Deploy Uniform Versions Of Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Benefits

Ray DeLuke, CIO, Exelis
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Ray DeLuke, CIO, Exelis

Management with a Mix of Solutions from Microsoft The technology platform provided by our Microsoft Enterprise agreement provides a solid foundation that enables a consistent user experience across Exelis. We utilize a mix of on premise and cloud based solutions from Microsoft to address our business requirements. This approach enables productivity by providing central management, high availability for business critical applications, and an acceptable degree of device independence.

Solid Microsoft Architecture for Security

I’m not sure it is a surprise, but you have to make sure that your Microsoft environment is solid and current from the ground up to avoid any surprises as you attempt to implement new solutions—most importantly that your Active Directory and messaging environments are properly architected, secure and well maintained.

1.  Achieve Enterprise Wide Benefit with Microsoft

The key for us was to get to a current enough revision of fivecore Microsoft products to provide the functionality, application integration and consistent user experience that we wanted. The five products were—Exchange, Office, SharePoint, Lync, and Windows OS. If you do not have uniform versions of these products deployed, it’s difficult to achieve enterprise-wide benefits.

2. Lync—The Most Innovative Solution

Lync-enabled unified communications is probably the most innovative solution that we have deployed on our Microsoft platform. We completed a green field build out for one of our departments using nothing but Lync for communications—no PBX, no separate voicemail server, and inexpensive Lync phones. The build-out also utilized Lync conference room systems for visual collaboration. We think that we can scale this initial implementation and provide substantial cost savings and productivity gains to our business.

Fear of Switching Costs with Unavailable Products

I’m most concerned about impact on Total Cost of Ownership for some Microsoft products that we are heavily invested in as licensing models continue to evolve. For example, movement away from server processor to server core licensing for SQL Server not only raises acquisition costs but also significantly raises Software Assurance costs on legacy deployments. I also worry about the day when on-premise deployment options are no longer available for certain products and the potential “switching costs” that could come along with that.

“Make sure that Microsoft environment is solid and current from the ground up to avoid any surprises as you attempt to implement new solutions”

If you are going forward with a new Microsoft technology implementation, I think you have to have “reach back to Redmond” so that you can bring some of their best experts in to help you when you hit a wall. This starts with the account team but we also utilize Microsoft’s Enterprise Strategy Program to provide that reach back.

Microsoft to Boost Employee Productivity

We are “all in” with a number of these products and they are working well for us but I think most of us utilize a fairly small percentage of the functionality that these products have to offer. I think it is a good idea to make visits to Microsoft HQ, Microsoft Technology Centers (MTCs) and Microsoft events to know what the products are capable of and how they can enable your own technology roadmap.

We recently attended a “Microsoft on Microsoft” demonstration at our local MTC to see how Microsoft uses their own technology to boost employee productivity. In my opinion, it all starts with your account team. If you have a good one, it makes a big difference.

Beware of being Early Adopter with Microsoft

In my experience, it can be costly to be an earlier adopter. We use the Windows 8 phones in our organization today. It is a second generation product and works very well in our environment. However, we actually got involved early with the Windows7 phone. Device options were extremely limited and had some major drawbacks. The OS itself didn’t meet all of our needs either. We thought that the platform would evolve but instead it was discontinued and we had to do an early technology refresh to get where we wanted to go. To their credit, Microsoft, our wireless carrier and the phone manufacturer all helped us with the refresh but we still paid a price for being an early adopter.

Noteworthy Five Core Microsoft Products

As I said earlier, build a foundation around current versions of five core Microsoft products—Exchange, Office, SharePoint, Lync and Windows or whatever subset of these is in your technology stack. Leverage your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement and be willing to trade off best of breed solutions for those covered under your EA. If you can do these two things, you will have enabled a solid foundation to build on while getting value from your Microsoft investment.

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