Podcast Episode #15 - Office 365 and Strawberry Shortcake

Posted by Jenny Lynch on February 26, 2016

digital workplace podcast

On this episode of the Digital Workplace Today Podcast, we talk with Jill Hannemann, Director of Advisory Services at Portal Solutions, and special guest Adam Levithan, from Metalogix, about how Office 365 can benefit your organization (and how Office 365 is a little bit like strawberry shortcake!).

Listen to this episode to hear it all, or read the show notes for an overview of the conversation and links to some of the key items we discussed. 

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Kicking off with the Portal Solutions Moment of the Week


I find it really interesting. Microsoft is committing to new functionality. They are putting promotions in place to get you to move. This is good for existing Office 365 E3, E4, and ECS customers. They're putting out there, you can take advantage of a fifteen percent promotion to move up to E5. It's something to take a look at, and we'll go ahead and post that in our show notes links to more information.

Check out the promotion here.

What is the Microsoft Cloud?


Jill, would you define what the Microsoft Cloud is?


Microsoft has made it no secret that they have a cloud first, mobile first strategy. Honing in on the cloud first aspect of that strategy during this podcast, we are really talking about the Azure cloud services that they are providing, and as an output of that, Office 365. This cloud ecosystem is really designed and optimized to support organizations at its peak of complexity, providing redundancy, providing a high level of service level agreements to customers, security and all sorts of other levels of compliance that should make consumers comfortable with trusting Microsoft to host their data.

It really is a very robust network, and having heard from a number of different Microsoft employees who have had a chance to see some of the plans about the data centers, we're talking basically these data centers will exist even if there is a nuclear fallout.

When should organizations consider the cloud?


We are seeing a huge trend. Office 365 has been out for about three years now. Azure has been out for longer than that. What we're really seeing is that adoption is picking up rapidly and exponentially with Office 365. I think a lot of organizations are realizing the benefits of cloud. Some of these benefits that a lot of people talk about, probably the most common benefits, are just the ability to be agile, speed to market, the ability to spin up new hardware, new resources, at the click of a button. It's just so much easier for organizations to organize their internal IT infrastructure leveraging cloud services. It allows them to have the time then, and the resources, to focus their attention on what the real business problems are, and what it is that they need to do with those systems. That speed to market, allowing organizations to be agile, and there are also a lot of really important potential cost benefits and cost savings to overall IT organizations. I think that is another piece to the overall puzzle.


What's your experience with a lot of the clients you're working with? What would you say their number one reason for moving to the cloud has been?


It really has kind of been a combination of those three things. They are just realizing that managing their own data centers, or managing their data centers, on premises in some of the locations where these companies are. Very expensive, high-valued real estate markets, you know, downtown city centers. They are realizing that maintaining these data center, leveraging real estate that costs so much, is really a drain on the resources.

So what was that about Strawberry Shortcake?


Adam, can you define, "What is Office 365, and what's the value of it?"


Sure, and I'm going to refer to an article I wrote for CMSWire, and I hope people aren't too hungry out there because I want them to picture a multilayer strawberry shortcake. This is just one of my passions. Jill has never made it for me, but you know what?


You had to go there, the strawberry shortcake, huh? Man, now that's all I'm going to be thinking about.


So if you think of a cake, you think of the base, the wonderful cake itself. That takes a mixture of timing, baking, temperature, all those crazy things that Jill does know and I don't. I started there because people think of the word "cloud," and they get a little frustrated and scared because it seems like such a big and different thing. In truth, when you're talking about Office 365, it all starts with services as I call them that we know, and I would hesitate, not to say love, but know and use almost everyday.

If we think of the services like Exchange. We think of the services like Skype. We think of the services like SharePoint. Those are the underlying, the base, the cake, within the strawberry shortcake, that supports Office 365. Now, the cake is good and all, but what you really want is the sweet stuff. What makes the cloud different? With Office 365, it is different than any other cloud system out there. We know that there are other good ones, I hasten to add, to mention Google and Amazon. They are cloud providers that provide some semblance of productivity solutions, but nothing near the breadth of Microsoft, and also this sweet, the whipped cream. Got to be hand-whipped, by the way. Any of this automatic stuff just doesn't count. What that is, I like to call it cloud processing.

Jill described those gigantic centers that, not too positive there, Jill, of the nuclear strike, but they are running about a two percent power utilization. They're at a set size of two and a half 747s long, and as wide as the 747 wingspan. That's a football field plus. Millions of servers passing information. While we think we can have server-farms to do some of this processing, only the top probably hundred organizations in this world could do that, or could even rent that amount of processing power. It's built in Azure for Office 365, and that comes in the form of Office Graph. We talked about it on our webinar. Here, Office Graph is that cloud processing that's really taking all that data and understanding it and putting pieces together. Also, because Office 365 is within Azure, you have services like Azure Active Directory. You have Azure Media, and other platforms of service that's connected seamlessly in that Microsoft itself is going to be utilizing that you don't even have to worry about. They do it for you.

It is a strawberry shortcake, right? So, we have to talk about the strawberries. In this sense, I call the applications. These are the applications that we've known and love. Usually, I would go by an application is one that you install, but you could even argue that Yammer, which is a completely cloud application, is an application. So Yammer, Outlook. Remember, Outlook is an application that connects to Exchange OneDrive for business. Those types of things are in this application layer, so it adds to the sweetness of the whipped cream. It is the main star, but there are relatives to that, which I'm calling apps. I know that application versus apps is a little difficult. These are those wonderful half-strawberries sitting on the top there. These are things like Groups. These are things like Delve. Delve is a app to me that is built on top of Office Graph, and then things like the new video portal.

You get all of these levels. You get the services that you expected. You get the cloud processing that is changing all over time. You get your traditional applications, like Word, Exchange, Outlook, but then on top of that you get the apps that Microsoft is constantly building and adapting. That's what comes with a true cloud model; they can make one change that affects everyone, hopefully for the good.


Right, and I like your analogy.


Let me clarify really quickly, Jenny. So now we're talking about Office 365 as dessert.




Strawberry Shortcake equals Office 365.


I think it's saying that you can have dessert for lunch everyday, if you have Office 365.

Listen for More…

Listen to the full podcast to hear our full conversation with Adam and Jill as we discuss in more detail the business value of Office 365, hybrid scenarios, and how to plan an Office 365 rollout.



Adam, before you go, it's now time for our wishlist item of the week. This is our chance at Portal Solutions to swing for the fences. The thing we wish Microsoft would do next is what?


I know this won't be timely for a podcast that can be listened to at anytime- Come out with SharePoint 2016. We're close with the last release candidate, and I can't wait for it to be fully out there and definitely interested to see the pace for updating on premises. That will be really interesting to see.


That will be interesting. Is it still slated for release in the second or third week in March?


Yeah, we've heard two different things. A product marketing manager said the second week in March, and the original statement was by the end of Q1. So I guess you could safely say the tail-end of March. Either way that would work. Yep, so not too far away.



Thanks for joining us today. For our final thought today, we want to remind you that our team will be at SharePoint Fest DC. That is at the end of April (the 27th to 29th). We're very excited. We have about four or five of our digital workplace experts speaking at this event, and we're also sponsoring as well. If you attend, please come out and say hi. Would love to meet you!


If you missed our last episode, head over and listen to our conversation with COO Dale Tuttle as we talked about our recent Roadshow Events with Microsoft. In the podcast prior to that, we talked with Jill Hannemann, Director of Advisory Services, about the "Top 5 Office 365 and SharePoint Governance Mistakes"


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Topics: Office 365, Podcast


Jenny Lynch

Jenny Lynch is Director of Marketing, Microsoft Solutions and Services, at Withum. Jenny brings more than 15 years of experience in the marketing and sales industry with an emphasis in developing highly targeted marketing, public relation and social media campaigns.

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