Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and Microsoft Project Server 2010 Integration white paper

Good pre-release white paper that might be of interest if you have or are planning to deploy Project Server 2010 and Dynamics AX: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 White Paper: Microsoft Project Server 2010 Integration . This document explains the integration architecture for Microsoft Dynamics ® AX 2012 and Microsoft ® Project Server 2010 and provides instructions for setting up integration between the two programs. By setting up integration between the two products, project managers can create projects in either of the products and synchronize project data between them. This solution enables you to draw on both the core project management capabilities in Project Server 2010 and the financial management capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics AX. For information on AX 2012 release please check out today’s press release:

Using Project to Create Meeting Agendas

If you think about it, meetings are a lot like projects. They’re for a defined amount of time with the goal of getting something accomplished. All good meetings have a defined agenda just like all good projects have a detailed schedule. Since you can use Project to create schedules, why not use Project to create your agendas? Now this is probably overkill for your one hour meeting where the agenda is three bullet points but if you are trying to plan a multi-hour meeting where a variety of speakers have to present and you need to stick to a timeframe – Project can definitely help. I recently had to plan a meeting that had some complexity and using Project saved me time. I knew that we had four hours available and had to get in seven presentations plus an intro and conclusion. I started by just dividing the time out and giving everyone the same amount of time but then all the speakers were saying they needed extra time or didn’t need that much time. If I had been in Excel or Word I would have had to manually update all the time slots and then constantly be checking to make sure everything still fit. Since I was in Project, I could make use of links and deadlines to automate this. This was especially handy after I made what I thought was the final schedule and someone pointed out I should probably add some breaks seeing how it was a four hour meeting – whoops. The below timeline is the final result of my planning and made for a great agenda graphic in my meeting request: How did I do this: Create a new project. Go to the Project tab – Project Information and set the project start date to the exact date and time of the meeting. Ex. 3/23/11 1:00 PM. If your meeting goes over lunch or outside normal working hours, also make sure to set the Project Calendar to the 24 hour calendar so it doesn’t affect your agenda. Go to File tab – Options. On the General tab, set the date format to HH:MM On the Duration tab, set Duration is entered in Minutes (or Hours is that works better for you) Now add your agenda items in the order you’ll be presenting. Feel free to use summary tasks to help organize the topics – I did. Select the last meeting item and go to the Task Information dialog – Advanced tab. Set the deadline to be the meeting end time. This way you’ll get an indication if you go over time. Now link all of the tasks by selecting them and clicking Link Tasks on the Task tab. You can now start playing with different durations to build a meeting agenda that will work. Don’t forget breaks! When you are done, you can create an agenda timeline by right-clicking the tasks and selecting Add to Timeline. Here’s the actual schedule that I created: Happy meeting planning!

The Service-Oriented Business: Part 2

Fast forward four years. It’s 2009. Remember that you’re Sara, the CIO of a mid-to-large retail company. You have many accomplishments that the business leadership team (and Board of Directors) has recognized: a streamlined supply-chain management system that reduces costs and out-of-stock conditions in stores, expanded your ecommerce presence to Europe, and improved the service levels of your major mission critical applications substantially as well as most of your “tier 2” applications, to name a few. Internally, you recognized that to have accomplished these goals for the business, changes within your IT group had to be made: You examined the IT processes that historically were either poorly performing or not defined and created programs and training for staff to implement IT management processes based on ITIL You virtualized most of your data center except for your mission critical applications and large database systems You implemented an IT service management management function that resulted in a robust but practical and usable configuration management database (CMDB) You created an SLA enforcement mechanism for your critical applications that has the effect of notifying your systems operations center when mission critical application components fail As a result, sales are up, costs are noticeably lower, and service quality is significantly improved. Life is sunny. Until the clouds come (sorry, I just had to put that in!) The implementation of your online presence in Europe has increased the traffic to your site infrastructure by 20%. Moreover, this move results in many holiday specialty items. While your ecommerce infrastructure (web site, fulfillment, inventory, and supply chain) has generally kept up with demand, it has struggled with performance and scaling issues during the holiday season. Also, the annual operational cost of the data center is quite high due to the need to support seasonal demands. This new expansion is stressing your servers even more at peak and, though you’ve grown capacity to meet the demand, your CFO is putting pressure on you to cut operational costs. As you look at your utilization reports in February and March, noting the significantly low traffic that your servers are getting, you know a change needs to be made. To solve the performance issues and the overall seasonality challenge that’s causing significant annual operating costs, you form a task force to investigate the implementation of a private cloud environment. While you believe this will potentially solve the performance and scale issues, you’ve come up with more questions than answers. On the plus side, cloud technologies promise significant scalability benefits (elasticity) to be able to more effectively handle the seasonality concerns, including scaling back services when demand is low. This plan could also result in improvements in your ability to deliver services on demand by deploying ready-made virtual machines for web and application servers. However, many questions persist: What model do I choose: PaaS, IaaS, or some combination? If I choose infrastructure as a service, how do I guarantee the quality of the resulting applications? If I go with platform as a service, what standard services do I put in place that will promote agility without sacrificing quality? How do I enable flexibility and not compromise compliance? Will it be cost-effective? I have a charge-back model today for the services I provide to various lines of business. How will I need to redefine that model so I can keep costs in line? How will it affect my service delivery? Right now now I have a pretty well-defined service management system that helps me keep my critical apps up. Will there be significant VM sprawl as a result of the elasticity I should be getting? If so, how will that affect my ability to manage this sprawl for my critical applications. Heck, I just finished getting a handle on my tier 2 apps. Will I lose control of those? If you haven’t gathered by now, there are themes here that the War on Cost team has been exploring and discussing for some time across a variety of scenarios. They are the enduring business value pillars of reducing costs, improving agility, improving quality of service, improving governance and compliance, and managing risk. All of these value dimensions are in play with the introduction of a cloud paradigm. In fact, they have the potential to be amplified: Agility – Possibly the value pillar with the highest potential amplitude. The cloud paradigm (whether public, private, or something in between) has the potential for extreme agility. Automatically provisioning development, test, and production environments in a matter of minutes or hours instead of days or weeks has enormous potential Costs – Costs have the potential to be dramatically reduced by providing a commoditized set of services that can be automatically commissioned and decommissioned at will. Also, server utilization can be significantly improved through intelligent load balancing as demands for the service change, particularly due to seasonal demands from stores and online traffic Quality of Service – QoS in all its forms (reliability, scalability, performance, availability, etc.) can be greatly improved by intelligently and dynamically load balancing workloads across (potentially large) arrays of servers running as VMs on a farm of servers that are well-utilized Governance, Compliance, and Risk Management (GRC) – These three are related values and the cloud offers huge potential benefits here too. As services are defined (whether its infrastructure, platform, or software), they are standardized (one of the main tenets of cloud computing). Standardization has the natural implication of introducing governance and compliance regulations, which, in turn, has a direct net benefit to managing risk But, and it’s a really big but, what about complexity? You’re thinking about the sheer number of VMs that can get spun up in your data center. Where once you had a hundred or so servers, you now have somewhere between five hundred and a thousand VMs (you’re not really sure). Will implementing cloud exacerbate that VM growth? How can I contain it? How much should I contain it? So, therein lies the challenge before you: if you’re going to move to a private cloud because you and your business leadership team see the potential for huge benefits, how will you manage the complexity introduced by this cloud to be able to maintain and enhance your IT team’s ability to deliver for the business? What do you think? Do these ideas ring true with you? Are there other major considerations to weigh? Let us know what your experience has been. Have you answered these questions for your organization? Don’t be shy. We want to hear from you. All the best, Erik, Strategist, War on Cost

This Week in BPOS News 3/18

This week in BPOS news is a recurring segment on the Microsoft Online Services Team Blog that covers news from all sectors of Cloud Computing and the Microsoft Online Services business suite known as the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). You can read all past This Week in BPOS News segments here. For this week in BPOS news we take a look at four companies moving to the cloud with Microsoft, and an upcoming webcast for Lync. 1. Microsoft reels in new Office 365 and BPOS cloud customers Our first BPOS story sums up the last couple of weeks of Microsoft cloud news. Microsoft has been on track to bringing new customers to the cloud with the recent announcement of four more companies making the journey. Shell, Manpower, Tampa General Hospital and Advocate Health Care all chose Microsoft, and InfoWorld breaks down each company’s migration story here . 1. Tampa General Hospital – One of the largest hospitals in Florida is making the switch from Lotus Notes to BPOS. 2. Manpower, Inc. – This large temp agency has 30,000 employees and 400,000 clients per year. By the end of this year, 80% of its user base will be running in the Cloud with Exchange Online. “That’s three years to migrate 30,000 employees.” 3. Advocate Health Care – This health care company will migrate over 27,000 employees from iPlanet messaging and Lotus Notes to Exchange Online. You can read more about this company’s migration in this Microsoft Case Study . 4. Shell – Beginning in April, Shell will use SharePoint 2010. Shell is already a big proponent of SharePoint 2007 and this upgrade with help increase productivity. What do you think of the recent migration announcements? Leave your comments below. *Image from InfoWorld 2. Voice, Video, and Data Conferencing with Microsoft Lync Are you a Microsoft Lync user? Have you joined us for a Business Insights webcast? There is still time to register for our latest Microsoft webcast and learn more about Microsoft Lync 2010. In the webinar entitled Voice, Video, and Data Conferencing with Microsoft Lync you will learn how to increase your productivity and reduce costs with Lync. This webcast is presented by Bhavika Thakkar, Lync and Exchange Product Manager at Microsoft. The sixty minute webinar is set for Tuesday, March 22, 2011 AM Pacific Time. You can view our past BPOS webinars here and other Microsoft webcasts here . What webcast would you like to see? Leave your comments below or send us an email at . What are your thoughts about the stories we shared with you this week? Did you see a story you want to share with us? Let us know what other topics you’d like to see. You can comment on this blog post or send an

This Week in BPOS News 3/11

This week in BPOS news is a recurring segment on the Microsoft Online Services Team Blog that covers news from all sectors of Cloud Computing and the Microsoft Online Services business suite known as the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). You can read all past This Week in BPOS News segments here. For this week in BPOS news we take a look at the fastest Cloud service in the world, and how one company is saving $100,000 with Microsoft BPOS. 1. Microsoft Azure Named Fastest Cloud Service Microsoft’s Azure Cloud service was recently named the fastest cloud service when compared to the competition. In our first story for this week in BPOS news, we take a look at how CloudSleuth tested and compared 13 Cloud services from companies including Microsoft, Google and Amazon. The cloud services were tested over an 11 month period which resulted in Microsoft coming in first, followed by Google, GoGrid, Amazon, and then Rackspace. Microsoft was rated the fastest, but only by less than a second. The top five cloud services listed above were within 0.8 seconds of each other. The test was conducted by CloudSleuth which used the largest “legal” bot network in the world, with 150,000 user computers pinging the different cloud services. The response times measured with reflections of what end users would likely see. This article from InformationWeek features an interesting outline of the testing process and some more cloud service response time numbers. Be sure to check out this great study . What do you think of the CloudSleuth study? Does this study alter your perception of the competition in the Cloud? Leave your comments below. 2. Chelgrave saves $100,000 thanks to BPOS deployment Chelgrave Contracting is a labour hire company founded in Melbourne, Australia. Chelgrave recently integrated with Microsoft BPOS and has estimated the company will save $100,000. BPOS gives Chelgrave a fully functioning intranet system with tools like SharePoint Online and Microsoft Exchange that have replaced the existing manual paper-based system. Even without an IT team, Greg Scott, General Manager of Chelgrave, was able to implement Microsoft BPOS with the help of Microsoft and Microsoft partners. Greg Scott claims that the move “has had a great impact on savings for the business, with some 40% more revenue than at the same time last year being generated for the company.” Chelgrave is also saving money on transportation costs through the ability to access files from anywhere and host meetings via Communicator. Chelgrave is a shining example of how Microsoft BPOS is enabling companies and their employees a more productive and collaborate work place while saving money. Do you have any BPOS stories? Share them with us in the comments below or send an email to our community mailbox . What are your thoughts about the stories we shared with you this week? Did you see a story you want to share with us? Let us know what other topics you’d like to see. You can comment on this blog post or send an

Great read: How to Choose the Right Business Intelligence Technology to Suit Your Style – Microsoft BI!

Great white paper published in January from Microsoft Business Intelligence team: Choose the right business intelligence technology to suit your style (white paper) From the white paper’s introduction: This white paper discusses five different styles of BI reporting: Self-Service Analysis – Self-Service Analysis describes free-form reporting and analysis by users so that they can integrate data from disparate sources and drill-down and understand the root cause for data anomalies. These non-technical users value the ability to perform their own reporting and analysis without relying on IT or others. Business Reporting – This style describes formatted reports that are created by advanced business users or analysts. Reports are typically based upon approved corporate data, and then shared more broadly with managers, teams, or departments. In this style, IT involvement is moderate, usually overseeing the distribution and monitoring of the reporting environment and building of the structured data layer upon which the reports are built. Parameterized & Operational Reporting – Similar to the Business Reporting style, Parameterized &Operational Reporting is also characterized by fixed-format reports. The reports, however, are authored and managed by IT instead of business users and usually follow a pixel perfect format and rendering style. Consistency, scalability, manageability, and automated distribution are some of the key characteristics of this style. Performance Monitoring – This style describes dashboard-style reports that allow users to quickly and easily monitor the performance of their business. This style is catered to executive level or department leadership who require at-a-glance visibility on the health of the business, but it often also permits further investigation via interactivity. Scorecarding – Scorecarding is a style that describes highly summarized views with Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) measured and scored against predefined targets such as a balanced scorecard. This style is generally a part of a performance management program, though it can also be used to measure operational performance. This white paper provides readers a practical guide on how to identify both which BI style is being used as well as the tools that best fit each of the styles. The white paper outlines the following: The key characteristic of the BI style in the Description section. The Tool Options to consider along with the recommended “Best Fit” for the characteristics of the style Infrastructure considerations A Case Study highlighting how the “best fit” technology was used to support that style

This Week in BPOS News 1/21

This week in BPOS news is a recurring segment on the Microsoft Online Services Team Blog that covers news from all sectors of Cloud Computing and the Microsoft Online Services business suite known as the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). You can read all past This Week in BPOS News segments here. For this week in BPOS news we take a look at the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 announcement, and we get a 99.9 percent guarantee from BPOS. 1. Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM 2011 hits the cloud In our first BPOS News story we announce a new cloud offering from Microsoft, Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM 2011. CNET covers the launch story here . The announcement comes with a price drop of the service from 44 dollars to 33 dollars per user. There is also a “Cloud CRM for Less” program which CNET explains as Microsoft “ offering cash rebates on a per-user basis for companies that switch over from competing Salesforce or Oracle CRM tools.” Dynamics General Manager Brad Wilson told CNET why he was excited about this announcement. “What’s kind of cool about this right now is that this kind of price point and this type of technology lets smaller business take advantage of technology that was before only available to larger organizations,” Wilson said. “So to be able to offer it up as an on-demand service at a very affordable price really expands the access of the technology to smaller companies, and I think that’s very exciting.” What do you think of the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 announcement? We want to hear from you! Leave your thoughts below in the comments section. 2. Microsoft: BPOS components average 99.9-plus percent uptime In our final BPOS News story for this week , we look into the average up time for Microsoft BPOS over the past year. Microsoft offers a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee as their service level agreement or SLA. SLA’s are taken very seriously and if the 99.9% SLA cannot be met, Microsoft offers cash reimbursements. In this NetworkWorld article it claims that Microsoft has held a 99.9 uptime SLA over the past year. What do you think of the service level agreement from Microsoft BPOS? Leave your thoughts below. What are your thoughts about the stories we shared with you this week? Did you see a story you want to share with us? Let us know what other topics you’d like to see. You can comment on this blog post or send an email to our community mailbox . Follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.