Interlink Cloud Blog
Matt Scherocman

Microsoft EMS Case Study: Interlink Sets G&J Pepsi Free to Innovate, Collaborate and Grow

Microsoft EMS Case Study: Interlink Sets G&J Pepsi Free to Innovate, Collaborate and Grow

G&J Pepsi Cola is the largest family-owned and operated Pepsi franchise bottler in the United States. Over 1,000 of their 1,600 employees are made up of deskless workers, including drivers, salespeople, and merchandisers. Not yet utilizing mobile devices, this sizable workforce did their job based on paper marching orders each morning. Over time, these paper instructions became hefty books that field people lugged around and rummaged for information.

hybrid Use Benefit quoteRealizing the need for change, G&J transitioned from paper to electronic documents and outfitted its deskless workforce with Android smartphones. The move created hundreds of new, unsecure and unoptimized mobile endpoints.

hybrid Use Benefit case study

Here’s just a couple of ways Interlink used the full value of Microsoft enterprise cloud products to meet G&J’s business challenge.

  • Secured the Digital Link with Microsoft EMS
    Using Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), Interlink quickly secured 1,200 smartphones and tablets.

    With the mobile devices secure, G&J corporate offices, distribution centers, and field employees can now communicate and collaborate without having to worry about endpoint security. Management is free to share sensitive data in real time with other business units, decreasing data availability downtime while increasing efficiency of response to changes in operations.
  • Extended Microsoft EMS with Azure Active Directory Premium
    G&J uses several different applications across their IT infrastructure, all deployed with the challenge of needing to be secure and easily accessible. Using Azure Active Directory Premium, Interlink streamlined the management of these applications and improved the secure accessibility of multiple applications.

    By using a cloud-based single-sign-on (SSO), G&J consolidates application management and usage into one simple process. IT no longer needs to spend time and resources configuring multiple sets of credentials, and field employees never need to be concerned about not having access to their suite of third-party applications.

Read the full case study and see how Interlink met G&J Pepsi’s business mobility challenges with Interlink and Microsoft EMS.

hybrid Use Benefit case study

Contact us to show you how we can improve your collaboration, security, and mobility with Microsoft EMS too.  

Matt Scherocman

Free Windows Licensing for Azure: How to Get It with Windows Hybrid Use Benefit

Free Windows Licensing for Azure: How to Get It with Windows Hybrid Use Benefit

What is Windows Hybrid Use Benefit?

Microsoft has a relatively unknown benefit called Hybrid Use Benefit (HUB). If you already own Windows Servers with Software Assurance, you can use it to run workloads in Azure on Windows without paying for Windows in Azure. For those that license Windows Servers utilizing the Data Center version, you can continue to use that Windows Server to run on-premises workloads, as well as different workloads in Azure with the same license. This allows you to double the functionality of each Windows Server Data Center license! 

A few important facts:

  • Both versions of Windows Server - Standard and Datacenter -  license with Software Assurance are eligible for the Hybrid Use Benefit

    Hybrid Use Benefit entitlements

  • A Windows Server Standard Edition license cannot be used simultaneously in on-premises deployments while utilizing Hybrid Use Benefit in Azure
  • Windows Server Datacenter licenses can utilize the Hybrid Use Benefit and continue to be deployed in parallel on-premises
  • All uses of HUB must be done by importing a customer’s image file into Azure

For Azure deployments of HUB, each eligible license has an entitlement to run Windows Server VM’s at the lower non-Windows VM rates. Through leveraging HUB, some deployments in Azure can offer end-customers a savings up to 50%.  

Hybrid Use Benefit Sample - Full Time

Example scenario with customer running two D2v2 VMs using the Hybrid Use Benefit.

Hybrid Use Benefit savings sample

*EA Level D in USD, US East 2; full-time usage on demand
**Second Azure instance is included with Windows Server Standard Edition Software Assurance, EA level A

If you want to learn more about how Azure has leveraged this benefit, please follow these links:

We look forward to explaining more about this benefit, and how it can save you money with your existing investments in Microsoft infrastructure.  Contact Interlink today!  

Mike Wilson

Archiving Data in Azure Just Got Way More Affordable with Azure Blob Storage

Archiving Data in Azure Just Got Way More Affordable with Azure Blob Storage

Azure Blob storage, which is the ability for Azure to store all your unstructured data, now has an offer which provides a low cost to store archival and less used information. The cost of the first 100 Terabytes for local redundant storage is only 1 penny per month. Holy cow!   

Azure Blob storage is divided into two tiers - hot and cold.


Hot Tier

The hot tier stores the data you access and rely on the most. Hot storage has a higher storage cost but much lower access and transactional costs.

Cold Tier

The cold storage tier is the opposite: data you don’t access frequently that costs less to store but more to access. Azure Blob also gives you complete control over your data needs and storage priorities, allowing you to change your blobs of data from hot to cold (and vice versa) all within your Azure environment.

The best thing about Blob Storage in Azure is that the temperature of your data doesn’t impact access performance. There’s an insignificant difference (milliseconds) between data performance on hot and cold tiers. So, when you find yourself in a situation where cold data has suddenly become hot, you won’t face any delay in accessing the cold data like Azure’s major competitor. And like everything in Azure, the security, scalability, and durability of data operations doesn’t change between data temperatures.

With Azure Blob Storage, the focus is on optimizing your data, not the processes required to use the data effectively.

The business case for Azure Cloud Storage is strong.

infographic Microsoft Azure Datcenter Planning

Want more?

Below is a short video - Get started with Azure Storage that coveres how to get started using Azure Storage services including blobs, tables, files, and queues from Windows and Linux.

Click Here to learn more about the costs around Azure Hot and Cool Storage and contact us for the best advice on how to build your workloads in Azure including setting up new blobs.

Matt Scherocman

How Does Archiving in Office 365 Work?

Immutability is the industry-standard term for “preserving data in the system so that it is discoverable, and cannot be destroyed or altered."

With Exchange Server 2016, and Exchange Online, Microsoft enables organizations to preserve individual or all mailbox items for discovery natively, keeping those items within the Exchange infrastructure. This approach is called, In-Place hold.

One significant benefit of hold as opposed to separate, read-only storage is that items are preserved within the Exchange infrastructure, preserving more of the information including metadata and making management easier for IT admins. Users benefit because they can manage their mailboxes using the familiar Outlook interfaces. From an IT-perspective, In-Place Hold eliminates the necessity and complexity of maintaining a separate infrastructure and potentially storage for Exchange items.

Exchange gives organizations the flexibility to choose the architecture that can help meet their immutability requirements whether that is on-premises, online, or a hybrid of both, and supports the ability to store archived items in a separate physical location.

In Exchange Online, you can use In-Place Hold or Litigation Hold to accomplish the following goals:

  • Enable users to be placed on hold and preserve mailbox items immutably
  • Preserve mailbox items deleted by users or automatic deletion processes such as MRM
  • Protect mailbox items from tampering, changes by a user, or automatic processes by saving a copy of the original item
  • Preserve items indefinitely or for a specific duration
  • Keep holds transparent from the user by not having to suspend MRM
  • Use In-Place eDiscovery to search mailbox items, including items placed on hold

Additionally, you can use In-Place Hold to:

  • Search and hold items matching specified criteria
  • Place a user on multiple In-Place Holds for different cases or investigations

How does Litigation Hold work?

In the normal deleted item workflow, a mailbox item is moved to the Deletions subfolder in the Recoverable Items folder when a user permanently deletes it (Shift + Delete) or deletes it from the Deleted Items folder. A deletion policy (which is a retention tag configured with a Delete retention action) also moves items to the Deletions subfolder when the retention period expires. When a user purges an item in the Recoverable Items folder or when the deleted item retention period expires for an item, it's moved to the Purges subfolder in the Recoverable Items folder and marked for permanent deletion. It will be purged from Exchange the next time the mailbox is processed by the Managed Folder Assistant (MFA).

When a mailbox is placed on Litigation Hold, items in the Purges subfolder are preserved for the hold duration specified by the Litigation Hold. The hold duration is calculated from the original date an item was received or created, and defines how long items in the Purges subfolder are held. When the hold duration expires for an item in the Purges subfolder, the item is marked for permanent deletion and will be purged from Exchange the next time the mailbox is processed by the MFA. If an indefinite hold is placed on a mailbox, items will never be purged from the Purges subfolder.

The following illustration shows the subfolders in the Recoverable Items folders and the hold workflow process.

Archiving in Office 365

See this technet article for additional information, or you can view the general sales site from Microsoft here.

Contact Interlink today for help in defining your needs, which licensing options would be the best fit, and actually getting the service configured correctly to ensure the right data is being kept and deleted.  

Matt Scherocman

The Next Generation of Skype for Business for Mac Clients Has Arrived

The Next Generation of Skype for Business for Mac Clients Has Arrived

The next generation of Skype for Business for Mac has arrived. Here’s everything you need to know to get up and running and realize instant gains in productivity, security, and communication efficiency.

Skype for Business on Mac gives users the same powerful features Windows users are currently experiencing. Mac users can utilize HD audio and video conferencing with up to 250 people, conduct polls, schedule meetings, and use online versions of Office 365 applications.

Skype for Business Mac

Lync Server Users Are Welcome

The new client will work with both Skype for Business Online, Skype for Business 2015 and Lync 2013. 

Anonymous Joining Through the Skype for Business Web App

As a meeting organizer, you can invite anyone who can connect to the Skype for Business web application. Attendees can join anonymously regardless of operating system.

System Requirements

Skype for Business on Mac clients requires OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)  or OS X 10.12 (Sierra). In order to take advantage of Outlook integration, Mac build 15.27 is required. Skype for Business supports the new Skype for Business Server 2015 or existing Lync Server 2013. Schedules, contacts, and meetings in Lync 2013 will all carry over to Skype for Business.

Download Skype for Business today. If you are ready to move to Skype for Business Online or looking to upgrade on premises, Interlink can help. Contact us.  

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