Microsoft

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Spotlight On…

Jesse Drew

Employee Owner: Jessee Drew

 

Jessee has over 19 years of experience in small to large businesses, government, and healthcare industries.  In his previous role as a Senior Systems Engineer he architected, designed and deployed the physical-to-virtual consolidation of 200 physical servers for local government. He has designed and migrated standalone physical direct-attached storage to enterprise-class tiered storage on several different NAS and SAN products via ISCSI and Fibre Channel. He was responsible for design, implementation, and maintenance of Dell & HP servers, Cisco UCS blade servers, HP EVA storage systems, and NetApp FAS/V series storage systems. In addition, he has designed and implemented several backup and replication solutions using NetApp SnapProtect, SnapMirror, SnapVault, and Symantec Backup Exec. He has designed and deployed physical, standalone Exchange services and multi-server Virtual Exchange environments. He also designed and implemented Microsoft domain services, including new deployments, migrations, and consolidation tasks from disparate Windows domains to a consolidated Windows domain.  Jessee has performed many different physical and virtual migration scenarios of both hardware and storage and continues to develop the needed skills to support our customers needs.

Jessee’s certifications: VMware Certified Professional (VCP) on vSphere 4 (VCP4),  Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer on Windows Server 2003,  Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA): Messaging on Windows Server 2003,  Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) on Windows Server 2003,  Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP),  Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) on Novell 3.12,  Certified Novell Administrator (CNA) on Novell 3.12

Jessee has been married to his wife Lynn for 25 years. They have a daughter, Jasmine. In his spare time, Jessee enjoys taking motorcycle road trips, playing golf, and spending time outdoors.

Contact the Keller Schroeder Account Team to learn more about Jessee and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Measuring Adoption

Rob Wilson, Business Unit Director – Application Solutions

Tape measure 2We all know it is important to measure return on investment (ROI) when implementing a new solution. Solution ‘x’ saved ‘y’ dollars by requiring ‘z’ fewer hours from employees ‘a’ and ‘b.’ But what about those projects where the cost savings are less quantifiable? How do you measure the success of a project, for example, whose sole purpose is to streamline communication? Or what about a project aimed at improving customer satisfaction? When there is not a direct impact on the bottom line, how will you know if your project succeeded? You measure the outcomes.

Before you can measure the outcomes, you need to identify them, and determine the appropriate metrics to measure. A recent software adoption course I attended suggested using a format such as this to position your initiatives:

Business Scenario: Flexible Payment Options

Use case:

As a…

I want to…

So that…

That means I need…

Associated Business Value:

Ability to pay online

Business Owner

Provide a way for my customers to pay their bills online

My customers experience the convenience of conducting business with us

To provide a secure payment page

– Customer satisfaction

– Improved cash flow

– Fewer delinquent payments

While I appreciate the spirit of this exercise, it would be better if it were more objective. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, suggests an approach that is based more on the scientific method. According to sciencebuddies.org, the steps of the scientific method are:

  • Ask a question
  • Do background research
  • Construct a hypothesis
  • Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment
  • Analyze your data and draw a conclusion
  • Communicate your results

A simpler, more scientific way of articulating your objectives and measuring their adoption may go like this:

We believe that our customers would appreciate a more convenient way to pay their bills.
We will test this by creating an online form for customers to pay their bills on our web site.
We will know we have succeeded if 25% or more of our customers have paid 3 bills online within a year of launching the feature.

How you come up with that final statement is a topic for another day. You will get better at analytics with experience. I will say that measuring adoption over time is key, so do not get too disappointed if early adoption is slow, or too elated if your early numbers are through the roof. Your metrics should have some factor of time involved when measuring adoption. This brings me to the next point: how do you present your findings? You should not need a degree in reading log files to measure adoption. A better approach would be to build your objectives and outcomes right into the application itself, and display them on an administrative dashboard. In this case, a chart showing the trending in online payments – particularly by repeat customers – would be most effective.

Let us consider another example. Suppose your objective is to improve communication of your company policies with your employees. Emailing a policy to your staff would be difficult to track. Emailing a link to a policy on your intranet would be a step up – if you do not mind parsing log files. Ideally, however, you would email a link to your policy where it sits on SharePoint or some other platform, and with a little custom code, SharePoint can log a list of everyone who has read each policy (even a particular version of a policy). Creating some quick views would allow you to view metrics and provide the tools you need to nudge holdouts on key policies.

Policy-Example

In summary, if you want to measure the success of a software initiative, you should determine the desired outcome, decide how you will measure it, and agree upon which results will show you have succeeded. Restate your value hypothesis on a scorecard on an admin dashboard, and track the results over time. I trust you will find that a focus on adoption such as this will greatly improve your decision-making over time – including knowing what features are important to your audience and justifying what projects should be implemented. If you would like help getting started, contact us for a consultation on software adoption strategies.

Contact your Account Manager at Keller Schroeder for more information about our Applications Solutions Group  and how it might benefit your organization.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Satisfaction Continues

Carissa Montgomery  [Marketing & Communications Coordinator]

 

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Bill Gates, Microsoft

 

While Keller Schroeder is blessed to have fantastic relationships with our clients, we value any opportunity to acquire insight into our strengths, as well as opportunities to improve.

AI-Gold-Black

As a Microsoft Gold Competency Partner, Keller Schroeder annually participates in a customer satisfaction survey to gain valuable feedback regarding our services. Each year since 2009, our clients have been asked to rate these services based on several key performance indicators. Keller Schroeder once again received high marks in all categories in 2014, including significantly outpacing partner averages in the value received, the quality of our products, and our ability to meet our clients’ needs.

We hope that this year’s results are merely a reflection of Keller Schroeder’s continued commitment to providing our clients the highest level of expertise and service.

Contact your Account Manager at Keller Schroeder for more information regarding our Microsoft skills and how they might benefit your organization.

 

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Spotlight On…

MattBarton

Employee Owner: Matt Barton



Matt has over 14 years of experience in the Information Technology field. Prior to his role with Keller Schroeder, he was a Systems Engineer for a multi-location durable goods manufacturing company, supporting a VMware environment of 500+ servers spanning Windows Server 2000-2012 R2. He also has several years of Sr. Systems Administration experience working for Tier 1 automotive suppliers. His primary area of focus was on operational systems deployment and support, providing expertise to ERP and shop floor IT initiatives. Most recently, Matt led a large multi-domain Active Director & Group Policy consolidation initiative, DR and Business Continuity testing utilizing VMware Site Recovery Manager, and multiple Microsoft server migrations, including File/Print, Exchange, and Remote Desktop Services. His other skill areas include VMware VDI, Cisco UCS, Backup/Recovery solutions, and Barracuda Appliances.


Matt’s certifications: VMware Certified Associate-Data Center Virtualization,
MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Configuration


Matt currently lives in Evansville with his two children, Olivia and Alexandria. His hobbies include hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. He also enjoys watching baseball and playing video & board games.


Contact the Keller Schroeder Account Team to learn more about Matt and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

The End of an Era

Corey Ainscough, Sr. Systems Consultant


That's All FolksDoes your environment include any Windows Server 2003 servers? Did you know Microsoft will end support on July 14, 2015 for all versions of this product? This truly marks the End of an Era and could mean a drastic risk to your business. After July 14, 2015 Microsoft will provide no additional security updates or patches for this system. As a result, we recommend you consider the following when establishing project prioritization:

  • Overall Cost – Without Microsoft support, Windows Server 2003 will be more expensive to maintain due to third party application vendors ending support for their products. In addition, deployment of updated firewall rules, intrusion detection, and vulnerability management solutions will be needed to help mitigate unsupported operating system risk.

  • Compliance and Security – Vulnerability scans and audit reviews will identify Windows Server 2003 as an unsupported operating system, increasing your overall security risk score.

  • Windows Server


    Now is the time to consider alternatives for application migration and server operating system upgrades including Windows Server 2012 R2. This latest member of the Microsoft server operating systems provides a dramatic improvement over its decade old counterpart, including Work Folders, Storage Tiering and Workplace Join, just to name a few. One of the most beneficial solutions Microsoft has offered to administrators with Server 2012 R2 is the ability to centrally manage all servers via the Microsoft Server Manager dashboard. Microsoft Server Manager removes the boundaries of managing a single server (2003) to the ability to manage multiple servers throughout the environment from a single host. With Server 2012 R2 you can check performance statistics, identify troubled remote services, and take corrective action all from one centralized, customizable dashboard. Multiple servers can be grouped by role, location, or other special criteria.


    As you can see, upgrading to the Windows Server 2012 R2 Server from Windows Server 2003 will save you time and money. Why not make it happen now, well before the End of an Era arrives?


    Contact your Account Manager at Keller Schroeder for more information about these products and how they might benefit your organization.

    by Carissa Carissa No Comments

    Spotlight On…

    Drew Rub

    Employee Owner: Drew Rub



    Drew’s 15 years of Information Technology experience began in the gaming industry supporting the network of a casino. He was involved in several infrastructure upgrades which included client PCs, system servers, and network hardware. Since joining Keller Schroeder in 2006, Drew has continued to expand his experience by working with clients ranging from regional financial institutions to small local businesses. Drew has been involved in several Microsoft server deployments and migrations, messaging deployments and upgrades, and desktop system migrations and upgrades. In addition, Drew provides first-line support for Keller Schroeder’s technical assistance line as the first contact for clients requiring support.


    Drew’s certifications: Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP); Microsoft Certified System Administrator (MCSA): Messaging (Windows Server 2003); Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deployment


    Drew currently lives in Evansville, Indiana with his wife Danielle. In his spare time, Drew enjoys grilling, movies, reading, and walking/running. He also has a huge love of the Star Wars universe and has a first degree black belt in Shotokan karate.


    Contact the Keller Schroeder Account Team to learn more about Drew and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.

    by Carissa Carissa No Comments

    KS is now a Nintex Partner

    Nintex IconRob Wilson, Business Unit Director


    We are pleased to announce a new partnership at Keller Schroeder intended to help us better serve our SharePoint customers. Nintex has a solid reputation as a forms and workflow development solution for SharePoint, which has become increasingly important because of the recent changes to the SharePoint workflow engine and uncertainty about the InfoPath forms solution. We have had a serendipitous relationship with Nintex for some time now, having assisted clients with installation, configuration, and development projects. Now, Keller Schroeder has entered into a formal partnership with Nintex as a Value Added Reseller, so we can assist in the full solution delivery lifecycle, including: evaluation, sales quotations, procurement, implementation, and renewals. Our partnership gives us direct access to Nintex resources, including high quality technical training designed for partners to add to the real world experience our team already has with the product.


    Having partnered with K2 already, we did not quickly jump into this partnership. There is some overlap between the products – especially when it comes to SharePoint. This is nothing new to us, however, as we have partnered with competing solutions in the past. For example, Keller Schroeder is a Value Added Reseller for both NetApp and Nimble Storage Area Networks. Why would we do that? The answer is simple: to better serve you. K2, a full-featured BPM solution with SharePoint connectors, will be a better fit for some organizations and Nintex, strictly a SharePoint add-on, will be a better fit for others. Keller Schroeder can help you decide the best fit for your organization and assist in implementing either solution.


    ninitex-form


    Some of the criteria to consider when choosing a solution are:

  • How many users will access forms and workflows?
  • Who will develop the forms and workflows?
  • Will my workflows access information stored outside of SharePoint?
  • What infrastructure is available to me?
  • Which ongoing support model best fits my organization?
  • What are my team’s existing skills?
  • Is our SharePoint site hosted in the cloud or on-premise?


    One message we have consistently shared from the beginning is that to develop more than one workflow for SharePoint, you should definitely consider one of these products. Keller Schroeder is pleased to have had success with both products as well as good partner experiences with both. We are excited to add Nintex as a trusted partner and look forward to sharing more about the product with you. Please contact us for more information about how Nintex could add value to your ongoing SharePoint forms automation projects.

  • by Carissa Carissa No Comments

    InfoPath is Dead, Now What?

    Carrie Rudolph, Systems Consultant


    microsoft-infopathIn January 2014, Microsoft announced the retirement of InfoPath forms and the 2013 version will be the last release. Although Microsoft will continue to support InfoPath until 2023 and they still recommend continuing to build forms with this tool, Keller Schroeder does not recommend building any forms with longevity or complexity in InfoPath. Microsoft has not laid out any migration plans, but they have promised more information on this topic in Q4 2014. The message we have received up to this point is that it is not likely there will be a smooth, automated migration path off of InfoPath, but it is probable that forms will need to be rebuilt in the new tool or technology of your choice. If your form is part of a long-term solution in your organization, there would be very little value in building it in InfoPath now and using a new tool later. Connecting to line of business systems or adding custom code in InfoPath forms requires a significant amount of knowledge and time. The investment to gain this proprietary knowledge will likely not be transferable to the other forms tools.


    Microsoft’s announcement stated “Industry trends and feedback from our customers and partners make it clear that today’s businesses demand an intelligent, integrated forms experience that spans devices.” InfoPath does not fit this need, which is one of the reasons for its retirement. The following are features we feel are important considerations when evaluating modern form solutions:

    • Easily integrates with line of business systems in order to bring together data and empower users
    • Is accessible across multiple device types without cumbersome customization
    • Has the ability to support on-premises and cloud-based solutions
    • Produces browser-based forms with HTML 5 and modern browser support
    • Is available to Information Workers in order to empower them to build forms and collect data in a timely and efficient manner


    So what are the options for replacing InfoPath? Microsoft is working on a few new tool sets, but admitted at the 2014 SharePoint User Conference they do not have a clear road map of what the solutions will be. One of the new technologies being developed is called FoSL (Forms on top of SharePoint List). The target release date for FoSL is mid to late 2014 and a full list of features to be included has not been defined. FoSL is intended to be a no code forms solution that you configure within the SharePoint browser experience. However, based on communications from Microsoft on this topic, we do not get the feeling they are working toward a robust form solution, as Microsoft is also recommending third party tools to meet users’ form needs.


    The front runners in the third party SharePoint forms arena have had form solutions that surpass InfoPath for some time now.


    K2logoNEW


    K2 Forms is a no code forms solution that supports easy to configure integration with line of business systems as well as modern browser support, making these forms accessible across multiple devices. It also integrates with K2’s workflow engine to complete the full K2 business application platform. K2 does integrate seamlessly with SharePoint but can also be utilized independently from SharePoint making it an enterprise-level solution.


    Nintex Forms for SharePoint is a web-based designer that allows you to configure SharePoint forms from the browser. It integrates seamlessly with Nintex workflow for building robust automated business process solutions within SharePoint. Nintex is limited to SharePoint and cannot be used independently. Nintex does support both cloud and on-premises solutions as well as multiple device accessibility.


    Formotus Forms is a cloud-based service for creating and managing your own custom mobile form-based business applications. This solution allows for offline interaction and submission of forms. It has SharePoint connectivity as well as integration with other line of business systems via web services. This is a subscription-based service that can be integrated with on-premises, cloud, or hybrid installations.


    For more information on any of these options, please contact us.


    Keller Schroeder is a K2 partner. For more details regarding K2 Forms, please attend Keller Schroeder’s upcoming webinar on Wednesday, June 11 at 10 AM CST, titled No InfoPath, No Problem with K2 and Keller Schroeder. Don’t wait! Register today!


    infopathevent

    by Carissa Carissa No Comments

    Xamarin and Microsoft, Better Together

    Xamarin large logoEric Maurer, Systems Consultant


    If you have read our previous newsletter articles on mobile, tried out our Client Appreciation Event (CAE) App, or talked to us about mobile development you probably already know that we are big fans of Xamarin. Xamarin lets us write native iOS, Android and Windows Phone apps entirely in C#. By using C#, we can utilize our existing team and development infrastructure to write shorter, simpler and more maintainable code across platforms. With a goal of 90% code reuse we can quickly roll out versions to additional platforms and easily keep features in sync between them.


    Xamarin recently announced a new partnership with Microsoft that will make cross-platform app development even easier. Their new collaboration includes the following highlights:

  • Tighter integration with Visual Studio 2013, allowing development across platforms almost entirely from Visual Studio
  • The ability to share a single solution across multiple platforms by utilizing Portable Class Libraries
  • A special discount for MSDN subscribers, including 30% off of individual licenses and 50% off of team licenses
  • Free training and certifications through the newly created Xamarin University


    Xamarin is also partnering with Microsoft to support Windows Azure Mobile Service on Android and iOS. This partnership allows the creation of a scalable and secure backend for your Windows, Android and iOS apps. A few of the major benefits of Azure Mobile Services are:

  • The ability to auto scale your backend to always meet current demands
  • A built-in Notification Hub for managing cross-platform notifications
  • User authentication that doesn’t require custom code


    The integration of these features allows for writing C# application code only once and using it across all three platforms bringing us even closer to our goal of 90% code reuse.


    At Keller Schroeder, we’ve already seen the benefits of using Xamarin firsthand, including faster ramp-up times for team members and code reuse across existing code base (mobile and non-mobile), along with the ability to deploy an app on additional platforms in a fraction of the time. We fully believe that this partnership will further cement the role of Xamarin in the mobile development arena and increase its value in the enterprise.


    Are you interested in taking advantage of this great new partnership? If so, contact Keller Schroeder today for more information on how we can help you get to efficient, high quality mobile solutions in less time and with less investment.

  • by Carissa Carissa No Comments

    What is Office 365?

    Office365
    Dezarae Miller, Inside Product Manager
    What is Office 365 exactly?
    Office 365 is a cloud-based subscription service, hosted by Microsoft, that end users access across the Internet. It offers a variety of services and software based on the Office platform. It isn’t just hosted email, but includes a range of services including instant messaging, collaboration, and more. These services can either be purchased as a suite, as individual components, or mixed and matched.
    The most common individual plans consist of:

    • Exchange Online Plan 1 & 2 – Email
    • SharePoint Online Plan 1 & 2 – Collaboration
    • Lync Online Plan 1 & 2 – Instant Messaging, Voice, and Video
      The pricing for SharePoint Plan 1 or Exchange Plan 1 come in at $48.00 per user/per year. For Plan 2, the plans come in at $96.00 per user/per year. Lync pricing is $24.00 per user/per year for the Plan 1 option and $66.00 per user/per year for the Plan 2 option. All Plan 2 offerings include features from Plan 1.
      The suites used by most businesses include:

       

    • Office 365 Midsize Business – limited to 300 users, Office Pro Plus desktop version, components of Exchange, Sharepoint, Lync
    • Office 365 Enterprise E1 – Components of Exchange, Sharepoint, Lync
    • Office 365 Enterprise E3 – Office Pro Plus desktop version, components of Exchange, Sharepoint, Lync
    • Office 365 Enterprise E4 – Exchange, Sharepoint, Lync, Office Pro Plus desktop version, Enterprise functionality
      Pricing for these plans ranges from $96.00 per user/per year to $264.00 per user/per year. Midsize Business, E3, and E4 include the desktop version of Office Pro Plus for the period of the subscription.
      Office 365 service is built on an update structure. Updates are provided once per quarter. Any new releases of products are automatically upgraded during those quarterly updates. Also, since all services are hosted by Microsoft, your organization can benefit from being backed by a 99.9% schedule uptime SLA, and a premium disaster recovery service.
      As you can see, Office 365 offers plans from small to enterprise businesses with options to mix and match according to your business needs. If you have any additional questions, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information.

       

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