All posts by Zach Cooper

Microsoft customers will be able to record, report, and reduce their emissions


Zach Cooper

14 Jul, 2021

Microsoft has announced Cloud for Sustainability, an initiative that aims to help the company and its customers meet their carbon reduction and sustainability goals by recording, reporting, and reducing emissions on their path to net zero.

The new cloud offering, which will be available later this year, will allow customers to invest in sustainable practices and partner with experts to accelerate progress around their carbon reduction and sustainable goals. 

“Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is designed to help companies measure, understand, and take charge of their carbon emissions, set sustainability goals and take measurable action,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at the company.

The company said the new offering acknowledges carbon reduction as one of the most urgent crises facing the planet, and responds to demand from investors, customers, and legislators for more commitment, accountability, and measurement of carbon reduction efforts within organisations.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is built on Azure, Microsoft Dataverse, Power Platform and Power BI. This new offering will employ the company’s ecosystem of partners for specialised industry third-party apps, data sources and emissions data connectors.

The platform includes SaaS offerings that can discover and connect to real-time data sources, accelerate data integration and reporting, provide accurate carbon accounting, measure performance against goals, and enable intelligent insights for organisations to take effective action.

For example, Microsoft said that CIOs will be able to easily report on IT carbon emissions from the cloud, devices, and applications as part of their department’s environmental footprint. From there, they will be able to connect their emissions data sources into one view for reporting.

Earlier this week, Google Cloud announced an update to its data centre region picker which allowed costumes to reduce their carbon footprint by selecting a region based on its CO2 output. Cloud Run and Datastream users can now find a region with the lowest carbon impact inside the Cloud Console location selectors. The tool is set to be rolled out to other Google Cloud offerings over time.

Microsoft unveils Windows 365 ‘Cloud PC’ service


Zach Cooper

14 Jul, 2021

Microsoft today unveiled Windows 365, a Windows 10 or Windows 11 as a cloud service that streams the “full Windows experience”, such as apps, data, and settings, to any device on the Microsoft Cloud.

The company declared that Windows 365, which will be generally available on 2 August to organisations of all sizes, has created “a new hybrid personal computing category” called the Cloud PC, which uses the cloud to provide a “personalised Windows experience”.

“The Windows experience is consistent, no matter the device. You can pick up right where you left off, because the state of your Cloud PC remains the same, even when you switch devices,” said Wangui McKelvey, general manager of Microsoft 365.

Users will be able to turn on their device, launch a native app or modern web browser and log on to their Windows 365 account. 

“From there, their Cloud PC appears with their background, their apps, their settings and their content just as they left it when they last were last there [sic]–in the office, at home or a coffee shop,” she said.

McKelvey added that seasonal workers can ramp on and off according to the needs of the business, allowing organisations to scale for busy periods without the “complicated logistical and security challenges of issuing new hardware”.

Furthermore, she underlined that all data is stored in the cloud, so “you won’t have any issues around security because you’re not saving anything on your device”.

All managed disks running Cloud PCs are encrypted, all stored data is encrypted at rest, and all network traffic to and from Cloud PCs is also encrypted.

Users will be able to choose the size of the Cloud PC that best meets their needs, with per user, per month pricing. Users select Windows 10 or Windows 11 along with a configuration of processing power, storage, and memory. They can then access their Cloud PC on this new platform, as long as they have an internet connection. 

Organisations will also be able to choose between two edition options that include a cloud-based offering with multiple Cloud PC configurations based on performance needs: Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise.

Moreover, enterprise IT can use Microsoft Endpoint Manager to procure, deploy, and manage Cloud PCs for their organisation. The tech giant said that small businesses can use a self-service model to procure Cloud PCs for their organisations without a need for IT experience.

“Windows 365 is really going to make a huge difference for organisations that wanted to try virtualisation for various reasons but could not – maybe it was too costly, too complex or they didn’t have the expertise in house to do it,” McKelvey added.

The new platform is built on the Azure Virtual Desktop but simplifies virtualisation, according to the tech giant. Organisations can scale processing power and monitor the performance of the Cloud PC to make sure users are getting the best experience.

Microsoft has also built-in analytics to analyse connection health across the network and, from the Endpoint Analytics dashboard, the company said it is easy to identify the Cloud PC environments that are not delivering the performance needs of a given user.

McKelvey also said that the ability to log into a Cloud PC from anywhere on any device is part of the tech giant’s larger strategy around tailoring products, like Teams and Microsoft 365, for the post-pandemic hybrid workforce of the future. 

“It enables employees accustomed to working from home to continue working from home; it enables companies to hire interns from halfway around the world; it allows startups to scale without requiring IT expertise,” she said.

Four ways the cloud facilitates workplace collaboration


Zach Cooper

10 Feb, 2020

Collaboration is an increasingly powerful tool, with Forbes recently proclaiming the transition from the information age to the collaboration age

In modern businesses, collaboration refers to bringing employees and business partners closer together, strengthening their working relationships. It cultivates an environment wherein expertise and knowledge is shared, creating a hotbed for innovation and growth. 

It’s also critical in other ways. Employees expect to be equipped with tools that allow them to collaborate without friction, no matter where they are located, using the devices which are most useful to them. Neglecting this business requirement could make it difficult to retain and attract talent. 

Cloud technology is a great collaboration facilitator. By acting as the foundation of the modern, digital workspace, the cloud allows users to connect and work more cohesively, both within the business and with external partners.

Employee communication

As speed and agility are critical to business demands, the ease at which internal employees can communicate is very important. Cloud technology allows team communication to be instant and robust, with chat-based workspaces displacing archaic email systems and enabling employees to collaborate on team projects.

Better communication between employees at all levels allows ideas to be easily shared, resulting in higher participation levels across projects. All members of the team have an equal opportunity to contribute, empowering employees and making for a healthy working environment.

File sharing

No matter how quickly employees can digitally communicate, if the IT infrastructure isn’t in place to support workflows, all that will get done is lots of chatting and no actioning.

In business, file transfers are the process which gets things done. The daily transfer of files and documents between external systems and external partners has become so prominent that it’s now classified as a core business process. One that, without the right technology in place, can be laborious and unreliable.

Cloud-based file sharing enables instant access to files, no matter where the team is located. It’s also able to manage larger files, such as audio and video that email servers don’t have capacity to accommodate, as well as eliminating the need for physical files. 

The fact that 80% of IT professionals are reported to have received file sharing requests via the cloud, displays how organisations are already using the cloud to ease collaboration in this way.

Remote working

Digital workspaces created by the cloud are allowing employees to connect and work in new ways. Boundaries are being deconstructed and focal points decentralised, making for a more balanced enterprise. Even employees’ locations are redistributed.

This is the remote working phenomenon. With cloud computing, employees can work anywhere, at any time, permitting collaboration between colleagues without the restriction of having to be in the same physical space. 

A wider pool of talent is created for the business to select from as geography is no longer a factor, and on the employee’s side, goes some way to improving their welfare; all feeding positively into productivity levels.

Employees are also empowered to utilise the devices they hold a preference for. Whether they need to operate on a tablet, a desktop, or on a phone on-the-go, cloud computing provides the flexibility to work with what suits them and their specific tasks the best.

Improved customer service

All initiatives within an enterprise are to some degree steered towards improving the customer experience. Cloud technology can store information on clients, ongoing sales, business intelligence, and so on, all with the aim of making it easier for employees to access shared information and communicate with one another.

Investment into a CRM system which integrates smoothly with existing applications permits further collaboration across departments within the sales and marketing process, creating ease which feeds back to the customer. This level of collaboration can power a more agile business, within which are responsive, better-informed teams capable of meeting changing customer demands.