Why is Enterprise Software Underutilized?

With the megatrends of cloud computing and managed services transforming IT, why is Enterprise Software still underutilized?  Wall Street continues to report the quarterly market growth of Amazon, Salesforce.com, and Microsoft’s cloud business but the journey to the cloud for customers to realize the value of software as a service continues to lag.  Here are three reasons we believe there is a gap between what customers are buying and the value they are receiving from enterprise software.

 

  1. Cloud Services do not require significant budgets

Most organizations categorize cloud subscriptions expenditures under operational expenses, where traditionally they have been capital expenditures with large up front budgets for licensing and hardware.  As a result, normal project considerations, including deployment and training, are overlooked since the service is just “turned on.”

  1. The Executive Sponsor typically has moved on to other initiatives

In my experience, software sales reps will typically build a relationship with a “C” level executive that has the “juice” to make a large purchase.  These executives are typically very busy and after the deal is done they leave the implementation to IT staff or project managers to complete the project.

  1. Information Technology Staff needs more training in adoption best practices

Traditionally, IT staff have been focused on the support (break fix) or rollout of new technology.  With the cloud, this model has changed.  Many articles cite an IT skills gap that has been created by the speed at which technology is changing.  This is being fueled by the consumerization of IT as well as cloud technologies.

 

So, is it time to outsource your IT department or stop buying cloud software?  That is not what we are recommending.  Moving to the cloud is almost always a great choice.  We believe that cloud software offers a great opportunity to change focus to a productivity value created by enterprise software.  The experts at Xgility have experience and skills developed over a large customer base and our managed services can help you transform your IT department and/or your business.

If you want to know more about our proven mythology for the adoption of Microsoft cloud software such as Office 365, Azure, SharePoint, or Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), let’s talk.  Our Managed Services team can also show you how to use the latest tools for adoption tracking.

 

 

 

Author:  Kurt Greening

Editors:  Alex Finkel and Chris Ertz

Office 365 vs SharePoint Server and Exchange Server

Is migrating to the cloud the best option?
As you are most likely aware, the information technology industry has been going through a transformation from software installed on servers in your office to services that run from massive, global datacenters.  As consumers, we went from buying books in stores to downloading them as eBooks and now that same merchant, Amazon.com, can rent your business storage and virtual machines.  These economies of scale offer business computing at lower prices.  While this seems enticing, there are many more factors to consider during your journey to the cloud.  I really like this iceberg diagram as a visual.

SharePoint On Premise Iceberg Diagram

Analysts have made it well known that IT Personnel is the largest line item.  IT budgets and the list of ongoing costs above are labor intensive.  And if you are in IT, you may also be wondering if your skills will be needed after you’ve made the move.  The answer is yes, but you’ll be doing things differently.  Instead of maintaining servers and customizing applications, you’ll be configuring services and driving adoption.

That is especially true for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions like Office 365, Workday, or Salesforce.com.  For Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) such as Azure Web apps, you just need to build your app and Microsoft maintains the underlying platform.  For Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) virtual machine patching and updating is still your responsibility.  Your organization will typically save most on hardware which is cheaper for commodity workloads, like storage, to back up in the cloud.

We often hear our customers exclaim, “Our Office 365 subscription is more expensive that buying licenses for our servers!”  While this may be true,  for most Office 365 comparisons, we find that you can displace costs of services to support your suite of collaboration tools:

  1. Security tools like AV, encryption, and archive are included in Office 365
  2. Personal and team storage costs are reduced thanks to OneDrive for Business
  3. Phone conferencing can be deprecated thanks to Skype for Business

Besides just the Office client, Office 365 includes a full featured version of the servers (Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, and Skype for Business). Most likely you have been running on premise with features your IT organization may not have had the time or skills to deploy.  Also, thanks to advances in machine learning, Office 365 offers insight and capabilities like Power BI that are unachievable on premise.  So keeping with the Iceberg analogy, Cloud computing also delivers snow cones, if you like tutti frutti, and the snow cone machine will keep delivering new flavors as the service evolves.

Which workload should you consider first?

Most companies choose email as their first workload to move to the cloud.  Mailboxes may grow in size, but the entity is generally fixed and can moved quite easily after careful planning.  Exchange Online keeps a copy of your mailbox, contacts, and calendar and there is another cached in a hidden folder on your user profile. Also, as new activity arrives it is synched to your local copy.  Once mail has been migrated, IT departments can repurpose or retire the old messaging hardware.  If you run virtual servers, then you can reclaim the resources for other workloads.

The second workload is typically SharePoint Online.  As Office 365 gained momentum, Microsoft heavily marketed SharePoint Online or “sites” as they were called in Office 365, as the future of the platform leaving customers to wonder what to do with their existing on premise investments in SharePoint.  The concept of hybrid was announced and provided resources for customers as they figured out what and how to move to SharePoint online.  On May 4th of 2016, Microsoft launched The Future of SharePoint with a strong value for customers who want to stay on premise with the SharePoint 2016 release and a clearer Hybrid story for customers who are ready to experience the unique offerings of SharePoint Online.  Take search for example; Microsoft recommends you keep the index in the cloud.  This way you can search across resources on premise and in the cloud and take advantage of the Office Graph to deliver innovative results featuring Delve.

How do you get there?
Once you’ve done your research you should be able to answer these questions.

  1. What industry regulations does our business adhere to and how are they interpreted in cloud datacenters? Simply stated, “Are we compliant with the cloud?”  Gut check, “Do we trust Microsoft?”
  2. Do we have the right licensing program for our business size for the maximum value?
  3. From E1 to E5, which Office 365 SKUs are best to evaluate?
  4. How much data do we have and what should be moving?
  5. How will we synchronize our user names and passwords with the cloud?
  6. What are our best migration tools?
  7. What type of training and change management would we need?

At Xgility, we’re experts in these conversations.  We’ve helped many organizations along their journey to cloud services and we’d be happy to share our insight and best practices.  Fill out the form below to download our calculator to better understand your costs and to start evaluating if the cloud is right for your organization.  Interested in a free trial of Office 365?  Get your Office 365 E5 trial subscription here.

Editors:  Alex Finkel and Kurt Greening

Best SharePoint Migration Software Products

Many Xgility customers ask us for advice on which SharePoint migration product they should purchase.  Others call us after they are having trouble migrating and ask if they purchased the wrong software product.  We counsel our customers that, due to customizations, SharePoint migrations are much more complicated than upgrading to the latest version of Windows or even Exchange.   SharePoint migrations can be closer in complexity to a ERP upgrade than upgrading to the latest version of windows.

We recommend that organizations contract with a SPDS Certified Microsoft partner, such as Xgility, to provide a pre-migration assessment.  In many cases, the assessment can be completely funded by Microsoft programs.  A migration assessment will help scope the level of effort, build a project and migration plan, and help determine if your organization will require outside help.  Our recommendation will be based on features that have been deprecated, whether or not a change in information architecture is needed, connections with third party systems, use of JavaScript, custom code, as well as third party solutions installed.

If no changes in information architecture are required and you plan to upgrade directly to the next version, you may not need a migration tool.  One exception might be if your organization is considering a hybrid cloud architecture.  Our team recommends conducting a pre-migration assessment before purchasing a tool.  A pre-migration assessment along with a migration plan, will help guide you to the right tool.  The migration experts at Xgility have used all of the major SharePoint migration tools.  Below are reviews of our four favorite tools…

  1. Content Matrix (Metalogix) – In our opinion, this is the most full-featured SharePoint migration product. Metalogix positions Content Matrix as the leading product for SharePoint server (On Premises) to SharePoint server migrations.  It has a robust functionality desired by senior SharePoint consultants such as PowerShell, migration compare, and other advanced features.  Less experienced users might find these features unnecessary, but these may be required in a complex environment.  Content Matrix is priced per gigabyte and can be purchased separately or in conjunction with security and backup products.  In our experience, a large purchase with several products will likely be discounted.  Metalogix products can be purchased from Metalogix or one of their resellers, such as Xgility.
  1. ShareGate – Customers like ShareGate for their simplicity, attractive pricing, and ease of doing business. They list their pricing for their ShareGate lite, ShareGate online, and customers who want to migrate Nintex workflows need to call for pricing.  Customers wanting to purchase can either buy online or from a reseller, such as Xgility.  ShareGate prices their product by user.  If a customer has more than a few hundred gigabytes of data, we recommend that customers consider purchasing a 5 pack as it is more cost effective than buying one copy and purchasing more at a later date.  ShareGate was the cheapest solution on the market, but since they added permissions management, they have increased their pricing. 
  1. Essentials for Office 365 (Metalogix) Essentials for Office 365 migrator is part of the suite of products Metalogix acquired from MetaVis in 2016. Metalogix positions this suite as the preferred tool for customers moving to Office 365.  In the past, MetaVis was also offered as an OEM product by Dell/Quest.  The product can be licensed separately, but Metalogix will likely try to offer a deal on the entire suite so your organizations can manage your Office 365 post migration.  Typically the suite is licensed based on gigabytes and the number of users. 
  1. AvePoint DocAve DocAve Migrator is part of a full suite of products offered by AvePoint. AvePoint products are offered directly by AvePoint and their resellers.  This has been sold in the past through OEM relationships with NetApp and Hitachi Data Systems.  The best customers for AvePoint would be a customer wanting to deploy their entire Suite of SharePoint tools.  In our experience, they offer heavy discounts for large deals where the customer will purchase the entire suite.

Interested in a free 30 minute consultation about your migration project?  Let us know what version you’re on and where you want to go.

 

 

Author: Kurt Greening

Editors: Alex Finkel and Dheepa Iyer