Barry Gill
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Getting Together with Our UK Customers to Talk Microsoft Exchange 2013

Over the past two days, 55 of our technical customers in the UK, joined us to find out more about Exchange 2013. We organized this with friends of ours that wrote a new book called ‘Microsoft Exchange Server 2013: Design, Deploy, and Deliver an Enterprise Messaging Solution’, Nathan Winters and Nicholas Blank. They were joined by other expert speakers Brian Reid and Carl Holt.

The presenters have the full attention of the audience at the Mimecast Exchange event

The presenters have the full attention of the audience at the Mimecast Exchange event

We put this event on for our customers as part of our commitment to help them best exploit their messaging environment. We also have established a private community for Sys Admin customers on LinkedIn where we will share content including video content after the event.

Over the two days we dived deep into the technical detail of Exchange. In day 1 we looked at mailbox and client access Exchange architectures, load balancing and publishing, and, most importantly, designing Exchange. Day 2 was hybrid deployments, High Availability and Site Resilience, and finally migration to Exchange 2013.

This event has been extremely well received with many of the attendees being able to use the last two days as an opportunity to rapidly skill up in preparation for pending upgrades!

So check back on our blog over the coming week for highlights from the discussions. Or join our LinkedIn community if you are a technical customer.

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Giving something back for Systems Administrators Day!

Friday marked the 14th annual Systems Administrators Day.

Rather than writing another blog post to mark the day, we decided we’d like to do something that really gives back to the people who make our lives a little better every day.

We’re doing this by hosting a free two day Microsoft Exchange 2013 training session for a group of our UK based customer’s Systems Administrators. As with any event, seats are limited, but we think this is such a cool training session we’ve made ten seats available  to be won from today! (If you’re a Mimecast UK customer wanting to know more, please contact your dedicated Customer Account Manager or email the team at customer.advocacy.gb@mimecast.com)

As you’d expect, we are big supporters of the Microsoft Exchange ecosystem which is why we’ve decided to invite three gentlemen to host the event whose credentials read like a who’s who of Microsoft Exchange experience.

In fact, these three gents have just released an insightful new book titled “Microsoft Exchange 2013: Design, Deploy and Deliver an Enterprise Messaging Solution”.

They are Nathan Winters, Nicolas Blank and Neil Johnson.

They’ll be running a two day training event we’re calling the ‘Mimecast Exchange’ with a view to providing a great foundation for SysAdmins looking to migrate to Exchange 2013 from a previous version.

The first day will focus mainly on theory, understanding what you’re moving to, what the benefits are, the changes in architecture and what the migration processes will entail. It will also cover the planning and design elements of a migration.

The second day will be a much more practical day with Nathan, Nic and Neil working through specific scenarios to maximize the relevance of the knowledge for you.

Each attendee will be given a signed copy of their book to make notes in so that you can not only keep track of what is being discussed, but you can also keep a much richer set of context for the notes you’re taking.

So, a free training session delivered by three of the world’s top Exchange experts with a free copy of a great book relevant to any SysAdmin working with Exchange! You’re probably thinking ‘That sounds great, how do I get my seat?’

Basically, we thought it’d be cool to do offer some of the seats via a competition. There are a few ways to get into the running for a seat: -

    • Twitter: Simply follow @Mimecast and tweet about entering the competition using the hashtag #MimecastExchange
    • LinkedIn Group: Simply request to join the group “Microsoft Exchange 2013: Design, Deploy and Deliver” and post a discussion in the group telling us a bit about the versions of Exchange you have and something about your architecture. Please note: Discussions with the most detail will be selected by the three authors to become the focus scenarios for the migration workshops on the second day of the training session. Please remember to use your discretion about potentially sensitive information.
    • LinkedIn Follow: Simply follow the Mimecast Company Page and share a post that has the term “Mimecast Exchange” in it.
    • Blogging: Publish a blog post about your environment and why you would like to attend Mimecast’s training session and link to www.mimecast.com. Please Tweet the blog post using the #MimecastExchange hashtag so we can register the entry. If you aren’t on Twitter, then please share the link via LinkedIn and mention @Mimecast so we can register the entry. We are also looking to find scenario’s to choose from in blog posts so let us know about your posts! Remember, the same caution about sensitive information exists here too!

Each entry type is one entry meaning that someone who really wants to attend can have as many as four entries in total.

Please note, full terms and condition are published here

The event is being held on 31st of October and the 1st of November at Microsoft’s Cardinal Place in London and will start at 9:00 AM both days and finish around 5:00 PM. Registration will open at 8:00 AM.

To complement the event we hope the LinkedIn Group we’ve created will prove to be a valuable ongoing resource for you and all three authors are moderators of the group so you’ll have an opportunity to share and learn from them and other participants whether you attend the event or not. As this is a SysAdmin specific group, we intend to keep this group as an active and thriving resource for people to find quick and relevant answers to questions about Exchange 2013 and the work required to migrate to it and won’t allow the group to be used for promotional or marketing purposes.

So all in all you can see we really are building something to give value back to the community to mark the 14th annual Systems Administrators Day. With your help, next year’s celebrations will mark a real step change in the way our community is working together through events like Mimecast Exchange and forums like the new LinkedIn Group.

I look forward to meeting many of you in October!

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Windows 8 Has Ruined My Life…Oh Wait Maybe Not

If this title sounds familiar, you’re likely to be someone who reads the technology media.

I mean let’s face it, ever since Microsoft announced its new operating system it had more than its share of critics appearing from every corner of the globe offering up their opinions (much like I’m doing now).

Microsoft has released screenshots confirming the return of a Start button to Windows 8

Microsoft has released screenshots confirming the return of a Start button to Windows 8

I don’t understand what the negativity is about.

I’m a Windows 8 professional user and I’ve been very happy with my upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

Before I continue, I just want to clarify a few things about myself and my history with Operating Systems because I’m not like the average user.

Like most, my first OS was a Microsoft OS (DOS 3.1 to give you an idea of my age) and I stayed within the Microsoft ecosystem for many years until one day in 1998 I decided to run a test to see if Linux was ready for the desktop. That test failed miserably but it instilled a love of all things Linux in me which I still have today.

In 2000, I moved to a fulltime Linux desktop as all the work I was doing was consulting and working around Linux systems. This continued to 2004 when a consulting project I was involved in required documents to be created in Office 2003 (Project and Visio). At that point I migrated from SuSE Linux 9.1 to Windows XP with Office 2003. That project completed and in 2005 I started working at Mimecast. My machine stayed on XP as I didn’t have the time to dedicate to migrate my data again.

My work at Mimecast brought me closer to Microsoft Exchange and Outlook and when they released Windows Phone I was excited to see what their re-imagining of the user interface would be like. The change from my BlackBerry Bold 9000 to the HTC HD7 was remarkable. Never before had I handled a phone that was so intuitive, user friendly and functionally useful to me. Sometime later I got “upgraded” to an iPhone 4s and – in what my wife and many others thought was a backwards step – I returned the iPhone and went back to WP7, this time to a Nokia Lumia 800. The iPhone wasn’t anywhere near as user friendly and intuitive as the Windows Phone was for me.

So when Microsoft announced Windows 8 and that it would be a similar experience to the Windows Phone, I was intrigued. I soon had a Lenovo Twist, a nice little machine with a touch screen that folds over and turns the laptop into a tablet and I began using it and reporting back to the IT department any problems I had or things I thought might be problematic for us as an organization to support.

I love being a guinea pig.

Anyway, barring basic issues like desktop AV clients not yet properly supported and drivers for my obscure Boogie Board Rip not yet working properly, everything has worked pretty much perfectly from day 1.

Yes, I’m not a basic user, but I ‘m a person who uses a lot of applications and is constantly moving between them. I’m someone who should, if the people who cry about the lack of start buttons and booting to desktops are to be believed, be miserable with this new OS.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

All in all, my life hasn’t really changed. I use the machine almost exclusively in desktop mode. Not because I don’t like the apps in the new UI, but because the tools I use on a daily basis are all on my desktop. I use Outlook, not the mail app, I use Word, not some note app, I use Excel not some calculator that can be obtained from the marketplace.

When I start up, I get dropped into the new start screen. Shock and horror, in order to begin my day I do what I’ve ALWAYS done. I start my mail client, Outlook. This is done by clicking or tapping the Outlook tile that I’ve positioned neatly in my direct line of sight on the start screen. Outlook starts and takes me into desktop mode.

I don’t miss the start button at all and it amazes me how much attention this insignificant little feature is getting. The start screen easily replaces the start button but if I am too lazy to jump around, I just use shortcuts. My taskbar in desktop mode has shortcuts to all my frequently used apps on it. (Microsoft have just announced that Windows 8.1 will include a start button but no start menu, among other much more exciting features but more on that later).

Both in my home office and my work office I’m connected to external displays and in almost every instance of using the machine I’m working with my keyboard and mouse.

My son uses the touch interface to play games. I don’t play games on this, I prefer to save the battery for more boring things like connectivity and spreadsheets.

That’s not to say I don’t go into the new UI ever because I do. My password management app is in the new UI.

So let’s recap.

I can do everything I need to do.

I don’t care that I’ve no start button because it doesn’t impact me in any way.

I work in desktop mode all day and the start screen doesn’t magically stop me being able to do this.

I switch between new UI and desktop all the time and I haven’t gone crazy.

So why’s everyone so anti this new operating system?

Beats me!

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Email is in great shape!

In June 2012, Mimecast released the first results of a series of regular reports that we are running under the banner of “The Shape of Email”.

You can view our blog post of the time here, or the original report here.

In that report we interviewed IT Managers and found that there was a perception that email was mostly unimportant or non-critical detritus clogging up people’s days.

Today we released the second in this series of reports. This time we directed our questions towards end users and found that the follow on from the assertion that email in-boxes are clogged with non-critical things is that workers are spending more than half their time interacting with their email.

This interaction is not limited to replying to messages or composing new items, but also encompasses things like using in-boxes as default file server and search tools. In fact, 86% of the two and a half thousand respondents said they rely on email to find documents. Because of this huge amount of time spend interacting with email systems, we have started to call these workers “Inbox Workers”.

Because of the amount of time spent working with email and because of the fact that users are using their email systems as informal file systems and document archives, it became very clear in this report that users are not particularly interested in changing the way they communicate today. This is interesting in light of the fact that our first report highlighted that IT Managers are introducing enterprise collaboration tools into their businesses in order to reduce the load on email systems.

“Email is dead” is something we hear all the time, vendors and industry pundits talking about how social media and the millennial generations are eating away at the way email allows us to communicate and slowly killing email. Millennial generation individuals want to consume bite size bits of info, they want to crowd source all of their conversations, social media is removing the need for archaic communications like email. We have definitely heard all of this before.

In this report, we find a completely contrary response.

Firstly, we found that email is preferred over social media for all forms of workplace collaboration including exchanging of documents (91% prefer email), arranging meetings (89% prefer emails) and sharing views and opinions (72% prefer email).

Next we found that 78% of respondents say that social media has not impacted on their reliance on email as a form of business communication, in fact, 74% feel that emails are taken more seriously than social media connections.

A short while ago I read this fantastic blog post in which Paul Carr, founder of NSFW Corporation, explores his preconception that email is dead. He sends out an email to his subscriber base telling them that he will be retiring what little email functionality they have with the unexpected turn of events that their subscribers suddenly notice them and start making requests for more email related features.

Peter Bauer, our CEO, makes an interesting observation out of the report. He says that even though there are a large number of specialist collaboration and social tools out there, email remains the communication and collaboration tool of choice for most business users.

In short, end users are telling us that they have a love/hate relationship with their email. They are dependent on it and don’t want to learn something new but are, at the same time, frustrated that email hasn’t evolved to keep pace with changing work practices.

All in all a very interesting report that shows in spite of all the things wrong with email and the rise of social media proclaiming email’s death, email is in fact in great shape! Go here to download the report.