OneDrive Files On Demand – Perfect for BYOD

ssd-vs-hdd

Credit: TechoFAQ

Over the last couple of years it has been evident that increasing numbers of BYOD laptops have transitioned to Solid State Disks (SSD) which is terrific since they are significantly faster than traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD), have lower failure rates and also improve battery life.

However, due to their higher price point, the actual available storage volume of SSD is often markedly lower than equivalently priced HDD.  This means students are faced with the difficult decision around what content do they store locally on the their device versus using selective sync in the OneDrive cloud and/or storing on an external USB drive.

Selective Sync effectively allows you to upload content into OneDrive that you don’t access frequently, and then download it when you do need it. Critically, however, this content will not appear in your local File Explorer browser so you can’t “see” it unless you log into OneDrive via a web browser and choose to sync it locally to your device.

OneDrive Files On Demand Coming In Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

This is why the announcement last Friday at the Build 2017 conference was so exciting. A new feature will allow you to see all of your content in OneDrive in your File Explorer, irrespective of whether it is stored locally on your device, or only in OneDrive in the Microsoft Cloud. Then, if you want to access any content that is only in OneDrive it will automatically be downloaded “on demand” when you click to open the file/folder.

You can optionally choose to then “always keep on this device” if you are going to be requiring regular or off-line access to this file.

Read the full blog post about this here.

Here are some images from the original blog post to show you how this works:

1

Note that the selected folder takes up 1.37TB of storage in the OneDrive cloud, but that locally in File Explorer it shows 0 bytes on the local device.

2

The various status of each file and folder is shown in the “Status” column, indicating whether it is in the OneDrive Cloud only or stored locally on the device. Right mouse clicking allows you to choose to “Always keep on this device”

3

If a file is not stored locally, simply double clicking on it as you normally would to open a file will immediately trigger a download to open the requested file.

My Point of View:

I see this as being a massive aid for schools, helping both teachers and students maximize the performance of their devices. Getting more SSD into teacher and student devices will drive longer battery life, lower failure rates and faster accessing of content. However, by being able to seamlessly see what is in the Cloud and what is stored locally removes any barrier or confusion around the location of content for end users.

With many BYOD devices starting with 64GB of storage, this opens up the vast OneDrive storage capacity to students and teachers in an easier, more seamless way, meaning there is even less reason to use USB hard drives for storing content.

This feature will be available in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update as well as new OneDrive features for iOS/Android devices.

Free Azure Cloud Migration Assessment Tool

As more organisations, including schools and tertiary institutes, explore cloud migrations from on-premise servers, the number one question is always “how much will it cost me and how much can I save?”

Recently, Microsoft have released a free cloud migration assessment tool that you can see here:

Click here to start the free cloud migration assessment

There are three ways you can import data into this assessment tool:”

  1. Manual Import – essentially entering the RAM/CPU/OS specs of your physical/virtual servers one at a time into the online tool
  2. Bulk custom import – download an Excel template to manually update the specs and then import into the online tool
  3. Automated discovery and import – this utilises the free Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit. This can be configured to scan through all/part of your server network to automatically identify the specifications being used and then generate an import file for the online tool.

You can watch a detailed instruction on how to use these three methods in the YouTube clip below:

cloud migration toolkit

Click the above image to watch the YouTube clip

What I really like about this tool is that you get a report with calculated costs for Azure hosting compared to your on-premise infrastructure costs:

Azure Report.PNG

An example of the predicted cost savings using Azure compared to on-premise hosting.

This is, of course, based off assumptions in terms of costs to maintain on-premise services and this is where the tool is very flexible. If you have already done a TCO or ROI exercise and know the costs of on premise services you can manually update these costs in the assumptions calculator to truly match your known costs:

Azure Assumptions

This tool allows great flexibility in terms of entering your true/known costs into the assumptions tab to get accurate comparisons

Tools like this can give organisations certainty in terms of predicted costs for moving their infrastructure into the Azure cloud. I’d love to hear first hand from educational institutes out there that have used this tool – feel free to post a comment below if you have.

 

Case Study: Migrating School Infrastructure To The Azure Cloud

windows-azure-png-pagespeed-ce-h-kvdp25kjFor schools that are considering a “move to the cloud” with their server infrastructure, here is an interesting case study from PCMedia and Marlborough Boys College of moving their on-premise servers to Azure.

You can read the full case study by clicking here.

There are some interesting quotes in the case study from the Deputy Principal Michael Heath, including this reflection on the costs:

Switching to the cloud has saved our school in the vicinity of $70,000 to $100,000 in the first year. After realising we had this budget spare, we decided to buy 100 new computers for students. That’s been the most obvious and immediate benefit of this change. Rather than spending money sorting out our server, we’ve spent money on devices for students

Costs and mileage are going to vary from school to school in terms of the savings of going cloud, however there is an increasing number of partners who can assist schools in making this happen. I’m aware of a couple of new schools that are going cloud-first with all infrastructure in 2017 and I will hopefully be able to share some success stories on these in the near future.

If you’re interested in exploring moves to Azure then get in touch and I can connect you to experts who can assist and also provide some possible indicative costs.