPro blog etc.; and then you are stuck trying to piece it all together. We (being my MS team members and myself) know this can be a hiccup and we wanted to make it easier for you to find everything you need to migrate your customers, from 2003 to Server 2012 R2, Azure, and Office 365. This website was designed with you in mind. We have included everything you need from “Where to Start” to “I know what I want to do just point me to the relevant links so I can migrate” to “my customers don’t believe this is an issue, and I need to convince them and help me market 2003 EoS”. I will be updating this site as needed and to do that I need you to let me know what you need! If I’m missing something, or you would like additional resources, please let me know via either this blog or asksmbca@Microsoft.com.

Server 2003…How Can We Help You?

Server 2003Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Chill out, close your eyes, and think back, waaaay back, to the year 2003.  That was the year the iTunes store was launched, Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governator, and in Southern Ontario we had a 3 day blackout. If you were at the theatre you might have been seeing Finding Nemo (can’t wait for the sequel) or Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Now think about the tech you were using back then. You may have heard the rumours of a little company called Google merging with Microsoft. You may also remember the Slammer and Blaster worms. Our server of choice back then was Server 2003, which was replacing Server 2000. I loved this server! I earned my MCSE certification on this it; I knew it backwards and forwards. And back in the day, it rocked. Fast forward 11 years to right now, and we have Server 2012 R2, and I love this OS even more. (Although I was not a huge fan of Server 2008/R2.) This server was designed to fit your business needs, no matter what those needs are. From the small office to data centers, it’s the backbone of Microsoft.

So why am I going on about an 11 year old product? This awesome server will no longer be supported as of July 14, 2015.  As of today, that is only 380 days away; for those of you who prefer not to do math, todays date is June 29, 2014. It is estimated that there are 10 million 2003 servers in operation today, and we need to start moving companies to newer technologies, and we need to start doing it now.

I know it’s a daunting task . . . I keep thinking back to the organizations I moved off of 2003, and the challenges we encountered. One of my projects at Microsoft is to help you with this transition. I am assembling a website which will contain links, videos, how-to’s, marketing material, etc to help you start talking to your clients about migrating from 2003. If you are the business owner, this is something you should be discussing with your IT Pro, and if you don’t have one, I will also be including a link to help you find a Microsoft Partner that can assist you. I hope to have the site up within the next few weeks, but I would like you to be a part of this as this is for you, your small business, and your clients. What would you like to see in this page? What do you need? I have already been reaching out to the IT community for suggestions and have  incorporated some of those ideas into the site. Please email me at asksmbca at microsoft.com with suggestions, ideas, or thoughts.

Thanks for your help.

Sharon

 

 

 

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