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February 21, 2011

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3 Ways Cloud Technology Helps Non-Profit

February 4, 2011

Non-profit organizations need to be efficient and effective managing donors, employees, and other stakeholders to succeed in bringing their vision to life.

One of the realities of being a non-profit organization (especially in a tough economy) is facing some competition for funds with other non-profits to sustain critical programs. While there are no easy answers, cloud services can help your team in three ways: (1) expands IT role to take on more strategic tasks, (2) lowers the total cost of technology, and (3) brings a hardworking, mission-focused team together.

(1) Expansion of IT Role

If you’re working for a non-profit organization, your IT department is likely swamped with end user issues on a daily basis.  While the cloud doesn’t take away the end users, it does promise a 99.9% uptime guarantee.  This means your organization’s email will be up and running anytime of day and the IT department can now focus its energies on more strategic goals for the organization.

(2) Lowers Costs

Lowering the cost of hardware can make a big difference to the bottom line, which means more resources to spend on those critical programs. Cloud services provide the benefit of little to no upfront costs and since the costs are scalable, you can predict monthly budgets depending on the number of users and which services are active.

(3) Brings a mission-focused team together

Non-profit organizations work hard every day to provide essential services to their community. One way to streamline processes and reward employee dedication is to provide resources that allow for more flexibility and timely access to information. A cloud-based email and file sharing service gives employees anywhere, anytime access to the information they need and promotes collaboration with fast visibility into calendars, shared files, and online presence of other coworkers. From the office – to board meetings – to a donor’s door, the cloud can keep your employees in sync.

How People for Puget Sound Benefited from Cloud Services

Cole Coleman from People for Puget Sound speaks about his experience with the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) with an emphasis on the ease of migration and compatibility across multiple operating systems.

Friendly Advice: Be sure to discuss any changes with your IT staff or an outside consultant, as not all cloud services are needed for every organization.   If you’d like an assessment, please call Aaron Nettles at (206) 781-1797 and see if your organization is ready for the cloud!


Key Considerations Before Moving to Exchange Online

February 2, 2011

Below is a repost of an answer that I posted on Quora…. more info can be found here http://b.qr.ae/g6plY6

Start with a trial, regardless of which scenario you fit into and then convert to a full subscription.  The trial gives complete full featured access to Exchange Online (Email), SharePoint Online (Document management and Info Sharing), LiveMeeting (Web Conferencing), and Communicator Online (Instant Messaging and Presence)
Link to 30-day trial (bit.ly/fu8Bt8 – fyi you will need to create a Microsoft Live Services Account)

Next, planning is key to a successful transition.  We follow a 3 step approach to our BPOS deployments see more here http://bit.ly/gm6B8G .
Scenario 1: Start-up Company with a clean slate and no plans
for Active Directory

This is the scenario in which there is no existing messaging system in place, and in the case of BPOS the most simple.

The items below are things that you should consider and plan out before configuring the services, this is the most timely piece actual configuration is fairly painless.

Key Considerations

  • Deploying the Single Sign-on client to employees desktops
  • Domain setup and verification
  • Account and Services Setup:  Creating users, contacts, and distribution lists. This can be accomplish through a web based admin console or through scripts.  Map this out in advance to keep the administration console as clean as possible
  • Installation and Configuring of software clients (Outlook, LiveMeeting Outlook Connector, and Office Communicator)
  • Mobile phones setup
  • SharePoint Sites, Permissions, and Site configuration (this is a topic on it own, however a simple site can be created to get users started)
  • Training to end users

Scenario 2: 5 year old, 100 Person Company with Active
Directory and Exchange

In this scenario, maintaining consistent mail flow and employee productivity during the migration is key.  The deployment of the services becomes a little more involved, however with advance planning and a methodical approach can be relatively painless.

Below are some of the key work items that should be completed to transition from Exchange to Exchange Online (SharePoint exclude due to potential complexity)

  • Environment analysis
  • Internet Bandwidth Testing and Needs Assessment
  • Setup and Installation of Migration Tools
  • Understand Mobility Requirements
  • Active Directory Preparation
  • DirSync Setup and Operations
  • Coexistence configuration
  • Client Computer Setup
  • End-user Communications
  • Migration Groups (recommend a test group, and subsequent group(s), the number is based on business requirements)
  • Activate users
  • Mailbox Migrations
  • Post-Migration Services Test (Make sure Mailbox, Calendar, and Contact Info is complete)
  • MX Record Switch
  • Configure 3rd Party Applications

Scenario 3: 5 year old, 100 Person Company with Active Directory and Exchange.  They just recently acquired a 25 employee company that uses a POP3 email service. All employees download their emails to their client and do not keep copies on the server.

The activities are the same as scenario 2 with the addition of …Import Email from PSTs (option for POP3 users)

For complete deployment resources check out Microsoft’s Deployment Website http://bit.ly/h529bP 

I hope that you found value in this post, please feel free to ping me here or on LinkedIn() or Twitter (@dianemgallagher)


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