The Garage Series for Office 365: The evolving role of IT in a cloud services world

Today we head back to the Garage in Redmond and discuss what cloud services mean to administrators of Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and other Office services. Garage Series host, Jeremy Chapman, is joined by Curtis Sawin, a technology consultant who’s helped quite a few IT departments move from locally managed to Office 365-managed services. They discuss how both IT operations and end user demands have met at the cloud, demonstrate tips to efficiently administer Office 365 using PowerShell and answer whether moving to the cloud changes the role of IT.

One of the most common questions I hear from admins considering services like Office 365, Windows Azure or other cloud services offerings is “Will the migration to the cloud be last thing I do at my company?” The short answer is no. We’ve spent the last year working with the IT community, speaking to analysts and even conducting research with early Office 365 adopters. And while some of the day-to-day tasks change, the shift — like with the increases of automation and virtualization before it — enable more compute per user and further extension to an IT department’s service offerings and capabilities.

On the show, Curtis and I explain how IT and the services themselves have progressed toward the cloud and in parallel users have moved from company-provided PCs to bringing their own devices and services. As Mark Kashman and I pointed out last fall, the new access model is really about authenticating services by your users’ identities as people want to access their work more and more from unmanaged devices, often not joined to your domain. Richer, browser-based solutions also make it easier for users — even those in locked-down environments without admin privileges to install software — to find their own solutions to share files and communicate with people using tools with limited to no visibility from IT. The rapid iterations of Office 365 capabilities are a means to stay current with user needs while keeping in control of who can access services along with full visibility of how data is accessed and shared.

All of this leads to how the role of IT changes. It’s been a relatively standard practice to lock software and capabilities sometimes for two major release cycles and in doing so, keep IT services and capabilities static for 6-7 years at a time. The challenge is that user demands tend to outpace those longer cycles. A measured and constant rate of new capabilities means IT might spend less time keeping services running or working on major upgrades, but more time delivering the incremental updates to capabilities people want and making sure people are taking advantage added capabilities.

Of course the IT toolset gets better and all of the service management controls spanning Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Yammer, user accounts and software get further consolidated into a central administration portal and you can perform bulk tasks for hundreds or thousands of users and settings at a time using PowerShell. We walk through all this while showing the admin tools in action and more on the show.

Next week we’ll be heading down to MEC in Austin and will have a full Garage Series experience similar to SPC a few weeks back and TechEd New Orleans last summer. If you are heading down to Austin, come by and join us in the Garage.

See you next time,

Jeremy Chapman


More resources

Microsoft Office 365 Administration Inside Out

Windows PowerShell cmdlets for Office 365 management and deployment

Garage Series Video Channel

Garage Series Season 1 Blog Archive

Follow @OfficeGarage on Twitter


About the Garage Series hosts

By day, Jeremy Chapman works at Microsoft, responsible for optimizing the future of Office client and service delivery as the senior deployment lead. Jeremy’s background in application compatibility, building deployment automation tools and infrastructure reference architectures has been fundamental to the prioritization of new Office enterprise features such as the latest Click-to-Run install. By night, he is a car modding fanatic and serial linguist. Curtis Sawin has a long history in application management, software distribution and Office 365 implementation with early adopters. In his spare time, he is a competitive long distance swimmer and outdoorsman.