Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Free Cloud Business Blueprint webinars back


With everything that has been happening lately we’ve missed a few of our free Cloud Business Blueprint ‘Ask Us’ Webinars. But fear not, we have scheduled or final one for 2014:

Date: Thursday December 11, 2014
Time : 12.30pm

On the webinar I’ll be providing an update of everything new and updated in Office 365 (and there has been plenty) as well a peek into more Azure ‘stuff’ if time permits. There should also be time to get into some demos and do some Q & A.

The session will be recorded for our Cloud Business Blueprint community and posted to the discussion forums for on-demand viewing. If you are not yet part of the community then you can join for a low per month subscription, with no lock in period. Just pay month to month and cancel anytime with no questions asked,

for access to previous recording, peer forums, on demand training, re-brandable content, worksheets, checklists and more.

Of course, if you want to see a particular topic covered during the session drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do to squeeze it into the schedule.

I hope to see you on the webinar.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 63

This to me is very interesting episode because in it I speak with Greg Plum from around the opportunities Lync in Office 365 provides.

As many know, I have always been very, very positive about what functionality Lync can provide and the opportunity it offers for IT resellers to with customers. One of the major missing pieces in the SMB space has been the easy integration with traditional phone systems. This is where Greg and his business can help. He is able to provide that quickly and easily.

To me this is a HUGE value add to Office 365 and something everyone should take heed of because the concept of unified communications is rapidly being adopted by all businesses, and Office 365 makes that even easier.

Sit back, listen and enjoy. I think you’ll get a lot out of this episode. You can find the episode here:

or subscribe to this and all episodes in iTunes at:

I am also pleased top announce that the podcast is now available on Stitcher at:

Of course, I’d love to hear what you think of this episode or any others. Also, if you are interested in being a guest on the show to discuss business or technical topics also feel free to contact me (

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sydney SharePoint Saturday–I’m speaking


In sunny ole Sydney this Saturday (29th November 2014)? Fancy a bit of SharePoint luvin’? If so why don’t you head along to SharePoint Saturday at:

13/60 Margaret St, Sydney

from 9am. Full details and registrations at:

if you do you’ll discover a whole days worth of content specifically around SharePoint. I’ll be speaking about OneDrive in the afternoon so I’d love to see you at my session.

If you are planning to attend the day drop me a line and let me know so I can say hi!

I still firmly believe that SharePoint represents the greatest opportunity for SMB IT resellers and is something they need to be familiar with at the very least. For customers SharePoint provides a way to streamline and manage their information much better and likewise is not something that should be dismissed.

Thus, in summary, no matter who you are, you should come to Sydney SharePoint Saturday. There is something for everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2014

My presentation from Infrastructure Saturday

I was lucky enough to present on Office 365 ‘stuff’ at the recent Infrastructure Saturday event in Brisbane.

You can download a PDF copy of the deck from:

The session was pretty interactive so there aren’t many slides, but if you wanted a copy you can now download it.

How Does “The Cloud” Affect the MSP Business?–Full wrap

A while back I wrote a post about an interview I did with Bigger MSP around the future of the managed services business in the cloud era.

That was the first in a series of interviews with some very smart and experienced people in the SMB IT industry. So, for your viewing pleasure here they all are for you, starting with yours truly:

I thank Chip Reeves from Bigger MSP for the opportunity to be part of this fantastic project.

Let me know what you think from the panel of expert here. I particularly like what Jay McBain has to say, so be sure to watch that video!

Need to Know podcast–Episode 62

Tas Gray from AxiomIT is back for another episode focused on Office 365. We cover a range of announcements that Microsoft recently made as well as some discussion about Office 365 adoption.

To listen to the episode visit:

or subscribe to this and all episodes in iTunes at:

I am also pleased top announce that the podcast is now available on Stitcher at;

If you are interested in being a guest on the show to discuss business or technical topics please contact me (

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Office 365 RDS questions answered

The Garage series has done a nice summary around Office desktop applications from Office 365 on Remote Desktops. A lot of this was also contained in an earlier blog post of mine which I recommend you review:

The major point to remember here is that they are talking about Office Pro Plus via Office 365 which is ONLY available via Enterprise plans (Office Pro Plus Stand alone, E3 and E4) per the following site:


Office via the Office 365 SMB plans (Business and Business Premium) is NOT Office Pro Plus (because it no longer includes things like Access).

The great things is that the Remote Desktop capability can be used on a variety of platforms (including Remote App from Azure) and is now much easier to install and deploy than it ever was. However, remember it is NOT available if you purchase the new Office 365 SMB plans. As I always say, this is another key reason to only go with Enterprise Office 365 plans. However, another benefit of modern Office 365 plans is that you can mix and match between SMB and Enterprise plans in the same tenant as required.

Friday, November 14, 2014

How Does “The Cloud” Affect the MSP Business?

A while ago I publish a blog post entitled:

Why I don’t like the term Trusted Advisor

It turns out that this post has generate some interesting debates on other forums. Someone who was involved in those discussions, Chip Reeves from Bigger MSP, has now put together a series of interviews with myself and other thought leaders in the SMB IT space.

To get the ball rolling on this project Chip has recorded a short video interview with me that you can view above. In it I reiterate how today IT resellers should be thinking like a Chief Information Officer (CIO) rather than an provider that merely sits on the side line waiting for stuff to happen.

I also highlight some points I made in a blog post back in 2012:

Valley of Discontent

in which I outlined my belief that the only two options available to SMB IT providers going forward was to get huge or get small and specialise.

I’ll post up the videos from the others than Chip interviews around this question but in the meantime, watch the interview, read my blog posts and let me know what you think. Am I on the right track or totally off base? I’d love to hear you opinions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Office 365 Clutter now rolling out

Microsoft keeps the new features of Office 365 rolling with the release of Clutter:

To enable Clutter you’ll need to have enabled the office 365 first release program which I details previously at:

Once the first release feature is enabled you’ll need to wait for Clutter to appear. To check, go to your Outlook Web Access page in the Office 365 portal (i.e. click the Outlook at the top of the page, along the menu bar, when you login to the portal).


Then select the Cog in the top right corner. From the menu that appears select Options.


From the menu on the left expand the Automatic processing and then select Clutter from the list. Note the Clutter option won’t appear for you until it has been rolled out to your tenant. On the right select the option to Separate items identified as Clutter and then select Save. Now you are good to go with a leaner inbox, which will hopefully get leaner over time as the Clutter algorithm learns more about what is important to you.


Once you enable Clutter you’ll see an additional folder created under you inbox called Clutter. It is into here that message deemed non-essential will automatically be routed,

In essence it seems that Clutter is basically automatic mail rules. It uses machine learning to determine what is ‘important’ and re-routes what isn’t to a sub-folder.

Having used email rules for year to have a more productive email system this doesn’t appear to be a major improvement for the way I work. However, I do know it will be HUGE for almost everyone else because I rarely see others effectively use mail rules for the inbox. They simply allow email to accumulate in their inbox where they never read them. So, the whole process taking place automatically is going to really benefit the majority of users who are currently swamped with emails.

Remember, each user will have to enable Clutter for themselves, inside their own portal login using the process outlined above.

There you have it. Another features added to Office 365 to help your productivity. What do you think? is this helpful? What could be improved? Will you use it? I’d love to hear. I’m interested to see how it interacts with any existing inbox rules, which I assume will be applied PRIOR to Clutter taking over??

Office 365 Lync to become Skype for Business

It seems like the battle between Lync and Skype for naming rights of Microsoft’s conferencing tool has been won by Skype as per this announcement today:

which says:

In the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release and updates to the service in Office 365.

Seems to me like an interesting move away from the enterprise naming conventions associated with Lync to a more consumer friendly and wider know brand being Skype.

I also not so sure about the whole ‘Skype for Business’ messaging given the confusions there are in the market around ‘OneDrive’ and ‘OneDrive for Business’ presently. However, it does indicate the delineation that is occurring between the business and consumer products.

Skype is certainly a stronger, more widely used and recognised brand so I can see the reasons for moving in that direction. When you look at the new product appears to be like it still remains very much like the Lync client we know and love today, it just gets a ‘Skype’ make-over. It is also a good idea to start consolidating the product brans to avoid confusion the space, especially for end users.

If you are an existing Office 365 users you won’t have to do anything expect wait for the updates in 2015 when your Lync client will be updated. When that happens for me I’ll report back. Till then take a look at the blog post from Microsoft and let me know what you think of the new branding. Does ‘Skype for Business’ make sense?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We shall remember them

At 11am on the 11th of November 1918 the guns fell silent on what to date had been the greatest conflict in human history, World War I. It unfortunately was never going to be the end of major human conflict as many believed. It however was the end of many young lives who gave theirs in the service of their country.

Australia played a very significant role in the conflict we have come to call the Great War. They survived the odds on the Turkish Peninsula for nine months and from there went onto fight in many of the major battles on the Western Front, serving with distinction amongst the Allied forces.

As my Anzacs of World War One web site notes:

In the 4 years of War approximately 416,809 had joined up and of these 313,814 had embarked for duty overseas. 65% of these were killed or wounded compared to 51% for Britain, 50% for Canada and 59% for New Zealand. Nearly 40% of all Australian males 18 - 44 voluntarily enlisted. One in five or 63,163 died on active service during the war.

At this time of year we pause for a short period of time to remember those who did not come home. We remember those who did return but were mortally scarred by the experience. We remember that because of their sacrifice we hope to never have to face the horrors they did when called on by their country.

Many paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today, so take a moment and remember all those who served and are still serving. Let’s say thanks and never forget the role they played in shaping our nation and what we enjoy today.

Lest We Forget

Monday, November 10, 2014

Need to Know podcast–Episode 61

In this podcast I’m joined by Tas Gray from Axiom IT in Melbourne to discuss storage option in Office 365. We look specifically at SharePoint Online and OneDrive fro Business but we also venture off onto the business value of Yammer to even the smallest business.

To listen to the episode visit:

or subscribe to this and all the episodes in iTunes:

I am looking to tweak these podcasts a little and focus on providing regular technical and business information around Office 365 and Azure. So, if you have a question send it along or leave it as a comment here. If you’d also like to specifically hear about an Office 365 or Azure topic in more depth then also let me know what that is.

Of course if you are interested in being a guest on the show to discuss business or technical topics I’d also really love to hear from you. So don’t be shy, reach out.

Some feedback from my recent Azure/Office 365 workshop

Happy to report that my recent 2 day Azure and Office 365 training workshop in Brisbane went off well and was well attended. Thanks to everyone who attended and made the sessions possible. Here’s a sample of some of the feedback received:

“I just wanted to say thank you for such an informative session on Azure. I got so much from the day it is hard to quantify yet, suffice to say I think all attendees have an advantage over those that missed out”

“Definitely worth the time and effort involved in taking the 2 days off for the training. Well done again Robert, keep up the good work.”

“The training was excellent and focused on what we need as SMB as well as identifying the bigger enterprise picture.  From knowing really nothing about Azure, we have now done practical tasks and know how to move forward.”

“The content was excellent and the pace was good to keep you thinking all the way through the practical tutorials. I think the 2 days of content would be equivalent to 4 days elsewhere and the Friday and Saturday sessions worked well for me and most others. Got some great tools and tips to take away with me.”

“The Azure training was great and really complements o365 and was good to get a taste of what is, and what is to come.”

“For those that didn’t make it to the Brisbane training, it was good, very good!!! Robert delivered 2 days of focussed excellence. I am so much more aware of where O365 and Azure, fit into the big picture. And, whilst there were times where I dropped behind in the practical exercises, the takeaway was massive.”

Appreciate the feedback from people and glad to see that it hit the mark with what you where looking for.

All the content from these course will now be finding its way online via Cloud Business Blueprint, so if you aren’t a member yet may now is the time?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Office 365 Shared Mailboxes get boosted to 50GB


As you can see from the above graphic and the following page:

This increase applied to suites, while the standalone Exchange Online plans shared mailboxes remain at 10GB max (but here’s a little secret, you can actually store more than 10GB in there, it just can’t send or receive emails when it gets above the 10GB limit, but you can happily store more than 10GB of email in there if you really wanted to. This has always made it a great archiving solution, given that it is free and all).

Office 365 Exchange Online shared mailboxes (which are free and unlimited) have been boosted to a maximum size of 50GB like any normal mailbox. Shared mailboxes cannot be logged into directly, they can only be access from users with a license for Exchange Online.

So if you need to archive an old user’s mailbox, just convert it to a free Shared Mailbox (using PowerShell of course). Gotta love Office 365 don’t ya?

Does this mean Microsoft will buy Dropbox?

You may have seen the news that Office and Dropbox will start working together. Here is the announcement if you missed it:

Now this got me thinking. With Microsoft recently announcing unlimited free storage for OneDrive consumer and also unlimited free with plans including OneDrive for Business it kind of wrecks Dropbox’s business model of charging for web storage now doesn’t it?

Microsoft has a file sync tool for OneDrive but it isn’t currently as robust or as widespread as Dropbox’s. So to me it makes sense for Microsoft to look at buying Dropbox to not only get the sync technology but also the audience.

That scenario may seem unlikely to you but let me point to a few precedents here. Firstly, Microsoft’s purchase of Skype and secondly Microsoft’s purchase of Yammer. Both gave Microsoft access to key technology as well as an audience they were not really engaged with.

So if Microsoft does acquire Dropbox you can tell people you read it here first. However, I’d love to hear whether you think what I suggest here is feasible? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Office 365 Message encryption

If you weren’t aware, Office 365 supports sending encrypted messages to anyone. Basically, they get an email telling them to login to a web portal to view the message. Here’s how to make all that work.

You’ll firstly need to enable Rights Management for your tenant. To do that login to the Office 365 portal as an administrator.


On the left hand side select Service Settings.


This will expand a menu as shown above. From this menu select Rights Management.


On the right now select the Manage hyperlink.


Select the Activate button to enable Right Management.


Confirm that you wish to enable by selecting the Activate button.


After a few moments the screen should update.


You are now going to need to run some PowerShell commands. if you haven’t done this check out this previous blog post to get your environment setup:

Configuring PowerShell Access in Office 365

Once you have connected using PowerShell you’ll need to run the following commands depending on your location:

USA: Set-IRMConfiguration -RMSOnlineKeySharingLocation

Set-IRMConfiguration -RMSOnlineKeySharingLocation

Asia-Pacific: Set-IRMConfiguration -RMSOnlineKeySharingLocation


In my case I used the Asia Pacific URL as shown above.


You then need to run the command:

Import-RMSTrustedPublishingDomain -RMSOnline -name “RMS Online”

which produces the above result.


Then this command:

Set-IRMConfiguration -InternalLicensingEnabled $True


Finally run the command:

Test-IRMConfiguration -RMSOnline

and ensure the result come back OVERALL RESULT: PASS


With that done you can now return to the Office 365 management portal as an administrator to set up a message encryption transport rule.


In the top right of the Office 365 portal select Admin and then Exchange from the menu that appears.


From the menu on the left select mail flow.


Select the Plus icon on the right and the option Create a new rule from the menu that appears.

Now there are lots of different options when creating an Office 365 Transport Rule but I am not going to cover these. This post is aimed at showing you the basics of enabling Exchange Online Message Encryption. If you want more information about Office 365 Transport Rules in general see:


In this case I am going to set a rule to encrypt messages sent to one person in the organisation (Anne Wallace).

To see the encryption options ensure you select the More options hyperlink at the bottom of this window as shown above.


For the Do the following condition select Modify the message security and then Apply Office 365 Message Encryption as shown above.


Once saved the new rule should appear in the list as shown above.

Now if Anne Wallace is sent an email by another Office 365 she will see:


Indicating that this is an encrypted message.

To view the message Anne must save the attached HTML file to her local machine and open it.


When she so and opens it she will see the above message.

If she then selects the Sign in and view encrypted message hyperlink she will be see the encrypted message.


Exchange Online Encrypted messages work with people inside and outside Office 365. If you want more information check out the following:

Once you have done the initial Rights Management setup you then have a lot of flexibility using Exchange Online Transport Rules to determine how messages are handled. You could set up a rule that if the word ENCRYPT is in the message subject it will always be encrypted.

Very flexible and most importantly, very secure.