TL,DR: EA Annual Licencing Renewal, Office 365, and the updated NHSmail Roadmap

[W/C 16/08/2021]

Who did you talk to outside your organisation?

Had a few discussions with Account/ Licencing Team at Phoenix to run through a few queries on our annual Microsoft licence subscription renewal. Bit of a minefield understanding different bits of licencing, what they do and how they fit together to deliver services to our end users. Understanding the complexities of how licencing use differs between on-prem use and in the cloud. This is something we are going to have to keep a closer eye on as we progress services into the Cloud as the types of licencing in use will also need to change with that shift. Office 365 shared NHS tenancy licences were also included in discussions. I am hopeful that we are close to seeing some additional benefits like Microsoft InTune which have been talked about in weekly NHSmail webinars recently. Despite the little frustration around the timescales, it was time to take stock of the level of discounts offered to NHS organisations, and its monumental where parts such as Apps for Enterprise licences discounted up to 62% from normal commercial rates. Large scale change takes time and patience.

Also had an unexpected surprise we learnt that as a part of our licencing agreement we have all the licencing we need to standup Microsoft SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) for our endpoint client machines. We are currently using an alternative toolset by Quest called KACE which feels a bit clunky and less integrated into the whole Microsoft suite. So a question for us to consider if we want to make some savings in KACE licencing when the renewal comes up and move over to SCCM. We also have access to Microsoft’s Enterprise Skills Initiative for training to skill up our staff in this area.

What would you have liked to do more of?

The focus is really on Office 365 and preparation for a planning workshop for the week after next. Which should hopefully get everyone up to date on where we have got to on the programme, current tractory, challenges, risks, issues and most importantly what we need to change to be able to bring in the dates for delivery as we loom closer to certain national deadlines.

What do you wish you could have changed?

I unfortunately used an old version of Microsoft Project 2010 to build a high level project schedule last week for infrastructure implementation for Woodsend (new satellite office to be commissioned). Project is great for mapping dependencies, timescales, resource etc, and to be honest normally a bit irked when i see project plans painfully put together in a spreadsheet manually. Make one change in a Project task and it will automatically tell you and adjust what other task timeframes/dependencies have changed, try and get Excel to do that? Well using an older version of Project on a machine using mainly Office 365 apps my project file and along with it several hours of work was corrupted and lost for good. Out of frustration I bought a personal subscription to Project 365 and had to redo the work from memory. Wish I had Project 365 installed in the first place!

What challenged me?

The split user experience between an E3/R Office Online user and an AfE thick client Office. Have ran through this a few times and because of the local application dependencies and financial restriction on the number of AfE licences we can procure the end user experience is going to take some getting used to as users will see both experiences leaving E3/R users wanting what they won’t have. This will be an evolving journey and the experience will get better with enhancements on the central tenant. Its something we have yet to collectively sign off on as the user experience we will be rolling out with in the non-back office areas where we will have the bulk of E3/R users. Something I am hoping we will bottom out and agree upon or change in the coming few weeks.

What did you learn?

Updated and refreshed NHSmail Roadmap was published.

Some interesting features to look forward to. PST injestion service which is a toolset that will discover user email backup PST files on local network shares and migrate them into the NHSmail exchange archive. At the moment this is a manual process and we do have a lot of user data in PST files taking up local on prem storage.

Also good to see Azure Sentinel is on the roadmap for delivery this year. As we progress forward with our own Sentinel proof of concept running from our own Azure Tenant, this new offering from NHSmail will hopefully allow us to also monitor our Office 365 environment in the central tenant which is something we cannot do across multi tenants.

The thing that probably got me most excited is the prospect of syncing local and NHSmail passwords. Which will hopefully means one less password to remember and it should become the single password to login to yourlocal network as well as O365. As we gently start to converge on the NHSmail login service as our preferred mechanism for authentication across platforms this will start paying massive dividends for our front line users.

What did you enjoy?

Appreciated the the pledges shared from some of the execs at KGH Exec Team Briefing. Anil’s (Finance Director) words particularly resonated “Everyone is somebody and has a part to play in the delivery of patient care”

What did you achieve?

  • Validation of our Server infrastructure and Office 365 licencing with Grant our Infrastructure Manager to be able to confirm our annual order with Microsoft/Phoenix.
  • Looks like we have cracked delegate permissions to enable OneDrive migrations. Next steps to test a subset of users for a pilot, to make sure we get the sequencing of group policies, migration, comms and training right for a wider migration.
  • 13 more fileshare migrations completed this week, albeit lower than our current target of 20 per week, next week we have 29 scheduled and some interim coordination resource starting next week which will help make this a focus area for scheduling and liaison with fileshare owners and increase the volume of migrations taking place weekly.
  • Reviewed Apps for Enterprise (AfE) licence allocation data analysis, few more tweaks needed and we will have a good baseline to start with. Some areas without application dependencies to reach out to over the coming weeks to assess their individual needs.
  • Reviewed previous Cyber updates to Digital Hospital Committee as we have been asked to provide a current update. It’s a little out of date so may need redoing based in current assessments against cyber essentials.
  • Made some amendments to O365 processes.

What are you looking forward to next week?

  • Face to face Office 365 Planning Workshop
  • Conducting interview for a Cyber Security Manager.
  • Preparing Cyber Security funding bids to submit to NHS D/X.

Husband. Dad. Sikh. Lead Services Architect - Kettering General Hospital. Views own. Always learning.