Saturday, March 17, 2012

Office 365 Exams & Certifications in April!

Microsoft Office 365 Logo
Microsoft is releasing two new exams and matching certifications in April to help IT Professionals prove their Office 365 mojo!

Exam 70-323 will cover Office 365 administration, including Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft Lync Online and Microsoft SharePoint Online.

Exam 70-321 will cover deployment planning, implementation & migration for Office 365 solutions.

If you pass just 70-323 you will certify as a "Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Administering Office 365."

If you pass both exams you will certify as a "Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Office 365 Administrator."

Considering the demand for professionals with cloud computing skills and certifications the timing couldn't be better.  And for all of you IT Pros that haven't gotten in to Office 365 yet, NOW is the time!  At Valorem we can't keep up with demand and are expanding our cloud services practice and I know that partners all over the country are doing the same.

Don't miss out on the cloud computing revolution, get trained and get certified!
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Does Pinterest Have to Do With Cloud Computing?

English: Red Pinterest logo
What does Pinterest have to do with Cloud Computing?

Most people would say nothing.  I'd say they couldn't be more wrong!  Social media beware!

A new study by Shareaholic digs in to their February 2012 All Traffic Sources Report to find that Pinterest has surpassed Twitter for internet referral traffic.  That's amazing considering the sheer amount of traffic that passes through Twitter, how entrenched it is as a cornerstone of social media communication and how new Pinterest is - until last summer it was run out of a small apartment!

So, what does Pinterest have to do with Cloud Computing then?  Everything!  Pinterest is all about linking images in the cloud with descriptions and sharing like items together on a "board."  This allows posters to categorize and make sense of the massive amounts of information floating around in the cloud.  It's a way to make all that stuff we find through Google, Bing and Yahoo more useful... more easily digestible.

So, how am I using Pinterest?  Since I am an Office 365 Solutions Consultant at Valorem Consulting Group, I am using it to organize Office 365 data I find across the internet and on Microsoft's websites.  I'm linking screen captures of many of Office 365's interface pages, I'm embedding training and marketing videos and I'm posting up blog articles, news items and brochures.  I am then commenting on those items and linking back to them in articles such as the one you're reading right now!

Check out how I've begun using Pinterest at

Pinterest is an important advance and a taste of what is to come... more intelligent ways to discover and consume relevant information in our ever expanding cloud of Big Data.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Office 365 Prices Reduced!

Microsoft announced today that they reduced the pricing for most Office 365 SKUs.  This is great news for new Office 365 customers... although there is no change for existing customers at this point.

See the sheet below for details:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Microsoft Store Coming to Kansas City Area?

If you're at all interested in retail or retail management it appears there are opportunities to work at a newly opening Microsoft Store in the Kansas City area!

While reviewing local Microsoft news I found several job openings via a web search.  If you check out indeed job search you'll see 9 open positions including Assistant Manager, Teacher, Product Advisor and even a Community Development and Events Specialist.  The Assistant Manager job is also listed on the Microsoft Career website.

According to the job postings it appears the store will be in Overland Park.  I've contacted Microsoft but have no confirmation yet.  All signs point to "yes" though.

I haven't had a chance to visit a Microsoft Store yet, so I for one am excited!  I'm glad to see that Microsoft is continuing to invest in their presence in the Kansas City area.
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Friday, March 2, 2012

Pay for Your Privacy - The Google Conundrum

How much is your privacy worth?  $10 per month?  $25 per month?  Would you just give it away for free?  All of your private data?  Information about what you like?  Your shopping lists?

Giving it away for free is exactly what you're doing when you use Google's products.  Now some people may not care all that much.  Maybe you think it's okay if Google and other big companies know everything about your online activities, but businesses and especially governments need to think again.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
Think this is a whole lot of to do about nothing?  The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) doesn't.  They filed suit against Google on February 8th to try to prevent Google from combining data from across Google's services in to a single profile, making all of your data available to all Google services.  In practice this means that you may see advertisements customized based upon the content of your Google searches.  You may also see advertisements when looking at your photos on Picasa based upon the contents of your e-mail or Google Talk chats.

Picture this: a friend is getting a divorce and asks you to recommend an attorney.  You do a Google search for "divorce attorney."  Later, your spouse goes to read your shared G-Mail account and is presented with a slew of advertisements for divorce attorneys.  Awkward questions ensue...

Another example with photos and instant messaging: you're having a discussion about good times at college with a buddy on Google Talk.  You mention playing drinking games and going to clubs of ill-repute.  Later that day you're sitting with your 5-year old looking at family photos on Picasa and a pop-up ad is targeted at you for Viagra (or something worse).  Mommy, what's Viagra?

privacy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
So let's talk about Google Apps.  Google says that Apps' education, business and government customers are safe and that they won't use their data for advertising.  Apps isn't quite free, but it is a very low cost service.  Where is Google making their money then?  Is it from subscriptions?  Really?  I don't believe Google cares whether people use Apps or not... they're counting on creating new Google search customers.  Even if they aren't directly using the data that organizations store in Google Apps the 900 less-well regulated applications that you use when you're a Google Apps customer aren't covered by their privacy policy.  Don't tell me that Google isn't going to use information from those other apps to choose ads to display to users.

It's a slippery slope.  Get a discount on your cloud e-mail, file storage and sharing but be aware that there is still a cost for using Google's services.  It's your information... your privacy.  That's how you pay for low-cost and free services from Google.

So, am I going to stop using Google services?  This blog was published with Blogger.  I used Google search for some of the references and related articles.  I don't plan to stop any time soon either.  But am I going to trust customer's data to a company that makes 97% or more of their revenue on aggressive search advertising?

Not a chance.

Next time: is Microsoft a better choice for cloud e-mail services than Google?  See you soon!
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