All posts by David Barter

Exchange Server 2016: Improved Features and Functionality

In October of last year, Exchange Server 2016 became available. This was big news and, in case you missed it, I wanted to bring it back to your attention now that it has some market adoption. Unlike previous versions of Exchange, this one was forged in the cloud. Read this technet blog post to get a nice overview. Some of the highlights of new capabilities include:

  • Better collaboration
  • Improved Outlook web experience
  • Search functionality
  • Greater extensibility
  • eDiscovery
  • Simplified architecture
  • High Availability


If you’re looking for extensive details, visit the Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 product guide.

If you have any questions around Exchange Server 2016, please reach out and we’ll be sure to get them answered for you.


By David Barter, Practice Manager, Microsoft Technologies

Barracuda’s New Essentials for Office 365

Barracuda has recently released its new Essentials for Office 365 offering. In the past, I would get questions from customers about wanting to back up Office 365 to be able to control it themselves and not rely on Microsoft. I unfortunately never had much to tell them. You’re option was to go through Microsoft. Barracuda is now offering single email recovery without recovering the entire mailbox, associated attachments recovery, and conversation recovery. Barracuda has heard customers and delivered on those requests in a great way. If you’d like to hear me discuss Office 365 in more detail, check out a webinar I recently did.

Essentials for Office 365


Would you like to hear more from David around Office 365? Download his webinar, “Microsoft Office 365: Expectations vs. Reality


By David Barter, Practice Manager, Microsoft Technologies

Microsoft Office 365: Expectations vs. Reality

There are many benefits to implementing Microsoft Office 365 including reducing capital expenditures, the ability to scale your business quickly, and simplified licensing. There have also been increased features and functionality such as Yammer, Delve and Skype for Business. Keep in mind, however, there can be some challenges associated with Office 365 implementations. Organizations need to take the proper measures to prepare for quality migration  and management of this critical suite of end user productivity services.

I’ll be hosting a webinar on 11/18, with my colleagues Jay Keating and Geoff Smith, to cover strategies for migrating and supporting mobile workforces. If you’re considering implementation, I highly recommend you register. Below are some of the topics Jay, Geoff and I will be covering:

  • Office 365 capabilities and use cases
  • Microsoft Cloud IaaS (Azure) considerations
  • Hidden challenges of migrating to Office 365
  • Licensing, version control, & AD Premium & Office 365 E3 issues
  • The ugly side of post-migration user support
  • SLAs, Quality of Service, and accountability challenges
  • Security, confidentiality, and compliance pit falls
  • Having the CFO talk – risks, benefits, costs

Register now for David’s upcoming webinar, “Microsoft Office 365: Expectations vs. Reality.” Bring your questions, as there will be a Q&A session at the end of the webinar!


By David Barter, Practice Manager, Microsoft Technologies

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 End-of-Life: What You Need to Know

On April 12th of 2016, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 will reach its end-of-life (similar to what happened recently with Windows XP). This means there will no longer be any more support or updates from Microsoft. Think of the critical data you may have that exists in your environment that runs on the platform. If you don’t move off of SQL Server 2005 and it breaks (i.e. maintenance program that isn’t operating properly, bad bit of data getting into the data base, etc.), you could be in some serious trouble. You need to look at the workloads you have in SQL and what the impact will be if you stay on the platform. Watch the video below as I dive deeper into the topic.

If you’re looking for more information around Microsoft technologies, I will be hosting an upcoming webinar around Office 365 that I encourage you to register for.


Click here to view the video on our YouTube page


*Also, please note in the video I said you have 8 or 9 months to get this fixed. We filmed this video a while back but waited to release it a little closer to the EOL date when it would be on people’s radars. Again, the EOL date is April 12, 2016.

By David Barter, Practice Manager, Microsoft Technologies

Microsoft Ignite 2015: Top News & Announcements

This week I was fortunate to be able to attend my first-ever Microsoft Ignite 2015 Conference in Chicago at the McCormick Center. Me and 23,000 of my closest friends. We all gathered in one of the most cavernous buildings I have ever been in to see what Microsoft would unveil. We were not disappointed. Satya Nadella, Joe Belfiori and Gurdeep Singh Pall brought us insight into what was to come and began to showcase the innovation being delivered in the latest Microsoft miracles—miracles to empower IT Pros in companies all over the globe.

Microsoft IgniteIt quickly became apparent that Microsoft has made significant strides reinventing productivity for people and organizations. All of the new and upcoming Office 2016 features will enable successful companies to create effective communication flows between folks on premise and tele-workers. From my perspective, how can individual productivity not provide collective value from the co-creation feature available in Office 2016. Quite literally, you see folks type letter by letter, word by word from anywhere in the world. Gone are the days of email for this effort, painstakingly waiting for Jim to respond and then email it to Jennifer. In today’s new IT Integrator world, this means we can share documents with perspective customers via Skype for Business and mark them up live, with the customer adding to the flow real-time, in the actual Word document, not just on a whiteboard. Enable Track Changes and you can see what each contributor is doing and then merge the changes at the end.

This leads to faster turnaround on important Statements of Work, BAAs or other sales documents, speeding the rate of close on a particular opportunity.

For GreenPages, and our fellow IT Pros in their respective customer organizations, this is our collective opportunity to create better and more adaptable infrastructures. No longer are we burdened by hardware lead times and costs that blow up our budgets, just to add capacity for DevOps. The Microsoft Cloud makes it possible to create virtual datacenters on the fly, edit documents live, store them in the Microsoft Cloud and recall them from anywhere on a moment’s notice, and at a lower cost than ever before. I want to also highlight that this week at Ignite was not just about Azure, Office365, and Office2016. We also saw the walkthroughs on Skype for Business, Server 2015, Exchange 2016 and SharePoint 2016 in-depth for the first time. One word… Impressive.


Now, let’s talk about what Microsoft sees as the new online work experience.


Where work used to be a cube based, do your own thing and don’t lift your head (unless you smell food), it’s now a communal one. People still work individually on their own devices, in their own space, often on their own time, but now teams deliver projects more effectively to customers. With the foundation of new Office 365 Groups, they can work in communal, virtual teams, again anytime, anywhere. The ability to quickly bring people together to solve a complex business problem must be simple, lightweight, and allow team members to work the way they want to (much like the new millennial worker will or does want).  It is the ubiquitous team element that allows organizations such as GreenPages to listen to customers, take notes, create content, video, IM, tweet—and ensure our practices and our customers are part of the OneTeam approach driving collaborative context. As a Microsoft VTSP, I have access to their Office365 portal as my communication and knowledge base toolset. I have often lamented to customers during presentations that I wished Microsoft would release Office Delve to the consumer. Oh, what a great real time presentation of data; pertinent to what you are working on and a single pane of glass experience. Well, viola, we saw the preview of the Office 365 Group’s “hub” in Office Delve – not to mention that Delve has been released into production in Office365.  Also, I saw the ability to have group conversations in email, via Outlook 2016.

Human Mobility

Today, work is what we do, not where we go. My mission at GreenPages is to have helped develop a next generation VAR that ensures people can be productive wherever they are, using whatever device they have, therefore resulting in exemplary customer services to all of our customers. This includes both GreenPages’ employees and GreenPages’ customers. There are many, many reports that say 80% of time spent on phones and tablets is within native applications, so Microsoft presents us with the step-future approach and releases Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Skype, OneDrive, Yammer and more—across all devices and platforms. These newly deemed Office universal applications for Windows 10 are another great step on this journey. So, I immediately updated my Microsoft Surface Pro 3 to Windows 10 and Office 2016. So far so cool.

I am now a mobility monster. Maybe I should change my Microsoft Surface touch type keyboard to green. No… the whole thing should be green. I’ll show you a picture in my next blog.


At GreenPages today, our meetings are as often ad-hoc as they are pre-scheduled, and there are very few meetings where everyone is in the room. Most meetings, even those with customers, include one or more remote attendees. But I live for body language; I need to see how the person is reacting to the information that I’m offering so that I can adapt to make sure they are comfortable with it. The physical queue is imperative for me. Virtual attendees don’t offer body language. They don’t offer queues and most of the time you hit it out of the park, but sometimes you miss that shift in the chair and don’t find out you were off base until a follow up from the customer crushing your record of successful delivery. I believe, as does Microsoft, that moving forward, every meeting scheduled in Office 365 will automatically be a Skype for Business meeting, so customers and fellow employees don’t have to do anything additional to make video meetings.  With Microsoft’s roll-out of the new Skype for Business experience, it’s easy to get a meeting up and running in a few clicks, and video just works. There’s no need for plugins or special software; it is part of the default experience. Now, add in great hardware integration across the Surface Hub, Skype Room Systems, and with vendors like Cisco, Logitech and Polycom and you can have smart meeting rooms on the fly.

Content co-creation

One of the more exciting things we saw in the Office 2016 Public Preview release was Content co-creation. In theory and practice, I tried this once my upgrade was complete. All Office content is by design and default saved to, and shared from, OneDrive or OD4B. This content can be created and edited with real-time co-authoring in Word 2016. Also, email attachments are a thing of the past with Outlook’s new attachments that are simply shared from the cloud, much like you would share a link from Microsoft SharePoint.

I think this is an unprecedented period in Microsoft history. A full on charge at the Cloud, better yet the Microsoft Cloud and finally a rich Office package that makes the cloud seem like it is the hard drive on your desktop, laptop, tablet, Ipad, Surface or Mac. It was a very exciting week, and this just begins the build up to WPC in Orlando this year. I am sure more is to come from this next evolution.

Have you been dragging your feet leading up to the Windows Server 2003 End of Life date? Read David’s whitepaper to get a better idea of migration options available to organizations.


By David Barter, Practice Manager – Microsoft Technologies

5 Tips to be Prepared to Answer Cloud Questions from the C-Suite

Okay, so here we are in 2015 in this new age of cloud…what should IT professionals do to be ready to answer cloud questions and to migrate? It’s not a matter of if the CIO/CEO asks the question; it’s a matter of when. We, as IT worker bees, often are not privy to the conversations between the uber competitive CEOs of the world. They wouldn’t be CEO’s if they weren’t A-type competitive individuals. So the rule is how do I keep up with the Joneses, AKA my competitors in my marketspace.

answer cloud questions

Here are 5 recommendations that should help prepare the IT Director for this request from up on high.

Update your server and application stack

You probably should have run all your updates at year’s end, but you may have been too busy. So now is the time to do this. Update servers, desktops, router firmware, and mobile devices. This is often one of the most time-consuming, often overlooked and problem-causing tasks you can undertake (especially when a server doesn’t come back up after a reboot). Do it now and do it right, and you’ll start the year way ahead the game.

Educate yourself          

Now is the time to read what the market analysts say. Read what the vendors are saying. See what Gartner has to say for top of mind solutions, like Microsoft Azure. Don’t wait until the CEO says “Hey what is our cloud strategy” to run back to your desk and start training. Rollout is for usage, not for running up the learning curve. Also, proactively educate your staff, educate your users, and educate your management. In the end, you will be glad you did.

Clarify for cloud strategy

I’m not talking about a hair rinse you should use once a week. This is about clarifying your intentions around adoption of cloud for the year with upper management. Get out ahead of this, make sure they know what to expect then you will foster conversation that leads to insight on what they expect. Starting 2015 without clear expectations on both sides leads to confusion and eventually a year goes by and nothing has been accomplished.

Timeline your cloud migration

Take the calendar and break it into milestones. For example, by end of Q1 you want to have any hardware or software issues resolved per the Office365 Readiness toolkit results. By end of Q2 you want to have a pilot functioning for the testing of Office365 or Azure. Fail to plan, plan to fail as my friend and peer Randy Becker says…

Purge the spam

Many technology consumers feel that, much like at home, at work they should keep any and every e-record. That obviously leads to bloat in Exchange databases, file server solutions and other places. Backups become uncontrollable, and finally when you need to migrate, that little piece of corrupted spam will stop the mailbox from migrating.  Seriously — the beginning of the year is a great time to get rid of all those pieces of hardware you no longer need. And when you do purge, make sure to do it responsibly (i.e. empty the ‘Deleted’ and ‘Sent Items’ folders). Run the Exchange Maintenance Tasks and compact that database. In regards to hardware, larger cities usually have computer recycling services that can safely get rid of your old technology. Use them. By tossing out the junk, you’ll make for a much more efficient start of 2015.

So this should help you, the IT director, find a path to be ready to answer the “Cloud Ready” question. To reiterate, it is not a matter of if that question is coming, it is a matter of when. Good Luck and May the Cloud be with You.

If you’re interested in speaking more with David about how you can better prepare yourself for your organization’s transition to the cloud, click here.


By David Barter, Practice Manager – Microsoft Technologies

Microsoft “Office 365 Video” Release – Common Questions Answered

Office 365 VideoIn late November, Microsoft announced that first release customers would have access to Office 365 Video – a YouTube type video service in Microsoft 0365. Previously, video in O365 has pretty much been a load it to OneDrive and/or SharePoint online and “let ‘er rip” service. Customers could use the local video tool of their choice to watch their own videos but were not able to treat it as a viable social media entity like YouTube. For many users, the biggest detriment originally was that there was no organization or even ways to spawn that video online, let alone share or comment on it, so it really was not a great alternative to YouTube. But if I want a Microsoft-centric solution to promote my business within the ever expanding Microsoft Cloud model, then what do I use for a native solution without a ton of development time? Microsoft believes Office 365 Video is the answer.

Below, I answer some common questions around Office 365 Video:


Which Office 365 plans are required to get use this new offering?

Office 365 Video is included in the Office 365 E1, E2, E3 and E4 subscription plans (and the corresponding A2, A3 and A4 plans for Academic customers). To date, this is only for commercial customers and does not apply to SLED or FedGov (yet).


Do you have to incur additional costs for Azure Media Services consumption?

The integrated Azure Media Services usage does not incur additional cost to customer; videos stored in Office 365 will count against SharePoint Online team sites pooled storage. This is a doubled edge sword. Video format is key here, and without an education on what is a good frame rate to upload versus another you can easily run through your space allotted in those team sites.


What Office 365 workloads do I need for Office 365 Video to work?

Office 365 Video requires SharePoint Online. Once Office 365 Video has been rolled out to your users per the license model above, Office 365 Video will be enabled.


When will Office 365 Video be available in my cloud environment?

Customers who have opted into First Release should have seen, or will start to see very soon, Office 365 Video appear. Deployment beyond First Release, to standard deployment tenants, is targeted to complete worldwide by early 2015.


Can I turn off Office 365 Video for my subscription?

Yes. You can disable and enable it from within the SharePoint Online admin center.


Will Office 365 Video be available for the Office 365 Business SKUs (formerly the Small Business plans)?



Will Office 365 Video be available for the Office 365 Dedicated plans?



Hopefully this helps clarify some of the details around this announcement. If you have any other questions, reach out and I will be more than happy to answer them for you.


By David Barter, Practice Manager, Microsoft Technologies

Fun Facts about Microsoft Azure

facts about Microsoft AzureLooking for some helpful facts about Microsoft Azure? For those out there that may be confused about the Microsoft Azure solutions offered to date, here is the first in a series of posts about the cool new features of the Microsoft premium cloud offering, Azure.

Azure Backup, ok… wait, what? I need to do backup in the cloud? No one told me that!

Facts about Microsoft Azure

Yes Virginia, you need to have a backup solution in the cloud. To keep this high level below I attempted to outline what the Azure backup offering really is. There are several protections built into the Azure platform that help customers protect their data as well as options to recover from a failure.

In a normal, on premise scenario, host based hardware and networking failures are protected at the hypervisor level. In Azure you do not see this because control of the hypervisor has been removed. Azure, however, is designed to be highly available meeting and exceeding the posted SLAs associated with the service

Hardware failures of storage are also protected against within Azure. At the lowest end you have Local Redundant storage where they maintain 3 copies of your data within a region. The more common and industry preferred method is Geo-Redundant storage which keeps 3 copies in you’re region and 3 additional copies in another datacenter, somewhere geographically dispersed based on a complex algorithm. The above protections help to insure survivability of your workloads.

Important to note: The copies in the second datacenter are crash consistent copies so it should not be considered a backup of the data but more of a recovery mechanism for a disaster.

Did I hear you just ask about Recovery Services in Azure? Why yes, we have two to talk about today.

  • Azure Backup
  • Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery – This scenario both orchestrates site recovery as well as provides a destination for virtual machines. Microsoft currently supports Hyper-V to Azure, Hyper-V to Hyper-V or VMware to VMware recovery scenarios with this method.

Azure Backup is a destination for your backups. Microsoft offers traditional agents for Windows Backup and the preferred platform, Microsoft System Center 2012 – Data Protection Manager. Keeping the data in the cloud, Azure holds up to 120 copies of the data and can be restored as needed. At this time the Azure Windows backup version only protects files. It will not do Full System or Bare Metal backups of Azure VMs.

As of this blog post to get a traditional full system backup there is a recommend two-step process where you use Windows Backup which can capture a System State backup and the enable Azure Backup to capture this into your Azure Backup Vault.

There are 2 other methods that exist but currently the jury is out on the validity of these offerings. They are VM Capture and Blob Snapshot.

  • VM capture – which is equivalent to a VM snapshot
  • Blob Snapshot – This is equivalent to a LUN snapshot

As I said these are options but considered by many too immature at this time and respectfully not widely adopted. Hopefully, this provides some clarity around Azure and as with all things Microsoft Cloud related, Microsoft issues new features almost daily now. Check back again for more updates on what Azure can do for your organization!


By David Barter, Practice Manager, Microsoft Technologies