Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CIAOPS Podcast – Episode 22

I speak with Kevin Allan from Australian offsite backup providers corporatebackup.com.au about offsite backup services:

 

http://ciaops.podbean.com/2012/01/31/episode-22-kevin-allan/

 

Don't forget all the other podcasts at http://ciaops.podbean.com

 

Remember if you want to be a guest please contact me (director@ciaops.com).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Linking from My Sites in Office 365

One of the greatest features of SharePoint 2010, especially on Office 365, is ‘My Sites’ (sorry, those on Office 365 P plans don’t get these, another reason not to have a P plan in my books). What ‘My Sites’ basically provides is a ‘home’ area in SharePoint for users that they can store information about themselves, their job experience and files in their own SharePoint site. Imagine  it a bit like a combination of Linkedin and SkyDrive but a whole lot better.

 

You get to your ‘My Site’ by generally going to the top left of your SharePoint site and selecting My Site from the pull down menu like so:

 

image_4_525A9BE5

 

That’ll take you to a screen that looks like this:

 

image_2_525A9BE5

 

From here you can get to your own SharePoint site via ‘My Content’ and to your Linkedin style information via ‘My Profile’. But hang on, how do I get back to my original SharePoint site without having to the back button in the browser? Bottom line is that there is no default link to take you back, which is frustrating once you have gone a few screen into your ‘My Site’.

 

The reason there is no default link is you can have access to many different SharePoint sites but you only have one ‘My Site’ per user. But your are in luck! There is a way to add a link at the top of the screen back to any URL you want. To do this you’ll need to login to your Office 365 portal as an administrator and then select Manage from under the SharePoint Heading.

 

image_6_525A9BE5

 

Then select Manage Site collections from the next menu.

 

image_8_525A9BE5

 

Then select User Profiles from the menu on the left.

 

image_10_525A9BE5

 

Now on the right, under the My Site Settings section select Configure Personalization Site.

 

image_12_525A9BE5

 

Now select the New Link option and enter in address of the SharePoint site you want to return to as well as an owner.

 

image_18_525A9BE5

 

Now when you go to ‘My Site’ you’ll see the link you just created and you use that to navigate back to your SharePoint site. In this case I created a link called Intranet to the right of ‘My Profile’.

 

image_16_525A9BE5

 

If you want to create more links just repeat the process.

 

So now that link will appear on everyone’s ‘My Site’ banner making navigation to and from their ‘My Site’ much easier.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reflections on exams for Office 365


I have recently completed the beta exams for the two upcoming Office 365 certifications 70-321, Deploying Office 365 and 70-323, Administering Office 365. I won’t know the results for a few months but I’d like to convey some thoughts on these exams in context of those resellers in small to medium business (SMB).

I am very privileged to know many exceptional SMB technology resellers around the world. Not only are they hard working, very customer focused but they are some of the most technically astute and knowledgeable people I have ever met in technology. I have worked with enterprise people who perhaps know more on ONE single product but most SMB technology resellers have to be across so many different products and technologies in contrast to enterprise people who are normally focused on a single technology like Active Directory (AD), SQL, Exchange etc. Most SMB resellers have to be across these products also for multiple customers and configurations, where most enterprise people work only for a single business.

After completing both Office 365 exams I was struck by how much Office 365 is like Small Business Server. Why is that? Both product require a breadth of knowledge that most enterprise people would struggle with. To pass the Office 365 exams you are going to HAVE to know Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, AD integration, etc. Likewise, to pass the SBS certification test you need to be across Exchange, SharePoint, Windows Server, Remote connectivity and the like. Sure, Office 365 focuses more on the enterprise features of the products but few enterprise people I know are across such a broad range. However, just about every person I know who does SBS has skills across the entire product range.

To me this bodes well for SBS people looking to get into Office 365 and become certified. You already know what it is like to be across so many products, this gives you a leg up in my books. At the moment you’ll need to learn the advanced features of Office 365, as that is part of the curriculum and will certainly be tested in any certification exam. Even if perhaps SBS people will never implement things like Single Sign On (SSO) and ADFS configuration. I think that many SBS people who have the SBS certification will look at this as a great opportunity to learn more about the advanced features of products they have already been using. They’ll certainly have to study, but they’ll really learn something and that will make them better technology people and most likely open up additional opportunities for them.

However, just as there is a dedicated SBS certification exam from Microsoft it would nice to have an Office 365 certification exam that is focused on the SMB market. A market that typically doesn’t do AD integration, a market that moves everything to Office 365, a market that is truly looking to adopt the total cloud model. Bah humbug I hear the enterprise people say. Ok you guys and gals may have the greatest number of licenses perhaps but from what I understand 90% of businesses that use Office are small to medium in size. If Microsoft wants to speed adoption of this market then it need to make it easier for people who service that market to get certified. These people, like their customers, are time and cash poor. They believe the best reflection of certification is the fact that they could pass it simply based on their direct experiences with customers. At the moment I don’t believe that is possible and as such that will hinder to move of existing SMB resellers to supporting, adopting and selling Office 365.

So in summary, I think the existing exams cover the whole Office 365 products and configuration very well. This means that if you are weak in any area or on a specific product you need to bring that up to strength before attempting the exams. For SMB resellers this means you are going to have to dive into areas of Office 365 that you may never see in the field. It would also be nice for Microsoft to consider an Office 365 certification for the SMB market that can pretty much be passed provided you have enough experience setting it up and supporting it for SMB customers (i.e. those < 100 seats).

Friday, January 20, 2012

That pesky 10GB Limit


As I have always foreseen, the 10GB database limit for SharePoint Foundation 2010 is becoming more and more of an issue as installations start to grow. I really see this more and more, especially when it comes to SBS 2011 Standard which includes SharePoint Foundation 2010 which many people simply know as Companyweb.

Background

All forms of SharePoint require some form of database storage to store their content. SharePoint uses Microsoft SQL Server for this storage. There are however many different versions of Microsoft SQL Server all with different capabilities and limitations.

In the days of Windows SharePoint Services v3 (WSS v3) the SharePoint content was saved into SQL Server 2005 Express Edition (SSEE). This version was not only free but supported unlimited database sizes. The downsides where that it wasn’t upgradable and it was a 32 bit database.

When SharePoint Foundation 2010 came along it had the requirement of 64 bit databases. That immediately ruled out SSEE. The initial choice was SQL Server 2008 Express. This version is 64 bit and is free but has a 4GB database limit. If you download and install SharePoint Foundation 2010 as a stand alone package and accept the default installation you’ll also get SQL Express 2008 and thus a 4GB database limit.

As you can appreciate, a 4GB database limit is pretty restrictive so when SBS 2011 became available it shipped with SQL Express 2008 R2 for SharePoint storage which upped the database limit to 10GB. Problem is now that is still not enough.

Options

So what happens if you have SBS 2011 and you are approaching the 10GB limit? What are your options? Here are some suggestions. They all come with compromises so beware.

1. Create a new SharePoint site and site collection move some of the data here. Doing this will give you new 10GB database into which you can store information. Given that companyweb is a web site you can link to another SharePoint site fairly seamlessly. The down side is that things like the search database are still limited to 10GB and if your data keep growing you are going to hit the 10GB limit again at some point. Also, it can be a little more confusing for users.

2. Do an in place upgrade of SQL 2008 Express R2 to a version that doesn’t have database restrictions. This can be achieved via the SBS Premium add on however don’t forget that there are other applications that use SQL on SBS including monitoring and reporting. This in place upgrade option also places more strain on the single box and is generally not recommended as best practice.

3. You can move the SQL databases to a second server running SQL. This can be achieved again with the SBS Premium add on that provides a Windows Server 2008 license and an SQL license. downsides include the fact that this requires additional hardware, setup, configuration and maintenance. It also means that things like the standard SBS wizards no longer work because it is now a custom installation. You also have to work out how to backup the second server as it is not generally covered by standard SBS backups. If you do want to do this then Microsoft has a Technet article you can follow at:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg616007.aspx

4. You can implement Binary Large Object (BLOB) storage. This basically allows the storage of file data outside the SQL database into the file system. Although this gets around the 10GB database limit (as files are generally your largest storage item) there are trade offs which I have detail in previous blog posts. Personally, I don’t think it is a good move, especially in an SBS environment for the simple reason is the added complexity amongst other things but it can be done. My advice if you are thinking about moving that way read my previous post.

5. Move Companyweb to Office 365. Here you’ll get access to SharePoint Enterprise Server 2010, you’ll get 10GB database limits as a starting point, you won’t have to worry about upgrades and you’ll get Office Web Apps to boot which you won’t get with Companyweb on SBS. You’ll obviously have to pay for suitable Office 365 licenses, migrate the data and help users understand what differences Office 365 provides. 

So you do have options but they all come with a cost. Personally, if your users are really getting into SharePoint then I’d be looking at Office 365 simply because of the added functionality and reduced hassle. Failing that, there is always the option of pruning your data, removing old files and versions but sooner or later, chances are you’ll hit the 10GB limit again.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book review: Business Intelligence in SharePoint 2010

Business Intelligence in Microsoft® SharePoint® 2010 by Norm Warren
My rating:
4 of 5 stars

This book is a very worthwhile read and reference but it does have a limited audience. That audience is restricted to those with access to the high end version of SharePoint Server 2010. Basically SharePoint Server 2010 will all the options enabled. It is however a very worthwhile reference for the simple reason that there are few books that dive into that level of detail on these high end features of SharePoint Enterprise.

Initially I was going to say that this book focused more on talking about the capabilities of BI (business intelligence) in SharePoint Server but as I got more into the book I found there were more and more hands on examples which made it really great. The only problems with these examples is that they require a high level of product and setup to really take advantage of but they certainly do give insight into what BI is possible with SharePoint especially when combined with SQL server.

This book is therefore great for people looking to understand the high end features of SharePoint Server 2010 (and to some extend Office 365) but it does require an investment in products such as Visio, SQL Reporting and so on that in many cases are not readily obtained or implemented. This is certainly not a book for end users and is more aimed at the IT Professional looking to bring the integration required for BI into the workplace. However, for the IT professional looking to scale up their SharePoint skills to the higher level of product and potentially to the abilities provided by Office 365 this is more than a worthwhile reference for the library.
View all my reviews

Friday, January 13, 2012

Windows Phone Challenge at CES

Yes, I know it is all staged and managed and blah, blah, blah …. BUT what these video continue to indicate to me is:

 

1. Windows Phone is as good if not better as the others

 

2. Microsoft is not in game of bashing the competition. It acknowledges that other brands and models are good as well.

 

This shows me they are truly confident about their product, which they need to be to compete. As I said in a previous post, don’t write Windows Phone off just yet.

 

Take a look at these videos and see what you think:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz8d5NF_wFI

Windows Phone at CES Day 2 recap

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gXL2spbur4

Windows Phone $100 challenge

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Don’t write Windows Phone off just yet

Many people have completely written off Windows Phone but I’m seeing more and more reason that this might not be such a forgone conclusion. One of the more recent reasons why in my mind was the partnership with Nokia which has resulted in Nokia releasing a whole swag of phones, including the Lumia range. Here’s a video of the new Lumia 900:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3Nfh9bl0Z8

 

These phones look pretty nice and are available now I believe in the US. I hope they won’t be long for our shores here in Australia as I reckon they will make a big impact. Sure, Windows Phone still has a mountain to climb to catch up BUT as far as I can see it is moving the right direction and there indications from others in the market that they face major challenges as well.

 

So I wouldn’t write off Windows Phone just yet.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

We need to do more marketing

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How many times have I heard that in response to a downturn in income? The problem is that it is generally only going to make things worse because if a business isn’t already marketing then it can’t simply solve its short term cash flows issue but suddenly doing ‘marketing’.

You know what else? Marketing is not making sales, thus marketing alone isn’t going to magically restore the bottom line. In most cases it is going to make a business spend additional money and devote time away from the core parts of their business in the vane hope it will result in more income.

Marketing is something a business should be doing all the time. If you haven’t started then you should immediately and keep doing it no matter what your cash flow situation. Problem is that when many businesses think marketing is only about doing letterbox flyers and sending out ‘buy now’ emails and guess what? The chances of that working are very slim. Don’t believe me? How much junk email and postal mail do you read? Chances are not a lot, so why do the same thing? You could argue that it must work because others are doing to which I’d contend there is HUGE difference between ‘must’ and ‘does’. If you don’t know about something do the research don’t just follow the crowd. Good business is based on fact not here say.

If you want to have effective marketing you firstly need to determine what you are going to offer. That is going to be determined by the customer not by the business. You should be asking, ‘what does my customer need that I can provide?”. If you don’t know then you should do your research up front to find out. At the end of the day you only make money if someone buys what you have to offer. It maybe the best product in the world but if nobody buys it then it no help to your business now is it? Remember the value is in the eye of the customer only!

Now that you have something to offer you also need to ask yourself if someone else is already providing it. If they are how is your offering different? If it isn’t then the only way you’ll compete is on price and that is simply a race to the bottom. You need a USP (a unique selling position). What makes what you offer different or more appealing than everyone else. Focus on that one thing rather than everything else that everyone else does as well.

Studies show that you have to show something to people 6-7 times before it begins to stick. Most businesses that ‘resort’ to marketing to lift their cash flow, try something once, typically fail and then wonder why. This is why it is so important that marketing is an ongoing process and process that occurs through a variety of mediums. But most importantly of all, any marketing that is done needs to have its results MEASURED. How else do you know what works if you don’t measure it?

Why do most small businesses think marketing is a waste of time? Because they don’t see immediate results to their bottom line. That is their only measurement criteria, we did this letterbox drop, did we make more money? No. Therefore marketing is a waste of time. Q.E.D.

The first step in any marketing is to work out what your customer needs that you can potentially supply. Next step is to work out if anyone else can offer the same product. Third, requires tailoring the offering to be as unique as possible. Next you need to keep at it and measure the results and continue to fine tune the offering.

Unfortunately, that is not a quick fix and it requires continued work. However, if you can get the process refined and automated then it can become a very effective tool. Unfortunately, unless you have done the ground work any ‘marketing’ effort is going to be wasted and this is what I unfortunately see as being the case too often.

Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Inside Out

Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 Inside Out by Errin O'Connor
My rating:
4 of 5 stars

A pretty good book on SharePoint Foundation 2010 overall. What distinguishes this book from others is that it deals with some more advanced topics that you normally don't find in other SharePoint books. These advanced topics include SharePoint Designer and development with Visual Studio.

Have these advanced topics probably makes the book less appealing to those new to SharePoint but is worthwhile for those looking to improve their experience with SharePoint beyond the basics. The books contains plenty of examples and is easy to read. It is also focused specifically on SharePoint Foundation 2010 which makes it different from most generic SharePoint books you find.

All in all a worthwhile read but perhaps more so for that person with an existing exposure to SharePoint who is looking to extend not only the capabilities of SharePoint but also their own experience with the product.
View all my reviews

Office 365 keeps getting better


One of the big advantages I have always seen with Office 365 (or any online service for that fact) is its ability to improve quickly over time. Having the servers in a hosted data centre makes it much quicker and easier to roll out new and updated features over anything that is installed on site.

Here is a list of a few improvements that have been made recently that you may not be aware of:

Maximum number of email recipients has been increased for the P Plan

Previously, those on a P Plan were restricted to only sending to 500 recipients a day via email. This has now been increased, as of the end of December, to 1500 which is the same as for those on the Enterprise plans. Some may still complain that this is unacceptable, even though it is probably more than enough, I reckon this number will be increased further down the track.

Lync online web scheduler now available

On of the frustrating things I found when organizing meetings was that it could only be done via Outlook and only be done by logging into Outlook as a valid Office 365 user. I longed for the old Live meeting days when you could schedule a meeting directly via a web site. Well now you can with Lync after Microsoft announced the availability of the Lync online web scheduler. To organize a meeting now all you need to do is visit https://sched.lync.com.

Health dashboard supports per tenant status

When Office 365 had services issues you could examine the health dashboard to see what was going on. The only problem with that was that the health dashboard was regional. This meant that it only told if something was an issue in the Office 365 region. I did have cases where issues were exhibited with clients and it didn’t shown on the dashboard which was frustrating. However, according to this blog post that has now changed so that the dashboard shows the health information of the specific tenant that it is launched from.

The K plans have been improved

As this post outlines the K Plans (diskless worker) have been improved. This means that K Plans now have a storage limit of 1GB (used to be only 500MB). They now also support activesync, meaning devices like smart phones can be utilized. Also importantly, the ability to apply legal hold and unlimited mailbox storage can be added as an add on to these mailboxes. This greatly improves the flexibility of the K Plans and means that they are more likely to be adopted with an organization since they are so cheap and probably all that most users need.

Office 365 trust center has been updated

If you aren’t already aware you’ll find that Microsoft has created a site dedicated to answering question around the security and privacy of Office 365. You’ll find it at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/trust-center.aspx and is worth remembering so you can refer customers to it who may have concerns about how Microsoft manages and secures their information.

So just a few updates recent from Microsoft on Office 365 but it impressive to see these continue to roll out and improve the product. I expect we’ll see a whole range more in the very near future.

Image: http://carolyncholland2011.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/smileyfacek.jpg

Friday, January 6, 2012

SharePoint workshop

SharePoint - Beyond the Basics

 

About:

 

To really make the most of SharePoint you need to take it beyond the basics. This means connecting data, creating and utilizing metadata, customizing the look and feel of sites, add web parts and implement workflows. This course will show you how to do all that plus work effectively with products like SharePoint Workspace and designer to take any SharePoint installation from default to a true productivity and communications hub.

 

The aim of this hands on course is to provide you with the technical ability to work with SharePoint at an intermediate to advanced level as well as understand the tools that are required to craft advanced SharePoint solutions.

 

Venue: North Ryde RSL Club, 33 Magdala Rd, North Ryde, NSW 2113

 

Date: Wednesday 22nd of February 2012, from 8.30am - 5.30pm

 

More details and registration at - http://bit.ly/wgsAcW

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The difference between P and E

One of the most common questions customers ask about Office 365 is the difference between the P (Small Business and Professional) and the E (Enterprise licenses). Hopefully, this will help.

 

1. P Plans cannot be upgraded to E Plans

 

Probably the most important thing to consider when selecting between P and E Plans. Once you move onto a P Plan the only way to change to another plan is to migrate the data out, cancel the P plan, buy a new plan and migrate the data back.

 

2. P Plans do not support advanced Exchange features

 

The P Plan does not support the following advanced Exchange features:

 

- Unlimited inboxes

- Legal hold

 

3. P Plans are aimed at no more than 25 users

 

The absolute maximum limit for P Plans is 50 users but it is recommended that they don’t exceed 25 users.

 

4. Plans do not support all the advanced SharePoint features

 

P Plans do support the following advanced SharePoint features:

 

- Office Web Apps read/write

- Access Services (for databases in the cloud)

 

P Plans do not support the following advanced SharePoint features:

 

- Form services

- Visio Services

- Excel services

- Encrypted traffic for SharePoint (i.e. all sites are http:// not https://)

- Multiple intranet sites (they have a single site collection only).

- Addition of extra space for SharePoint sites. P Plans only have 10GB to start with + 500MB per user max.

- My site

- Unlimited external (non-Office 365 users). P Plan is limited to 50.

 

5. P Plans do not support identity synchronization

 

P Plans do not provide the ability to link your local user list (Active Directory) to Office 365. Thus, with P Plans you will always have two distinct sets of users, on premises and one in Office 365 that both require maintenance. This typically means with P Plans you need to main 2 sets of user logins and passwords.

 

6. P Plans require DNS moved to Office365

 

DNS is basically a record of where information about Internet servers are located (i.e. web servers, email servers). By default, the P Plans require that these records be moved to and managed by Office 365.

 

7. P Plans only have community support (outside Australia)

 

For regions outside Australia P plans have not support apart form that found on the Internet. In Australia however P Plans are supported by Telstra via phone 24/7.

 

8. P Plans do not allow the management of mail security

 

Exchange Online as part of Office 365 is protected by Microsoft Forefront Protection for Exchange (FOPE). P Plans do not permit the administration or customization of this. Thus, with P Plans you are unable to set custom email white and black lists, block IP, etc.

 

9. P Plans have lower email receipt limits – limits removed Feb 2012. see - http://supportweb.ciaops.net.au/blog/archive/2012/02/09/recipient-rate-for-office-365-p-plans-goes-up.aspx

 

P Plans have a reduced amount of email that can be sent per day per user. Limits can be found at:

http://help.outlook.com/en-us/140/dd630704.aspx

with P Plans the limit is basically 500 1500* mail recipients per day. Now *1500 as of the end of December 2011.

 

10. P plans are limited to 50 online meeting participants

 

P Plans have access the Lync client software but are limited to having only 50 participants maximum attend any meeting. Thus, if you are planning to do webcasts to large audience 50 will be the limit with a P Plan.

 

Hope that makes things a little cleare.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Additional Security settings in Office 365

Exchange Online in Office 365 is protected by Forefront Online Protection for Exchange [FOPE] (at no extra charge mind you). In BPOS you could look at the FOPE console but couldn’t make any changes. Not the case in Office 365, where you have much more control.

 

To access the FOPE console login to your Office 365 console as an administrator. Select the option to Manage Exchange.

 

From the menu on the left hand side select Mail Control and you should see a screen similar to:

 

image_2_5C373281

 

On the right hand side you will notice the following under Additional Security Settings.

 

image_4_5C373281

 

You can actually click this and when you do it will open up the FOPE control panel like so:

 

image_6_0A24853A

 

Be very careful what you change here as you really need to know what you are doing. Selecting the wrong option can block mail for your Office 365 organization.

 

Apart from the configuration settings you will find some handy features like email reports. Which are pretty sweet as you can see:

 

image_8_0A24853A

 

FOPE is an excellent part of Office 365 that probably doesn’t get the acknowledgement it should as part of the offering. So if you are using Exchange Online with Office 365 take a look at what FOPE can provide.

 

The other advice I would give you when it comes to FOPE is that it REALLY works best when viewed through Internet Explorer and also without an lingering Windows Live ID around. So if you want to access FOPE, open a new Internet Explorer windows, login to the Office 365 console as an administrator and go from there.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Podcast Episode 20 with Brett Hill

Been too long since my last podcast but I have managed to produce another one for your listening pleasure.

 

In this episode you’ll hear from Microsoft MVP Brett Hill all about Office 365 and what it has to offer for both customers and resellers. You’ll get a good idea of the product as well as some of the challenges cloud computing faces in general along with Brett’s tips and tricks for a better implementation.

 

You’ll find the episode at:

 

http://ciaops.podbean.com/2012/01/03/episode-20-brett-hill/

 

with information about Brett at http://www.office365answers.com.

 

All the previous episode are available at http://ciaops.podbean.com so take a look.

 

Remember, I’m always looking for guests. So if you have something you’d like to discuss please contact me (director@ciaops.com). Alternatively, if there is someone or something that you would like to hear please also let me know and I’ll try and arrange it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Awarded Microsoft MVP

I awoke today to an email from Microsoft informing me that I had been awarded a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for Office 365 in 2012.

 

 

You’ll find out more Microsoft MVPs at http://mvp.support.microsoft.com/gp/aboutmvp.

 

It is a great honour to given such a unique award and I hope that I can live up to the example of many other fabulous MVPs whom I know. I look forward to working more closely with Microsoft and helping improve their products for all users and spreading the word about what these products can do for resellers and end users.

 

Again, I say what an honour it is and very welcome start to 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I’m looking for podcast guest

One of the things that I really enjoyed doing last year and has unfortunately dropped away has been my podcast. You can find previous episodes at:

 

http://ciaops.podbean.com

 

Just to set the record straight, it hasn’t been through lack of trying that there hasn’t been a podcast for a while. I can tell you that I have asked a whole lot of people and nobody wants to come on. What the hell? They all can’t have stage fright, surely? I am I really that ugly that it comes through on a podcast?

 

I make the process pretty easy. We pre-record it over Skype at a time that suits you. We talk about a topic you nominate and you can even bring on additional guest if you want. If you have any doubts how easy it is just have a listen to a few previous episodes and ask a few of those guests. I can assure you they all went onto greater fame and fortune. Honestly.

 

As I said, if you have an interesting topic that you’d like to share then I’m all ears as I am sure many others are out there. So please don’t be shy, I’ll make it as easy as I can for you, all you have to say is that you are willing to give it a go.

 

Email me at director@ciaops.com if you are interested.

 

Bueller? Bueller?

Reading material

Things are generally a bit slower this time of the year so it nice to catch up on some reading. Here’s a list of titles I would recommend you spend some time going through.

 

Business

 

The E-Myth – Michael Gerber

 

This book helps you understand that you are not your business and that you need to look at it as a system.

 

The Millionaire Fastlane – M.J. DeMarco

 

Don’t get put off by the title, this book is an excellent read. It explains to you the realities of running a business and what is important in actually making money.

 

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

 

Want to understand why social networking is so important to business, this book will help you understand why. You don’t need to be a prophet you just need to ‘network’ with one.

 

SharePoint

 

Mastering SharePoint Foundation 2010 – Callahan

 

One of the few books that focuses specifically on SharePoint Foundation. Still a great foundation for work with SharePoint Server but most wouldn’t think so. Know you know.

 

Professional SharePoint 2010 Administration – Todd Klindt

 

This book covers more of SharePoint 2010 Server and is a highly recommended for those looking to up skill to this product.

 

Strategy

 

The Art of War – Sun Tzu

 

One of the oldest books known to man and still as relevant today as it was the day it was written.

 

Fiction

 

Daemon – Daniel Suarez

 

If you like technology then I’m pretty sure you’ll love this book. There is a sequel but I think one is better.

 

You can find all the books I recommend over at:

 

http://amazon.ciaops.com

 

which if you buy from there gives me a few pennies commission. Also, don’t forget that all of these are available on the Kindle which I also highly recommend.

Year 2011 in retrospect

So here’s a few thoughts on the year that was in 2011.

 

Office 365 – one of the more important things to become available in my opinion. Although still far from a perfect product it certainly is a marked improvement from BPOS. The upgrade to the latest versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync as well as the inclusion of Office makes this product a real winner in my opinion. The result has been the adoption of Office 365 from the two extremes of the market towards the middle. By that I mean, I have seen Office 365 begin widely adopted by large enterprises as well as very small businesses. From here I expect that to start moving towards the middle of the market and encompass traditional small to medium businesses that traditionally relied on products like Small Business Server (SBS).

 

In short this means that I expect to see more businesses adopt Office 365 this year, especially in the traditional SBS market. I was also amazed this year ay how many businesses are still running on old versions of server software like SBS 2003. The main reason? Costs. It is a tough market out there and that isn’t likely to change in the near future either so moving to the cloud is certainly a way that many businesses see in reducing their IT overhead, rightly or wrongly. This IS the way things are moving.

 

IPad – having the second generation released in 2011 has really grown the adoption of this product. Hell, I even got one myself and am amazed at how useful it is for business and pleasure. The average consumer wants simplicity, especially when it comes to technology, and the iPad does this in spades. So many technology people I know deride the tablet or look to Android equivalents but I can tell from what I see with customers is that firstly the tablet is here to stay so deal with it and secondly the competition to the iPad has a long way to go.

 

The other change in my thinking this year, brought about by the iPad, is the question of apps. These are what makes a platform. They also make life much simpler for consumer and also represent a massive opportunity for developers. To my way of thinking, we are now in the age of developer and standard old IT support is so passe (given tools like search engines). The real money now is in developing apps but not only for iOS but also Android, Windows Phone 7 and even the Xbox as I have mentioned in a  previous blog post.

 

Kindle – This is the year that I got serious about e-readers and bought myself a Kindle. As I have mentioned many times, I love the device and everybody I know who has one, even if they are a book reader, love their Kindle.

 

To me the Kindle and the Amazon ecosystem just works so well. I have bought so many more books this year because of that fact. Conversely, I have also read many more books for that reason. Honestly, if you haven’t looked at e-readers then I recommend that you give them a go (they are so cheap now) and for my money the Amazon Kindle is the best by far.

 

So there are some parting thoughts for 2011. I’ll take this opportunity to thank anyone who reads my blog. I also thanks those who have left comments or contacted me directly about what I have written. It make doing this so much more worthwhile when you get feedback, good or bad I welcome it all.

 

See you all in 2012.