Friday, November 14, 2014

How Does “The Cloud” Affect the MSP Business?

A while ago I publish a blog post entitled:

Why I don’t like the term Trusted Advisor

It turns out that this post has generate some interesting debates on other forums. Someone who was involved in those discussions, Chip Reeves from Bigger MSP, has now put together a series of interviews with myself and other thought leaders in the SMB IT space.

To get the ball rolling on this project Chip has recorded a short video interview with me that you can view above. In it I reiterate how today IT resellers should be thinking like a Chief Information Officer (CIO) rather than an provider that merely sits on the side line waiting for stuff to happen.

I also highlight some points I made in a blog post back in 2012:

Valley of Discontent

in which I outlined my belief that the only two options available to SMB IT providers going forward was to get huge or get small and specialise.

I’ll post up the videos from the others than Chip interviews around this question but in the meantime, watch the interview, read my blog posts and let me know what you think. Am I on the right track or totally off base? I’d love to hear you opinions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Office 365 Clutter now rolling out

Microsoft keeps the new features of Office 365 rolling with the release of Clutter:

http://blogs.office.com/2014/11/11/de-clutter-inbox-office-365/

To enable Clutter you’ll need to have enabled the office 365 first release program which I details previously at:

http://blog.ciaops.com/2014/09/enabling-office-365-first-release.html

Once the first release feature is enabled you’ll need to wait for Clutter to appear. To check, go to your Outlook Web Access page in the Office 365 portal (i.e. click the Outlook at the top of the page, along the menu bar, when you login to the portal).

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Then select the Cog in the top right corner. From the menu that appears select Options.

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From the menu on the left expand the Automatic processing and then select Clutter from the list. Note the Clutter option won’t appear for you until it has been rolled out to your tenant. On the right select the option to Separate items identified as Clutter and then select Save. Now you are good to go with a leaner inbox, which will hopefully get leaner over time as the Clutter algorithm learns more about what is important to you.

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Once you enable Clutter you’ll see an additional folder created under you inbox called Clutter. It is into here that message deemed non-essential will automatically be routed,

In essence it seems that Clutter is basically automatic mail rules. It uses machine learning to determine what is ‘important’ and re-routes what isn’t to a sub-folder.

Having used email rules for year to have a more productive email system this doesn’t appear to be a major improvement for the way I work. However, I do know it will be HUGE for almost everyone else because I rarely see others effectively use mail rules for the inbox. They simply allow email to accumulate in their inbox where they never read them. So, the whole process taking place automatically is going to really benefit the majority of users who are currently swamped with emails.

Remember, each user will have to enable Clutter for themselves, inside their own portal login using the process outlined above.

There you have it. Another features added to Office 365 to help your productivity. What do you think? is this helpful? What could be improved? Will you use it? I’d love to hear. I’m interested to see how it interacts with any existing inbox rules, which I assume will be applied PRIOR to Clutter taking over??

Office 365 Lync to become Skype for Business

It seems like the battle between Lync and Skype for naming rights of Microsoft’s conferencing tool has been won by Skype as per this announcement today:

http://blogs.office.com/2014/11/11/introducing-skype-business/

which says:

In the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release and updates to the service in Office 365.

Seems to me like an interesting move away from the enterprise naming conventions associated with Lync to a more consumer friendly and wider know brand being Skype.

I also not so sure about the whole ‘Skype for Business’ messaging given the confusions there are in the market around ‘OneDrive’ and ‘OneDrive for Business’ presently. However, it does indicate the delineation that is occurring between the business and consumer products.

Skype is certainly a stronger, more widely used and recognised brand so I can see the reasons for moving in that direction. When you look at the new product appears to be like it still remains very much like the Lync client we know and love today, it just gets a ‘Skype’ make-over. It is also a good idea to start consolidating the product brans to avoid confusion the space, especially for end users.

If you are an existing Office 365 users you won’t have to do anything expect wait for the updates in 2015 when your Lync client will be updated. When that happens for me I’ll report back. Till then take a look at the blog post from Microsoft and let me know what you think of the new branding. Does ‘Skype for Business’ make sense?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We shall remember them

At 11am on the 11th of November 1918 the guns fell silent on what to date had been the greatest conflict in human history, World War I. It unfortunately was never going to be the end of major human conflict as many believed. It however was the end of many young lives who gave theirs in the service of their country.

Australia played a very significant role in the conflict we have come to call the Great War. They survived the odds on the Turkish Peninsula for nine months and from there went onto fight in many of the major battles on the Western Front, serving with distinction amongst the Allied forces.

As my Anzacs of World War One web site notes:

http://www.anzacsinfrance.com/losses/

In the 4 years of War approximately 416,809 had joined up and of these 313,814 had embarked for duty overseas. 65% of these were killed or wounded compared to 51% for Britain, 50% for Canada and 59% for New Zealand. Nearly 40% of all Australian males 18 - 44 voluntarily enlisted. One in five or 63,163 died on active service during the war.

At this time of year we pause for a short period of time to remember those who did not come home. We remember those who did return but were mortally scarred by the experience. We remember that because of their sacrifice we hope to never have to face the horrors they did when called on by their country.

Many paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today, so take a moment and remember all those who served and are still serving. Let’s say thanks and never forget the role they played in shaping our nation and what we enjoy today.

Lest We Forget

Monday, November 10, 2014

Need to Know podcast–Episode 61

In this podcast I’m joined by Tas Gray from Axiom IT in Melbourne to discuss storage option in Office 365. We look specifically at SharePoint Online and OneDrive fro Business but we also venture off onto the business value of Yammer to even the smallest business.

To listen to the episode visit:

http://ciaops.podbean.com/e/episode-61-tas-gray/

or subscribe to this and all the episodes in iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/ciaops-need-to-know-podcasts/id406891445?mt=2

I am looking to tweak these podcasts a little and focus on providing regular technical and business information around Office 365 and Azure. So, if you have a question send it along or leave it as a comment here. If you’d also like to specifically hear about an Office 365 or Azure topic in more depth then also let me know what that is.

Of course if you are interested in being a guest on the show to discuss business or technical topics I’d also really love to hear from you. So don’t be shy, reach out.

Some feedback from my recent Azure/Office 365 workshop

Happy to report that my recent 2 day Azure and Office 365 training workshop in Brisbane went off well and was well attended. Thanks to everyone who attended and made the sessions possible. Here’s a sample of some of the feedback received:

“I just wanted to say thank you for such an informative session on Azure. I got so much from the day it is hard to quantify yet, suffice to say I think all attendees have an advantage over those that missed out”

“Definitely worth the time and effort involved in taking the 2 days off for the training. Well done again Robert, keep up the good work.”

“The training was excellent and focused on what we need as SMB as well as identifying the bigger enterprise picture.  From knowing really nothing about Azure, we have now done practical tasks and know how to move forward.”

“The content was excellent and the pace was good to keep you thinking all the way through the practical tutorials. I think the 2 days of content would be equivalent to 4 days elsewhere and the Friday and Saturday sessions worked well for me and most others. Got some great tools and tips to take away with me.”

“The Azure training was great and really complements o365 and was good to get a taste of what is, and what is to come.”

“For those that didn’t make it to the Brisbane training, it was good, very good!!! Robert delivered 2 days of focussed excellence. I am so much more aware of where O365 and Azure, fit into the big picture. And, whilst there were times where I dropped behind in the practical exercises, the takeaway was massive.”

Appreciate the feedback from people and glad to see that it hit the mark with what you where looking for.

All the content from these course will now be finding its way online via Cloud Business Blueprint, so if you aren’t a member yet may now is the time?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Office 365 Shared Mailboxes get boosted to 50GB

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As you can see from the above graphic and the following page:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/exchange-online-limits.aspx

This increase applied to suites, while the standalone Exchange Online plans shared mailboxes remain at 10GB max (but here’s a little secret, you can actually store more than 10GB in there, it just can’t send or receive emails when it gets above the 10GB limit, but you can happily store more than 10GB of email in there if you really wanted to. This has always made it a great archiving solution, given that it is free and all).

Office 365 Exchange Online shared mailboxes (which are free and unlimited) have been boosted to a maximum size of 50GB like any normal mailbox. Shared mailboxes cannot be logged into directly, they can only be access from users with a license for Exchange Online.

So if you need to archive an old user’s mailbox, just convert it to a free Shared Mailbox (using PowerShell of course). Gotta love Office 365 don’t ya?