REDMOND, Wash. – Dec. 7, 2009 – New products and technologies such as Windows 7 and Exchange Server 2010 are attractive investments for businesses because they can help reduce operating costs, a critical advantage in the current economic environment. Even though Microsoft has made the upgrade process as seamless as possible, with any new software there can be questions around compatibility with existing platforms and applications, and deployment best practices.
Norm Judah, chief technology officer, Microsoft Services.
These are among the questions that Microsoft Services helps customers answer every day. The group’s consultants, system architects, advisors and technical specialists operate in 82 countries and 44 languages and function as consultants to organizations of all sizes.
PressPass asked Norm Judah, chief technology officer for Microsoft Services, to explain how his team is helping enterprises evaluate, adopt and deploy two of the company’s newest products, Windows 7 and Exchange Server 2010.
PressPass: How do customers benefit by working with Microsoft Services?
Judah: In a nutshell, we help customers adopt new software more quickly, predictably and with reduced cost and risk.
We work with customers throughout the entire product life cycle. With new technologies, we are often engaged with customers before a product is generally available. We usually start at the architectural level, where we look at the customer’s particular scenario and help them plan a strategy for deployment. We then guide them through the adoption and deployment stages, helping them gain maximum value from their Microsoft software investments.
PressPass: How can you help customers that are considering Windows 7 or Exchange 2010?
Judah: We have introduced a suite of four offerings that help customers accelerate application testing and deployment of Windows 7. These are scalable solutions that deal with desktop planning, desktop application compatibility, desktop image engineering, and desktop deployment.
We also recently introduced an Architecture and Design offering for Microsoft Exchange 2010, which includes planning, risk assessment, and architecture and design tools. (See sidebar for more.)
Each offering leverages the expertise of our consultants, architects, engineers and project managers, and is backed by proven methodologies, best practices and processes derived from our engagement with early adopters. This helps customers migrate more quickly, with reduced risk and cost.
PressPass: Can you give any examples of how you have helped customers?
Judah: One of our offerings involves testing for desktop application compatibility, which is one of the main questions customers have as they think about deploying Windows 7. Samsung Electronics asked us to look at a total of 53 business-critical and line-of-business applications, such as corporate-wide security applications, at the outset of their upgrade. We identified some compatibility issues before deployment, and were also able to suggest some easy remediation options so Samsung could move forward with the deployment.
Similarly, I just got back from visiting with a petrochemical company in Europe. They have well over 1,000 applications they have developed internally using Visual Basic. The initial investigation indicated that all their applications were incompatible with Windows 7. But through our testing tool, we quickly discovered that there was a common root cause for the incompatibility having to do with a single library module that had been used in writing all of the apps. By changing that module, the compatibility issue was easily resolved.
Of course, we do much more than application compatibility testing, but these are two examples of the value we provide.
PressPass: In this weak economy, what are you hearing from customers about their interest in these new products?
Judah: There’s certainly a high level of cost-consciousness out there, but I see a lot of companies that are looking at the cost savings that are inherent in upgrading to Windows 7 and Exchange Server 2010. Those savings are the result of streamlined management and improved security.
For example, Microsoft Services worked with the Canadian aerospace company Bombardier to upgrade its client PCs to Windows 7. Bombardier expects to save up to U.S. $10 for each of their 15,000 PCs as a result of implementing Windows 7 security enhancements, such as Windows Firewall, BitLocker and BitLocker to Go. The company will be able to eliminate firewall and disk-encryption solutions it was licensing from other vendors, improve information access through BranchCache and increase employee productivity.
I’d say most customers these days are upgrading to achieve operational efficiencies or because of the new capabilities and features offered by products like Exchange Server 2010 and Windows 7.
PressPass: What distinguishes Microsoft Services from other services providers?
Judah: Microsoft Services works closely with the product development teams that build the technologies that we’re helping customers implement. This, combined with the deep technical expertise of our Services professionals, means we bring a different level of technical expertise to the table for customers earlier in the implementation than many other services providers, and we have the ability to leverage the resources of the product team. This not only helps our customers take advantage of these products, but it helps Microsoft’s partner ecosystem, too, because we make this knowledge available to partners once it has been proved a best practice.
PressPass: How does Microsoft Services pass these learnings on to Microsoft’s partner ecosystem?
Judah: After we’ve worked with a few dozen early adopters of a new technology, we develop a robust library of best practices around deployment. In the case of Windows 7, we’ve been working with companies and organizations since before the beta was released.
We share those learnings with other customers. We also take what we learn about how the products are being used and integrated into customers’ IT infrastructures and share that information with the Microsoft product development teams, as well as with Microsoft’s hardware and software partners.
Last year, we introduced the Services Ready program to formalize that transfer of knowledge, best practices and proven tools. Through Services Ready, we package the learnings from each offering and make them available to partners. By the end of 2009, we anticipate that Services Ready partners will be able to begin training and co-engaging with Microsoft on their first customer implementations.
PressPass: Can you give an example of one of those best practices?
Judah: Sure. Exchange Server 2010 is a fairly complex application server, and there are many ways of deploying it, depending on the specific needs of a particular customer. So one best practice is to build out a small number of optimal prescribed configurations of Exchange Server 2010, based on frequently deployed workloads.
Customers can learn more about Microsoft Services capabilities and offerings at http://www.microsoft.com/microsoftservices/en/us/home.aspx. For details on Windows 7, visit http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/windows7/materials.aspx and the Windows Blog http://windowsteamblog.com.