Monday, September 1, 2014

Adding SharePoint Storage under Office 365 Open licensing

Unfortunately, one the of confusing things when it comes to Office 365 is that way that certain SKUs are licensed and made available via different channels. One of those that I recently struck was when there was a need for additional SharePoint Online storage space for Team Sites (not OneDrive for Business) with an end user who had a Mid-sized (M) purchased under Open licensing.

Out of box currently with Team Sites you get 10GB + 500MB per user. Thus, on an Mid-sized (M) for 10 users you’ll get 10GB + 10 x 0.5GB = 15GB in total. However, what happens if you need 20GB say? That is, an additional 10GB.

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The way you purchase additional products is that you simply go into the Office 365 Administration portal and then elect to buy more options.

When you do you’ll see the above information. in this case you select to pay with another option and proceed.

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Since you already have a license (in this case Mid-sized) you would think that you select this as there is no option just to purchase additional SharePoint online space by itself.

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Here you see the option for Extra File Storage, however the issue is that you can’t just purchase the storage you also have to purchase an additional Mid-sized license!

After some research, it turns out that Extra File Storage is not an SKU that is available via Open licensing. Thus, the only way that it can be purchased is by using the Office 365 console and purchasing it via a credit card (this is known as a retail license). However, the problem with that is that you can’t just purchase Extra File Storage by itself, it is actually only possible if you purchase a plan that includes SharePoint Online.

This then means to get an extra 10GB of storage in case there is need to also purchase an additional Mid-sized business plan. The problem arises if there is no need for that additional Mid-sized license. You can’t also easily adjust the initial licenses purchased via Open because these are done on yearly basis. So you effectively end up with an additional license you may not have use for simply to obtain Extra File Storage.

Many businesses will in fact use that additional license down the track so it will generally not be wasted but now you also have a tenant that has both retail and Open licenses. You have a tenant with potentially varying license expiry dates. In short, a lot of complications have been added just for the simple need of some Extra File Storage.

This now means that licensed purchased under Open need to be done with careful consideration for the amount of space required in Team Sites, because if you need more than the initial licenses provide you need to purchase one less under Open and then purchase one via retail WITH the additional space you require. That really isn’t the best solution but at this stage it appears to be the only one available.

How could this problems be solved? In my opinion there are two possible solutions:

1. Add Extra File Storage to Open licensing

2. Increase the initial amount of allocated SharePoint Online Team Site space from 10GB (+500MB per user) to 1TB (+1GB per user).

Until then, beware of using Open and having the requirement for more file space that is provided initially. If you need more, you will have to look at splitting your license purchases between Open and retail.

Friday, August 29, 2014

OneDrive mobile app update coming

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With the growth in cloud storage the way that people access that information also changes. Much access, especially for cloud services, is now undertaken away from a traditional desktop and in many cases on mobile devices. With that in mind Microsoft is again updating its mobile OneDrive apps.

You can read the specifics about what is happening in this blog post:

https://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive-gets-smarter-on-your-phone/

One of the enhancements on the Android platform is the ability to access your OneDrive consumer and OneDrive for Office 365 directly from the same app on Android devices. when combined with Office on Android this will make it extremely easy to work with files no matter where you are. Microsoft is crafting the app to ensure that information is easily separated between personal and business. They are also improving access by utilising pin code access.

The rapidly improving features of mobile apps are really beginning to shine light on the power of the cloud as they give people access to their information where ever they are, optimized for the screen they are using. If you are not yet using the OneDrive app for your mobile device download and give it a go. I’m pretty sure you won’t look back. If you already have the app key an eye out for the latest round of updates as they look like some major improvements.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New SharePoint Online Sites page

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If you fire up your Office 365 portal and select Sites from the menu bar across the top you now see your Sites home page is now different (see above screen shot).

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Gone is the old format (above), with the new format doing away with the left hand column (which was basically a picture of the user who was logged in. And really how useful was that?).

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It now also displays the logo from the individual sites you are following which helps identify these much quicker to users.

Remember the Sites page is the entry point for many users into all your different Site Collections in SharePoint Online so you should spend the time to make sure it is appealing as possible. This means you should not only add icons for all your sites so they easily identifiable but you should also go in and customise your promoted sites as the top with icons like I have done in the first screen shot above.

A much cleaner and simpler interface is always a good thing in my books, so I think update is a good move from Microsoft. What will be next?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Getting Started with SharePoint Online Tutorial Template

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I am happy to announce the release of a new product from the CIAOPS. This one is called Getting Started With SharePoint Online Tutorial Template. It can be purchased from:

http://www.ciaops.com/publications

This is a SharePoint template that can be downloaded and installed on any Office 365 plan that includes SharePoint Online. This product will help your business learn about the different features of SharePoint Online by actually using it. There are over 20 lessons that users can work through to increase their knowledge.

The product includes:
-  3.5 hours of video lessons
- Links to over 30 additional content web sites
- Over 250 pages of downloadable documentation (excluding free version)
- Easy to install, customise, extend and update
- Premium edition permits editing/re-branding of content
- Annual Maintenance provides free updates of all content for 1 year

This product is aimed at users who have never used SharePoint Online and want to learn more. Download the User Guide for more details or watch the video.

You can download the free version to see what the product looks like. The free version excludes any downloadable content.

The Standard version includes videos streamed from YouTube which may contain advertising. This however, keeps the download size small and reduces the impact on the SharePoint site as well as bandwidth.

The Premium version includes the same content as the Standard version but you will receive all the source videos and documents as a separate download. The Premium version permits you to modify this content to suit your business needs. It also permits you to re-brand this content and make it available directly to your customers.

Please note you are not permitted to resell or give away this product.

There is also an Annual maintenance option that provides 12 months of free upgrades to both the template and content for Premium purchases. This ensures you always have the most recent and up to date version available as Office 365 changes.

Finally there is also free version you can download and install, however this version does not contain any content but includes all the links and the structure so it could be used as a starting point to build your own solution. Please note, there is no support provided withe free version.

Using this template will provide your business with an easy option to create a learning portal in your SharePoint Online environment. Your users can learn about SharePoint Online while actually using it, which is the best method to achieve fast adoption of the product.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Free Windows SharePoint Services eBook

I’m making way for a new product to be announced very shortly (if you want an early taste check out my latest videos on YouTube) and as such it is time to clear out the e-commerce store a bit.

With that in mind I have decided to make my publication Windows SharePoint Master Class Tutorials available for free download.

You’ll find the download on either my publications or downloads pages. Here’s the book summary:

This book is designer for those that want to take Windows SharePoint Services v 3.0 beyond the basics. Implementing things like workflows and integrating with Microsoft Office allows you to unleash so much more of the power behind SharePoint. Every chapter in this book will give your techniques you can use with SharePoint to make it work better in your business.

Apart from workflows you’ll learn how to create linking with Office products to create updating charts, the ability to take SharePoint information offline and more. Even though this book focuses on Windows SharePoint Services v3.0 the information is relevant for all versions of SharePoint and provides a quick way for readers to get up to speed with this powerful tool from Microsoft.

Look out for my latest product real soon!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Add the Discover SharePoint app to a Team Site

One of the biggest challenges around SharePoint is end user adoption. I have written about this many times including:

The classic SharePoint migration mistake

SharePoint Online migration – Pilers and Filers

SharePoint Online migration–Start up is key

End user adoption in the SMB space is more of a challenge but I get REALLY frustrated when I see resellers ‘implement’ SharePoint Online by simply copying user files to a single Document Library and then running away screaming that there is no opportunity with cloud services. SIGH.

One of the best sites you can point people to when it comes to learning about SharePoint is:

www.discoversharepoint.com

But I’ll bet you didn’t know that you can embed this content directly into a customers SharePoint Team Site. Here’s how.

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Navigate to a SharePoint Online Team Site.

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Select Site Contents from the Quick Launch menu on the left.

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Select add an app

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Select SharePoint Store at the bottom of the Quick Launch Menu.

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If you get this warning select a language in the top right.

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You should now see the store with apps inside as shown above.

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Go to the search box in the top right and enter discover and select the magnifying glass to search.

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Hopefully the first result should be Discover SharePoint BETA. Select this.

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This will take you to a screen with more details about the app.

Select ADD IT on the right.

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Select Trust It.

(You may need to use a Microsoft account to complete the purchase if this is the first time you have purchased from the store. These accounts are free. I have a previous post that cover creating such an account this if you need to.)

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You should now see the Discover SharePoint BETA app listed in the Site Contents. Select this.

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It will take a moment or two to set up.

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You should then see the app displayed on the page as shown above.

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If you select the Cog in the top right of the page you will see a menu as shown above.

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The Settings option will allow you to determine whether analytics is sent to Microsoft to help improve the product. Note that it is enabled by default.

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If you select Admin Panel you will be taken to a screen where you can select what content is displayed by the app. Maybe you just want to start simple with a limited amount of information so as to not overload your users, you can de-select what isn’t required initially and then return and add it later when ready.

When complete select the Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

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You’ll then need to select Exit Admin Panel in the top right of the page.

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This will return you to the app. To to return to your Team Site select Back to Site in the top left hand corner of the window.

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On the Team Site you should now find the Discover SharePoint BETA item listed in Quick Launch Menu allowing anyone to access the app directly.

From here the Discover SharePoint BETA is just like any app in SharePoint, you can remove it at anytime if you want.

Don’t forget that the content in this app is being updated regularly so continue to visit it to see what’s new.

So hopefully, there is a nice simply way for you to add some information and training about SharePoint Online to help end user adoption directly into a Team Site.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

End of support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2

I know there are still plenty of people out there running SQL Server 2008 and 200 R2, especially for SharePoint 2010 and Companyweb. Well, the word from Microsoft is that these products have reached the end of mainstream support as of July 8 2014. You can check that out here:

http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/search/?sort=PN&alpha=sql

Microsoft will continue to provide technical support for these via extended support but the message is that you really should look at migrating off these products as soon as you can. Why? Because things like non-security updates will only be available to customers with an extended hotfix agreements and that rules out most smaller customers.

The bottom line is that the longer you sit on your current versions of software the less support will be available. This to me, if one of the great benefits of a cloud service like Office 365 that is always up to date and you no longer have to worry about these sorts of issues.

So beware that the sands of time continue to march on and much like us all the software you are using now isn’t getting any younger.