Monday, October 31, 2011

Good business

Here’s an email that Office 365 users in Australia recently received in conjunction with the outage that was experienced in April.

 

image_2_662148A7

 

Nothing is perfect and Office 365 is still in its infancy but I for one am heartened to see that the right thing has been done and customers affected have been duly compensated (as Microsoft provides a financial guarantee on its service level agreement). It would have been nice for this to have come out earlier but hopefully it will not need to again.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who you know


I recently reached what many may believe as only a minor milestone but upon reflection is quite important to me. What was that event? I needed to get more business cards.

Sounds pretty routine but when I stopped and thought about it I realized that it was more significant than I first imagined. It meant that I had managed to hand out my business card to over 1,000 people since the last printing. That’s a lot of people in anyone’s language. Of course it has taken me quite a while to accomplish this but it was much faster than the time before. Why was that? Because I’d learnt a very important lesson.

At my core I’m a technician. I like to build things and solve problem. The issue is in trying to achieve this, other people get in the way. They take away your focus, present you with alternate points of view and generally make things harder. For years I always believed that the better technician I was the more work would come my way as people sought out my superior skills. In some ways this works up to a point but beyond that you need to develop other skills.

The power of any network grows exponentially based on the number of nodes connected. Thus, one fax machine is pretty useless but two connected together start making sense. Continue adding fax machines all connected together and pretty soon they become an invaluable business tool. The same applies with personal contacts. As the old saying goes, ‘it is not what you know, it is who you know’.

Two books that really helped me shape the way I go about networking these days are “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and  “Linked” by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. In essence, they explain the power of networks and the components that make them up. The challenge was now to start applying those principles to business.

The details of that applications goes well beyond the scope of a single blog post like this. It was the subject of a recent presentation that I gave and I’m happy to pass along a copy of the slides from that presentation IF you connect up with me via Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  My main argument is that social networking represents a huge opportunity for everyone’s career, no matter what it is. Opinions from people like Seth Godin, Tom Peters and so on just can’t be ignored and I for one have to agree with the statement that it is the one things that has really propelled my business to the next level.

However, social media for business is not a set and forget strategy. It is something that requires settings goals, monitoring and adjusting but the potential leverage it provides is phenomenal. As with most technologies we find available via the Internet, you can take advantage of the huge value of leveraging independent of the financial resources you have.

My new aim is to get rid of the new pile of business cards I now have in even quicker time. How am I going to do that? Take what I have learnt and ramp it up even more. I’d encourage you to do the same and if you ever want to discuss with me your strategy or how I use social networking to maximum effect, you should by now know how to contact me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Office Web Apps and iOS 5, still no go for editing

A little while back I wrote an article about using an iPad with Office 365 in which I lamented at how the iPad works fine as a reading device with Office Web Apps but struggles when it comes to editing.

 

My hope with the updated release by Apple of iOS 5 that things would get better, unfortunately they haven’t.

 

photo_46275E8C

 

Here is what happens when I attempt to edit a Word document using Office Web Apps on an iPad 2 running iOS 5, the document cannot be opened for editing.

 

photo2_46275E8C

 

We get a similar result when attempting the same thing with Excel Web Apps.

 

Damm! Is all I can say. I know that Office Web Apps work well in most other browsers on most other platforms, yet here, no go. It is a real pity as an iPad is such a sweet device and would work well for remote users.

 

So as it stands an iPad works really well as a SharePoint reading device and for working with SharePoint data. Where it falls down is when you actually want to edit Microsoft Office documents (whether in the browser or offline). Hopefully, both Apple and Microsoft can work a little closer together to make this functionality complete but whether that will happen is anyone’s guess.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Office 365 plans-SharePoint

The next in a series of blog posts on the differences between the plan offerings in Office 365.

 

Product

1 – Lync

2 – SharePoint

3 – Exchange

4 – Enterprise Suites

5 – Small Business Suite

6 – Office Web Apps

7 – Office 2010 Professional Plus

8 – Kiosk Suites

 

Things are not so straight forward now with SharePoint and the different plans because you can purchase SharePoint Online as an individual SKU (Plan 1 or Plan 2, shown below).

 

 

SharePoint Online(Plan 1)

SharePoint Online (Plan 2)

Team sites

Yes

Yes

Simple public facing web site

1

1

Ribbon Site designer tool

Yes

Yes

SharePoint Designer 2010

Yes, for Intranet sites

Yes, for Intranet sites

Custom workflows

Yes

Yes

Sandbox solutions

Yes

Yes

My Site

Yes

Yes

Enterprise features (Forms Services, Excel Services, Visio Services)

No

Yes

Access Services

No

Yes

Business Connectivity Services

No

No

Site collections

Up to 300

Up to 300

Search (across site collections)

Yes

Yes

Extranet users

50 free

50 free

Storage

10GB + 500MB per USL

10GB + 500MB per USL

Buy additional storage

Yes

Yes

Administration

Yes, Tenant level

Yes Tenant Level

 

or as part of a suite as shown below.

 

 

For Small Businesses SharePoint Online in P1

For Kiosk Workers SharePoint Online in K1/K2

For Information Workers SharePoint Online Plan 1 in E1/E2

For Information Workers SharePoint Online Plan 2 in E3/E4

Team Sites

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Simple Public-Facing Website

1 Basic Public-facing site included

No

1 Basic Public-facing site included

1 Basic Public-facing site included

Site Designer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

SharePoint Designer 2010

Yes, for Intranet sites

Yes, for Intranet sites

Yes, for Intranet sites

Yes, for Intranet sites

Custom Workflows

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sandbox Solutions (PTC)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

My Site

No

No

Yes

Yes

Enterprise Features (Forms Services, Excel Services, Visio Services)

No

No

No

Yes

Access Services

Yes

No

No

Yes

Business Connectivity Services (BCS)

No

No

No

No

Site Collections

Single Site Collection

N/A

Up to 300

Up to 300

Office Web Apps

View & Edit

View only for K1

View and Edit for K2

View only for E1

View and Edit for E2

View & Edit

Search (across Site Collections)

N/A

Yes

Yes

Yes

Basic External Document Sharing

Yes

N/A

Yes, add-on

Yes, add-on

Storage

10GB + 500MB per USL

10GB + 0MB per USL

10GB + 500MB per USL

10GB + 500MB per USL

Buy additional storage

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Max Org Users

Up to 50

TBD

TBD

TBD

Admin

Single Site Collection

No

Yes Tenant level

Yes Tenant level

Support

Community*

24x7 phone support for Admin

24x7 phone support for Admin

24x7 phone support for Admin

 

There are come inconsistencies to note here with SharePoint plans:

 

- The Small Business and Professional suite includes most of the features SharePoint Plan P1 but also includes the single enterprise feature of Access Services.

- The Small Business and Professional suite is limited to a total of 2 site collections, one public and one intranet.

- The Small Business and Professional suite does not allow you to purchase additional storage beyond what is provided initially (10GB) plus the amount per user (500GB).

- The Small Business and Professional suite includes the ability to read and write using Office Web Apps.

- In Australia 24x7 phone support is provided with the Small Business and Professional suite via Telstra, elsewhere it is only community support.

- Intranet SharePoint sites use https (secure) while public facing web sites only use http. However the Small Business and Professional plan only allows http for all web sites (see link for details).

- Intranet SharePoint domains are of the form https://<custom_name>.sharepoint.com.

- External SharePoint support vanity domains i.e. http://www.domain.com.

 

Another point to consider is that Business Connectivity services has been announced for an update to Office 365 coming in November. I am unsure whether at this stage it will be available in the P plan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CIAOPS SharePoint Brisbane bootcamp

Just announced another full day SharePoint bootcamp in Brisbane on Thursday the 10th of November 2011. For details and registration please visit:

 

http://www.ciaops.com/bootcampbne/

 

Don’t forget that this a full day hands on course that not only includes all meals and documentation but also a 12 month subscription to my SharePoint Guide (www.wssops.com) and an external hard disk full of SharePoint machine images you can use for your learning well after the course is over.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Office 365 plans–Lync

I’m going to do a series of blog posts on the differences between the plan offerings in Office 365. I’ll update all the previous posts as I complete future articles. The first one will be on the differences in the Lync Plans

 

Product

1 – Lync

2 – SharePoint

3 – Exchange

4 – Enterprise Suites

5 – Small Business Suite

6 – Office Web Apps

7 – Office 2010 Professional Plus

8 – Kiosk Suites

 

Feature

Lync Online
(Plan 1)

Lync Online
(Plan 2)

Instant messaging (IM) and presence

Yes

Yes

Lync-to-Lync audio/video calling (1-to-1)

Yes

Yes

Lync federation (IM/presence/audio/video)

Yes

Yes

Click-to-communicate in Office

Yes

Yes

Authenticated attendee in Lync meetings*

Yes

Yes

Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync®

Yes

Yes

Online Meetings

No

Yes (up to 250 attendees)

Initiate ad-hoc and scheduled online meetings

No

Yes

Initiate multiparty (3 or more users) Lync audio/video sessions

No

Yes

Initiate interactive data sharing (screen/application/whiteboard)

No

Yes

Interop with third-party dial-in audio conferencing services

No

Yes

Rights to Lync Server CALs

Lync Standard CAL

Lync Enterprise CAL

Price (A$/user/month)

A$3.20/user/month

A$10.20/user/month

 

* Enterprise Suite E1 includes Lync Plan 2

* Enterprise Suite E2 includes Lync Plan 2

* Enterprise Suite E3 includes Lync Plan 2

* Enterprise Suite E4 includes Lync Plan 2

* Small Business Suite includes Lync Plan 2

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reviews for SMB Nation are in

Very happy with the feedback Wayne Small and I received on our recent presentation on SBS 2011 Essentials at SMB Nation 2011 Fall.

 

image_2_39A81EF7

 

image_4_39A81EF7

 

My thanks again go out to Wayne Small for the opportunity to present with him as well as SMB Nation.

Some local press

I’ve been making some more appearances on the Net and in trade magazines.

 

Firstly, some of my opinions from this blog have appeared in the October edition of Computer Reseller News (CRN) Australia. The article is not available online but you can download the PDF here:

 

http://www.ciaops.com/storage/docs/crn_oct_11.pdf

 

In there I talk about the support issues around the Office 365 P product here in Australia.

 

The next article you’ll find at:

 

http://boxfreeit.com.au/Productivity/how-to-edit-sharepoint-online-files-on-the-ipad.html

 

and details the challenges that you’ll face if you want to edit Office documents from SharePoint with an iPad. Here is the first part of the story:

 

One of the most surprising challenges with Office 365’s SharePoint Online is to get it working effectively on an iPad. The solutions are by no means easy or straightforward.

The workaround below uses third-party applications on the iPad as middlemen to download files stored in SharePoint Online to the iPad for editing and then save them back up to SharePoint.

The most important app you'll need to get documents to and from SharePoint is DropBox. A free account lets you synchronise up to 2GB of files between the cloud and your desktop. Once in the cloud you can access those files from your iPad.

Next you'll need an iPad app that can read Office documents in DropBox and edit them. There are a few; I chose Office2 Plus. There is both an iPad and an iPhone app starting from around $6. The free versions let you view Office documents but not edit them, which is the same situation if you log in through your browser and use the native Office Web Apps in SharePoint Online. So to edit documents you'll need to shell out for the full version.

Finally, you are going to need an app that can access your SharePoint Online site. Again, there are a few of these but the one chosen here is called SharePlus. The Pro version is $14.99 which lets you make changes rather than just read files.

Now we have all the apps in place on our iPad (DropBox, Office2 Plus and SharePlus).

 

For the rest of the article visit - http://www.boxfreeit.com.au/Productivity/how-to-edit-sharepoint-online-files-on-the-ipad.html

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Office 365 and Windows InTune seminar


I am happy to announce that I’ll be presenting an end user focused ‘Getting started with Office
365/Windows InTune’ course on Thursday the 17th of November at North Ryde in Sydney. You can find details on the full day course can be found at:

http://www.ciaops.com/office-365-seminar/

This is opportunity for you to learn about these latest ‘cloud’ technologies and how they can integrate in your business. If you have been considering moving to ‘cloud’ technologies this course will give you valuable hands on information about how these technologies work. if you are already using Office 365 and Windows InTune you’ll benefit from learning how to make these applications work better and more productively as well as learning advance features and time saving tips and tricks.

The cost for this full day is only $ 299 ex GST and includes all meals and course material. If you are interested in learning about the benefits ‘cloud’ technologies can provide you or you want to get more from Office 365 and Windows InTune then you should sign up for this course. Places are limited so don’t delay.

Friday, October 7, 2011

SharePoint 2010 Certification Exams

Once you have a bit of SharePoint experience under your belt you’d really like to consolidate that and let people know via certification. The best options are the following 2 certifications available from Microsoft:

 

70-667 - TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring

 

70-668 - PRO: SharePoint Server 2010, Administrator

 

However, if you come from the world of SMB and SharePoint Foundation things are going to be a little more tricky than simply sitting these exams. This is because both of these exams focus not just on SharePoint Foundation but also SharePoint Server. This means you are going to need to know about not only SharePoint Server configurations but also things like Network Load Balancing, Virtualization, and so on.

 

70-667 is perhaps a more basic exam with a number of questions presented in sequence. You can generally return to any of the questions at anytime and review your answers. 70-668 is little different in that it gives you scenarios that you need to read, then you are expected to answer a few questions based on the scenario. Once you have answered these questions you can’t return and review them. Thus, you only have a limited time to read, digest and answer what is presented in each case.

 

If you are coming from an SMB background and SharePoint on SBS you are going to need to learn about SharePoint server. The best suggestion (apart from my Guide and installing it on a VM) is to have a look at these publications:

 

Professional SharePoint 2010 Administration By Todd Klindt, Shane Young, Steve Caravajal - http://astore.amazon.com/c00ef-20/detail/0470533331

 

and

   
Microsoft® SharePoint® 2010 Administrator's Companion By Bill English, Brian Alderman, Mark Ferraz -
http://astore.amazon.com/c00ef-20/detail/B0043M52KY

 

Not that I have read it but there is also the following book specifically focused on the 70-667 exam:

 

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-667): Configuring Microsoft SharePoint 2010 (Training Kits) - http://www.amazon.com/MCTS-Self-Paced-Training-Exam-70-667/dp/0735638853/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317964888&sr=1-3

 

At the end of the day both the 70-667 and 70-668 are focused on SharePoint Server but if you know your SharePoint Foundation stuff and are prepared to learn a little about SharePoint Server then you should be able to pass the exam and add these certifications to your roster.

SharePoint Conference-Day 4

Final day of the conference and the information still keeps coming. The first session of the day started off with a look into Access Services and how to develop solutions that will run on Office 365. It is really impressive to see how easily you can move applications from Access to the cloud.

 

The great part about this for smaller businesses is that Access Services comes with the P license (which I don’t generally recommend) and the E3 license. It demonstrates how much additional functionality a small business can get if they move to Office 365 as trying to implement the same functionality on site is simply too expensive.

 

Next up was another fantastic presentation on Excel services and what can be achieved here. I was amazed at how little effort is required to get a really powerful dashboard that includes pivot tables, slices, interactive graphs and more. The presenter even showed some of functionality of Excel from Skydrive including how to embed Excel spreadsheets on just about any web page. Really, really impressive stuff that inspired me to return and implement something similar.

 

Although it was a significant cost to attend and although the majority of the content at the conference was focused on the enterprise I’m glad that I attended. There is just so much around this product as I have said before. There is simply so much opportunity, even in the SMB space., even more so going forward with the move to Office 365.

 

Perhaps the most exciting thing is what Microsoft have planned to bring to Office 365 in the future and all of that will be available to all subscribers, big and small. Now I need to start reviewing al the other sessions I wasn’t able to attend but are available on the conference we site. Certainly can’t complain about the ongoing value of this conference. I’m sure it’ll keep me busy for at least another 12 months.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

SharePoint Conference–Day 2 and 3

IMG_2560_02C87CC2

 

Phew, it’s been a hectic 2 days full of SharePoint goodness. Most of the content is aimed at enterprise types but is becoming more relevant with Office 365 (which provides enterprise SharePoint in the cloud).

 

I also finally managed to spend some time with all the vendors who are also here and must say that I found plenty of opportunities. Again, most are focused on the enterprise with enterprise level pricing but there are also a few option here that would suite SMB. I’ll need to spend some time digesting all this information before I post my findings.

 

IMG_2574_02C87CC2

 

After Day 2 we also had the opportunity to attend Disneyland (which closed off for everyone except the SharePoint conference attendees). Most of the rides were open, there was free food and drink which everyone took advantage of. It was a good time.

 

While I am here I also took the opportunity to sit the Microsoft SharePoint 2010: Configuring (70-667) exam. I am also please to report that I passed the exam and now have a SharePoint 2010 competency under my belt.

 

The event has been jammed packed with information and I realize now how much more there is to SharePoint and what an opportunity it presents. From configuring, to administering, implementation and development, there is just so much to this product.

 

Tomorrow is the final half day of the conference and then it’ll be over for another year. They have announced the one next year will be in Las Vegas in November. Roll on 2012!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

SharePoint conference–Day 1

IMG_2558_7FE156E1

 

If you want an idea of just how BIG this conference is check out the dining hall or the keynote address attendance.

 

IMG_2559_7FE156E1

 

There are over 7,500 attendees here for 4 days of SharePoint.

 

The day started early with breakfast followed by the keynote. No major reveals but some nice additions coming along the track.

 

From there it was into a number of sessions including information about SharePoint Online, Business Intelligence Dashboards and improved productivity. All extremely worthwhile.

 

An even bigger day tomorrow with a full day of session followed by a party in Disneyland. Obviously Mickey must be a big SharePoint user to throw open his park (free) to all attendees!

Monday, October 3, 2011

SMBNation Fall 2011-Day 3

Well today was the final day for SMB Nation Fall 2011. It started out with an excellent SharePoint presentation by Amy Babinchuk. She spoke about all the ways that you can connect to SharePoint without necessarily having to go through the web interface. He main point? SharePoint is more than just and web site. She couldn’t be more correct.

 

Next came my session, with Harry Brelsford on Office 365. The session was well attended and those that attended got value for their time. I would have liked to go into more detail but time unfortunately did not permit.

 

After the lunch break came my session with Wayne Small on SBS Essentials (I was doing the cloud integration piece). Again, a well attended session.

 

Immediately after this I had to dash to catch a flight to LA to attend the SharePoint conference in Anaheim. On the way from the airport I heard that there is more than 7,000 attendees which is even bigger than the recent Build conference that unveiled Windows 8.

 

Roll on SharePoint. More details soon.

 

My overall impressions of SMB Nation 2011 Fall? Well from a conference point of view, the Rio Hotel was probably the best since I have been attending these events in Las Vegas. It was large, comfortable and easy to get to all locations. The only downside of the venue was perhaps the fact that it is located a little ways from the strip, however in some ways that is good as it encourages people to stay in the one spot.

 

For me the major value of these events is the hall way networking. Meeting up with old friends and making new ones is always the biggest benefit of attending. I will also say that I got value out of just about every session I attended, some more than other obviously, but overall I believe there is plenty of content in there I can take away.

 

So all in all, another successful conference. Well done to Harry and his team. Roll on 2012.

SMBNation Fall 2011–Day 2

Today started off again with breakfast in the keynote room. Luckily it was a later started compared to yesterday. The first session by Paul Morimoto on Security best practices was excellent. He spoke about the need to secure remote devices and how many of the products already in place (e.g. Windows) already contain substantial security features. All they need to be is simply enabled.

 

The next session was around building a cloud “practice’ and contained a nice overview of the areas that people should consider as they start implementing cloud products.

 

Later in the day was the technology panel, basically where attendees could ask questions of MVP’s and subject matter experts. These sessions are always well attended and probably something SMBNation should have more of.

 

The day finished with Security MVP Dana Epp talking about, and demonstrating, how to break the credential of many of the standard technologies that people use today including, Word, Excel, Windows and so on. He help the audience understand how to better protect themselves and their customers from attacks.

 

So, only one more day to go and I have 2 presentations to give on Office 365. They are:

 

GS12 – All Aboard Office 365 E3

 

and

 

GS11 – Office 365 + SBS 2011 Essentials

 

wish me luck.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

SMBNation Fall 2011–Day 1

After attending a few sessions yesterday (pre-day) the first “official” day of SMBNation Fall 2011 started early with breakfast in the main room. I was surprised to find that I was one of the first to arrive at 6am, but I suppose this is Vegas after all.

 

Arriving early allowed me to have a leisurely breakfast combined with some interesting conversations with other attendees. After the keynote I attended the session by Jeff Middleton which was more a motivation speak than about the MVP Tour or his swing migration product. It was standing room only, which tell you how popular it was.

 

From there I attended a few Microsoft Office 365 sessions which unfortunately contained some incorrect information I believe. I can certainly understand how some of this important information has been fully communicated to all parties within Microsoft, unfortunately it is this kind of information that SBS and Office 365 resellers need to know. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convey the correct information during my presentations on Sunday.

 

Much of the confusion seems to revolve around the Office Integration Module for Office 365 that will plug in to SBS Essentials. Unfortunately, from what I see (and I have no more information that what is publically available), the synch’ing options with any local Active Directory is going to be very limited. It certainly isn’t going to be full single sign on (SSO). I hope to post more about the information soon. I just need to double check what I have found.

 

I also attended a great session by another Aussies (Linus Chang) from Backup Assist. If you haven’t checked out his solutions you really should.

 

My overall impressions so far? The location here at the Rio Hotel is excellent. Most sessions I have attended have been very good but there are a few that I was disappointed with, but that happens. Let’s see what tomorrow brings, but I’m really looking forward to Dana Epp’s session on password cracking. Need to get there early to get a seat I reckon.