Microsoft cloud offerings coming to Oz

I’ve been hanging out to see what Microsoft is going to offer in the way of cloud computing here in Australia and its seems not too far off.

 

This article from the Australian gives you some ideas of what Microsoft’s plan are. What I liked from the article was the following quote:

 

Mr Elop (Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft’s business division) said recent meetings with customers showed strong interest in upgrading to online software applications, despite worries that a global recession would dampen technology spending.


“We may have underestimated the extent to which customers will move in this direction,” he said.

 

How many other people out there (especially traditional resellers) have underestimated this as well? Even if you are not planning on offering anything from the cloud you need to ensure that you stay abreast of what is happening. Simply writing off cloud computing as a flash in the pan doesn’t work any more. I’m pretty certain that sooner or later all customers are going to start asking about services from the cloud and as an IT provider if you can’t answer them then they are just going to find these answers else where aren’t they? Do you really want your customers going elsewhere for IT advice?

 

The general rule is that change happens slower than we expect but when things do change they happen in a way we could have never imagined. I reckon this is what is going to happen with cloud computing.

Blogging for business

A few posts ago I was talking about Blogging being a living resume. I wanted to expand a little on this in the context of business. The best way is probably to give you an example of what I mean.

I have a contact who is small software developer. They are really smart and write really good software but they always complain to me that they need to do more marketing. I asked what they did now and the response was simply to maintain their main web site. I suggested that perhaps they consider blogging.

Initially the response was why bother? But I urged them, like I urge you, to hear me out on this. Now these guys write good software and solve a lot of tricky problems but who every knows? Their existing customers certainly don’t because they simply get the latest update from the software generally unaware of any improvements. The smartest way I can see to publicise this is to blog about it. Spend some time telling everyone what the problems was and how you solved in as much detail as possible.

What good will that do? Eventually, search engines will index that content and then if someone is running a search about software development they may find the blog. Reading the entries in the blog they get a better appreciation of what these guys do. They then contact the company about doing some work. People may also subscribe to the blog on a regular basis and others may even quote the blog as a reference to other topics. A blogs ability to grow in reach is a very powerful marketing tool.

I know there are plenty of if’s and but’s here however what benefit do you get by retaining all the the good work you’ve just performed inside your business? Blog it dude! Let the world know what you solved and how you went about it. In reality it only takes a few minutes to write a post and update it. As you add more and more content it starts to have real value and each item may generate a hit from search engines that could bring in business.

Now, it is no good just casually doing a blog, you need to look at in light of the marketing of your business. You therefore need to work at ensuring it is updated regularly, is professionally focused and provides value to readers. I don’t think this is particularly hard to do because all you simply need to do is get into a routine. However always examine the content in light of marketing for your business.

Blogging is cheap, easy to do, allows you to develop and enhance your written communications, demonstrates you understand the latest social networking benefits and more. In this economic climate you want to give your business every chance of obtaining revenue and to me blogging done right is an easy win for a business as well as an individual.

More cloud offerings arrive

Australia largest telco, Telstra, is now making available a range of hosted software application via its T-Suite brand. Interestingly, Telstra is also a big Microsoft customer so have I little doubt there is some sharing of resources going on here.

Because Telstra also provides broadband and 3G access you can appreciate how these Software as a Service (SaaS) model provides a good business model going forward.

Many experienced IT providers know that Telstra doesn’t always have the best name in the business for the services it provides yet it is big enough to overcome that and still be one of the largest ISP’s in the land. Due to their size, implementing something like this is pretty simple.

So what impact does that have on your average reseller? Probably not too much yet but it is a further warning that the landscape is changing. It is an indication that the big boys are able to offer services to traditional reseller customers on a month by month basis. This is not a model that is possible for most current resellers. Also, people like Telstra are going to be able to bundle Software as a Service with broadband, email and web hosting, mobiles and so on. Even if individual services are sub par their combined offering is enticing for many customers wanting the simplicity of a single supplier.

This is only the beginning of the cloud casting a shadow across the current landscape. It won’t be long before you see many other providers doing the same thing. I also expect Microsoft to come to the Australian market with something very soon.

If you are a traditional resellers you need to appreciate that your market is being changed by forces beyond your control. Your time to determine what direction you will take is slowly running out as more cloud offerings are forming on the horizon to blot out the sunshine of traditional IT market. Like it or not the change is coming.

Your blog is your living resume

I’ve just been reading 10 Essential Steps to Take BEFORE You’re Laid Off from the Get Rich Slowly blog and even though all the points are very valid the one that struck me was:

 

Start a blog that contains at least 50% professional material. If you don’t already have a blog, stop reading this one and go start one right this minute. It’s essential. Your blog is your living resume. It shows how you think. It shows how you write. It shows what’s important to you. While it is fine to blog about personal topics, devote half of your posts to professional content. What is that you do by trade? Mentor us through your blog. We employers love hiring mentors — they raise everybody’s performance.

I been talking to a few people lately who are changing positions both by choice and not by choice and one of the things I tell them is that they should start a blog. Recently, someone else asked me how to ‘break into’ the IT field, my answer again was to blog.

 

If I’m an employer and you show me your blog and it is at least 50% professional it goes a long way in boosting your stocks with me. Why? Firstly, you’ve taken the time to create and maintain a blog (that’s why regular entries are critical). Next, it shows me you are keeping up with the times and utilizing social networking. Next, it helps you stand above your peers who couldn’t be bothered blogging. It also shows that you have the confidence to promote your thoughts, musings, discoveries, etc for free. Only the paranoid try and hold every piece of information they come across. It also indicates to me that you are a good communicator and you have the ability to work with the written word. And that’s just for a start.

 

There’s no way that you could ever get that across in a resume. A blog is a far better indicator to me of your skills, personality and dedication. If you do a blog then you need to ensure it remains professional and thus if you want to also do a personal blog I’d recommend you simply create a separate one for those socially embarrassing photos. Because, done incorrectly a blog can sink your prospects as quickly as a good blog can boost them.

 

My recommendations if you don’t blog? Create a professional blog. Ensure that you update it regularly. Remember that anything that goes in here you want a potential employer to see. Include your own ideas, comments and feedback rather than just regurgitating information. Remember a blog is about your take on the information not simply you reporting it. It may seem awkward at first but if you keep at it you’ll improve. Practice makes perfect.

 

So there is really no excuse not to blog. Blogging sites are free, tools to promote your blog are free as are tool to monitor your blog so money is never going to be an issue when it comes to blogging. It simply comes down to your time on a regular basis because nothing looks worse than a blog that never gets updated (even worse than a web site that also never does). It doesn’t take much, just a few minutes here and there. Who knows, after a while you may even come to enjoy it. You may even find other people enjoy reading it as well. Utilize the power of social networking to your benefit.

 

If you want to add value to yourself professionally, use a blog to demonstrate to the world why you know your stuff. A blog is so much more than a CV because it it living.

New version of SharePoint will be 64 bit only

In light of other recent Windows upgrades (i.e. SBS2008) that are 64 bit only, the new version of SharePoint, when it becomes, available will also only be 64 bit. This will basically mean it will only run on Windows Server 2008 or better.

 

The reason I mention this is because if you are planning to build a SharePoint solution now it is probably a very good idea to consider a 64 bit environment. Windows SharePoint Services is already available in a 64 bit version so you could install it today and be prepared for when the new version become available.

 

It is my understanding that Service Pack 2 for the existing version of SharePoint v3.0 will be available in the first half of the 2009. However, you may want to consider making the move to a 64 bit platform today rather than when the new version of SharePoint is released.

Skydrive upgrade

I went to my Skydrive today and look

 

image_2_21560613

 

I’ve now got 25GB of space I can use to store stuff. Did I do anything? No. Was the system down while more space was added? No. All this happened behind the scenes without me even knowing. Suddenly, as a customer, I’ve gotten more resources and functionality for no additional cost. Apart from all that it’s free anyway and not doubt going to continually increase in size.

 

I’d like to also say that this goes a long way to illustrating my point about how good cloud computing is. If I’d tried to add more space on-site I would need to have bought media, installed it, formatted it and so. However, overnight, bamm, I’ve been upgraded. The same principle can be applied to most services that are going to be available from the cloud.

 

Don’t think this is threat to the traditional on-site model of computing? Take a step back and look at it from a customers perspective. I’ve suddenly gotten more without any disruption to my operations. As a customer, how is this not enticing for me?

Does anyone out there understand this stuff?

I received the following email forwarded from a contact recently.

 Now, what I find interesting is the simple fact that they must have in turn received this from one of their contacts but they chose to believe it to be true immediately. It certainly doesn’t appear that the question was asked to whether this was legitimate before it was forwarded to me. If someone did that to them in the street they certainly think twice before accepting anything. Why doesn’t the same apply with technology? To those that know there is plenty to give away the fact that it is indeed a hoax.

The problem this highlights is simply how easy it is to bypass most security technology by convincing a user to take steps to circumvent security. This is how most security issues spread, by people believing carte blanch that what they have received is legitimate. I’m afraid that no technology is going to ever be able to mitigate the threat users pose to their own systems. The only method is training and the attitude to trust nothing from the Internet with verifying it.

When most employees go to work in a business they are not taught how to use emails are they? They are likewise not taught how to use the Internet and clearly they are also not taught how to search as the following from Google illustrates.

Now, apparently these are the top ten terms used in Google searches according to Google (yet to see this posted on the web by Google – maybe soon):

  • Games
  • Sydney
  • YouTube
  • MySpace
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • eBay
  • My
  • Weather
  • Hotmail
    Ahhh, hang on. Why are people typing Google into Google search? It sorta indicates to me that people don’t know what they are doing, just like in the following video clip.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oCHxB8d20s
    Don’t forget typing Google into Google is the sixth most popular search term. Now it is my understanding that these words are the top ten single words searched for on Google. Hello. Doesn’t that sort of tell you that people don’t really know how to use search engines? Look at the other words as well, many are domains (i.e. Hotmail, YouTube, Facebook, etc). What’s going on here. How can we have had the web for all these years and yet so many people don’t seem to even understand the basics!

    We spend so much of our time encapsulating our lives with technology when in reality most people have very little idea about it all. In our jobs we are simply expected to know how to use emails, the web, office applications etc but are never taught. So how are we going to use them? Via the lowest common denominator. We are afraid and too time poor to try and learn any features or configurations that would really help. Our employers take for granted that employees know how to use all the technology and yet employees, without guidance and training, are the best threats to circumvented security that any organization faces. Also think about the time people waste struggling to use technology tools they have only learned by trial and error. Maybe this in another reason people haven’t adopted Vista – to much change.

    The answer is not more technology it is understanding how to use the technology better.