Stability in Technology for San Diego 501 (c) 3 Non Profit
Business Needs: Since 2009, Managed Solution has been providing the San Diego Opera with Managed Services from Silver to Platinum Support. We are an affordable resource when their budgets fluctuate and have been cost effective by outsourcing their IT needs instead of hiring full time staff. They initially came to us because their server was not getting emails and they had several domains needing to be safe guarded. They had a small internal team managing over 100 users and were looking to find a trusted provider who could manage their day-to-day support with printers and email.
Solution: Managed Solution was able to service their company with Platinum Support, visit on site every other week and take care of all requests. We rectified VPN client issues, set up new users, normal daily crisis issues, file permissions, log in issues, WIFI challenges and set up Back Up Disaster and Recovery because they were using tape prior. We upgraded them from tape backups to redundant cloud BDR services.
Success: Managed Solution was able to streamline internal processes, quickly resolve issues and increase productivity. We continue to provide a high level of quality service with our on-going relationship between transitions in leadership and with different levels of support. SD Opera is grateful for the stability provided by Managed Solution during a challenging transition period.


“Managed Solution has been a great asset to the team and my field engineer, Jake, is wonderful, also the help desk is always extremely responsive”. - Michael Lowry, CFO



As written by Sal Chiovari on blogs.office.com


When I joined Edwards Lifesciences three years ago, I was attracted to an innovative medical technology company that clearly puts patients first. I also saw an opportunity to revamp the IT organization to partner more strategically with the business and deliver a modern, agile workplace that strengthens the collaborative culture at our company. We embraced the Microsoft Office 365 suite to drive mobility, agility and innovation at Edwards Lifesciences.
Collaboration is at the heart of the corporate ethos at Edwards, so much so that the user-friendly services within Office 365, such as Yammer, have already gone viral within the company. I’m thrilled to see employees using the enterprise social network to ask questions and create a dialogue across our global network. Today, Skype for Business Online is the primary tool for meetings and collaboration at Edwards. I love the whiteboard capability for large meetings and problem-solving discussions with colleagues around the globe. And we’re using Microsoft Surface Hub devices to augment our video calls with a great interactive whiteboarding experience. As we begin using Skype for Business PSTN conferencing with dial-in capabilities, it will provide a new level of effortless communication in an environment that meets the high demands for security in our industry.
We’re in a highly regulated industry, so security played a major role in our decision to go with Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Our strategy is simple: when you provide employees with a protected environment and user-friendly, leading-edge tools, they won’t feel compelled to pursue rogue IT. The rich set of productivity apps within Office 365 addresses all the collaboration scenarios that employees had tried to fill with third-party solutions. And we take advantage of rights management and data loss prevention capabilities within Office 365 to protect our information, so that collaboration happens in a highly secure environment.
We have an estimated 5,000 terabytes of data in our organization, so understanding where that data is and how it’s being used is a huge concern, especially when you want to enhance mobility. We’re using Enterprise Mobility + Security to support secure mobile access to our data via personal devices. In the past, Edwards employees were required to change their passwords every 60 days, creating confusion and inefficiency, but with Azure Active Directory Premium in Enterprise Mobility + Security providing multi-factor authentication, we are doing away with this cumbersome practice. In addition, if our employees forget their password, they can handle this on their own with Self-Service Password Management, which is quicker and more efficient, which also frees up our help desk for more important items. The wealth of security features in Enterprise Mobility + Security and Office 365 work together to create a highly secure, productive workplace where people can get their work done without distractions.
We’re also eliminating file shares within the organization. Thanks to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online, employees will have a more secure, efficient alternative that saves time when it comes to searching for documents and files. And with Office 365 ProPlus, employees have the same great work experience with the latest version of Office on more than one device. It all comes back to ease of use; employees deserve secure, effective tools that facilitate collaboration and are as intuitive as the technology they have at home.
Historically, the IT organization at Edwards Lifesciences put a huge amount of effort into responding to requests and keeping the environment up and running; it left little time for anything else. Early on, I wondered if our reactionary approach was more of a help or a hindrance to innovation. I see a paradigm shift in IT at Edwards Lifesciences with the deployment of easy-to-use Office 365 services that usher in a new way of working for our employees, and free up time for IT to focus on more strategic initiatives and serve as stronger business partners. We’re using the Office 365 platform to take us to the next level of mobility, productivity and security, so this amazing company can continue to innovate, creating medical devices that improve the health of people everywhere.



As written on enterprise.microsoft.com


It’s 7:00 a.m. on the first day of a new academic session, and the servers at Keiser University are running at full power as students, faculty, and staff ramp up for a new month of learning. Twelve hours from now, the peak will drop for the evening, and some of those servers will shut down, saving the university thousands of dollars. A few days from now as students settle into their new routines, activity will drop during the daytime, too, so the system can run efficiently on even fewer servers.
Fortunately for the IT department, the system reboots, cranks through the data, and keeps everyone running at full speed all on its own, leaving IT staff with more time to be creative. In fact, today, Associate Vice Chancellor of IT Andrew Lee and his team are focusing on a paperless financial aid system. The ability to test new applications without the upfront capital needed for a traditional on-premises environment allows Keiser to stay on the leading edge of technology while saving the university precious time and funds.


As Associate Vice Chancellor of IT at Keiser University, Andrew Lee handles everything that has to do with digital technology, ensuring that teachers and students have the tools and tech they need every day. When he joined Keiser 18 years ago, the IT department consisted of just two people serving five schools and 1,500 students.
Today, the university has 31 locations and close to 20,000 students. Andrew’s goal is to keep the school as “state of the art” as possible as it grows. He constantly looks for new technology that will help him do that while staying within budget.

Migrating an entire datacenter to Azure

Eighteen years ago, the university’s data was stored in a physical datacenter where the school owned the hardware. After transitioning to a “sort of” cloud, as Andrew describes it, where the hardware was leased and some of the infrastructure was paid for, he began looking at a full cloud solution.
“Everything was on the chopping block, and moving to the cloud just made sense,” Andrew says.
Microsoft Azure offered scalability and the ability to change on the fly. That sparked a fire in Andrew and his IT team, and now they’re moving the entire datacenter into Azure. With the new pay-as-you-go model, they don’t need up-front capital, and they have exactly as much as they need at any given time.
“It used to be that if we needed more storage, we had to lay out more capital expense. In Azure, we just log in and those resources are up and running within hours.” It’s a welcome change from the days of a physical datacenter with AT&T hosting. “Back then, we paid $35 – $40k every month. In Azure, I’ll have resources and servers that outshine anything we had there, and pay $5-10k less a month.”


Without the restrictions inherent in a traditional system, Andrew and his team can be much more creative without breaking the budget. New ideas and projects can be tested and deployed without the red tape, and that means faculty can dream up new ways to educate their students, and those dreams can turn into reality much quicker.
“We’ve effectively gone from an old jalopy to an Italian sports car,” Andrew says.
With 2 million personal records, ensuring security is critical. And when it comes to compliance, Azure offers the ability to back up as much data as necessary for as long as it’s needed.
“In Azure, compliance is a no-brainer, and when you need more storage, you simply add it,” Andrew says.
Beyond Azure, Keiser University has migrated to Office 365 and is beginning to use more of the tools at their disposal. Staff and students who prefer to use their own devices on campus can quickly and securely connect to the school’s systems with Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), and servers are secured, updated and patched with Microsoft Intune. Phishing attacks are the most common cyberthreat on campus, but by leveraging Active Directory, the IT department can help make sure accounts stay secure.


Empowering educators and administrators to focus on what matters

For now, faculty, staff, and students are in the learning curve phase. Everyone has access to Office 365, and many are using OneNote and OneDrive to share documents and collaborate. Andrew’s IT department is doing the heavy lifting, migrating servers, data, and email to the cloud. Next up will be training and demo days to show faculty and staff all the tools that are readily available.
For educational institutions looking into a cloud solution, Andrew advises that it boils down to where you want to put your resources.
“In a cloud scenario, I’m out of the hardware business. After 18 years in this position, the thing that’s always caused the problems is hardware,” Andrew says. “Controller cards, fans, CPUs. Those are the things that come crashing down. With Azure, they’re a non-issue. All that redundancy is already there.”


The best part? “No phone calls at 8 a.m. on a Sunday.” Andrew and his IT team sleep better at night knowing that the hardware pieces that tend to bring the system down go away. And that means they’re able to focus on being more of a partner in delivering technology so that faculty, staff, and students can get exactly what they need to do their work quickly and efficiently.

What’s next?

Andrew’s vision for the university is one where faculty and staff can register their own devices and have quick access to the resources and software they need, safely and securely, without even involving the IT department, or needing their support. Which will free up the IT team to continue looking for ways to use technology to continue simplifying resources, delivering new solutions, and lowering costs.


For Andrew, the light bulb moment was realizing that, with Azure, his team could stand up a demo environment and throw hardware at it, acknowledging the pitfalls and configuring it—all in one day–saving time and money in the deployment stage. Andrew fully optimizes Keiser University’s cloud investment, and he’s leveraging the fact that he can ride the wave of resource needs instead of keeping everything at 100% and waiting for ebbs and flows.
Microsoft is proud to partner with Andrew and Keiser University to keep up with the pace of change in their digital transformation journey.



As written by Ron Markezich on blogs.office.com

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Gallup has been synonymous with public opinion polling since the 1930s. Today it’s also considered a global leader in advanced analytics, providing advice to organizations and individuals to help solve challenging problems. When Gallup pioneered the employee engagement movement, it introduced innovative tools for measuring how workplaces inspire the people in them. So, when it came to its own employees, it’s gratifying to see how Gallup trusts Microsoft Secure Productive Enterprise E5 to help create the kind of workplace that attracts and retains top talent, and ultimately inspires them to innovate.
Melissa Moreno, executive director of Infrastructure and Cyber Security, recently explained her organization’s plans for boosting mobility and security with Microsoft Cloud productivity services:
“Our associates are very achievement oriented. When we ask them how we are doing with our workplace tools, they tell us that mobility, ease of use and security are most important to them. The Microsoft Secure Productive Enterprise E5 solution will allow our associates to work anywhere while protecting the data that our clients entrust to us, and that’s really the perfect balance. It will also allow us to modernize our workplace apps to conform with our employees’ expectations and provide the most cost-effective way to get us there.”
The Secure Productive Enterprise is one more example of our ongoing efforts to make it easier for customers to move to the Microsoft Cloud. It delivers the “New Culture of Work,” providing the latest and most advanced innovations in enterprise security, IT enablement, collaboration and business analytics, delivered through leading-edge cloud services. It is the most trusted, secure and productive way to work that brings together Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security and Windows 10 Enterprise.
By choosing the Microsoft Cloud, Gallup once again reaffirms its expertise in promoting organizational excellence. I’m looking forward to seeing how Gallup associates engage with the new services to work productively in highly secure mobile environments.



As written by Susanna Ray on blogs.microsoft.com
The house was empty when he got home from school one afternoon.
Eight-year-old Farhad Agajan wandered out to ask if any neighbors had seen his mother or siblings. Crying and increasingly frantic, he reached the home of a relative who lived nearby and heard the words that changed him forever: “He gave me some money, and he told me, ‘Your life is in danger. Take this and leave, immediately,’” Agajan recalled.
He would spend the next decade as an unaccompanied minor, journeying from Afghanistan through Pakistan, Iran and Turkey before landing in Greece at age 16 and eventually learning that his mother was still alive back home. By then, he had fallen in love with his new country and considered himself Greek.
Now, although Agajan talks with his mother over Skype every week, he’s applying for Greek citizenship and is focused on giving back to his adopted home and people. The resilience and optimism he cultivated throughout his ordeal were what got him through – and what have paved the way toward success as the now 28-year-old works with Mercy Corps as a field officer in refugee camps while finishing high school and learning computer programming.
Agajan is one of more than 65 million people in the world who are displaced from their homes – the highest level on record. That staggering figure includes more than 21 million refugees, who had to flee to another country. In Syria, which has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in our lifetime, 11 million people, or half the population, have had to leave their homes. Three-quarters of them are women and children.
Agajan’s escape from Afghanistan predates the current global emergency and has put him in an ideal situation to help others weather the trauma. Recognizing the powerful ways technology can help refugees, Microsoft is working to bring the right tools to people like Agajan and aid organizations like his employer, Mercy Corps. In all, Microsoft has committed more than $30 million to support refugees around the world in 2017.
“We see our efforts as a big part of the company’s mission of empowering every person and every organization to achieve more,” said Mary Snapp, who leads Microsoft Philanthropies. “Broadly speaking, our focus is to help nonprofit organizations access technologies, especially those in the cloud, to work more efficiently and to serve as many beneficiaries as possible. We also support digital and technical skills training for people who would otherwise be left behind as innovation advances.”
Read the full story.


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Hendrick Motorsports drives collaboration to the finish line with Microsoft Teams

By Matthew Cochoran as written on blogs.office.com
At Hendrick Motorsports, we look at IT as a competitive advantage. And it’s my job to support the company’s goals with the right technology. When Mr. Hendrick says he wants everyone—pit crews, engineers, accountants, mechanics—to work together to win NASCAR championships, we use Microsoft Teams to achieve that goal.
Most fans watching a race think it’s all about the car and the driver. But behind that combination is a ton of data, and the real question becomes how quickly we can consume and act on information to make race-winning decisions that give us a competitive edge. At the track, there’s not only adrenaline, but there’s a lot of noise, power issues and radio interference—so a lot of this collaboration has to be text driven. The persistent chat-based workspaces we get with Microsoft Teams are perfect on pit road.
In Talladega, Alabama, we have to make race strategy decisions for two of our cars. If we have a long green flag stint, when do we stop each car and take on gas and tires? The people on top of the pit box for both car crews use laptops running Windows 10 and Microsoft Teams to communicate so we don’t lose time due to a single car drag coefficient. And we can do that all without breaking radio silence, so we are not giving away secrets to the other competitors. Unlike most organizations that are separated from their competition across the city or the country, our competition is within feet of us, week in, week out. Microsoft Teams is based on the security features built into Office 365 and Windows 10, and that’s critical to keeping our competitive advantage.
Nowadays we have live radar on top of the pit box, and if we see a rainstorm coming, we get that information into Teams and chat about stopping before the race is halfway over. The reason being if the rain holds off until the race goes beyond the halfway mark, then it’s an official race, and we want to run it as if it’s not going to be canceled. Before Teams, we would send runners back and forth to a central radar location.
The communication that goes on during a race extends from the pit box to the people sitting in our transporters in the garage area to our complex in Concord, North Carolina. We have race engineers and crew chiefs devoted to individual car teams along pit road collaborating in Teams workspaces and making decisions that are relayed directly into the ears of the driver.
Then you have the crew members entering data into Teams, such as tire wear information, miles per gallon and how much fuel got added to a car. Race engineers and team managers back in the transporters watch the event, monitor communication and relay that information via Teams, straight to our personnel.
Back in Concord, there are people in the shop or conference rooms all signed in to Teams workspaces. They monitor the race to record events that the people at the track might miss in the moment. We use this to compile valuable historical data that we review later to make decisions for future races.
Everywhere you look, Hendrick Motorsports is using Microsoft Teams to fulfill Mr. Hendrick’s vision. We’re bringing the company together to help produce winning results.


CONIN: Finding, reaching and helping at-risk children through the cloud

As written on Microsoft.com
Mendoza, Argentina-based CONIN works to not only eradicate child malnutrition in Argentina but also to serve disadvantaged families at risk of falling through gaps in social services. With Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft cloud services, the nonprofit helps more children and families receive the resources they need to thrive.
Its previous, analog-based systems helped the nonprofit impact the lives of thousands of youth. But with an Azure—powered IT system, CONIN is now poised to improve family health across Argentina-and beyond, as they begin to expand their services in Latin America.

Smarter Data

As nonprofit leaders know, effectively tackling a problem begins with understanding it. So when CONIN set out to map malnutrition in Salta, a northern and remote province of Argentina, the family-focused organization turned to the flexible and comprehensive solutions of Azure.
By identifying the most pressing needs of different pockets of Salta—from lack of clean water to insufficient healthy food—CONIN input data into an application developed and hosted in Azure, which they then displayed and shared in Power BI. The result: an accurate and up-to-date visualization of on-the-ground realities. They could then partner with the regional government to pinpoint priorities and direct limited resources at the most urgent issues first. What’s more, this detailed map provided the data to develop a long-term solution: CONIN and the Salta government drafted public policy to prevent malnutrition in the future—and ensure the area’s children have a healthy start to life.
The impact of the Azure mapping solution does not end in Salta. CONIN is rolling out the system in other communities in Argentina as well as in parts of Latin America and Africa. And other nonprofits will save time and resources by transferring an already developed solution to their own Azure environment.

Connecting Communities

Like many nonprofits, CONIN relies on a combination of staff, volunteers and partners to carry out its mission. And although CONIN's dedicated team has already served 20,000 youth over several decades, leaders within the organization knew they could reach even more people in need by leveraging cloud-based tools.
CONIN, then, developed an app in Azure that triggers an alert whenever the nonprofit-and government-run community census identifies a child in need. Take, for example, an alarm CONIN staff received about Bryan, a cheerful and playful boy who was born with Down syndrome and severe kidney problems. His mother, who didn’t even know she was eligible for services, was invited to the nonprofit to begin the process for getting care for Bryan. CONIN paid for Bryan’s surgeries, arranged for transportation to and from medical visits and now enrolls Bryan in a special CONIN school. The system also allows CONIN staff to track the boy’s health with digital updates on his progress.
Without this alert app that automatically analyzes data to identify families in need, Bryan may never have gotten a fair shot at a happy, healthy future.

Field-to-office solutions

Proactive nonprofits not only help the at-risk families that seek them out but also bring in others who may never have known about their services. CONIN teams used to do this community outreach and information-gathering with inefficient paper surveys. Since receiving an Azure grant, they canvas Argentina's poorest neighborhoods with a digital, cloud-based polling solution.
“Today, the technology makes it much faster: It enables us to have every child in the system,” says Teresa Cornejo, president of a CONIN network member that addresses nutrition in Salta. By inputting information designed to identify families in danger of malnutrition, lack of education or unmet medical needs, the data is automatically synched to folders accessible anywhere—from CONIN's offices to employees traveling the dirt roads of Salta.
Canvassers go door-to-door with mobile phones or tablets, making the highly detailed data they collect immediately available on an Azure cloud platform. CONIN, other partner nonprofits and the government of Salta province use this up-to-the-minute information to work toward their goal: making malnutrition a problem of the past.

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