Saturday, May 30, 2015
The good news is that Microsoft and Google appear to be working together on a solution.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
We are less than a month away from Karl Palachuk’s online conference at which I have been lucky enough to be given a speaking opportunity. You can find out more about the conference and sign up at:
My presentation topic is:
You Need a New Business Model for Success in the Cloud
and I’ll warn you that I’m going to rather brutal in what I present here. My focus is on looking forward not back and looking for a business model that will be sustainable now and into the foreseeable future.
That, no doubt, will challenge a lot of conventional thinking but I really believe that is what is called for in the SMB technology reseller space these days. The game has changed which brings both threats and opportunities and understanding both is key.
If you want to get both barrels from my no holds bared presentation as well as some great insight for a score of other really smart and talented presenters then sign up for Karl’s conference today.
Friday, May 22, 2015
One of the most powerful applications just about every business has at their fingertips is Excel. What this product can do is truly amazing when you explore it fully. The downside is that most people use less than ten percentage of the product capabilities.
Some of the more advanced features of Excel are Pivot tables. In essence, these allow you to create basic data cubes to easily slice and dice your raw data to create information that has value and provide insight. Sadly again, few people even know what Pivot tables are, let alone even used them.
The growing demand in our increasing data driven world is having a method of producing meaningful information from a vast array of raw data input sources. Microsoft is providing such a solution in the form of PowerBI.
The latest version of PowerBI from Microsoft is now available in preview for free. You can sign up at:
When you do you’ll be presented with some sample Retail Analysis data that look like this:
As interesting as that is it is a little abstract. Where you begin to appreciate the role that PowerBI can play for you is when you select the option to Get Data.
Here you’ll now see a variety of sources that PowerBi can report on. One of the options you’ll see from the above screen shot is Google Analytics web data.
When you connect up your Google Analytics you’ll get a new dashboard, as you see above, with all of the information about your web site. In this case, I’m look at data from my www.anzacsinfrance.com web site.
At the top of the dashboard you’ll see a box into which you can type a free form query. So if I type “total hits” the dashboard automatically shows me the result as you see above.
If I now extend that query to “total hits last month” the result is immediately updated and displayed as shown above.
If I extend that further to “total hits last month in turkey” I see a result of 6 website views from Turkey in the last month.
If I extend that once more to “total hits last month in turkey compared to france” i now get a graph as shown above.
Hopefully, you can see the possibilities and the depth of reporting that is possible. And of course you can pin these queries to your dashboard so they display upon your return.
Apart from the adhoc dashboard you can create multi page reports. The above is an example from my web site data. Again, you can customise these easily in the web browser or download the PowerBI Designer for your desktop.
As you saw earlier, one of the data sources I can use is a plain old Excel file, uploaded from your desktop or saved in OneDrive consumer or OneDrive for Business.
Once the spreadsheet is available to PowerBI, now you can start creating reports based on the Excel Pivot tables I alluded to earlier. You do this by simply dragging and dropping the desired column heading into the appropriate locations (axis, vales, etc). The difference here is that I am doing this in a browser in a way that I can pin the result to a dashboard and report.
I can also now quickly and easily change the style of graph that is display, change the data I report on, create more results on the page or create additional pages effortlessly.
I can also easily share my dashboards with others when they are complete.
Microsoft is announcing more and more options for data sources with PowerBI. One of the upcoming options will be analytics from Office 365 with the soon to be released Office 365 content pack for PowerBI.
Which should allow you to produce report from Office 365 like you see in the above screen shot taken from the announcement blog post.
At the core of PowerBi is the concept of data sets. Raw data sets are ordered by Excel style Pivot tables with the results being surfaced through PowerBI. Thus, to get meaningful results you need to understand Excel Pivot tables. If you don’t now might be the time to fire up that version of Excel and start learning!
Hopefully, giving you this small inkling of what is possible with PowerBI will inspire you to dive into the product and learn what it can offer. I know I am and am amazed everyday with what is possible and will be detailing more in upcoming posts. Given that it is also in preview and free to access is an even better reason not to hesitate but to dive in now and power up with PowerBI.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Still working through all the recent Microsoft Ignite content but here are some handy links for troubleshooting OneDrive for Business that I’ll share.
Use the OneDrive for Business Sync Guide for initial setup - http://aka.ms/SetupOD4B
Resolve issues by following these best practices
Remember, the next gen sync client is due soon! See my previous post on the topic:
A while back I posted how I had jumped the gun on wanting the First Release option of Office 365 being restricted to certain users inside an IOffice 365 tenant (mainly to restrict the potential use of Office 2016 Preview).
The good news is as you can see from the above it has arrived in my tenant. To access it you login to Office 365 as an administrator and then select Service Settings, Updates from the admin portal. You will now see the option to be on the Standard release (slower) or First release (faster) when it comes to new Office 365 features. You’ll also see the option, if you select First release, to select those people in your organisation who will receive First release features, leaving the remainder on the standard release path.
This allows you to elect a subset of users within your Office 365 tenant who can access the new features without them becoming available to everyone immediately.
Seems like Sway has now made it into my Office 365 tenant as you can see from the apps launcher at the top of Office 365.
You will also find some control options under Service Settings, Sway as shown above.
so when you go to Sway, which is a web based application, and sign in with your Office 365 credentials, you’ll be taken to the Sway portal at:
but as you can see from the above screen shot you can still navigate to any Office 365 using the app launcher.
Given what I see here and Sway having a free offering, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see some premium Sway features arrive and be included with Office 365 plans. Just speculating mind you.
So if you have Office 365, have a look and see whether you can Sway yet. if you can, give it a go.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
As I detailed a while back I have now updated my Bootcamp products offering to include:
1. Latest version of my Office 365 bootcamp notes. This OneNote notebook is something I use everyday to capture information about Office 365. It is my reference ‘bible’ covering everything from Exchange to Sharepoint, Delve to Single Sign on as well as troubleshooting, best practices and a range of PowerShell scripts and third party solutions that work with Office 365.
2. Latest version of my Azure bootcamp notes. This OneNote notebook contains my daily brain dump about Azure. It contains links, information, tutorials and more. Again, this is something I use everyday and update constantly.
3. Exam cram notes for the Office 365 70-347 and 70-346 exam. It contains information and links to help you pass the exam. It also has a number of practice exam questions to give you an idea of what might be covered in an exam.
4. Five (5) supporting Office 365 checklists and templates that you can use for your Office 365 implementation. These documents are in various Office formats (Word, Excel, etc).
There are two ways to get access to this material:
1. You can join my Cloud Business Blueprint community via:
where you’ll get immediate access to the latest versions plus heaps of other unique on demand training, cheat sheets, re-brandable content, articles AND access to the members forums to converse with other cloud resellers.
2. You can purchase the existing Office 365 bootcamp notes via;
for AU $148. This purchase will also entitle you to a 12 monthly subscription for updates to these products (generally updated monthly).
Also, given that the 74-325 Office for SMB exam has been superseded I have made the OneNote exam cram notes I created for this available for free download with all my other free material at:
If nothing else, those bootcamp notes are going to provide a centralised and searchable way to locate just about anything to do with Office 365 and Azure. This will save you inordinate amounts of time and easily pay for your outlay. You’ll also get free updates for to all of these for 12 months once you purchase. Like I said, I use these notebooks EVERY DAY.
If you want some testimonials about these bootcamps and information provided visit:
Please support this material so I can continue creating more.
In this episode I’m joined by a real SharePoint and Office 365 rockstar (who also happens to be an MVP) – Benjamin Niaulin.
Benjamin shares his insights and experiences from the recent Microsoft Ignite Conference. We then deep dive into the new Office 365 Groups and how important they are becoming to the service overall. Finally, I couldn’t let Benjamin escape with out providing some guidance around SharePoint migrations.
A huge amount of value in this episode from a doyen of the community, so don’t miss it. You can listen to the episode at:
The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:
Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send me any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show. I’m also on the hunt for some co-presenters so if you are interested on being a regular part of the show please contact me.
Microsoft Ignite on demand - http://channel9.msdn.com/events/Ignite/2015/
Blogging comes to Delve - http://blog.ciaops.com/2015/05/blogging-comes-to-delve.html
New OneDrive Sync client - http://blog.ciaops.com/2015/05/more-onedrive-information-from-ignite.html
Mobile device management - http://blog.ciaops.com/2015/05/mobile-device-management-has.html
Offline Azure backup - http://blog.ciaops.com/2015/05/offline-azure-backup.html
Sharegate - http://en.share-gate.com/
Sharegate blog - http://en.share-gate.com/blog/
Benjamin Niaulin - https://twitter.com/bniaulin
Webinar on Office 365 Groups - http://en.share-gate.com/blog/groups-for-office-365-webinar
Benjamin's wrap up of Microsoft Ignite - http://en.share-gate.com/blog/ignite-collaboration-in-a-modern-workplace-transformed
As I spoke about in a previous post, Microsoft has started started to roll out the ability to import data like PST files directly to Office 365.
If you have the first release enabled on your tenant you may now see the Import option appear on your administration menu on the Office 365 portal. Select that will take you to the above page.
You can then elect to Ship the data on physical hard drives or Upload files over the network.
All of the information about this new option, which is still in preview, can be found at:
It is expected that we will soon see the ability to not only upload PST data but also data to SharePoint and OneDrive for Business via this method. This is going to make it a lot easier to get large volume of information up to Office 365 much quicker than before.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Oh boy do we have a big webinar planned for our monthly free Ask Us webinar this week (Thursday the 21st of May, 2015 from 12.30pm Sydney time). You can sign up now at:
We’ll be featuring all the latest updates and announcements from the recent Microsoft Ignite conference as well as peek into the world of Delve and PowerBI if time permits.
There will be plenty of time for you to ask your questions and we’ll do our best to answer, if not show you, the solution on screen. You’ll also be able to hear what others are asking about when it comes to cloud technologies, best practices and business challenges faced. That’s why it is so hugely valuable to attend.
Of course, Cloud Business Community members will be able to view an on demand recoding of the webinar a short time after it completes. That’s just one of the benefits of joining our unique, reseller focused community which also includes community forums, on demand technical and business training, whitepapers, templates, re-brandable content and more.
I hope that you will take advantage of our monthly webinar and also hope that you’ll refer it one to anyone else who may benefit. It is free and packed with heaps of great information.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
The more I see of Delve in Office 365 the more excited I become. Why? Firstly, Delve is HUGE point of differentiation between Microsoft and its competition. Secondly, it provides powerful yet simple insights for average users into the vast array of information sources they have in Office 365. Delve quickly integrates information from SharePoint, OneDrive, Email, Yammer and more in a single pane of glass and prioritises that based on your interactions. It also allows you to not only view your Delve but the Delve of others in your team to see what they are up to.
Delve is also become the central location for information about you in Office 365. It contains your profile information, who you are and what you do in the business. One of the options that you can now incorporate in your Delve profile, as you can see above is a blog. This new Delve blog features replaces the old one from SharePoint and provide a much easier way of creating and sharing your thoughts.
When you select the Start Writing link, Office 365 will take a minute or two to set up your blogging platform. From what I can see it creates this a dedicated SharePoint Site Collection at:
In a short order of time your blogging platform is read and you can create your first post. The editing platform is currently very simple (which is great) and very, very reminiscent of the new Office product, Sway (also coming to Office 365 soon). The easier it is, the more likely people will use it. All editing is now done directly in the browser (or the mobile app).
You basically create a title and add a banner. Then you type some text for the body as well as featuring a document from SharePoint that is embedded in your post if desired. This potentially allows you to use more detailed formatting if you need. This is great since if you wanted to be really visual you’d include a PowerPoint or potentially a Sway when it come to Office 365.
You then Publish the post when you are ready and there you have your first blog article.
Posts will now show up in your Delve activity feed, as seen above, that will also be made available to others in your team via the magic of the Officegraph technology that is powering Delve.
One of the big advantages of Delve is that you will be able to blog on the go using the mobile Delve app. As yet I can’t see how to do that just yet, but I know it is coming. So you can be out on the road, snap some pictures, write some text and get that up onto Delve to share with your team. Magic!
To my way of thinking Delve is becoming such an important part of Office 365 because it offers a gateway to unlock the vast treasure trove of information and value that a business creates around all Office 365 services. Having all of that surfaced quickly and automatically for users based on its relevance to them is a huge boost to productivity and collaboration that has never before been available. Combine that with the ability to consume and create content on a mobile device demonstrates to me that Microsoft really does get the concepts of the new way of working, that is social and mobile.
My questions to you however are, do you get it? Are you using Delve for increased productivity? If not why? Delve is the key that unlocks all the power that the complete Office 365 product brings to a business and it is only going to improve. Embrace the new way of working today with Delve.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Although I spend 99% of my time working with SharePoint Online these days I still have a soft spot for SharePoint Foundation server, give my roots in Small Business Server (SBS).
Microsoft have confirmed a new version of SharePoint Server on premises but as you can see from the above tweet it would appear that the free version (Foundation) is being discontinued going forward. Not surprising really and something I have been telling people for a while.
The solution for SMB clients now is really Office 365 and SharePoint Online. It gives them access to the full enterprise suite of SharePoint at a low per month cost. For bang for you buck, it can’t be matched.
Farewell SharePoint Foundation server and thank you.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
I’ve been busy with my Cloud Business Blueprint founding partner Nigel Moore putting together another business focused podcast for listeners.
In this episode Nigel and I talking about identifying your most profitable customers. So many businesses we see have no idea which clients are contributing the most profit to their business and are thus focused on servicing the wrong ones. That doesn’t help a business grow.
Our podcast also cover the usual cloud news, business reflections and listeners questions. You can also subscribe via iTunes and Stitcher radio as well as any location where quality podcasts are downloaded.
Listen in, let us know what you think and we always appreciate an iTunes review.
Friday, May 8, 2015
SharePoint Site Mailboxes allow you to have a shared mailbox for each user of a Team Site in Office 365.
Previously, you could see all these by going to Outlook Web Access, selecting Settings and then Options and finally Site Mailboxes as it says in this article from Microsoft:
But you know what? When I try that I don’t see the Site Mailboxes as an option on the left hand side any more!
Bummer. So how can you administer these mailboxes if you need to if you can’t do it from Outlook Web Access?
Your first option is to open Outlook on the desktop and then right mouse click your mailbox name at the top of the tree (usually your name or email address). As you can see from the above screen shot that will display a menu and from there you can select the option – Manage All Site Mailboxes.
That will open a browser, prompt you to login to Office 365 and then take you to the my site mailboxes page as shown above. You will see any Site Mailbox you have access to, be able to select and edit its properties.
The second option is simply to login to Office 365 and navigate to:
This will take you to exactly the same page as above.
Thus, if you can’t find the Site Mailboxes option in your Outlook Web Access to administer SharePoint Online Team Site Mailboxes you can use either of the above two methods to get to same destination.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
In a previous post I spoke about how Office 2016 preview was available to tenants if you had enabled First Release. I also highlighted the fact that it would be nice to control which users get the latest features rather than everyone.
Well, well. The above video and this blog post:
details how Microsoft is enabling exactly that! I can’t see that as yet in my tenant but it can’t be far away. If you have the feature this is how to work with it.
Just what you need when you need it! Well done Microsoft.
The most common method of deploying Office from Office 365 subscriptions is via the Office 365 portal. To do so you select the Cog in the top right and from the menu that appears you select Office 365 settings.
From the options that appear on the left you select Software.
You then see Office 2013 and you select the Install button to kick off the Click to Run install.
BUT, if the tenant has the First Release option enabled and you scroll down a bit you’ll see that you also have the option to install the Office 2016 Preview!
Potential issue here is that if an end user decides to install the Office 2016 Preview then it REPLACES the existing Office 2013 (i.e. no side by side install).
Now Office 2016 is not currently supported by Microsoft (as it says) which may mean it is not a good idea for an organisation.
Problem is, I can’t see how to disable this option for end users without turning off First Release (which would remove other features you may want) or disabling Office installs completely. Hopefully, there is a PowerShell command or some option I have overlooked that allows administrators to disable the option for installing Office 2016 Preview. I understand that people on the First Release program want to see the new stuff BUT not sure whether administrators want their users running Office 2016 just yet! At least until it is out of preview. If you know how to disable the Office 2016 Preview option without disabling First Release or Office downloads in general I’d love to hear.
Update – I spoke too soon (the ability to control which users get first release features is rolling out as we speak. More in my updated blog post).
As I mentioned in a previous post, OneDrive news from Ignite, I am very happy to report the goods news revealed about OneDrive for Business. One of these improvements that can’t come soon enough for me is the selective sync as you see in the above screen shot from the session:
The great thing about this session was some more information from Microsoft but by far was the questions and answers towards the end. It was great to hear so many of the burning questions I’ve had about the sync client asked and then answered. Well worth a listen if you want more answers about OneDrive for Business.
The above screen shot taken from the presentation also gives us some more information around when the next generation sync client will be released.
I am happy now that the roadmap for OneDrive for Business is much clearer and I can’t wait to get my hands on the new sync client.
Stay tuned here to more updates from Ignite.
I’ve been catching up on the sessions from Ignite and one of the sessions I have been most keen to see is:
Why? OneDrive for Business sync client is currently, probably unfortunately, the weakest component of Office 365. I see a lot of frustration out there with clients when they hit the limits of this application. These can be overcome and minimized with some tuning but the sync software currently doesn’t really support they way many customers believe they should work with the cloud. Most want (inappropriately in my opinion) to sync everything from the cloud to every desktop. Like it or not, that is how they expect to work and at the moment the OneDrive for Business sync client struggles to support this.
As you can see from the above slide the OneDrive for Business team recognise that the sync client basically hasn’t met client expectations and fixing this is currently their highest priority.
The good news as shown on the roadmap above is that we can expect to see a next gen sync client in Q3 2015 with the final release before the end of the 2015 year.
The other exciting news is that before the end of the year the currently maximum limit of 20,000 file being synced will be removed, the maximum file size that can be synced will increase to 10GB and selective syncing of files from within a Document Library will be available.
There are a few other sessions on OneDrive at Ignite that I’ll be working through and reporting back what I find so stay tuned. However, I think the news is very positive now for OneDrive for Business in general. Yes, many of the changes coming have been a long time in materialising but the good news is that they will be with us shortly.
The news from Ignite has been very positive and the improvements Microsoft are being to Office 365, Azure and like are truly amazing. I’ll report on more of these as I work through all the content. Kudos also to Microsoft for making the content from Ignite readily available so quickly to review on demand. I certainly wish I could have attended in person but in some ways having access to the on demand content makes it even easier to stay up to date.
To view the sessions from Ignite visit:
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
I’m featured again on Karl Palachuk’s latest OddTuesdays podcast. You can find the episode here.
or download the audio directly at:
I briefly cover some of the work I do to help resellers when it comes to SharePoint and Office 365 so they can offer a broader range of services.
Have a listen and let me know what you think. I also take the opportunity to thank Karl for having me on the podcast.
If you are interested in seeing all the latest developments with Microsoft and getting access to it as a developer then I’d commend Build Sydney to you. It is running on the 1st of June.
The event will be held at Luna Park, just under the northern side of the Harbour Bridge and is a great opportunity to learn about things such as Universal Windows Apps, Web App Platforms, cross platform development and more. You can register at:
I have already registered to gain access to all this great information, so if you are planning to attend please let me know and we can perhaps catch up to discuss all the great stuff Microsoft is making available to build solutions on.
See you there.
Monday, May 4, 2015
Here’s an interesting item from the Office 365 Roadmap in development.
The ability to import data into Office 365 in a quick and easy manner has been a known constraint of Office 365, and a solution for this issue has emerged as a key request from customers. We are working on a solution that will allow quicker imports of data into Exchange Online Archive Mailboxes. You will now be able to import Exchange Online data through PST files into the service without using third party tools. Drive Shipping and Network Based Ingestion options will use Azure-based services to import data. Over time we will be extending this to other data types across Office 365.
This option is not yet available on my Office 365 tenant but here is a blog post of someone who has it and has documented the process:
What excites me is not the PST stuff but this line:
Over time we will be extending this to other data types across Office 365.
That to me reads that soon Office 365 will support drive shipping and network based ingestion of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business data! That will be huge and save massive amounts of time for customers looking to move the bulk of their files and folder information to Office 365, who may also be somewhat bandwidth limited.
The second thing I note here is:
Drive Shipping and Network Based Ingestion options will use Azure-based services to import data.
That further reinforces to my mind the fact that if you are an Office 365 IT professional you are going to need to be comfortable with Azure.
To me it is no longer Office 365, it is now Office365/Azure combined as a skill set you must have going forward.
You’ll find the initial part of getting Mobile Device Management (MDM) working with Office 365 here:
The end result was that I had ended up with the following error:
As a reader of this blog pointed out to me on Yammer (yeah Yammer!),
What I had overlooked was the above, highlighted text. I couldn’t apply the policy to an individual user I needed to apply that to a security group. Ah ha! Thanks for the keen eyes there.
So I went off and created an Office 365 Security group and then added the appropriate user to that group AND THEN added that group to the policy and voila, no more errors in my policy!
After a little while (<5 mins) I receive the following message on my iPad that is already using that account.
Interestingly, that message does not appear in OWA via the browser.
I now select the Enrol your device link and I’m taken to:
Where I’m prompted to install the Microsoft Intune Company Portal, on my device.
I’m then prompted to login to my Office 365 account as the user in question.
So now the Microsoft Intune Company Portal app launches and I see the above screen. I select Enrol to continue.
I now get taken to the device settings and prompted to Install.
I note that Office 365 will now be able to remotely manage my iPad, which is what I want so I select Install to continue.
Shortly I see my device is enrolled. Yeah!
If I now return to my Office 365 admin console and refresh the Mobile Devices page I see the above. My iPad now appears as a managed device. Job done.
All in all this is a pretty simple process. The trick that that managed users need to reside in an Office 365 Security group before they can have the mobile device policy applied to them.
I will need to dig into all the options and better understand what is happening behind the scenes but gotta say I am pretty impressed at how easy the process of enrolling a device. Now I’m off to try a few other devices.