by Matthew Ravden
From the moment BPOS was first released about five years ago, we’ve consistently said on this blog that we welcome Microsoft’s move to the cloud, that it’ll be a great solution for some businesses, but that mature cloud services like Mimecast’s will play a major role as adoption begins to gain momentum. Well, if BPOS was Microsoft’s trial run, Office 365 is the real deal and it does now seem to be gaining serious traction in the market. But our position remains the same, and in fact the business case for Mimecast’s solutions to enhance Office 365 looks stronger than ever.
Office 365 is positioned by Microsoft as a one-stop-shop, and on the surface looks like something of a panacea for a business looking to outsource email and stop managing an on-premises Exchange server. For many businesses, particularly in the SMB space, it is.
But for larger companies, or those for whom email is a mission critical application, Office 365 may not be quite so alluring. In general, Mimecast customers fall into that category – they want to use best practice cloud services to protect email from threats, and store the data in a secure, highly available archive. And amongst our customer base we’ve seen a preference for keeping Exchange on-site – there’s strong interest in Exchange 13 – or moving to a hybrid model with some mailboxes on-site and others in the cloud.
The blockers to Office 365 adoption seem to fall into three categories.
- Archiving doesn’t offer sufficient levels of compliance and eDiscovery capabilities
- Uptime is a concern
- Exchange Online Protection may not represent best practice email security
We also think a further need will emerge, for a single archive of multiple types of unstructured data, fully searchable both for eDiscovery purposes and for day to day use by end users from their laptops, smart-phones and tablets. An Enterprise Information Archive for Office 365, to use Gartner terminology.
For Mimecast, then, nothing much changes from how we position around on-premise Exchange, where we offer enterprise grade cloud services that remove complexity and cost. With Office 365, it’s less about cost and complexity, and more about the ‘enterprise grade’ piece. As Office 365 adoption gains traction, the ‘pain points’ will also crystallize, and the ecosystem of ‘supporting’ or ‘enhancing’ services will emerge. It already is emerging.
Is this a bad thing for Microsoft or Office 365? On the contrary. Businesses who want to go down this path will be reassured that there’s a third party ecosystem of mature cloud services that can enhance the ‘off-the-shelf’ capabilities of the various SKUs of Microsoft’s new cloud solution. We expect to find businesses buying Office 365 plus Mimecast for any one of the three issues above, or potentially buying our entire UEM suite if that’s what best meets their needs. And we also expect companies who’ve already moved to Office 365 to subsequently purchase add-on services to shore up functionality in those key areas, be they compliance or security related, or based on concerns about downtime.
So, to conclude, Office 365 comes in a variety of different shapes and sizes at different price points, ostensibly for businesses with different messaging requirements. It covers a lot of ground, and for many businesses the barrier to purchase is that one or other area of critical functionality doesn’t quite meet requirements. With Mimecast, which works seamlessly within an Office 365 / Exchange context, these perceived short-falls can be fixed, and the barriers to purchase removed. With Mimecast, Office 365 goes from good to great.
by Barry Gill
Having been at Mimecast for many years championing the benefits of the Software as a Service model to customers, prospects and partners alike, I am well versed in the benefits that this model poses to organizations of every shape and size. Also, having been
involved with hosted services and cloud services, I have seen how vendors, customers and partners have all worked hard to deliver simple solutions to end users while maintaining levels of integration that make many sysadmins lose sleep at night. In addition, having seen this landscape evolve over the past decade, it’s truly refreshing to see a traditionally on-premise software vendor like Microsoft not only shout about the cloud, but actually surface a strategy that makes broad-based cloud computing part of everyday software consumption.
With Steve Ballmer’s announcement yesterday, came the first real view of what Microsoft’s long term strategy is. We all know that Microsoft is a huge company with massive amounts of resource available to do just about anything they want, but yesterday we saw for the first time just how long it takes to change direction for a company of this size.
When Microsoft announced BPOS, it was generally regarded as a tentative attempt to show presence in the cloud/SaaS market and was
experience across devices and the touch user experience (and a secure environment).
more of an attempt to deflect much of the criticism that was levelled towards Redmond at the time. That evolved and became Office 365 which was a much better service offering but it had some poor choices in terms of its distribution model. Last week in Toronto, Microsoft announced that Office 365 Open licenses would be available for delivery through its vast channel and its partner ecosystem breathed a collective sigh of relief and committed to more active promotion of the service.
For me, all the build-up around Windows 8 has always been about two key (and one key but not promoted) things: Ubiquitous
With yesterday’s announcement of Office 2013 preview, we can now see how integral that ubiquitous experience is to the long term plan, which appears to be – “get everything, get it now!”
Ok, what do I mean by that?
Well it’s simple really, with Office 2013 defaulting to storing files on SkyDrive, apps written for Office being available to users no matter what device they are connecting from or even if they are using the web-based versions of the applications and Microsoft’s massively increased push to move users into the cloud for its three biggest server platforms (Office 365 for SharePoint and Exchange and Azure SQL for DB), it now makes more sense than ever to start sipping the Microsoft Kool-Aid.
I mean let’s face it, they may not have invented any of these wheels but they have done a damned fine job of moulding and shaping them to what people are looking for.
Back to my title – Microsoft moves to SaaS with Office 2013 – and a little more on the service side of things.
Microsoft has said quite clearly that it wants to make adoption and upgrades far simpler for its customers and partners. Buy an Office 2013 license and it will provide over the wire upgrades because you are effectively acquiring the software as a service, whether you choose to deploy the full rich client of use the web-based clients. This means that you will always be running the latest version of Office.
Add to this that it only requires a single license for a user, rather than forcing a license per device, and you have a winning success story for people to seriously consider moving their computing across to the Microsoft way.
Microsoft laptop, tablet and phone (X-Box too…?), all using a common authentication mechanism to ensure ubiquitous experience across all three devices as well as pure play internet-based access to all of your apps and docs when you don’t have one of your own devices handy? It’s a compelling mix of cloud and client side applications delivering service to users where and when they want it.
Sounds like utopia to me.
Well it would, for years Mimecast has been working on the premise that customer choice in cloud adoption was an important part of allowing them to make the move towards cloud without it ever having to be a binary decision of cloud vs. on-prem.
In the coming months we are sure to see more features surfacing that will extend on this message, particularly in the server space but it all boils down to Microsoft finally flexing its muscle and demanding that both business and consumers take notice of its offerings and stop settling for second best.
by Justin Pirie
This is a Guest Post from a prolific blogger- Andy Kemp who has recently moved from a long standing customer of Mimecast and to a Microsoft Gold Partner UniTech, one that doesn’t have Mimecast in place but excited about what the toolset could do for them. One of the recent things he’s been tasked to do is their Migration from BPOS to Office365 both internally and for a number of serviced clients, and it’s interesting to see what life without Mimecast is like…
I finally took the plunge and migrated our primary email domain to Office 365 from BPOS the other weekend- we still don’t have Mimecast but we didn’t want to wait any longer! It could have gone better but on the other hand it could have been more painful like it was when I migrated one of our secondary domains.
The two issues I faced when migrating were:
- Migrating the data from BPOS to Office 365
- Migrating the Domain from BPOS to Office 365
1. Migrating the data from BPOS to Office 365
Unfortunately there isn’t a really clean automated way to do this, the only way possible which I found to do this was to attach the new Office 365 Mailbox using the unitech-onmicrosoft.com address to their exchange profile and copy/move the folders across.
This was pretty simple for the mail, contacts and task folders but the calendar folder was done in a slightly different way, you need to change the calendar view to a list and then copy and paste the entries into the new Office 365 Mailbox:
As the Exchange Folders were cached I needed to let the local folders sync up to the Online Exchange Server to then enable me to setup a clean outlook profile with only the 365 exchange account connected.
As this was all done pre migration it meant I had all my data in Office 365 when I switched over domains. This was the next step, although what should be a simple process proved to be my biggest worry with the migration even though I had done it before.
2. Migrating the Domain from BPOS to Office 365
As I have mentioned before this process although sounds straight forward is the most laborious part of the migration. If you are moving from an on prem setup or another hosted solution, then it is nowhere near as painful as moving from BPOS to Office 365.
The problem I had was with FOPE (Forefront Online Protection for Exchange) for BPOS although the Domain no longer existed in BPOS there were still artefact DNS records in FOPE which meant if I added the domain to Office 365 and then sent an email to an account using that Domain I would get an NDR immediately due to a possible mail loop. As the FOPE for Office 365 would see the DNS records in FOPE for BPOS and get a little confused and then just return a “Computer says No!” in the form of the NDR.
What I had to do was fill in a Standard Request form for removal of artefact DNS records and submit that as a Service Request via the BPOS admin centre and then call Microsoft BPOS support with the Service Request number and asked them to hurry the process up… well that made them sort it in 2 days as opposed to 6!
After a week into the move things have finally calmed down and users are running with no issues. I have several Service requests open with Microsoft for Office 365 due to small issues that I’ve had in the admin portal but on the whole things are running well.
We are taking full advantage of Lync 2010 and the ability to federate with other organisations. We are now in the process of setting up our company intranet and extranet using SharePoint online.
by Justin Pirie
This is a Guest Post from a prolific blogger- Andy Kemp who has recently moved from a long standing customer of Mimecast and moved to a Microsoft Gold Partner UniTech, one that doesn’t have Mimecast in place but excited about what the toolset could do for them. One of the recent things he’s been tasked to do is their Migration from BPOS to Office365 both internally and for a number of serviced clients, and it’s interesting to see what life without Mimecast is like…
I have used Mimecast in the past for several reasons, email archiving, antivirus and malware protection, business continuity and compliance. These are all great reasons for using it but one other is for email migration. In the past when I have done system upgrades it has been pretty painless and stress free, moving from Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003 for example. However I think that now it is a completely different ball game as the Cloud is involved. Moving to the Cloud is again relatively painless (just a different approach), at least from a technical point of view; politically it can be very stressful. But moving from Cloud to Cloud for me at the moment is proving a bit of a headache.
I’m in the process of moving from BPOS to Office 365, and you would think that this would be a pretty straightforward migration moving from one Microsoft Online Service to another. Is it straight forward? No! As a Microsoft Gold Partner and one of Microsoft’s Cloud Partners we were an early adopter of Office 365 closed beta and I was getting to like it more and more the more I used it throughout the testing. However, when it came to domain migration I started to like it less.
The main issue for me migrating from BPOS to Office 365 is migrating your domains from one to the other. It can take anything up to 48hrs for the domain to be removed from BPOS and FOPE (Forefront Online Protection for Exchange) and only then can you add the domain in to Office 365. Then if something had gone amiss and you needed to remove the domain from Office 365 (like I had to) you would have to wait for anything up to 24hrs. It turned out my problem was that the domain had not been fully deleted from FOPE on the BPOS side.
All this time means that your email might well be unavailable (more than likely to be honest) and could have serious knock on affects to your business as email is now treated as one of the most common ways in which we communicate with our customers.
The main drive for using Mimecast in my previous place of employment was to ensure that email was accessible at all times, even when the in house exchange servers were unavailable. This could also mean when you are migrating from one service platform to another, and I would say that the same principle could be applied to a hosted email service.
Through using Mimecast you could very easily remove the headaches from your migration from one service to another as the continuity that Mimecast offers would provide you with email delivery during the process of the migration. You’ll effectively be using Mimecast as a pivot I guess for the transition.
My migration from BPOS to Office 365 has been in process for four days now. Fortunately it is a non-critical domain I am testing with, but if this was a live email domain that I relied on for business my customers would be receiving NDRs for every email that is sent in to me. This could well be avoided by having Mimecast in the equation as email would be delivered through Mimecast to your email service, regardless of it being on premise or hosted.
Moving email platforms is something that you do not want to do or need to do on a regular basis but if you do need to migrate your email then you will find that having something like Mimecast will make the migration even simpler and reduce your down time to a bare minimum if any.
Even if you are doing a simple email migration/upgrade you’re at risk. Sure you will have a full backup of your server to revert back to if the migration/upgrade were to go pear-shaped – if you did have to do a restore how long would that take you? An hour? A day? A week? I previously worked for a law firm and lawyers like to hold on to their emails; I had mail stores in the excess of 150GB, mailboxes of 15GB and over! The restoration of the email data would take about a full day (in the excess of 400GB Email data) but once the stores were restored I would then have to do an offline defrag on each mailstore db which could take anything up to 8 hrs per mail store meaning email would be down for a week. With Mimecast you could work on your exchange servers for that week and still be able to send and receive email, even by using outlook on the user’s desktop.
How long could your business survive with email down time? I guess in all honesty not very long.
I eventually got the domain working fully in Office 365 after a few calls to Microsoft and a few days of waiting! Email was being delivered to the right domain in the right service, finally!
It was a good learning curve (which is why we did it with a test domain) so when it comes to moving the live production email domain we know exactly what to do and what to expect. I am hoping that the production migration goes a bit more smoothly now! Mimecast will not take every risk out of email migration, but it will certainly give you a great level of continuity if you did face any problems when it comes to email migration.
by Barry Gill
Confused about where to take your Microsoft Exchange architecture?
I mean let’s face it, it was less than year ago that Exchange 2010 SP1 came out and the Exchange world breathed a collective sigh and started upgrade planning. In that time we have seen the rise and replacement of Microsoft BPOS, a major increase in the number of Hosted Exchange providers and Microsoft’s and shiny new baby – Microsoft Office 365 with Exchange Online. You also can’t pick up an IT journal today without it being pasted full of talk about Cloud being “the future“.
So with all this choice and drive to push you to Cloud services, should you be jumping out of the plane without a parachute to get to the Clouds?
Obviously not (without your parachute), but some organizations will be able to transition all the way to Office 365 from their locally deployed Exchange 2003 deployment, while others will see the value and be tempted, but will not be able to migrate quite as easily. Don’t forget there are also scenarios where a hybrid deployment that includes both on-premise and the cloud really makes sense. For example, users who previously didn’t have email can now have corporate email for as little as $2.00 per user per month!
So there are lots of options, but also some pitfalls – so what to do?
Jack’s beanstalk was the ultimate “Cloud Enablement Service”. It got him off of the ground and to his destination in the clouds safely. Not only that, it was there to support him when he no longer wanted to be in the clouds. So is Exchange 2010 the magic beanstalk for our email Jack?
Exchange 2010 has a number of really nifty capabilities; among them is a native ability to be configured as a fully local, or part local – part Cloud (hybrid) deployment. There is still some heavy lifting to be done, however, to get to this utopia…
Firstly with data: moving large mailboxes around takes time and effort. We have come to a school of thought that says the data should be archived before you migrate, so that hardly anything needs to be moved; and that applies to a migration from an older version of Exchange to Exchange 2010 as well. The less data you move, the more you reduce the time the migration takes, the risk involved in the process and the potential of unplanned downtime.
Secondly, with routing: out of the box the routing capabilities in Exchange 2010 are excellent and numerous, but it still relies on having emails routed to an Exchange Server, either on premise or to Exchange Online. In an ideal situation, you want the right email delivered to the right location, without having to route traffic over WANs to the right location. In addition, a lot of people want to apply consistent security policies, inbound and outbound, to ensure their compliance and security requirements are being met.
Thirdly, continuity: hey we’re biased! But seriously – nobody wants email to go down… it’s always the nightmare scenario! Provisioning real time Cloud based continuity enables the IT admin to remain fully in control of the uptime across their email estate, be that Cloud, On-Premise or Hybrid.
After these points it becomes clear that Microsoft Exchange is Jack’s house, the Giant’s castle is Office 365 and Mimecast is in fact the magic beanstalk! An infrastructure that is architected to be as flexible as possible without exposing risk is what IT departments so desperately need, and the Cloud is an excellent way to deliver just that.
There are already ways to leverage the Cloud to deliver more flexible, responsive messaging architectures, even if you don’t want to put all your mailboxes there right away.
Don’t wait until the giant has built higher walls. Plant your beanstalk today!
Photo CC via o0bsessed and ïCliff on Flickr