Gmail and Drive: Finally Together

The wait is over!  With the next release cycle of Google Apps, you will be able to insert/attach any file up to 10GB in size from Google Drive.   Rather than sending files which may exceed size limits on many email services, recipients receive a link and the ability to open or download the file via Google Drive (no account needed).

And, if you are sending a file to somebody without access permissions, the smart assistant will let you know.

For more info, visit the Official Gmail Blog.



Microsoft: Pay More for the Same Old CALs


Back in July, we blogged about how Microsoft’s new server pricing model, combined with the end of the Small Business Server package, would result in significant cost increases for many small businesses (see SBS End of Life: Microsoft Punishes Small Businesses).

Starting December 1, 2012, Microsoft is increasing the pricing for User CALs (client access licenses) across most of its product lines.   The higher CAL pricing does NOT include any new or additional functionality — just a higher price.

As most readers are aware, Microsoft offers two types of client access licenses.  Device CALs allow unlimited users to connect from a single physical device.  User CALs allow a single user to access servers and services from an unlimited number of devices.  According to Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, “Microsoft has positioned User CALs as being the optimal choice if company employees need to have roaming access to the corporate network using multiple devices …”.  As such, most companies purchase User CALs.

Without adding any new features or capabilities, Microsoft is increasing the price of User CALs across all of the following products (in alphabetical order):

  • Bing Maps Server CAL
  • Core CAL Suite
  • Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Exchange Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • Lync Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • Project Server CAL
  • SharePoint Server Standard and Enterprise CALs
  • System Center 2012 Client Management Suite
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection
  • Visual Studio TFS CAL
  • Windows Multipoint Server CAL
  • Windows Server CAL
  • Windows Server RDS, RMS, Terminal Services CAL

When asked about these changes, Microsoft tells ZDNet, “These CAL changes include a user-based option that offers more value in support across unlimited devices …”

What Microsoft fails to mention, however, is that “These CAL changes” are not real changes at all — user CALs have always supported unlimited devicesThe only “change” is the higher price.

For companies with Enterprise Agreements, Software Assurance, or other volume licensing agreements, the higher prices kick in at the end of your licensing term.  For everyone else, December 1st marks the day companies will need to pay more for the same old CALs.

Cumulus Global Publishes Google Accessibility Overview


As more businesses, schools, government offices, and non-profits move to cloud computing and Google Apps, user accessibility becomes and important part of the evaluation, selection, and implementation processes.  To help organizations understand and plan for accessibility, Cumulus Global has published a Google Accessibility Overview report covering Google Apps, Chrome, and Chromebook / Chromebox devices.

“Accessibility goes beyond ADA and Section 508 compliance, it is about enabling individuals to work to their full potential,” notes Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “Our intent is to make it easier for organizations to understand how Google products and services fit with their accessibility needs.”

The report provides current information, along with links to all source materials so that readers may track updates and new capabilities over time.  The report is available for free at:

Microsoft’s Apology Says Volumes about Office 365 Outages


It should be no secret that Microsoft’s Office 365 service continues to experience the types and frequency of outages that plagued its predecessor cloud service, BPOS.  While the outages receive little press coverage (they are frequent enough that they are not newsworthy?) , customers feel the impact.

In response to outages on Nov 8 and Nov 13, Microsoft sent customers a formal letter of apology (read it here).

Most disturbing to Office 365 customers is what Microsoft’s apology says about the quality and capabilities of Microsoft and the Office 365 platform.

With respect to the Nov 8th outage, Microsoft states the following:

“Office 365 utilizes multiple anti-virus engines to identify and clean virus messages from our customers’ inboxes. Going forward, we have built and implemented better recovery tools that allow us to remediate these situations much faster, and we are also adding some additional architectural safeguards that automatically remediate issues of this general nature.”

What this says is that, at times, significant virus traffic makes it to the email servers, and Microsoft has technology to remediate this problem by scanning servers and removing these messages from inboxes.  This is troublesome for a few reasons:

  • Best practice is to prevent viruses from reaching email servers, as any inbox remediation system allows the possibility that a virus is activated by a user before being cleaned.
  • Remediation of this problem has been manually driven and that automating the process is still in development
  • Remediation of virus infections dramatically impacts performance, up to the level of an outage.
  • Microsoft has not yet built an infrastructure that is capable of preventing virus infections, and continues to be focused on remediation.

With respect to the Nov 13th outage, Microsoft states:

“This service incident resulted from a combination of issues related to maintenance, network element failures, and increased load on the service.”

Microsoft acknowledges that they perform maintenance that can interrupt customer services outside of maintenance windows and that the Office 365 architecture lacks sufficient redundancy.  Microsoft is also admitting that the Office 365 infrastructure does not have sufficient capacity to handle peak demand loads and does not allow for automatic activation and allocation of resources based on demand.

In response to these outages, Microsoft promises the following:

“Significant capacity increases are already underway and we are also adding automated handling on these type of failures to speed recovery time.”

In essence, Microsoft cannot  predict or manage capacity, so they are throwing resources at the problem.   More importantly, Microsoft is not fixing the architecture in order to prevent load-based failures — they are automating how they respond to failures.

In other words:  Microsoft expects future Office 365 outages;  So, too, should Office 365 customers.


CFO Research Report: The Business Value of Cloud Computing

In May 2012, CFO Research conducted a survey among senior finance executives at large U.S. companies to examine their views on the business value of cloud computing, as well as their plans and priorities for adopting cloud-based systems in the years ahead.  This report presents the findings from interviews with 310 financial executives across 15 industries.

Reading this report, you will learn:

  • Key motivators driving the move to cloud computing
  • How CFOs view the business advantages of cloud computing
  • How real experiences with cloud computing compare with expectations
  • Which factors CFOs see as the greatest barriers to cloud adoption
  • The role of employee performance in cloud computing decisions

Cumulus Global Publishes Cloud Solutions Daily

Cumulus Global ( announced the launch of the Cloud Solutions Daily, a daily online newspaper focused on cloud computing news, opinion, and analysis. The paper, available via free subscription, aggregates content from dozens of verified sources, providing cloud computing related stories relevant to business, technology, education, and the environment.

“The nature of Information Technology and cloud computing is changing rapidly,” stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “Our news service provides an easy to scan summary of what is current in the industry.  We offer news, analysis, and a wealth of good ideas from industry experts.”

Readers may read and subscribe to the Cloud Solutions Daily for free.

Chromebook Solutions Featured at Google Apps for Education Summit

Google Apps for Education New England SummitCumulus Global ( announced that the company is sponsoring the Google Apps for Education New England Summit, being held this weekend at Burlington High School in Burlington, MA.  As part of the company’s participation, Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon will conduct a workshop entitled, Google Apps and Chromebooks: Building a Successful 1:1 Program, that will discuss the many facets of planning and management a one-to-one Chromebook program.

“As with any educational technology plan, deploying Chromebooks to individual students requires planning beyond device selection,” stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “In the session, we will discuss many facets of successful 1:1 programs that impact teachers, administrators, and students.”

Google Apps and Chromebooks: Building a Successful 1:1 Program will discuss device selection, device management, curriculum integration, professional development, and expanded use of Google Apps.  The session will also discuss budgetary and financial options.

More information about the Google Apps for Education New England Summit is available at, by following #gafesummit on Twitter and Google Apps for Education Summits on Google+

Cumulus Global offers Emergency Email and File Services to Businesses

Hurricane SandyCumulus Global ( announced an emergency assistance program for small and mid-size businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  Cumulus Global will provision replacement email and file services to help get businesses up and running.  As part of the program, companies will paid reduced activation fees and will contract for services on a month-to-month basis.  Businesses can be up and running, back in business, in a matter of hours.

“Small and mid-size businesses are the backbone of our economy and are often the hardest hit by natural disasters,” stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “This program is not about making money, it is about saving businesses and jobs.”

Leveraging Google Apps, Cumulus Global can have businesses up and running with email, voice/video conferencing, file services, and more in a matter of hours.

Companies in any of the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy or its aftermath are eligible for 30% discounts on activation and service fees.  Services start at $10 per month and run on a month-to-month basis with no long term contract.

Businesses interested in the program should contact immediately.


New Compose Window Adds Sophistication to Gmail

Google’s new compose window makes it easier to reference and manage multiple emails at once, with a new overlay window and simplified user screen.

Check out this helpful video.