Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Using Azure to test OneDrive for Business Sync

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In a recent blog I detailed how you could automatically download all the content from the recent Microsoft Ignite 2016 conference. In that post I also said that the ultimate destination for that content, in my case, was going to be SharePoint Online.

There are number of different ways that you could get all these files into SharePoint Online but I thought that this would be a great opportunity to test the new Preview OneDrive for Business Sync client that now works with SharePoint Online document libraries. You can read more about this release here:

Getting started syncing SharePoint sites with the new OneDrive sync client – preview

I will caution you before you go charging in and setting this up. This is still currently PREVIEW software! That means it is not yet complete. I will also caution you that it is not simply a process of installing a download. The release of the completed sync client is due in November 2016, which isn’t really that far away. So, unless your job is to play with software, I’d wait until the released product is available real soon.

Luckily, part of my job IS to play with software and let people know what it’s all about. So what I thought I’d do to test out this new OneDrive for Business sync client is to use it to upload all the material I captured from Microsoft Ignite.

Now there’s another aspect to way I approach these tasks these days and that is to use Azure as my primary tool. So, to actually download the Microsoft Ignite content, as detailed previously, I actually did this using an Azure virtual machine? Why? Firstly, it is nice to have a clean machine with plenty of disks space. I can also adjust the power and storage of the machine to suit my needs and only pay for what I need. I can also leave the machine running in the Microsoft data center and access it from anywhere. However, in this case, the major reason is simply better bandwidth.

The downloading process of the Ignite 2016 content ran about ten times faster in Azure versus downloading locally. This likewise also means that uploads to SharePoint Online will run ten or more time faster. Given that time is money, that’s why I prefer to use Azure even for mundane stuff like this.

Now the Ignite 2016 PowerPoint slides alone come to over 10GB of data. So once the I had downloaded all that to my Azure Azure VM, I installed the new OneDrive for Business sync client and sync’ed the existing destination Team Site Document Library. The sync tool then downloaded the existing contents to my Azure VM without issue (about 3GB of data). I then created a new directory in my local sync area and then dumped the 10GB+ of data into that location.

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I watched as the sync client merrily start chewing away on all these new files. I check the status (as you can now do on the new client by simply click on the System Tray icon) and saw the files uploaded to the SharePoint Document Library.

Even though this was an azure VM, 10GB+ of data is still not going to happen instantaneously. I checked back with the process regularly. I did see the sync client crash once (remember, it’s still in preview) and restart but apart from that, in a short period of time all that data was now not only in a SharePoint Document Library but also synced to the Azure VM.

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I then checked the properties of what I had stored locally in my sync folder and you see from the above that it was all there.

So there you have it. I successfully sync 12GB+ of data to a SharePoint Online Document Library using the new preview OneDrive for Business sync client. YEAH!

Even though you’ve seen this success, remember my earlier warning about this currently being demo software. It won’t be long before the completed production version is available to all and I’ll report on that when it happens. However, the big takeaway should be that new OneDrive for Business sync tool is looking pretty good and I am very confident about not only its reliability but also features upon release.

If you have been frustrated with previous versions of the sync tool, I’d suggest now is perhaps a good time to start looking at it again as I believe it is going to become a very powerful feature of the Office 365 suite that is going to challenge many existing incumbent third party software products that competes with the OneDrive for Business sync tool currently.

In summary, I am very confident that the new OneDrive for Business sync will be a major reason TO shift to Office 365.