Microsoft

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

What’s New In Exchange 2010?

Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2010 is in the spotlight.  What’s new in Exchange 2010 you ask?  As always, Microsoft has evolved their product to align with current technology trends and added a number of features for both Systems Administrators as well as users.  In the following article, we will take a look at just a few of these enhancements and what they have to offer.

From the administrator’s perspective, one of the most significant improvements has been to the storage architecture.  Microsoft is boasting that Exchange 2010 provides an additional 50-70% reduction in disk I/O over Exchange 2007. In addition, Microsoft has replaced all the previous high availability solutions (LCR, CCR, SCR, & SCC) with their new Database Availability Groups (DAGs).  DAGs are simple to configure and allow for Exchange database fault tolerance utilizing an underlying Windows Clustering service. Up to 16 mailbox servers can participate in a DAG, providing automatic database-level recovery from a database, server, or network failure.  To support this improvement, Microsoft has eliminated “storage groups” and shifted databases to the Organizational level.

Another great addition is Role Based Access Control (RBAC), which replaces the standard permission model in Exchange 2007.  While smaller organizations may not immediately see the value of RBAC, larger organizations with a variety of administrators in different roles will quickly see the benefits.  Permissions are now based on Exchange tasks that a user needs to perform and the ability to control these features are now available within the Exchange management tools.

Anxiously awaited is Exchange 2010’s new Legal Hold feature which allows you to preserve the contents of an end user’s Exchange mailbox.  End users can still utilize their personal mailbox in a normal manner, however, copies of all items are retained, even if the end user deletes them or if archived content has expired.  A complementary feature to Legal Hold is the new multi-mailbox search feature, making it notably easier for organizations to perform E-discovery. As the feature’s name implies, multi-mailbox search allows a designated person to perform organization-level searches across end users’ mailboxes.

In summary, Exchange Server 2010 provides new levels of reliability and performance, simplifies administration, and adds numerous features to better the end user experience.   As an added bonus, OWA now provides support for both Safari and Firefox web browsers.

For more information regarding Microsoft’s Exchange 2010 and how it can benefit your organization, please contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Not Your Average Business Partner

As part of an annual qualification process, Microsoft Gold Certified Partners participate in a customer satisfaction survey completed anonymously by active clients.  Keller Schroeder again received high marks with an overall performance rating of 88 percent, compared to the average for all Microsoft Partners of 68 percent.  Additionally, Keller Schroeder’s ratings exceeded partner averages in every category.

Area

Keller Schroeder Partner Averages

Overall

 88%

   68%

Ease of doing business

100

74

Quality of communication

94

71

Value received

88

66

Likely to recommend

100

92

Likely to repurchase

100

89

Ability to meet your needs

100

73

Some firms specialize in infrastructure (such as server and database software), and others specialize in applications (such as SharePoint and .Net development), but Keller Schroeder’s deep expertise includes both.  This adds strength to Keller Schroeder’s Microsoft practice, and is evidenced by the 100% score for “ability to meet your needs”.

“Across our areas of business we strive for solid, long term business partnerships with our clients,” says Keller Schroeder President Larry May, “and it is gratifying to see the tradition continue.” 

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Rob Wilson Selected INETA Community Champion

Rob Wilson, Business Unit Director – Microsoft Applications at Keller Schroeder, was recently selected as a Community Champion by INETA for his contributions to the SharePoint User Group in Evansville and to other communities in our region.  INETA is a non-profit, independent organization, chartered with supporting all user groups interested in the Microsoft .NET platform.  Keller Schroeder has been a long-time supporter of technology user groups – including coordinating, hosting, sponsoring and speaking.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Putting Your Stock in Exchange – Are Microsoft’s Newest Releases for You?

Are you using Microsoft Exchange for email and productivity collaboration? If not, you might want to take a look. According to the RadiCati Group [doc], in 2009, there have been 280 billion emails sent every day. Thanks to great SPAM filtering products like Barracuda and IronPort, however, most of those messages don’t reach your inbox. For the messages that do, Microsoft Exchange is a great place to house them for better management, sharing and security. Exchange commands 57% of the corporate messaging software market demonstrating a strong showing in email and productivity collaboration tools.

Microsoft has released numerous versions of Exchange since its inception in 1996. Today, many companies host Exchange 2007 which incorporated significant changes from Exchange 2003 such as a 64 bit architecture for increased RAM utilization, the introduction of multiple roles (allowing an administrator to separate out all functionality of the system into various physical servers or virtual servers for greater load manageability), greatly improved high availability/redundancy features that can withstand an entire server failure with zero impact on the end users, an introduction of Unified Messaging integrating voicemail with your mailbox, and a multitude of other enhancements. It was a complete redesign of Exchange 2003 and, from our experience, a vastly superior product. For more information, you can visit Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2007 Product Overview site.

If you prefer being at the leading edge of technology, Exchange 2010 was just Released to Manufacturing (RTM) by Microsoft on October 8th, which means Microsoft has officially signed off on the new code and it will soon be available to the public for purchase and installation. New features of Exchange 2010 include Role-Based Access Control Permissions providing an administrator more granular control of permissions, new Exchange Management Console features, integration with Active Directory Rights Management Service, new transport and routing functionality along with many enhancements for Outlook Web Access (OWA) resulting in an interface more closely resembling the standard Microsoft Outlook client. For a complete list of the new features and enhancements please visit the Microsoft Exchange 2010 website for more information.

Microsoft has continued to improve each new release of Exchange Server, meeting the challenges of the ever-changing infrastructure and addressing end-user requests and needs. With the many user experience enhancements in addition to Administrator benefits Microsoft has implemented, it is easy to see why Exchange is so prevalent and commands such a strong share of the messaging market.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more or discuss the benefits of implementing this Microsoft Exchange 2007 or 2010 within your environment.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Received Superior Customer Satisfaction Scores

Information technology companies can be creative in the use of white papers, webinars, and ad campaigns to tell their success stories.  But, “Nothing speaks more credibly about us than the very words of our clients”, says Keller Schroeder President Larry May.

Those words came through loud and clear from Keller Schroeder clients in this year’s customer satisfaction survey, administered by Microsoft and required of all its leading Partners.  Keller Schroeder received an overall performance rating of 94 percent, compared to the average score for all Microsoft Partners of 65 percent.  Loyalty ratings for Keller Schroeder were 100 percent, compared to 86 percent for all Microsoft Partners.

As part of an ongoing qualification process, Microsoft Gold Certified Partners participate in an annual evaluation which includes a customer satisfaction survey completed anonymously by active clients.  “We are passionate about seeing our clients succeed,” says May, “and it is gratifying when they tell us so resoundingly that we are impacting them in a positive way.”

Since becoming the first Evansville-based Microsoft Gold Certified Partner in 2007, Keller Schroeder has seen its Microsoft business grow faster than any other segment.  While some firms specialize in infrastructure-related Microsoft tools (such as server and data management software), and others specialize in applications-related tools (such as SharePoint and .Net development), Keller Schroeder’s expertise includes the full spectrum of Microsoft solutions for businesses of any size. 

The firm’s reputation for excellence extends well beyond the Microsoft space.  Keller Schroeder received the 2007 Cisco Outstanding Indiana Customer Satisfaction Award, the 2008 Cisco Outstanding Growth Award, the 2008 Spirit of United Way Award, and was named as one of Indiana’s “Best Places to Work” in 2006.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Microsoft Office InfoPath – The Forms Solution

For many years, companies have struggled to find a data collection technique that crosses platforms, facilitates data analysis, handles both structured and unstructured data, and enables business processes. In contrast to many IT challenges where there are an abundance of tools but no clear approach, in this case the tools were just not up to par. Sure you could create forms using Word and/or Adobe PDF’s – you could even allow users to fill in the blanks online and print or email the form – but actually validating that data, extracting the data out of the form for analysis or launching workflows has proved to be both cumbersome and expensive. As a result, custom web pages have often been used to facilitate simple data collection – requiring specialized programming skills and valuable IT resources for what seemed to be rudimentary requests.

Enter Microsoft Office InfoPath – Microsoft’s answer to data collection challenges. InfoPath is a power user/novice developer tool that enables forms development based on an open XML format. The benefits of InfoPath are numerous:

  • Ease of use and development
  • Data capture and validation
  • Online and offline support (via InfoPath Form Services, Outlook or the InfoPath client)
  • Integration with both input and output data sources including databases, SharePoint lists and web services
  • Ability to save as XML, print or send as an email
  • Integration with Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server

 

By integrating with SharePoint, InfoPath offers an enterprise-level forms solution complete with business process automation and legacy software integration. Additionally, you are able to build your project teams with professionals of varying skills and levels of experience.

The InfoPath client (designer and viewer) is available as a stand-alone product or is part of the Microsoft Office Professional Plus, Enterprise and Ultimate suites. The client version integrates with Windows SharePoint Services which is included free with the Windows Server operating system. InfoPath Form Services is part of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Enterprise Edition.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more or discuss the benefits of implementing this technology within your environment.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

By the Moon….of the SilverLight App

SilverLight Has No Place in Business…or Does it?

You’ve heard of Microsoft SilverLight.

It’s that cool technology used by NBC to show videos of the Olympics and by CBS to stream all the action of the Final Four this year. So, what’s that got to do with running your business? Well, maybe more than you think.

Internet usage has risen sharply since 2000. This means that more and more of your customers, business partners, and employees are using the internet every day, and interacting with sites that provide not only high definition media, but empower the user through rich interactive applications (also known as RIA’s), such as easy drag and drop interfaces, real-time feedback with no reloading or jerking in the page, and personalization capabilities. (See Hardrock.com for some examples of RIA’s in action.) It’s all about user experience. Using the same techniques within your business gives your customers, partners, and employees familiar tools that not only provide a great user experience, but a more productive interface. That means efficiency and time savings, which lead to cost savings for your business.

SilverLight is being used every day in businesses just like yours to:

  • Enhance public facing sites to deliver a compelling message that keeps customers coming back.
  • Deliver easy to use, fast and efficient applications on extranets to communicate more information with business partners.
  • Provide tools, such as training videos and RIA’s, which empower employees to do more in less time.And it only gets better from here!

Microsoft defines today’s SilverLight as “a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of .NET based media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web and for mobile devices.” The next generation of SilverLight (out in beta now and due out for production later this year) will include support for browser-less web applications, meaning your applications can live anywhere and you may not need to be online all the time to use them. The ability to create a genuinely seamless workflow for your in-house and mobile workforce is within sight!

Keller Schroeder can help you discover ways to unlock the power of SilverLight in your business too. Contact Jill Epperson or Rob Wilson at (812) 474-6825 to get started today.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Employee Ownership Milestone

Employee ownership makes a difference! Keller Schroeder celebrated five years as an employee-owned enterprise in March. Since becoming majority-owned by an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) in 2004, the firm’s positive momentum has accelerated:

  • Named as one of Indiana’s “Best Places to Work” in 2006
  • 2007 Cisco Outstanding Indiana Customer Satisfaction Award
  • Became the first Evansville-based Microsoft Gold Certified Partner in 2007
  • 2008 Cisco Outstanding Growth Award
  • Celebrated 30-year anniversary in 2008 (founded in 1978)
by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Introducing our Microsoft SharePoint Blog

Are you faced with the challenges associated with propagating information to your remote workers or business partners? Does your organization struggle with organizing or finding valuable information? Are you tired of dealing with multiple versions of a document floating around in your organization? Are you in need of a corporate knowledge sharing and collaboration strategy? Maybe you should consider SharePoint, the most widely adopted portal and collaboration product on the market today.

Keller Schroeder is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with competencies in Advanced Infrastructure Solutions, Data Management Solutions, Custom Development Solutions and Information Worker Solutions. In addition to our years of experience with .NET, Office development and SQL Server, we are also your local SharePoint expert – having staff who have specialized in SharePoint since late 2005. Our SharePoint experts have recently created a blog to share some of our SharePoint insights. On our blog you will find information suited for SharePoint developers, administrators, power users and information workers. Our SharePoint blog is a great way to stay in touch with things we have recently done with SharePoint and to find information that is useful to your organization.

Please visit our SharePoint blog at the following URL: sharepointblog.www.kellerschroeder.com

Add the site to your favorites, sign-up for email updates or subscribe via your favorite RSS reader. Your comments are always welcome on our blog posts as well.

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