Some observations on recent articles on TechTarget…

by Andy Grogan on July 27, 2013 · 2 comments

in Exchange 2007 (General), Exchange 2010 (General), Exchange 2013 (General), General Mumblings

NOTE: Since I wrote the articles four years ago, I note that Search Exchange have edited the comments and removed the views of others. Whereas I was annoyed about what was said – I didn’t want the remarks to be removed. I guess this is the only post left that represents in the slightest how I wanted the original articles to look, or indeed how they were received by the community after they were published. Learning point …. don’t write for other people or sites. Its not worth it unless you maintain full editorial control!

Over the last few months I have done a few articles based on possible cloud scenarios for Exchange 2013 on TechTarget.

I have to admit that I have been somewhat taken aback at some of the comments that have been made on those articles – particularly the comments which have been in my opinion of a personal nature towards me.

TechTarget allows for anonymous commenting – something that whilst I understand as it encourages a more open debate such a system also has a flipside that allows for trolls to operate with relative impunity ~ just my opinion and before I get jumped on for being naïve – I know that there is no real workable comment registration system which requires name registration that would also be inconvenient for the reader.

I have deliberately not posted a response to any of the comments on TechTarget – as I have wanted to consider my response and in some cases from reading the opinions of the posters commenting would have made little difference – due to what I personally perceive as an entrenched point of view.

I guess, ultimately – that is the key – a personal point of view that you feel strongly about. Taking an objective view – it is clear that what a number of the negative posters have said is their view and perception which is a god given right and I respect that.

However, what I have more of a problem with is how someone can post a response to something which challenges what I have said – but does not provide any substance in their own argument.

So, what I would like to do in this post is clarify some elements of the articles – and offer the chance for any of the people who have commented over on TechTarget to re-engage with me personally, only this time around with some further facts.

This is not me justifying my position; I am personally quite confident in what I have written and standby each article – and I am not being defensive I just think that it is important that some context is supplied around what I have written.

The three main articles are:

Comparing Exchange 2013 and Office 365 pricing and feature sets

Dispelling common hosted Exchange email myths

Comparing Office 365 pros and cons with Exchange 2013, hybrid setups

The first thing that I would like to point out about the above three parts – is that they were originally one complete article that I was asked to write for a TechTarget e-zine.

The overall submission that I provided for the e-zine was I suspect too large (there are editorial word limits to the size of all articles submitted) – so the choice was taken to convert the submission to three separate parts on the main TechTarget site – something that I didn’t (and don’t) have a problem with.

Being objective I can see that by splitting them out – and therefore not have the complete article it could be interpreted that the overall series was very “pro” cloud.

Couple that with the knowledge that I originally wrote the e-zine article earlier in the year (well before the recent news around PRISM) I would probably have taken a different approach particularly in the “Dispelling common myths and Pros and Cons” post – however that is not to say that the content would have changed significantly, just that I would have taken into account more recent developments ~ more on this later.

Comparing Exchange 2013 and Office 365 pricing and features sets

There are a number of comments on this article – and I will not be addressing them all, just the most relevant – I also personally believe that a number of the comments are from the same person (looking at the prose and style of each of the statements made) – not that is a problem just that I think it is good to note that perhaps there is not such a large group of people who think the overall content sucks.

The first comment on the article was:

Andy you are giving us WRONG information. If you want to compare Exchange Online with Exchange On-Premises. Exchange Online with DLP & Hold cost $8/Mailbox/Month=$8X6000X12 = $580000 per year
Then you said a company with 6000 man will SAVE $56000.
A company with 6000 man makes $10 Mill + do you really think $56K matter for the CIO. But this part makes sense “Many of drawbacks of Public Cloud includes security, sight and ownership of data”.

I don’t agree that I gave the wrong information when you consider the the overall context of the post. The scenario was SIMPLE and purely designed to add some context to considerations such as costs in a very basic Exchange configuration.

To a certain extent the numbers were almost irrelevant. I also did not cover or include the hosted costs for Enterprise Licensing requirements such as on-hold and DLP (as one commenter has noticed) as that would have added further complexity to something that I wanted to keep simple as it was an illustration.

The other thing to understand is that licensing, hardware and hosting (on-premises) are variable and change depending on local scenarios and the organisation’s overall buying power with its vendors.

If all parts had been released as one – it would have seen that the point that I come back to time and time again is how your own business cases stack up.

This article was a guide which has some elements that should be considered when forming that business case.

I also do not agree with the statement that two readers made around a 10 million dollar company with 6000 users writing off $56,000. One of the commenters said that “It was the dumbest article that had seen”.

Firstly – I cannot see anywhere in the article where I said 10 million dollar company (again pointed out by one other poster) – 6000 users was a deliberate number!

I work and have worked with companies of that size and if they could shave that amount of money of their running costs (in any area) in this current financial climate – they would. Being completely blunt – any person working in IT at the moment who feels that $56,000 additional operating costs is a tolerable overhead probably should be considering a change of career – just my view.

Another reader commented

Andy you are a MVP, but this Article sound like a “Used car sales man for Public Cloud”. Shame to see a MVP getting into “Sales for Public Cloud” instead of writing a deep dive Article about Exchange.

Yes, I am an MVP – I don’t think that when you consider the three parts together (remember these were all one article once) I have oversold Public Cloud at all.

What I have said is that it should be considered as an option – even if you are not comfortable with it. The simple fact is – Public Cloud is here and cannot be ignored. You could take my entire series and use the guidance to build a business case against cloud should you wish, I would not have a problem with that – as long as it suites your organisation’s needs and risks.

More and more FIO’s are demanding that cloud is considered due to the possible savings.

FIO’s don’t immediately care about security and other implications – they care about the bottom line of the balance sheet. As IT professionals we need to guide them to the right conclusion for the business – we need to think about the things they don’t and present clear cases as to why it is not just about the immediate saving.

Being an MVP – I have provided quite a lot of information that would help you build that presentation and if people ping me offline I always would provide more advice given more information about your own company.

It is important to remember these articles also need to be fairly generic – so providing a “one size fits all” answer is not possible.

Furthermore I continue to provide “deep dive” Exchange information via this site and on TechTarget – but my point is that in my opinion MVP’s should not just be about the technical stuff – we should provide strategic advice as well.

As an aside, I resented being called a “used car sales man” – resorting to insults of a personal nature when shielded by anonymity does not help you with your own case. I know that I come across as being a bit sensitive in this regard – but I have feelings as well and not having the opportunity to explain on a 1-1 basis is quite galling frankly.

There are a couple of other comments on this particular post that I won’t address here as I don’t think they cover relevant points – but the last (most recent) comment make a fair observation.

The poster says in a lengthy reply:

“…perhaps he could have been a bit clearer….”

That I would agree with. But hindsight is a useless thing – perhaps I should have said when TechTarget told me they were going to publish it as a series I could have suggested going back over the numbers and restructured the articles. That’s my fault and not theirs.

Dispelling Common Hosted Exchange email Myths

The main comment here that I would like to address is:

“Hosted email is less secure. While this statement is not true”
Got anything to back that up ?
The security of SSL is not the issue, here, the issue is who could have “administrative” access to the email…

Given everything that has happened over the last few months with the PRISM / Snowden scandal this section would have been re-worded. Remember that I wrote this earlier in the year.

I would still standby the statement that hosted options such as O365 can offer better protection than an on-premises organisation at a technology level. But the concern changes to who do they work with and provide access to?

I am not going to get into a debate about the in’s and out’s of security agencies snooping – as that could be a 10,000 word post on its own – suffice to say it is something that I would agree does and should give organisation concern. One thing that I would point out is that PRISM and the data gathering is possibly only a means to an end. In the UK agencies such as the Police, MI5 and MI6 could get access to this information either on or off premises with a court order which all businesses would need to comply with given there is sufficient grounds to have one issued.

For me (and again this is a personal opinion) – the concerns is whether systems such as PRISM effectively allow for data to be gathered without a said court order as it takes advantage of clauses within the boundaries of existing legislation.

In this context – I would recommend that each company takes a view on the overall risk profile to them. Some companies will not particularly care – others will reject the cloud because the situation is not acceptable to them ~ again, a business decision that should be analysed and not something that I feel strongly about either.

From the perspective of my own organisation – we have certain rules that we have to adhere to that would prevent a full roll out into the cloud, however others that I have worked for cloud solutions are a good idea and viable.

In terms of administrative access to mail – this is a problem in both on-premises and off-premises scenarios to my mind.

O365 (as an example) without doubt will have employees with the potential to access your mail data, but if you host your own the same can be said for internal mail administrators.

There is that risk that someone who is pissed off will “run amok” – but how does that get handled?

With O365 – whereas you cannot ‘see’ that employee (and therefore cannot fire them) – you will have financially backed legal arrangements and if serious enough they could end up in jail, if you own the employee – you can fire them, maybe even take them to court – not sure what would give you the most confidence as both situations are ultimately undesirable.

I would argue that there is more of a chance that audit data on unauthorised access to systems would be detected quicker in situations such as O365 (as there is more spending power on that sort of thing) – but would concede that has not been put to the test yet – and would Microsoft be willing to ‘fess up’ to a customer that one of its staff stole or destroyed your data?

However with that being considered – there are always parts of a company’s infrastructure that will fall outside it ‘field of vision’ – ever wondered if your chosen ISP sniffs all packets coming from and to your organisation and stores them somewhere else?

I am just saying where does the line of trust start and stop?

New Exchange 2013 features that may help simplify migration decisions

I wrote this article a while back:http://searchexchange.techtarget.com/tip/New-Exchange-2013-features-may-help-simplify-migration-decisions

This again was a look at some of the new features in Exchange 2013 – one of the most prominent was simplified interoperability between the Wave 15 releases and how on / off premises setups can be streamlined through tighter integration – but again it did not make a case for going fully into the cloud – it gave feature based options for consideration.

Quite a few comments on this article – below are a few that I would like to address:

For Enterprises why on Earth go Hybrid??
Have control & security in house with Exchange 2013 On-Premises. Enterprise with 1000 mailbox cost $100K a year for Exchange in cloud.

Like it or not, some were (at the time) looking at Hybrid – to some organisations its a flexible model. In the context of the article it was a consideration that I drew out.

Again Cloud companies are paying IT websites for ads & IT Authors are promoting Cloud blindly.

Cloud company’s do pay for advertising space, as do other vendors for other products – that’s what they do to get business. I am not sure of the point the author of this comment was trying to make – is it that cloud providers should not market themselves on IT websites? Anyhow – the last part of the comment about authors promoting cloud blindly interested me.

With respect to the author – I don’t think that I promoted anything, let alone ‘blindly’ – I emphasised the options that Wave 15 provides between applications on or off premises.

Also having worked in IT for over 17 and a half years now, working in many different sectors including managed services – I would not say that anything I said was ‘blind’ or something that I don’t know about or understand – the point of the article was to make the point that there are more options.

MVPs should deep dive into Exchange On-Premises and teach us something today, NOT tell us things that a 10 years old even know I.E. Cloud & Hybrid deployment.

I responded to a similar comment earlier in this post so won’t go over it again – just worth putting in as it was very similar. I suspect that it was the same person, someone who probably has good reason to not be keen on the cloud – but has to make the point with sarcasm and no explanation about why the feel so strongly.

I have no issues whatsoever in regard to people disagreeing with me – but I think that it is important that they explain why. That helps people learn from others.

So am I that used car sales man for the cloud?

No.

I am neither pro cloud or against cloud.

I am a ‘consider’ the cloud persona who recommends that people weigh up the options – then make a decision. If that decision is no chance – then good for you, if it is yes to cloud then again, good for you – as long as the business case stacks up and has been researched.

However, going back to a point that I made earlier – if it is someone’s perception that I am (sic. a used car salesman) – then I have a 2002 VW Passat for sale, 120,000 on the clock with one previous – almost careful female owner (wife’s going to kill me for that comment)– Ping me if you are interested.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dame Luthas August 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Hey Andy,

Keep doing what you do Brother, don’t let those guys get to you. Those of us that understand what you’re sharing and explaining – really appreciate it.

BTW – this is a great article.

Thanks
Dame
thelifestrategist.wordpress.com

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shawn August 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I echo Dame sentiments. This is the internet unfortunately Andy and thus as you’re well aware everyone has an opinion valid or not. You’re work is valued so just brush off, and “if it don’t apply let it fly”.

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