Thursday, November 05, 2020

Sumatra Calendar Insight prototype available online

Calendar-minded folks,

We've been working on something we call Sumatra Calendar Insight -- and we'd like you to try it out.

Where are we going with this?

Frankly, we’re looking for direction.  Over years of migrating legacy calendar servers into Exchange we’ve often done analysis on the data and approached mining it in several different ways (usually for resource availability and effectiveness).  

Microsoft MyAnalytics does a good, simple job of helping you get focus time every week or so, and Microsoft Productivity Score promises to give your admin some insight on your global productivity on some schedule with a single score, but missing in all of this is on-demand access to the kinds of detailed statistics power managers and enterprise watchdogs need.  And of course, everything Microsoft does has ignored resources – maybe not an issue now but the pandemic will not last forever.  

Sumatra Calendar Insight is a proof of concept demo – we can get at this data and deliver it to you on demand.  

So we’re asking: what kinds of data do you want to get at?  And why?

Let us know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Looking for test sites for a new calendar app for Office 365


Having been locked in our houses / apartments / cells / space ships for a few months we started working on a new application that analyzes calendar data for users on Office 365.

We think that calendar analysis should be more detailed than asking "do you think you have enough time set aside for doing real work?"

We're thinking more like "Wonder how your team is spending their time?” and “Too much video and not enough work?” and "We've got a Zoom contract, what're these Teams video meetings doing here?"

Of course we can also do this server-side in Exchange and look at group aggregate statistics,which we think is a lot more interesting in a corporate environment.

A few screenshots follow.

Anybody want to try it out in a beta version please let us know -- we like listening to people.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Work from Home’s Impact on Calendaring/Email and IT’s budget

A consulting company with 100 employees was running a legacy version of Exchange using a VPN to their work from home users.  Their VPN expense average cost was $200/mo/user.  They tested the “free” Microsoft migration tools.  Moving email would take a month.  They considered migrating PSTs in bulk, but the bulk upload turn-around was ten days.  Losing ten days was unacceptable. HYBRID deployment?  Too complicated and arduous for them to even get through the manual.

Free was not an acceptable solution.

What did Sumatra do? 

  • We completed the cut-over from Exchange 2010 to Office 365 during a twelve-hour outage window.  
  • For email, we used imapsync to migrate about 500GB of email. Two weeks before cut-over, we synchronized email between the legacy and Office 365 and then managed a continuous sync to keep their email up-to-date. This reduced server loads, and ensured all email migrated during the cut-over window.   
  • For Calendars, tasks, contacts, we used a Sumatra’s eCalReader to migrate calendars, contacts, and tasks.  All was accomplished during the Friday-night cut-over.

The bottom line Sumatra migrated 100 users in eight hours -- with little involvement from IT.  The customer said Sumatra saved them $100,000/year in expense.

The uncertainty around Covid changed the Sumatra’s customers support their end users. It was a nightmare when IT reconfigured everything so end users could work from home (WFH).  For non Office365 customers, costs included VPN connections at $50-$200/month/user.  Their CFOs realized a Microsoft Office365 license ($12.50-$20.00/month) would save thousands!

There are five themes that run through the inquiries we’ve received and what we've l;earned from our customers in the last few months. 

  1. Cost: The VPN expense is killing IT budgets.  CFOs want to migrate to Office 365 ASAP.
  2. WFH Timeframe: Customers expect employees will WFH for the next six to 12 months.  
  3. Legacy servers and VPN are an expensive way to support WFH.  They both have to go.
  4. Microsoft Office 365’s “Free” migration tools take weeks to complete.  They leave current email/calendar data behind!  
  5. Third party solutions are expensive and don’t move calendars!!

What are customers asking for? Everyone who calls us for help wants:

  • Migration done over a weekend not a month;
  • Migrate ALL CURRENT DATA.  And not just email.  Calendars, contacts, and tasks from legacy(*) on-premises Exchange 2Kxx calendaring and collaboration solutions to Office 365.   
  • The migration cut-over outage limited to overnight or at most during a weekend.:

* Legacy products are pretty much anything except Microsoft Office 365 at this point.  Google calendar is a dark horse, but our experience is anyone who's already gone for Google doesn't want to actually pay to move out.

The other thing we've learned is that imapsync is excellent at the sort of last minute touch-up work that invariably needs to get done: synchronizing a few folders or mailboxes.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

DAVical to Office 365 calendar migration in beta stage

You guys might remember our earlier posting on DAVical migration to Exchange / Office 365.

Well, we went ahead and started it based on a request from Europe.  

If there's anyone else out there who's looking for this please drop us a line.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Corporate Meeting Resources in Office 365 in the Age of Social Distancing

So in the soda straw view of the world we see in calendaring, it was only a while before COVID-19 reared its protein-based heads in our direction.  (and yours, we assume!)

Specifically: how can we make sure we promulgate COVID-19 safety rules to personnel if we (when we) are allowed to authorize them to return to work in our physical locations?

Simplest way we came up with that does not involve any coding or need to involve your Office 365 Administrator is to create a Rule for your Resources, as shown in this screen capture.

The meeting organizer (and ONLY the meeting organizer) will then get an email directly from the resource in your standardized corporate language reminding them to observe safe meeting practices, as the following details show: 

This is the detail from Conference Room 222:

Easy-peasy.  And as you see it works whether you have your conference rooms as auto-accept or managed.

Do you have a zillion rooms?  This is script-able through Exchange Shell.  If you create a solution, please post it here and share it to benefit others!  

Friday, May 08, 2020

How much time is your group / department / division / enterprise spending in Zoom working at home?

After reading How My Boss Monitors Me While I Work From Home in the New York Times I sort of shuddered at the degree of surveillance you can put on someone's machine.

Putting on my calendar geek hat I could see how you could extract this kind of "how I spend my time" information from on Office 365 / Microsoft Exchange server without having to load possibly vulnerable code on a laptop or desktop.

Drop us a line if there's interest in this.