IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

SMB Nation’s Fall Conference Focusing on Office 365

With the Microsoft Office 365 product group participating, the conference aims to help IT pros ready themselves for a new business model. By Michael Siggins

To help IT pros position themselves for the next 10 years, SMB Nation’s 2014 annual fall conference will focus exclusively on Microsoft Office 365. Dubbed “Office 365 Nation,” the event will take place on September 26 to 28, 2014 at the Microsoft campus rather than its traditional location in Las Vegas, and the Microsoft Office 365 product group will be in attendance.

The sessions will include both technical and business content, and the entire Office 365 ecosystem will be examined, from the on-premises server side to the cloud.

“These are changing times,” says Harry Brelsford, founder and chairman of SMB Nation Inc., Bainbridge Island, Wash. “There’s definitely some disruption in the SMB technology space, and so I think everybody is reinventing themselves, and we’re no different.” For many IT pros who built their businesses around Microsoft Small Business Server, the question is, “What do I do now?” Brelsford says.

That question, he says, echoed across the 30-city, 30-country “Get Modern” road show Brelsford participated in this year, he explains. “The people at the workshop, quite frankly, that’s what they really wanted to talk about. They had more questions than answers, and then the facts alone speak toward the momentum on Office 365.”

IT pros today are essentially in the same position as they were at the first SMB Nation conference in 2003, when SBS was new and the Microsoft SBS team participated. Office 365 is a new product, Brelsford says, and IT pros need to know the technical details as well as how to reinvent their business models. Partnering with Microsoft is important, he says. “We’re on the Microsoft campus at their conference center, and the Office 365 team is enthusiastically participating.”

Speakers lined up to date include Jennifer Reed, co-author of Office 365 For Dummies; Robert Crane, an Office 365 MVP and author of Getting Started with PowerShell for Office 365; Steven Banks, Microsoft MVP and founder of the Puget Sound Small Business Server User Group and president of Banks Consulting Northwest Inc.; Melanie Gass, the “Microsoft Princess” and president of CenterPoint Solution; Tom Moen, Office 365 technology solutions professional; Karl Palachuk, senior systems engineer at America’s Tech Support; Kevin Royalty, senior systems engineer at America’s Tech Support; and Grant Thompson, founding partner, MG Technology Group.

“There’s something for everybody on the technical side, and we will facilitate dialogue and conversations in a structured environment about Office 365 business models,” Brelsford says.

He adds that the community is “at the very beginning of a 10-year run” with Office 365, following about a 14-year run with SBS. “So it’s the SMB channel partner, reseller, consultant, who is asking the question, ‘What do I do now?’ With Office 365 in its infancy, we’re at a point where there [are] more questions than answers and they can really benefit from the technical and business content, but just as much from the in-person relationships they’ll develop” at Office 365 Nation.

For more information and to register, go to Fall2014.smbnation.com.

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