The Quick Q&A series features high-level conversations about why we love our partners and continue to recommend their solutions to clients.
A few months ago, we kicked off a new blog series where we ask some of our IT experts what they like about certain technologies, as well as the vendors/partners behind those technologies. After all, the IT landscape is an expansive one. Knowing which solutions are ideal for which scenarios is the first step in turning IT into a real asset. Perhaps just as important is knowing which solutions are backed by strong partnerships that prioritize the customer over profit. Our hope is that this blog series gives you a glimpse into why we choose the technology and partners that we do.
Microsoft just might be the most well-known and ubiquitous name in technology. Few companies have the experience and presence that they do. They’re active in literally every facet of tech. Rather than trying to share thoughts on their entire solution catalog, this post will focus more on the scope of our partnership with them, which is centered on their cloud-based productivity offerings. To help me in this endeavor, I enlisted InterWorks IT Practice Delivery Director Aaron Richardson and Systems Engineer Kody Bradley.
Premier Performance at the Best Value
Q: What do we at InterWorks like about Microsoft technology?
Richardson: Microsoft is a standard for most of the IT world, and the ability to use and integrate their products to fit our clients’ needs just makes them a natural fit.
Bradley: They have competitive pricing for really great solutions. Nothing really beats Exchange for email. Having it in the cloud provides so much more redundancy and features for a very low cost. The feature set is insanely large, and utilizing the full stack of Office/Exchange/Windows/Teams, etc. has never been easier or more powerful.
Running your own Exchange server is a liability at this point. Having to self-manage security updates and mailbox databases is daunting and very often not worth the amount of effort for the number of users you are supporting – not to mention how much knowledge you need to gain/utilize in order to manage them. Offloading this workload onto Microsoft by utilizing Exchange Online just make so much sense, and I’ve not heard one single story of anyone that had any regrets about moving their Exchange workload to the cloud. Maybe they are out there, but they’re few and far between.
Q: Why and when would we recommend Microsoft to clients?
Richardson: Most clients run on a Windows environment, and the products that Microsoft builds are targeted at performing better on those machines. Knowing our clients’ business needs as well as the products Microsoft builds means that suggesting Microsoft products is a pretty easy choice for us.
Bradley: I’m focusing mostly on cloud offerings here because 95% of the time (or more), people are already utilizing Microsoft tools, so our recommendation is usually some version of “move these workloads to the cloud.” Most often, we recommend Exchange Online anytime we see/run into a client running their own Exchange server on-premises. Or less likely, they are utilizing a less feature-rich email solution like SmarterMail or other POP3/IMAP services.
Unmatched Support from Microsoft and InterWorks
Q: What do our clients like about Microsoft?
Richardson: Clients typically like the usability as well as the upgrades and support that both InterWorks and Microsoft provide when you subscribe or purchase their hardware or software. Microsoft continues to improve on things and add to their offerings. While you may purchase one thing at the beginning of the year, it doesn’t mean that’s what you are limited to by the end. The additional products that get added and simply provide additional value to what you are already spending make their SaaS model very appealing.
Bradley: Familiarity with the product is a big one. People have used Windows for most of their lives at this point, and Office has always been the go-to for documents, spreadsheets and presentations. That mostly transfers over to all of their cloud offerings. This may be a bit introspective, but our Marketing Team at InterWorks is a great example of this. Many of them utilize MacOS for their operating system but still utilize Office for a lot of other purposes. Part of this might be because those are just the recommended tools at InterWorks, but part of it might be because Office is what they’re most comfortable with. InterWorks is pretty open to giving our people the tools they prefer to work as they please, but we don’t really get requests asking for different tools that do what Office does.
Q: What makes our partnership with Microsoft a good one?
Richardson: Microsoft has made it easy to partner with and distribute their hardware and software in multiple ways. Our choice is by utilizing the indirect CSP model with our distributors. This allows us the convenience and expertise of being a Microsoft Gold Partner while also being able to lean on a much bigger organization to help make the management and acquisition of Microsoft products a very simple process both internally and for our clients. All this means that we can spend the majority of our time learning, implementing or supporting our clients in a way that reflects the InterWorks support model in the best possible light.
Bradley: The biggest thing is that the solutions work great for our clients. We have a ton of in-house knowledge and history with Microsoft, but honestly, the solutions are just solid. The speed of development has picked up a lot, and Microsoft went from a product/technology that didn’t change much to something that changes so often it can be a little hard to keep up with. I personally think that’s a huge strength for the product suite, as is the ability to offload your hardware to the cloud instead of running an on-premises email server/chat server/etc. You gain SO MUCH without having to deal with a ton of security concerns in allowing general internet traffic onto your network (something you have to account for when running an on-premises Exchange server).
Want to Learn More About Microsoft?
The thoughts shared here are only the tip of the iceberg as to why we like Microsoft for cloud-based productivity. If you want to learn more or simply want to talk with someone about how to implement Microsoft cloud solutions within your organizations, we’d love to chat.