Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Office Web Apps installation

I went to a demo yesterday at Microsoft where I actually got to see Microsoft Office Web Apps live for the first time. Wow! Even better than I’d imagined.

 

After the demo was over I was real disappointed because I thought that I’d have to wait until Office 2010 get released on May 12 to get a hold of Microsoft Office Web Apps. WRONG.

 

If you visit this site:

 

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=27d81b1c-18ae-4983-8e1c-224bb747eb99&displaylang=en

 

and follow this document:

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-au/library/ff431687(office.14).aspx

 

you can download a beta copy, which is exactly what I’ve done. Here is a brief installation overview.

 

You need to have SharePoint 2010 installed and operating on a server. Once you have downloaded the file package double click it to run.

 

image_2_37683850

 

It will be expanded.

 

image_4_37683850

 

You will then be asked for the license key (which is found in the documentation link above).

 

image_6_37683850

 

Accept the license agreement.

 

image_8_37683850

 

Choose an installation location.

 

image_10_65558B08

 

Wait for package to copy files.

 

image_12_65558B08

 

Run the SharePoint config wizard.

 

image_14_65558B08

 

Commence the set up.

 

image_16_65558B08

 

A few services get restarted.

 

image_18_65558B08

 

Office Web Apps gets configured.

 

image_20_65558B08

 

All done with install, now for configuration.

 

image_22_1342DDC1

 

Go to System Settings in SharePoint Central Admin and select Manage services on server.

 

image_28_1342DDC1

 

Ensure Excel, PowerPoint and Word Services are running.

 

image_30_1342DDC1

 

Got Application Management then Manage service applications.

 

image_34_1342DDC1

 

Make sure Office Web Apps services are running.

 

image_36_1342DDC1

 

Now go to the Site Settings for your SharePoint site.

 

image_38_7E515B4D

 

Locate Site Collection features under Site Collection Administration.

 

 

 image_40_7E515B4D

Activate Office Web Apps.

 

image_42_7E515B4D

 

Find Word doc on your site and click it to open.

 

 image_44_7E515B4D

Bamm – Word document in a web browser courtesy of Office Web Apps.

 

I am impressed. More testing to come soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cloud security

 
One of the biggest challenges that ‘cloud computing’ faces is the issue of data security. Many, many clients and IT Professionals are rightly worried about how secure information will be when it resides in the cloud. In thinking about a suitable answer to these concerns for people that I speak with I have come with an analogy that I’d ask you to give me some feedback on to see if it resonates with you.

I’d like to compare online security to the way we save our money with banks. Now it is certainly possible to take the money that you accumulate and stash it somewhere in your own home. This I would equate to having your own computers on site. Now, it is certainly possible to secure the money when in it is in you own house. You can buy a safe, you can store the money in an old shoebox pushed to the back of a cupboard and so on. You know exactly where it is and you generally feel secure knowing that the security of this asset is totally under your control.

Compare that with putting your money into a bank. You deposit your money and you get a statement in return acknowledging your deposit. You can then leave the bank in the generally secure knowledge that your money is ‘safe’. Obviously you are, along with lots of other people, ‘trusting’ the bank to keep it secure, however they do generally and means you also don’t have to worry about the security of your funds.

So let’s look at the benefits a ‘shared’ security system like the bank offers. You can walk into any branch of that bank and withdraw your funds. You don’t need to go back to your place to get cash when you run out. In most cases you can also get access to your funds from any ATM in the world. Also in general the bank will pay to some interest on the funds you have left in their safe keeping.

We all know that the world is far from a perfect system. We also know that depositing your money with a bank has costs in the form of fees and taxes, yet the bottom line is that the banking system has been utilized for a long time and still works today. In fact, it has become so ubiquitous that I would content that not having a bank account these days actually counts against you. I don’t know many jobs that pay via cash or cheque these days, even though I’m sure there are still some.

What I’m trying to demonstrate with this analogy is the fact that we consider money pretty valuable and most people ‘give’ that money to another business to ‘mind’ for them. Isn’t that the same sort of thing that would happen with cloud computing? Again, I readily accept that banks are not perfect but then again neither is stashing your money under you pillow.

Perhaps this leads me to the other issues that’s been rattling around my head of late. It seems to me that people ‘think’ that cloud computing should be prefect. That is without issues, downtime, flaws etc. Maybe the reasons for this kind of thinking have been some cloud computing advocates that have testified that cloud computing is indeed without fault. They may have done this as a method of differentiation against the status quo or whatever. The problem is that they have created an expectation that is simply unattainable, as this is technology after all. This has now meant that cloud computing has has to live up to an unrealistic expectation of 100% trouble free operations 24 hours a day seven days a week. This has made it extremely easy for a critic to point to any failure as a systemic failure of the whole concept of cloud computing.

Again, back to the banking analogy. Sure it isn’t prefect but it is an accepted and widely used system. The average person tolerates the problems because they receive benefits that the system outweighs in their minds. We have all heard the media and politician ‘bank bashing’ but how many people actually change banks I wonder (I don’t know). Then again they don’t stop using the banking system do they? They simply use another bank.

In some ways that’s the beauty of the banking system (and potentially cloud computing). You can choose a provider who suits your needs and you can still change if you want. Sure it is a pain to do that but can’t the same be said about changing banks as well?

As you can see I do like my little banking/cloud computing analogy but I’d be interested to hear what people think as I appreciate that it is far from perfect and I’m sure I’ve overlooked something. As always feel free to send me your feedback via director@ciaops.com.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Office web apps and SharePoint 2010


Here’s a very interesting screen from the Office 2010 training I mentioned in my post yesterday. This is all about Office Web Apps which is basically Microsoft Office running through a web browser. It says:

Office Web Apps:
- included as part of the Office Suite licenses which IT installs on Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Server (formerly WSS) – on premises

So it seems that when you buy Office 2010 you also get the ability to install Office Web Apps onto something like SharePoint Foundation. So there is no additional product to purchase or download!

- Office Web Apps include Microsoft Word Web App, Microsoft Excel Web App, Microsoft PowerPoint App and Microsoft OneNote Web App.

Most importantly here is the fact that there will be an Office Web App for OneNote. Yeah! This means that you can read OneNote files without necessarily having to have OneNote installed on your desktop.

For businesses: Customers licensed for Microsoft Office 2010 through a Volume Licensing program can run Office Web Apps on-premises on a server running Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010

Ah ah. So to obtain Microsoft Office Web Apps you have to purchase Office via Volume Licensing. This makes sense and means that for most businesses obtaining Volume Licensing is the way to go. Obviously price may be an issue but that aside Volume Licensing does provide many benefits, even to smaller businesses.

What Web Apps is NOT – Not to be sold as a standalone product – included with Office license.

Most interesting. So when you buy Office via Volume Licensing you automatically obtain Office Web Apps – neat.

This whole concept of Office Web Apps opens a huge range of possibilities in my mind. It certainly indicates that Windows SharePoint Foundation 2010 is going to be far more important if it is seen as the host of Office Web Apps inside a business. This means that once you purchase Office via Volume Licensing you can download SharePoint Foundation 2010 for free and install Office Web Apps there and then run them via a browser rather than installing the software on workstations.

If you did this, it would mean only a single location to maintain updates and provide all users with consistent versions in theory. I would also assume that if you allowed remote access to your SharePoint Foundation 2010 server then you could run Microsoft Office via a web browser and any Internet connection, which would be pretty cool when you think about it.

There are still plenty of questions around all this Office Web Apps stuff such as how it handles licensing, how it is installed, where it stores data and so on because, to my knowledge Office Web Apps isn’t available yet. However, what it does indicate to me is that, most importantly SharePoint Foundation 2010 is going to be a very important part of most businesses infrastructure going forward. So if you don’t know SharePoint, I reckon you better start learning.

I can also see the application of Office Web Apps into things like Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). This means now that BPOS will almost offer a complete desktop replacement of applications that users are familiar with. It is certainly further evidence that Microsoft is transitioning more to the cloud and considering what Office Web Apps may offer I’m more positive that it is a good strategy, even down to the SMB space.

The next steps for me are to find out more about Web Apps and how to get them running on SharePoint Foundation 2010. I guess I’ll have to wait till when Office 2010 is released to get may hands on Office Web Apps. Damm.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Office 2010 sales and marketing training

With Office 2010 due out in May now is probably a good time to spend getting up to speed on the product. Remember that this new version of Office includes a number of very different features including an online and a free version. That’s also apart from all the other new features with the individual products themselves.

Most importantly, I believe, is the fact that most people need to get up to speed with SharePoint 2010 and OneNote 2010 (which will now be available in EVERY version of Office 2010). So visit the following sites and skill up:

Selling Office 2010 - https://training.partner.microsoft.com/learning/app/management/LMS_ActDetails.aspx?UserMode=0&ActivityId=574221

Introduction to Office 2010 Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) - https://training.partner.microsoft.com/learning/app/management/registrationex/LMS_Registration.aspx?UserMode=0&Mode=0&ActivityID=565564

SharePoint 2010 training

Probably the biggest change in SharePoint 2010 is the interface which now includes an Office style ribbon. In many ways it is probably going to be like how the Office ribbon was accepted by users. At first they hated it, mainly because it was different, but then after a while they found that it actually made things easier. Then they loved it.


I reckon it’ll be the same with SharePoint 2010. I think that the new ribbon interface will also improve the acceptance and usage of SharePoint because it is less like a ‘boring web site’ and more like a true ‘web app’ now. I also think that making it more like Office is also a winner. Initially I was sceptical but now the more I see it and more I use it I think that it does really make sense. The main reason is that, as I have always said, SharePoint works best when combined with office.

To get you more familiar with the new SharePoint 2010 interface and how to do the things you used to do in SharePoint v3 Microsoft has an excellent video training course that can be found at:

http://office2010.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/make-the-switch-to-the-new-sharepoint-2010-user-interface-RZ101806469.aspx?redir=0

It is totally online and takes about 60 minutes to complete and if you are planning on using or working with SharePoint 2010 then I highly recommend you take the time and complete training.

If you know of any other good SharePoint 2010 training let me know (director@ciaops.com) so I can tell people.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New SharePoint how-to video

I’ve just uploaded my 40th video to YouTube under the CIAOPS account. It covers the basics of uploading files to SharePoint.

How to upload files to SharePoint document libraries

 

This brief presentation will demonstrate the 3 major methods you can use to upload files to SharePoint document libraries.

 

As always have a look let me know what you think and what you’d like to see in the future.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More SharePoint talk

With thanks to Susan Bradley who put my name forward for this, I’m happy to say that I have recent featured on the RunAsRadio program.

 

Show #152 Robert Crane Manages Sharepoint 2010! can be download via a number of different audio formats for you to listen to at your leisure.

 

In the episode I speak generally about some of the issues around creating well managed SharePoint sites and some of the challenges that IT Professional may face with a SharePoint site in their environment.

 

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Real world BPOS solution

I’m always on the lookout for real world solutions of Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services, especially those for SharePoint. As such, I came across the following blog post:

 

http://www.mickhuxley.com/?p=89

 

from Mick Huxley. Although he is a techie he is also a volunteer for the SES (State Emergency Services). Now this is basically a totally volunteer organization that provides a major amount of emergency and disaster relief. Interestingly, it seems that the SES has been given BPOS accounts.

 

Mick’s blog post talks about:

 

“Personally I have seen EOS/BPOS yield immediate results for my unit.  We have Distribution Lists, owned by our Controller for the distribution of incoming pages.  He is able to update the list membership on the fly to ensure that only unit members whom are active are notified.  Likewise each week an automatic email is sent advising of the Duty Officer, Team Leader and Operations Controller for the week.”

 

he also speaks of the benefits of SharePoint:

 

“SharePoint has provided us with a location to store our unit documents online and work on them away from Local Head Quarters (LHQ).  This has improved my Units ability to focus on training and incidents.  Whereas previously some members would skip training to complete “paper work” they can now work on the docs, outside of training nights, and spend training time increasing their skills.”

 

he concludes that

 

“Is the SES the only Organisation that would benefit from BPOS?? No, not at all.  Hosting these solutions outside the Organisation can reduce time to provision, reduce technical headcount, reduce carbon footprint, reduce datacentre requirements for cooling and power and reduce Capital Expenditure, whilst improving availability and potentially security.”

 

The trouble is that most people simply look at SharePoint and expect it to ‘magically’ do everything. You gotta mould to your needs and this requires some investment to get the most out of it. SharePoint is simply a tool, like Excel, you only get out of it what you put in.

 

To me this is simply more evidence that BPOS and hosted SharePoint provide real solutions for any organization, commercial or not. As much as I am disappointed by the current lack of uptake of SharePoint I feel better when I see stories likes these from the front lines. I know that one day soon we’ll reach a tipping point and people will begin to recognize the benefits SharePoint can play in their organization.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Webinar preview posted

Today’s webinar, Learning SharePoint Lists, has been posted up on my YouTube channel. It contains about the first eight minutes or so of the full 60 minute webinar that was run today.

Learning SharePoint lists webinar

 

We also have a number of free 30 minute webinars you can download if you want to get a feel for the style and content of our presentations:

 

Introduction to SharePoint - http://rapidshare.com/files/312292856/091112.avi

Basics of using SharePoint - http://rapidshare.com/files/312282952/091126.avi

 

there are also others available for download including:

Basics of SharePoint Administration

SharePoint Questions and Answers 1

SharePoint and Office

Document libraries in depth

 

which can be purchased online from : http://www.pagebloom.com/content/productCategory/o/92160/c/49875

 

If you wish to be informed of when new webinars will be available please sign up to the CIAOPS webinar email subscription list.

 

If you have any feedback on the webinars, suggestions, or topic suggestions please don’t hesitate to email director@ciaops.com and I hope to see you at the next webinar.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I’m not the only one

I posted some thoughts yesterday about the ramifications of the demise of Essential Business Server for the SMB and particularly Small Business Server market. I was reading through Susan Bradley’s blog and was interested to see that she raised many of the same concerns in a recent blog post including:

 

“Make no mistake the chatter is less about a concern over the future of "M" and more over the future of "S"”

 

and

 

“What's the future hold?  I'm not going to lie to you and say that Response Point, Office Accounting, MPAN program and now this, doesn't put a slight bit of chill up my spine.”

 

When people of Susan’s stature start voicing these concerns you really need to be paying attention I believe. Again, this not about the product or the market segment, I truly believe that it is bigger than this. If you still have doubts have a look at this article:

 

’Cloudy days ahead from Microsoft’

 

as the subheading says here:

 

“MICROSOFT has switched its cloud computing marketing from half-hearted to full bore.”

 

This means that the focus has shifted (rightly or wrongly) from infrastructure to cloud. This is where Microsoft is throwing its resources. Maybe Microsoft’s solution is half baked but that doesn’t stop them allocating their resources there. History shows us that Microsoft tends to start slow and awkwardly in many markets but eventually, usually through sheer brute force, they take a dominate stake. I see no reason why the same won’t occur here.

 

Now you can quote me that this time it is different because of Google and guess what I totally agree with you. Why? Because it again reinforces my point that this online stuff, for better or worse, is not going away. The reality is that it is the traditional in house stuff that is.

 

You shouldn’t need to ‘read the tea leaves’ as Susan says in her post, to see that markets generally go where the dollars flow and Microsoft is currently tipping its bucket into the cloud. To reap the benefits you’ll have to probably follow their lead because in the end it is their products that people sell and support.

 

Technically, maybe the cloud stuff isn’t quite there but guess what that doesn’t matter because it is not the greatest driver here. Because the IT industry is being commoditized here major decisions are now based on cost. The cry is no longer ‘I want the best technology’ it has become ‘I want the cheapest technology’ because to the customer, most technology now looks identical whether it is delivered in house or from the cloud. Therefore in a world where there are few differences between products price becomes the differentiator and the cheaper one always wins. It would certainly seem that this is what we are seeing now.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Search Server 2010 Beta

With all the new Office applications currently available in beta don’t overlook the next version of Search Server Express. You can download Search Server 2010 beta from:

 

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=dfd0cfac-f52c-4c02-a972-0e4f1c4e7977&displaylang=en

 

You will need a 64 bit operating system, but unlike SharePoint Foundation 2010 it says that Search Server Express 2010 will run on Windows 2003 and 2008.

 

Here’s what the new version looks like after you install it.

 

image_4_08BFA2B7

 

Doesn’t look like much does it? But I have spoken many times about the power of search WITHIN a business, so don’s be fooled by the appearance. If you click on Advanced you’ll see:

 

image_6_08BFA2B7

 

which really doesn’t look much different from Search Server 2008 below:

 

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I’m currently working out what the differences are and will post any information that I find here soon.

 

Again, don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of Search Server, it is something most businesses really need and best of all it is a free download!

Big news day

The first bit of news is that Microsoft is officially killing off Essential Business Server (EBS) which was sorta a bigger version of Small Business Server. The announcement came as a surprise to many and disappoints some who have been building a business around a product that suits larger businesses. Some of the reasons for the death of EBS?

 

“midsize businesses are rapidly turning to technologies such as management, virtualization and cloud computing as a means to cut costs, improve efficiency, and increase competitiveness.”

 

so says the Official Microsoft EBS blog.

 

Next bit of news is that Microsoft plans to release Office and SharePoint 2010 on the 12th of May which was announced on the SharePoint Team blog.

 

Even though the Official Microsoft EBS blog says, discontinuing EBS:

 

“will not impact any other Windows Server products and solutions, including the next version of Windows Small Business Server (SBS)”

 

you gotta wonder eh? It certainly only seems like a matter of time before that which instigated the demise of EBS starts to white ant the SBS end of the market. Most IT people will tell you that what happens at the larger end of town ultimately end up filtering down to the smaller end.

 

Almost two years ago now, in this blog, I speculated that SBS 2008 would be the last version of SBS we would see. I still believe that is the case, however I believe we may see something called “SBS” which really isn’t. I’m not going to split hairs on what ‘being SBS’ actually is, because I will still content that the fate of SBS will be the same as EBS. It will take longer to eventuate because the SBS product has a longer history and greater support base but it will happen in the end.

 

The imminent release of Office 2010 further marks a march to cloud computing and change in the landscape. Why? Because not only will Microsoft make available a version of Office available for free download but it will also have versions (including a free one) available via the web.

 

Office and SharePoint 2010 will survive because they can go to the cloud, EBS didn’t because it couldn’t. As I said, I reckon that the same logic applies to SBS, it is going to struggle as a product to survive a move to the cloud. Personally, I wouldn’t be betting my business on SBS at the moment.

 

On the other side of the ledger I think that it is good for Microsoft to reduce the number of products it sells and focus more of its energy on making those that sell well better. If all the resources from EBS get thrown into SBS to make it something better, then that can only be good? Microsoft needs to do what it believe is right for its business. At the end of the day that is going to burn some people who believed in the EBS product but in all my travels I have never seen an EBS installation and have only heard of one actual client who had installed it. Now I will readily admit that I am not as well travelled as other IT Professionals and I probably move in the limited circles of the ‘S’ in SMB, however I would have expected to have seen and heard more of EBS in all the time it has been released.

 

To say that current IT trends are not having an effect on customers and resellers is naive. Technology people need to appreciate that many aspects of traditional IT are being commoditized and perhaps sadly coming to be the domain of accountants rather than technicians. Someone told me once that change takes longer than you think to occur but when it does it ends up being much greater than you could have imagined. I certainly wonder what even the next 12 months will bring. The only certainty will be change but the uncertainty is just how much.

 

When a volcano erupts it can reek some of the most drastic changes on our environment, causing, flooding, tsunamis, earthquakes, solar winter and so on. Yet at the same time the earth that is brought to the surface during a volcanic eruption is some of the most fertile. In a nutshell every change brings threats and opportunities, what the end result becomes is only determined by a reaction to these events. A rational person appreciates that if they can’t change their circumstances then they can only react to the circumstances they find themselves in.

 

As much as I appreciate people will suffer because of the loss of EBS, I also see great opportunity in the changes that are brought to the IT landscape. It is up to myself to determine how best to exploit these for my business, because quite simply they are a fact of life and will always continue to be so. I may not like them but in the end I’ve just gotta deal with them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Australian SharePoint Conference


If you are not aware the Australian SharePoint conference is being held on June 16 and 17, 2010 in Sydney. You can see all the details and register via - http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?eventid=804948

I am also happy to announce that I have been selected as a speaker. Not sure exactly which session(s) I proposed will be running and when they will be running just yet, but I’ll provide that information when it comes to hand.

So if you interested in SharePoint (and who isn’t with the new version now in beta?) then I’d recommend you register for the event now so you can get the early bird discount. Let me know if you are going to be attending and we can catch up.

More information about my sessions soon.