BPOS Update – Trial has ended, now a paying subscriber

In other news of cloud models, my previous client has moved from a trial to paid subscription of the Business Productivity Online Suite. While I’m very pleased that we have implemented a solution that the client was happy with, I still wish we’d been able to do more for them. BPOS is a great product but there are a few enhancements that I really hope they make as they continue to work on the product.
On a related note, there’s rumbles that this implementation may end up being profiled by Microsoft. Truely this engagement had a happy ending. 🙂

Client is online!

Sorry for not updating sooner. We hosted our annual Mardi Gras party this weekend so its been a busy week. But the party is over, I’m exhausted, and the food is all gone.
So Friday afternoon, my BPOS client opted to "flip the switch" and end the co-existance phase of the migration. We modified their DNS’ MX records and I’m happy to say they are now running strictly off of Exchange Online. We’ve recommended they continue to do so for at least a week before converting their trial account into a paid subscription.
This stage in their story did not come without some learning.
  1. The technique we previously mentioned of using SharePoint to share their contact list proved to be bandwidth intensive. Outlook syncs those shared SharePoint resources in a manner we did not predict and as a result, there was an excessive amount of activity going on. So we’ve had to remove this feature for all but the most critical users. We still have the option of using something like powershell to punch the items into their AD’s GAL so we sync them back up that way. But for now that’s on hold.
  2. There were some issues with the email going live. The MX records were propogating in about an hour, but it was another 5 hours before email was flowing in unrestricted. We spent some time on the phone with Exchange Hosted Services support and in the end it turns out that it was a unexpected replication delay in Microsoft’s Data Center.

So the client is up and running now and it pleased by the cost savings they’re going to start experiencing very soon. I’m pleased that things went comparitively smoothly.

My next challenge, CE development! I started at a new client this past week and I’m digging into their Windows CE application and helping them out. This engagement will present a whole new set of challenges.

BPOS – Migration Underway

Wow, two weeks and I’m still updating. I hope anyone reading this is less impressed than I am.
My client’s implementation of BPOS is well underway now. As I write this, we’ve migrated about a quarter of the accounts to online and the SharePoint templates are nearly finished. Despite a few minor hurdles, things have been going very smoothly and the client is extremely pleased with the results. Each morning we hear how they can’t wait to start using the system in earnest.
I would like to leave you with tid-bits on two of the hurdles we encountered and how we overcame them.
Public Folders
Exchange/Outlook Public Folders are not supported in the "Standard" version of BPOS. So we’re tossing these items into SharePoint where they can be shared with Outlook again if users need/want them. This was extremely important for the client as they had an extensive contact list in their public folders and wanted to be able to easily find someone in there when sending an email.  By getting creative with the use for old and on-line exchange profiles, we were able to get Outlook to do the bulk fo the synchronizing for us. 🙂
Outlook Profile Settings
Each time you switch a user over to BPOS or Exchange online, don’t forget to port over profile specific settings. Rules will need to be exported from the old profile and imported to the new one. Signatures are still there, but need to be re-selected. And be darn sure you don’t forget to re-attach their private folder stores.
Of course, both these issues likely won’t be missed by anyone that’s experienced with Exchange migrations. But for an Exchange newbie like myself, these were some lessons I learned and will keep with me for my next implementation.

BPOS Wootage!

We heard back from the client last night and they want to proceed with a full BPOS solution (Exchange & SharePoint). I’m really pumped with this. Not only becuase I honestly believe its the right solution for them, but because it will be fun to actually help a client go live with a commercial SaaS product.
The client will be saving several thousand annually and gain some a significant amount of functionality they do not currently have available to them. And if all goes well they’ll be up and running with Microsoft Online Services as soon as the end of next week.
There are some days I truely love my job. Open-mouthed