Report from the Cloud

Ok it’s been about 2 weeks now since the Borough of West Chester moved their email services from an on-premises exchange server to Microsoft’s cloud with “Exchange Online“. So far so good. During these first 2 weeks we have had everything. As we all know nothing is 100% perfect, except perhaps “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn” (I will explain this later). After migrating everyone over to the cloud and on the eve of heading to Disney World for a much needed break Microoft began experiencing what they call “service degregation”. This meant that mail flow during the early hours on May 12, 2011 stopped. The good news was that I noticed this at about 5:50 AM and quickly contacted Microsoft Online Support. A technician reported that they were aware of the problem and working on it. A work-around was offered but before anyone arrived in the office the “cloud” was back in service.

New technology can be a little scary and no one really likes change. However I believe that today’s world economic situation demands bold and visionary decisions in respect to keeping cost down while striving to offer the best that technology has to offer. The “cloud”, I believe will be critical during the next several years, providing organizations with the ability to keep technology cost down while (at the same time) providing high end technological services.

As the “service incident” on May 12, 2011 demonstrates nothing is easy and we will need to learn to “roll with the punches” during these hard economic times if we are to move even more services to the cloud in the future.

We can do this! In the decades past, business was done without the internet and email services. If these services are down from time to time, pick the phone up, reach out and talk to eachother. I do not expect service interruptions to be normal, however we should always be prepared. Keeping cost down is mission critical in these times, and working together the Borough of West Chester will find success and efficent government.

The Borough of West Chester maintains an information technology cost (capitol & salary) that is only 1% of it’s annual budget. That is something we can be very proud of. Migrating adapatable services to the cloud will help the borough to sustain such a small cost in this area which is something every taxpayer will be thankful for.

The “Usama bin Laden” Virus

Hackers, Spammers and Scammers all love a BIG story, and there certainly is no bigger news item now then the recent take down of Public Enemy Number 1, Usama bin Laden. These hackers and other bad eggs are using this news story to intice people into downloading a file in order to watch a video. This is a HOAX and if you follow the link, download a file from one of these messages you will infect your computer, or become a spamming machine. This hoax is especially active on Facebook at this time.

Be aware that the United States Government has not released any photos or video from their recent operation.

Often the message, either through an email or a social networking site such as Facebook will have a link to a website it wants to redirect you to. Often stating it’s an “official source”, such as CNN. This is a ploy. Ignore it.

Also be aware that even the best anti-virus software can not prevent a human being from clicking on and downloading an infected file.

Here is the official FBI news release in respect to this recent hoax

Borough E-Mail Moves to the Cloud Today!

Today might have seemed just like another rainy Wednesday to you. But it was a BIG day for me. After months of research, planning, preparation and living through “co-existence”, today, May 4, 2011 the on-premises exchange (e-mail) server was shut down, hopefully for the final time. I crossed my fingers after shutting the server down and was elated to see mail flowing normally. After a tweak here and there other services that we have all come to rely on such as fax-scan-copy to email, unified messaging and help desk work orders were all up and in service as well.

The magic of the cloud is this. Without having to maintain a mail server and replacing it on average every 4 years at a cost of $20,000 the Borough now has more efficient mail services including enhanced securitysuperior data protectionliability protection and more ways than ever of connecting in to our email services.

Some of these enhancements include

• 14 days back-up of email is expanded to 10 year compliance archiving.

• As opposed to our email residing on one server at our facility, our email is written simultaneously to 6 “department of defense” certified data centers located at various locations across the United States.

• Enhanced liability protection because “open records” rules require local government to maintain files, including email for information and court requests. The compliance archiving will protect our government because these files will accessible upon request.

• Built-in spam filtering as opposed to having to pay a third party for this protection.

• Our partnership with Microsoft will keep the borough up to date with the highest standards of office productivity while controlling cost.

• The Borough has an information technology staff of one. Moving the e-mail service to Microsoft’s cloud will continue to support maintaining a minimal staff while providing effective technology services.

There are many more exciting things on the horizon in reference to our move to Microsoft’s Cloud like Microsoft 365.
Standby for more news from cloud and enjoy. Boy is it comfortable up here.