Episode 11 – All things Microsoft in the Modern Workplace


Join us as we listen to Sree Vasukuttan Product Marketing Coordinator and Dan Fischetti, Sr. Program Manager both from the Microsoft Center of Excellence. Discussions on M365 in the modern workplace, how Microsoft Teams works and migration to AZURE.

How are you securing your data from end user to the data center?  How are you dealing with Windows Server and Sql Server End of Life?

Listen to more TechSperience podcasts.

This is a transcript of the TechSperience podcast – Episode 10


Welcome back to Connection’s Techsperience podcast series. In the spotlight on this episode, All Things Microsoft. M365, Azure, and how you deal with certain end of life situations. In conversation, both from Connections Microsoft Center of Excellence, we have Sree Vasukuttan, Product Marketing Coordinator, and Dan Fischetti, Senior Program Manager for Software. We join the conversation with some key takeaways from the recently wrapped up Microsoft Inspire Conference.

Sree Vasukuttan:

You attended the conference this year, and I watched the keynotes live. And how was the event, and what was the main pitch that Microsoft had there, and what were takeaways?

Dan Fischetti:

The Microsoft event every year is, it’s the opportunity where Microsoft globally brings partners, globally like I said, all together, basically talk about what their strategies and goals are for their fiscal year each year.

This year, the biggest takeaway for me was they’re really, really encouraging us as a tr- the traditional LSP partner to branch out a little bit further and talk about and collaborate, not talk about, but really collaborate with our service integrator partners, with additional ISP partners, where it’s more of that third party solution on how those solutions tie in to the Microsoft Teams experience, the Azure experience, and Modern Workplace all together.

So, really, the goal is how do we build relationships inside of our, our current customer base? But then also be able to attach the full solution and give the customer a full, just a full solution from end to end. And that gives us a, gives us a great opportunity just to be more valuable to our customers, and to Microsoft themselves.

One of the biggest key takeaways that I’ve noticed with not noticed, but really, they delivered on, was Microsoft Teams. That’s going to be a huge play as we continue down the path of fiscal year ’20 with Microsoft.

Microsoft Teams is, it’s more than just a peer-to-peer calling, or a replacement for Skype. It’s a full, f- full-on collaboration tool where, yes, you get the, you get the audio conferencing, you get all that that’s good stuff, right?

But they’re making it more of a valuable application where it’s tying in SharePoint. It’s tying in Outlook. It’s tying in PowerPoint where it’s basically using, you know, when you’re tying in all these applications, or additional applications into one, one app, and you can access everything directly out of that application, you think about it as a worker, it makes life a lot easier to work through.

And you don’t have to constantly be back and forth going in and out of your Outlook, going to a PowerPoint, going to whatever it might be, you can d- work directly out of Teams, in a Team collaborative environment where if you’re co-authoring anything that you’re working on it just makes it for a more team-oriented experience to be able to build and develop things that you’re trying to do.

Sree Vasukuttan:

I saw that Teams also came out as like a 13 million daily subscribers and, or something. Right? That is one of the, one of the big announcements that, you know, Satya Nadella, the CEO, made on his keynote.

So, let’s backtrack a little bit and talk about how you’re going to use this Teams as an application to kind of implement your vision of partnering with other ISVs or other partners and bring a complete solution.

Dan Fischetti:

Our, our vision right now, and obviously, this is a collaborative vision between Microsoft, Connection, and these strategic alliance partners that we’re, that we’re putting bigger bets on, so to speak. And what they’re doing is, you look at it from a peer-to-peer calling perspective as I was talking about before.

How does that look to the customer? How we do we create that energized experience when we’re doing a Skype conference, or an audio conference, or a Teams conferencing, is really what we’re talking about on that part.

When you start looking at Teams from the, from the perspective of conference room area; so, I mean, you have the examples where you’re able to tie in some of our strategic hardware partners. Where it can help basically make a better experience in a small conference room setting.

Because these, these partners have, you know, the, the video side of it, so y- you’re talking flat-screen TVs on the wall, and then they also have the ability to have at the place tie directly into everything. And just, it creates more of that collaborative experience where if you’re a remote worker, you feel like you’re in the room. Because you’re visually seeing everyone.

So, from that side, is Microsoft’s trying to tie that collaborative piece in with those additional partners that can offer the AV solution for us.

Sree Vasukuttan:

Dan, let’s talk a little bit about In360. We talked about Teams, now 365 is more like the meta suite in which Teams is a part of. How does this combining the ISVs play out in the In365 space?

Dan Fischetti:

Yeah, it’s an interesting point. Because look at these independent software vendors, and you look at Micros-, and the Modern Workplace is what we’re really looking at. So it’s how are we creating that experience in Modern Workplace where it’s a full solution?

So, when you start looking at it, like I was mentioning with us working with some of the hardware, or some of those additional hardware vendors that offer the audio-visual solution, really you got to take it and unpack it a little bit further, where you’re just, you start looking at Outlook. And how are you doing how are you backing up Exchange online?

So, you got to, you got to be able to offer a backup solution. And then on top of the backup solution, because it’s all c- obviously, because it’s all cloud-based, it’s all going from Azure, pretty much all backs into it when you have it all set up, you know, Azure AD experience and all that.

On top of that, what’s the biggest thing that’s really out there in today’s news, and what’s the biggest thing that customers are worried about, is their data. How are they securing their data from the end user, all the way back into the data center?

So, we’re, we’re working with those strategic security partners on top of Microsoft security, to fully offer that solution to the customer from a, the best end user experience, the backing up all their data and information, and to securing it from start to finish.

Sree Vasukuttan:

Dan, let’s switch gears a little bit and talk a little bit about Azure. You talked, you mentioned Azure.

But, how was, what was the Azure pitch? I know that the general Microsoft messaging is about, like, you know increasing consumption on Azure, and how did that, how does that play out for our customers?

Like, what, what does it mean when Microsoft says, “We want to have more people on Azure”? How does that play out in, in a Connection customer base?

Dan Fischetti:

Yeah, so, with, with Azure, it’s, you’re, you’re deliv- you’re looking at having a cloud based, cloud data center, right? That aspect is when we have, when we’re working with our customers around h- having a Azure environment, investing in Azure, right?

So, we want to be able to offer them solutions through the Azure marketplace where it’s the same situation where I was talking about with Modern Workplace.

But with Azure, it’s, th- there’s, there’s the capability of, you have it in one location, you have it failover, in high availability in another location across the world, it helps with basically making sure the customer ha- doesn’t have any downtime in their environment.

When you start looking at you can reduce the footprint size when it comes to physical hardware boxes, you could still have a couple of hardware boxes in your environment.

But really, Azure gives you that capability where you have th- that so much flexibility and el- and elasticity from a server, from a virtual server farm perspective, that you can do a lot more.

Sree Vasukuttan:

Dan, talking about you were saying Azure as in way for our customers who are still on on-prem to kind of, to expand to Azure. I know that Windows Server, Single Server, end of life is a big event. How is Connection going on about it?

Dan Fischetti:

How we’re really approaching it is that we, you know, we want to look at Azure in helping our customers with these updates.

So, there’s three key points, really, to the whole thing. It’s, you know, you’re talking innovation is what you’re getting through Azure. You’re talking cost savings, and you’re t- really talking security for clients.

You know, with everything with the customers, where if they’re not updating or upgrading their servers to either the latest on-prem software, or if they’re not going to move their licensing to the cloud, you know, the biggest thing that is risked is, you know, security updates. And, and that’s the biggest thing that where a lot of customers in today’s environment, they’re worried about security.

Sree Vasukuttan:

And right now, Windows Single Server is out of security. There’s no security update, security from Microsoft available for it, Single Server 2008 and 2008, 02. Right.

Dan Fischetti:

Right. No, yeah, exactly. And it’s already there. They’ve got to update, right? So, you know, when looking at the innovat- the innovative side that Azure could bring to them, it it’s going to make the customer a little bit more agile in their environment. It gets the full reporting capabilities and it, plus also, in addition is through the Azure marketplace, there’s additional ISV partners out there that deliver great solutions, that have the ability to help the customer in their current environment, in whatever way they need help with. And it’s, it’s impressive.

And that’s what kind of bringing things full circle with a lot, with our conversation today, is that’s what Microsoft is talking about at Microsoft Inspire. Whether it’s from Azure, the Modern Workplace, working with partners, the whole goal is, so the whole, so everyone works together in a more collaborative experience. And it doesn’t matter people are working from, whether you’re, you know, you’re in the office. Whether you’re, you’re a remote employee working out of your house. Or if you’re working at a Starbucks. The biggest thing is you’re, where, you can be productive from anywhere, and you can do that with the Microsoft Solution set, with Modern Workplace and Azure.

Sree Vasukuttan:

So, are you engaging in any specific conversations regarding like ISV solutions on Azure Marketplace right now?

Dan Fischetti:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent. No, I mean, we’re identified our strategic partners, like we have with the Modern Work, Workplace Talk Track and strategy that we were mentioning earlier. It’s the same talk track.

I mean, and it, honestly, it’s a lot of the same partners that are going to help us deliver that overall solution that our customers can be ready for. And we want to be able to just o- you know, when it makes sense to the customer, it makes sense. But it’s really just offering that full solution.

Sree Vasukuttan:

Can you talk a little bit more about what Connection Services Team is doing in terms of Windows Server, Single Server transition to… Well, it’s Azure Extended Security updates, which is free, or to Windows Server, 2019 setup.

Dan Fischetti:

Yeah, I mean, from the Connection value add standpoint, really, you start looking at h- how do we look at the life cycle management of an agreement with the customer?

And when we walk through the, the process with the customer, really, we want to understand what do they currently have deployed in their environment? What do they currently own, licensing-wise, from a Microsoft investment?

And then how, and then how do we look at that if it’s older sec- if it’s older software like you mentioned, 2008, 2008R2, if it’s SQL or Windows, really our overall approach is to what’s going to work best for the customer? Did they stay full? Did they invest fully on on-prem licensing, which is typically the most expensive way. But they should start really considering that hybrid.

If they’re not ready for a full cloud environment, but want to do a mix, you do a hybrid on-prem, cloud type mix in their environment. That way they’re better preparing themselves for the long tail of their business. Really, we want to be able to lead the customer down the path of and adopting the cloud technologies the best way that they can.

Sree Vasukuttan:

What is a call to action for a customer who is going through the Windows Server, Single Server end of life, and what are the next steps that they have? How do Connection take care of them?

Dan Fischetti:

Yeah, no, so really, call to action is we strongly encourage our customers, current customers or even customers or prospective customers, really to reach out to Connection or their account manager to further engage our specialized Microsoft resources to go through the path of doing a full Microsoft licensing optimization, so we understand the road map for how they want to adopt cloud products.

But then also we have w- in our full value add, we have the ability to lo- not only to take care of the licensing side, but we can also talk to Technical Services Group, our, you know, our Microsoft Services practice to help deliver that full solution so we can cover the customer from the licensing, migration and implementation and utilization. So, we got, we can cover the full gamut for our customers the best way we can.

Sree Vasukuttan:

So, migrations is one of the services that we offer from our TSG group. Right?

Dan Fischetti:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Reach back out, Mr. Customer, talk to our account managers, and see how we’re, how we can help deliver the best Microsoft solution to you as best as possible.

Sree Vasukuttan:

Dan, we, we talked about a lot of stuff today, and we talked about M365, we talked about Microsoft Teams, we talked about Azure, we talked about Windows Server, Single Server, end of life means for our customers. And what is the migration tack to Azure.

And I’m looking forward to having individual conversations on all these subjects in the coming podcast episodes and it was great talking to you today.


Again, Sri and Dan, from Connection’s Microsoft Center of Excellence Team, if you would like more information on any of the topics that were covered, you’re invited again to reach out to your account management team. You could also join us online; we’ll simply point you to connection.com/microsoft.