Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 128

Marc and I are joined by a returning guest to talk all about her upcoming Microsoft Ignite Australia presentations. Sonia Cuff gives us the low down on what to expect with the following two sessions she is presenting:

Making SaaS part of your IT Strategy

With the business pushing for SaaS apps, why are we saying no? Can you balance an in-house infrastructure under strict controls & policies with a business reliance on an outsourced, uncontrolled solution? We'll look at how to enable the business while still protecting them and how to keep your sanity.


The CEO reviewed your project & you won;t believe what happened next

Your budget was agreed. A reasonable timeframe was achieved. The implementation went smoothly. So why is the business still unhappy? You'll learn why Digital Transformation is more than just technology deployment. We'll show you what successful Digital Transformation looks like to the CEO & how you can ensure your IT work really is enabling people to achieve more. Find out some of the practical tools that Microsoft provides that can help you navigate this conversation with your executive stakeholders.

There is also the latest Office 365 and Azure news and don't forget to send us your feedback at feedback@needtoknow.cloud

You can listen to this episode directly at:


or on Soundcloud here:


Subscribe via iTunes at:


The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:


Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.





Marc's Azure news

Azure Active Directory meets Power BI

Office 365 planned service changes

Cloud platform roadmap

The Missing Chair: http://themissingchair.com.au/

Personal website: http://soniacuff.com

MS Ignite Session: Making SaaS part of your IT Strategy https://msftignite.com.au/sessions/session-details/2209/making-saas-part-of-your-it-strategy-

MS Ignite Session: The CEO reviewed your project & you won’t believe what happened next … https://msftignite.com.au/sessions/session-details/2320/the-ceo-reviewed-your-project-you-wont-believe-what-happened-next-

Microsoft FastTrack: https://fasttrack.microsoft.com/

Sharing files with external users using OneDrive for Business

Here’s a bright shiny new video detailing how to share files with external users from OneDrive for Business. You’ll see how to share with external users via email address and via a direct URL. Nice and easy.

If you wish to share with external users via email (i.e. they have to actually login to view the document), then they’ll need a free Microsoft account which they may already have or can easily set up using their own email address.

If you wish to share the document without the need for a login you can also do that easily via OneDrive for Business.

Sharing your files via OneDrive for Business means that you retain the source and control of the files. It also means there is a single point of truth when it comes to the document. That alone is worth using OneDrive for Business to share personal business documents.

Office 2013 via Office 365 is going away

A key date that is fast approaching is the removal of availability and support of Office 2013 from the Office 365 portal. As detailed here:


Office 2016 is the recommended version of Office 365 ProPlus and includes all the latest upgrades and new features. As we announced in September 2015, when we released Office 2016, beginning March 1, 2017, the Office 2013 version of Office 365 ProPlus will no longer be available for installation from the Office 365 portal. Beginning March 1, 2017, your users will no longer see Office 2013 as an option for download through the Office 365 portal, and admins will no longer have the option under Software download settings in the admin portal to choose to enable Office 2013. In addition, we will no longer provide feature updates for this version, nor provide support.

The requirement to upgrade an old version of Office on the desktop has been detailed previously and I detailed it here:

Questions about Office 2016 via Office 365

Probably the major point with Office 2016 is that it doesn’t support connection to Exchange 2007. This is typically going to affect those users still running SBS 2008, so you have been warned.

Part of the subscription features of Office 365 means that subscribers have access to the latest software. They should now ensure that they have upgraded any previous versions to the latest that Office 365 offers.

As mentioned in my article, users have 12 months from the release date of new software to upgrade to the latest version of the software. Failing to do so will result in their current version going into ‘reduced functionality mode’ where they can only carry out basic functions such as as read and open.

If a user has Office 2013 from Office 365 they will not be upgraded automatically, they will need to install the software manually. For answers to more questions about Office from Office 365 I urge your to read the above articles and make the change over as soon as possible.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The middle age spread

This is part nine of my presentation “Making money from the cloud”. You can find the full slides at:


and the previous parts are at:

We live in exponential times

Consider the following

Major Trends

Macro Trends

Software will eat the world

The phone is the desktop

Build a tailored service

Focus on adding value


The reality of many IT service businesses today is a model that looks like the above graphic I believe. To my mind, it illustrates that the majority of resources inside an IT services business are spent on managing and maintaining human capital. Now that human capital could be people management (i.e. employees) or it could be knowledge management (i.e. keeping up to date), but is most likely a combination of both. No matter what the components that constitute it, it is by far the largest drain on the business and is something that affects both IT resellers, both large and small.

In this old model, the human capital resource has to be the widest component to cater for all eventualities and is the base on which everything else sits. Most IT providers need people and knowledge to cover the huge variety of products and services they sell and the systems they utilise to support these. Some of these may only be required occasionally but there is too much risk involved in not having them covered. So the base of the structure traditionally needs to be the widest to support those layered on top of it.

This traditional model for revenue growth for IT providers has been to add more products and customers constantly. Adding more product generally also means introducing additional vendors. For example, ‘we hear there is good money in VoIP phone systems, let’s do that’ and off the business goes, charging down the path of adding more products that require additional resources for ill defined or unknown returns. Likewise, many IT providers have traditionally taken on any client they come across because their focus is on revenue rather than profit. If duly examined, many IT resellers would find that probably 20% of their customers are providing 80% or more of the profit in their business, yet the amount of resources dedicated to the most profitable customers is probably quite low. That is simply an indication that the IT reseller has lost business focus and is merely fighting fires. In short, they are letting the business control them.

Much of the diversity of products that resellers have to support comes from the variety of customers they also elect to support. Many customers has little in common with other customers, so each becomes a unique instance to accommodate. This requires unique knowledge and lots of time spent doing things that can’t be applied elsewhere or are worthwhile automating. The greater the variety of customers on board the exponentially worse this all becomes.

With a huge variety of both customers and products to support, you end up having far more resources than you need, ‘just in case’. This means an ever decreasing width as you move towards the top of the structure shown above, because the lower level must be larger than the upper one ‘just in case’. Unfortunately, at the top of this model sits the smallest component of all, profit. That has been eaten away by all the supporting structure underneath. Thus, the business now has the ‘middle age spread’ as I like to call it, far bigger in the bottom than the top. Which is not what you want it to be like if we are honest right?

You’ll also notice that I have included an unnamed mystery box floating over the whole structure. This is something that nearly every IT reseller I know of does not do or even take seriously, yet is one of the most factors in the success of a business. Any ideas on what it could be? Stay tuned.

The question is, what can be done to fix the situation? The next article sill start delving into the solutions in more detail.

Friday, January 20, 2017

January webinar resources

Welcome to 2017. The first webinar of the New Year is now done and dusted. You can see the slide above or download directly from:

January 2017 Need to Know Webinar

If you are not a CIAOPS patron you want to view or download a full copy of the video from the session you can do so here:


you can also now get access to all webinars via:


for a nominal fee.

Thanks to everyone who attended and I hope to see you again next month.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 127

In this episode we are joined by Alessandro Cardoso, Technology strategist at Microsoft to talk about his upcoming Microsoft Ignite Australia sessions:

Managing Red Hat on Azure with OMS [OPEN312]

With the capability to deploy a Red Hat supported Virtual Machine in Azure, you may be asking: "What else can I do with my Azure Red Hat VM?” We will introduce Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS), walking you through the incredible analytic power of the system for Linux and Windows Azure VMs. With Linux, OMS allows you to collect Syslog events, Performance data, and Nagios/Zabbix alerts


Deploying Linux on Microsoft Public and Private cloud [OPEN323]

Heterogeneous environments with Microsoft Windows Clients, Microsoft Windows Server, Linux, FreeBSD, and the cloud are the norm. Being able to run all of your virtualized workloads on a single hypervisor simplifies management and optimizes server capacity. Learn how to deploy Linux VM to Hyper-V or Windows Azure.

You can listen to this episode directly at:


or on Soundcloud here:

or subscribe via iTunes at:


The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:


Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.





Microsoft OMS

Azure news from Marc

New features in Microsoft Flow

Using Flow for event registration

Project Osaka

Monday, January 16, 2017

Issues with Azure File Backup on SBS

One of the initial steps that I have been advocating when it came to migrating SBS servers to Azure was the installation of the Azure backup agent (marsagentinstaller.exe) on the SBS box in order to backup files and folders. It was the first step before moving onto more complex operations. After further research, it turns out that doing this will break “other SBS” things.

The reason is that the Azure Backup agent needs at least PowerShell V3.0 per:


Now it turns out that installing PowerShell V3 or higher on an SBS breaks per this:


which concludes:

Our guidance at this time is that Windows Management Framework 3.0 should not be deployed on a server running Windows Small Business Server 2008 Standard or Windows Small Business Server 2011 Standard.

Windows Management Framework 3.0 contains PowerShell v3.0.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t install the Azure files backup agent on an SBS box from what I can determine, because it doesn’t support the minimum required version of PowerShell.

However, the Azure files backup agent will actually install and run on an SBS server. However, it will also as part of that installation install PowerShell v 3.0 which can cause lots of other issues. Thus, even if it can be installed DON’T install it because the components will cause other issues on SBS.

Unfortunately, the Azure file backup agent can only backup files on the host that it is installed on. This means you can’t install it on a members server and backup files across the network that are on the SBS box. However, the way you can do this (in theory) is using Azure application backup, which I’ll now have to go out and check actually operates in an SBS environment.

Makes things tough when your production OS doesn’t support the latest software eh?