Tuesday, November 29, 2016

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar–December 2016

My last Need to Know webinar for 2016 is now open for registrations. As always, the event is free to attend and provides you with the latest news around Office 365 and the Microsoft Cloud as well as deep dive into a particular topic. This month we are going to have a close look at SharePoint Online permissions and how to secure your data in Office 365 Team Sites.

You can register now at:

December Webinar Registration

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – December 2016
Thursday 15th of December 2016
10am – 11am Sydney Time

All sessions are recorded and posted to the CIAOPS Academy.

There of course will also be open Q and A so make sure you bring your questions for me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron (for only USD$10 per month) which you can do here:


or purchase them individually at:


Also feel free at any stage to email me directly atdirector@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session.

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 121

After getting through all the cloud news, Marc and I have a chat to an old and frequent podcast guest, Technical Solution Specialist, Enterprise Mobility and Security, Jeff Alexander. We hope this will be the first in a series focused on the Enterprise Mobility and Security Suite from Microsoft. We kick off the discussions with Jeff telling us all about Azure AD and role that it plays both on premises and in the cloud. We dig deep in how Azure AD is being used to secure the growth of mobile devices and the demands of users to have full access to their information at all times.

You can listen to this episode directly at:


or on Soundcloud here:

or subscribe via iTunes at:


The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:


Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.





Microsoft Enterprise Mobility and Security Suite

EMS blog

Start and Stop Azure VM's using autmation

Announcing auto VM shutdown from the portal

Azure news from Marc

Office 365 group guest access available to all tenants

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Macro Trends

This is the fourth part of my presentation “Making money from the cloud”. You can find the full slides at:


and the previous parts are at:

We live in exponential times

Consider the following

Major Trends


We previously took a look at the large trends that are shaping our world but now let’s take a look at the small trends that impact smaller businesses.

No matter how large or small you are technology is the key differentiation point. The Internet has allowed any single person to compete globally, The Cloud has allowed any single person access to the same level (power) of technology that once was only once available to the largest of businesses for a few dollars a month. Now it is not about what technology you have, it is about how effectively you use that technology. That is what determines your profitability above everything else.

Companies like Amazon are at the cutting edge of utilising technology to provide better service to their customers as the above video demonstrates. Thus, the focus of technology is about being able to deliver better results for customers.

This means that if you are an IT professional you need to be not simply ‘selling’ technology, you need to implementing technology that helps your customers grow their business. IT professionals need to help their customers understand and get the best out of technology. If left to their own devices people use less than 10% of the full functionality of any technology that is provided to them. This means there is an untapped 90% opportunity to work with the existing technology people have. It is much easier to get more from what you have rather than trying to sell you something new now isn’t it?

This means that the business of an IT professional is all about consulting now. Pure reselling of technology is a commodity game and only the largest can survive in that environment. Much of this consulting will also involve the re-engineering of existing businesses. A good example of this, once again, is the shift from traditional email to things such as social networks for communications. You can’t simply enable a social network like Yammer inside a business, you need to help the business make the transition to this new way of working. However, this is not possible unless the IT professional themselves is actually using the latest technology themselves. You can’t implement a technology without understanding, and typically using it, yourself.

Here’s the key. Those that adopt new technology effectively are simply more competitive, able to react faster and adapt to suit market conditions quicker. Yes, that adoption requires and investment but that investment pays major dividends in the future. Unfortunately, so many businesses and IT professionals don’t want to make that investment, instead preferring to ‘stay with the current way of doing things’. That of course means living in the past as the future continues to accelerate away. That means that when change is forced upon the organisation it is that much harder because the leap is that much greater.

There is no doubt that change is hard, both for a business and for an individual. However, if you can get comfortable with change then you really have a competitive edge. The trick to becoming comfortable with change is to develop a system to help you manage it and therefore look at change as providing you a competitive advantage in the market as the vast majority are resistant to change.

However, the really adjustment most need to make when it comes to change is simply doing less. The real secret of success in the future is doing less and doing that exceptionally well. The traditional model of business growth was always to continue to grow revenue more and more. The problem is that costs and complications can rise faster than revenue. Thus, a focus on revenue is folly, while a focus on profit is sanity. The smaller you are, the reality is that you can’t do ‘everything’. You need to focus on a niche and become the best in the world at that niche and partner with others to fill any gaps. If you need heart surgery you don’t go to a GP now do you? You go to a heart surgeon. Heart surgeons make pretty good money even though they specialise. The same applies elsewhere. If you are everything to everyone, then you are nothing to no one. Focus on becoming more effective and generating more profit not merely revenue.

Technology is the game changer that effectively levels the playing field for all businesses. However, it is something that is always changing and needs a process for adoption. Those that can deal with the changes we see have an opportunity to be more competitive than any one else. This opportunity requires an on going investment and typically results in a change of business model but the message is clear. You can’t remain in the past. You can’t remain standing still as the progress of technology continues to move forward allowing others to leap frog you and take away your advantage.

Technology is a tool. Success is a measure of how well that is applied to benefit customers. Therefore, any technology implementations need to be focused on the value they provide to their customers. This will also require challenges of innovation to solve problems using different tools but when you do, truly, the world is your oyster!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Two day Azure deep dive from me

On the 6th and 7th of December 2016 I’m running a two day intensive, deep dive, hands on training for SMB Partners in Sydney around Azure. This will hopefully be the first of the roll out of this program to Microsoft partners around Australia in 2017.

The training is basically broken up into two days, IaaS and PaaS. It it also unique in that it will provide attendees with not only technical training but also business training on how to cost and sell Azure solutions to customers.

You'll be expected to work through a typical scenario of moving on premises SMB workloads to Azure. This means you'll be learning how to set up and configure things like Azure virtual networks and virtual machines. You'll create site to site VPNs and learn best practices for migrating data to the cloud. You'll also learn how to integrate Office 365 with on premises environments and with Azure. There will also be the opportunity to gain exposure to other Azure services such as Logic Apps, Machine Learning, Web Apps, Azure SQL and more. Best of all you'll be working in teams with your peers to complete challenges which also provides a huge networking opportunity. If you want to grow your cloud business and gain real world hands on experience with Microsoft Cloud technologies for SMB, this is not a session to miss.

Now because this first course is a bit of a test, if you are interested in attending then you’ll need to send me an email directly (director@ciaops.com) with your reasons for wanting to attend. I’ll forward these requests directly to Microsoft for inclusion in the course as attendance is strictly limited by number but also by desire to really get serious about deploying Azure.

This course is going to challenge both your technical and business abilities but you’ll walk away with a wealth of knowledge on Azure and Office 365 that I don’t believe is available elsewhere. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll walk away with the ability to confidently quote, sell and implement Azure/Office 365 solutions to your customers.

Thanks to Microsoft, this course is free to attend but you’ll need to send me your details as I have mentioned above to get a shot at attending.

Once again, places are strictly limited so hurry if you want to accelerate your business using Azure!

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 120

Marc and I chew the fat over the latest updates from the Microsoft Cloud. No guest for this episode just us giving you the latest news. Don't worry we are buys teeing up some great guests for future episodes but we thought we'd get this update out for everyone.

You can listen to this episode directly at:


or subscribe via iTunes at:


The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:


Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.




Satya's Australian visit

Azure N Series machines available

Azure functions now generally available

Azure backups directly from VM blade in portal

CMD to be replaced by PowerShell

Azure news from Marc

Outlook Customer Manager in Office 365

New SharePoint Team news authoring

New Microsoft documentation site

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Some Office 365 training from me coming soon

I’ll be on the road in December in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth doing two full day Office 365 reseller training sessions for Microsoft. These sessions are broken up into a “Start” and an advanced “Grow” session (conducted back to back).

The sessions cover both the technical and business aspects of implementing Office 365. That means you’ll get a deep dive into Office 365 and you’ll also learn successful strategies for selling and implementing Office 365 for customers.

Here’s some feedback from previous attendees:

“Fantastic presentation on adding value to your existing Office 365 practice. Do you want to know the value of the new E5 plans and how it can practically benefit them, thereby increasing your revenue stream? No fluff - just the information that you need to grow your business using Office 365/Azure was presented.” – Jason Shim

“This was a great overview of available opportunities within Office 365 Enterprise now and in the future presented by Robert Crane [MVP] So many great tools on offer to upsell and promote more with PowerBI, Delve and Yammer more in organizations” – Robert Coleiro

“Excellent session today ... not like the regular training. We were immersed in practical exercise and working in a small group. You have to think differently when on a team! What we don't know (and that's a pretty big area!) we can ask our partner who knows a different skill set to help with the solutions. Great stuff.” – Martin Maloney

“The best training I have been to in recent memory - very practical, customer-focused exercises and loads of great information and resources” – Tristram Morgan

The training is very hands on and requires you to work in teams to solve practical real world challenges presented throughout the day. Importantly, it is also focused on solutions for SMB customers.

Best off all? The training is totally free if you are a Microsoft Partner, all you need to do is register which you can do here:

Office 365 Start - https://www.microsoftevents.com/profile/web/index.cfm?PKWebId=0x259617bc5f

Office 365 Grow - https://www.microsoftevents.com/profile/web/index.cfm?PKWebId=0x260206cf75

I hope to see you there.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Major trends

This is the third part of my presentation “Making money from the cloud”. You can find the full slides at:


and the previous parts are at:

We live in exponential times

Consider the following


To develop a plan for your professional and business development going forward you need to start with the macro and move to the micro. So what are the major trends we see in today’s world?

The first is automation. A great discussion on this can be found in this Dan Pink video:

If you play the video by clicking the above it should start at the right place, if not forward to 29 minutes and 52 seconds to hear about automation. The whole video is worth watching, and I recommend you do, but the section on automation is especially pertinent. In essence what we will see is anything that is routine, linear, or process driven can be automated using software. Have a look at this video at the 46m mark through to the 50m 30s point for a idea of what is becoming possible when it comes to automating something as mundane as ordering at the drive through:

The ramifications here are two fold. Firstly, it indicates that to be more competitive and attractive is today’s business environment you need to be developing more and more automated systems. This automation is typically created via software. Thus, no matter who or what you are you need to using software effectively to become more competitive. Secondly, it means that tasks that can be automated will fast move to a commodity model, which means the lowest price wins. For most business and individuals this will not be a profitable option. Thus, if you can’t compete in the world of process that can be automated then may be you shouldn’t be playing there!

We are witnessing a new focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning thanks to software. The data you generate when you shop, use your credit card, use GPS navigation, read your emails is all being aggregated to create a better profile of you as an individual. This allows the system to deliver you better results. It allows the system to know what you want before you know you want it.

Here’s a good example:

ThyssenKrupp is using tools from Microsoft like Internet of Things (IoT), Azure machine learning, and Power to provide more reliable lift operations. With the sensor data feeding into predictive algorithms in Azure machine learning ThyssenKrupp can determine pre-emptively when components may fail and can take action before they do.

We live in a world were more and more items are becoming directly connected to the Internet. These devices are generating massive amounts of data that can be analysed to provide benefits in so many ways. Here’s a great example of what is possible with IoT;

So the question is, what is your business doing about IoT? Machine Learning? Big Data? and Artificial Intelligence? They need to be part of your game plan going forward. How can you use these technologies in you business to be more productive or provide better solutions for you customers?

An indicative statistic when it comes to the growth of mobile devices is the fact that mobile ads now exceed ads delivered on TV! Also previously, nearly all office workers were tethered to their cubicle by a blue network patch lead. Today, by contrast, users are rarely solely working from their cubicle. Work is no longer a place you go, it is something that you do. That typically means that wherever you have internet connectivity the expectation is that you can work. The growth of mobile device has fuelled this ability to work remotely and will continue to do so.

Mobility raises challenges for IT departments in that they are still expected to manage, monitor and maintain fleets of devices now roaming the streets untethered. I see that many IT support departments have the ability to manage desktop devices but as yet have no strategy in place to manage mobile devices. Consider that the decline of desktop workstations and servers is only going to increase while sales of mobile device will increase. Also, mobile devices are upgraded at a much faster clip than on-premises hardware. If you consider those trends, what should your IT management business be focused on? Yes, that’s right, mobile devices.

Augmented reality is allowing a new layer on top of our existing world that can provide some amazing abilities as the above video demonstrates. Combine a HoloLens with a drone and now you can examine some of the dangerous places in the world from the safety of your armchair. The applications for business are enormous. Imagine being able to work on a jet engine and having the full schematics available to you in front of your eyes. Imagine being able to overlay those plans on what you are exactly looking at.

Some good novels I have read that give you a glimpse into this potential universe are:


Freedom TM

Ready Player One

Rather than learning about something by reading it or watching a video, imagine instead immersing yourself directly in the experience, right in front of your eyes? The quickest way to learn someone is to actually do it as they say. Augmented reality allows that. Although perhaps still in its infancy it won’t be long before we simple accept this ability as the default.

If you want to being to appreciate how modern technology is changing the basics of how people learn then I urge you to watch the video above Build a School in the Cloud. You’ll see how the availability of information has levelled the playing field. The question for you however is, how are you taking advantage of these trends? How are you using the wealth of information and technology that is in your hands TODAY, to lead a better life and help others?

Unfortunately, there are always two sides to the technology coin. Technology is neutral. It is neither good or bad. It’s nature depends solely on how it is used.

I have written many articles on how we are allowing the bad guys to constantly win:

Bad guys just keep winning

and I fear as we rush into this new world of everything being connected we are making ourselves more vulnerable to catastrophic failure.

An eye opening video I’d encourage you to watch is:

A vision of crimes in the future

Don’t believe security will be ab issue in our technological future? Then tell me why cryptolocker is still running rampant through businesses today? How it this possible with all the security, anti-virus and protection software in place? In most cases the cryptolocker delivery mechanism goes straight through all of these and entices the end user to activate. How is that possible? Why haven’t we solved these issues as IT people?

Technology is two headed beast. What works for good can also be used for bad. The more technology we adopt, the more risk we place ourselves in. If you took most people’s mobile phone away from them, they’d be lost and pretty much be unable to function in today’s society. That is not a good state of affairs now is it?

At this point many IT people smile smugly believing they are immune from such a future. My response to that is to ask whether every device they carry outside their business is encrypted? Every mobile device today has the ability to have the information on it encrypted so that if it is every lost the data can not be read by unauthorised parties.

So, is EVERY device you have encrypted? Are you using two factor authentication to protect you identity? Hmmm… are you? If not then you are certainly vulnerable and as we move forward more and more of your precious data will be vulnerable unless you take continuing steps to give security the primary priority it should have when it comes to our digital world. Alas, I fear the opposite is transpiring with more and more people abdicating the security of their digital universe and that unfortunately makes us all more vulnerable every day because we live an increasingly connected world.

These are the major technology trends sweeping our world today, both good and bad. Their adoption continues at unprecedented rates. However, the question remains, what are you doing to take advantage, adapt and to keep up in the face of these changes?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

November Webinar Resources


Only on more webinar before we greet 2017! A big turn out this month and some good questions around the Power BI Office 365 content pack and Teams Sites was had and recorded. I also did a quick overview of the new Microsoft Teams and how to enable it in your Office 365 tenant.

The slides are now available for free download at:

November 2016 Need to Know Webinar

If you are not a CIAOPS patron you want to view or download a full copy of the video from the session you can do so here:


you can also now get access to all webinars via:


for a nominal fee.

I’ll be posting information about the December which at this stage looks like being around the 15th of December. As yet I haven’t settled on a topic, so if you have a suggestion of what you’d like to see a deep dive on when it comes to Office 365 please don’t hesitate to contact me (director@ciaops.com).

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 119

Marc reports back on what happened during his first trip to the MVP Summit in Redmond. You'll learn his experiences with the events, the people and the places as well as an interesting aside on Microsoft grass! You'll also get the latest Office 365 and Azure news so listen for details of our roving reporter in the belly of the beast.

You can listen to this episode directly at:


or subscribe via iTunes at:


The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:


Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.




Automated patching for Azure VMS

Getting started with the new Azure AD Management experience

The Azure portals




Master the art of stage presence with James Whittaker

Azure detailed login auditing

Microsoft Teams

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Consider the following

This is the second part of my presentation “Making money from the cloud”. You can find the full slides at:


and the first part at:

We live in exponential times


One of the major changes that is a reality in today’s world is the fact that millennials have become the dominant component of the workforce. This also means their dominance will continue to increase as will their influence inside organisations as they move into positions of responsibility and power inside all businesses.

The question therefore becomes, what are you doing to cater for this generation? They work in very different ways from previous generations you will soon find out. Don’t believe me? Ok, tell me what happens when you send a millennial an email? You never get a reply is what happens. Why? Because they don’t use emails to communicate. They typically use social media or chat, especially Facebook. They are going to expect the same style of “social” communications tools when they work in a business. They are also going to expect communication channels such as Slack (and Microsoft Teams now) where they can contribute and be heard broadly and publically across the organisation. If the only tool your business communications support is email, don’t expect it to be a place where the best millennial talent wants to work!

Coupled with the change in worker demographic, the vast majority of interactions people have with technology and information is now via mobile devices, typically their phone. Fewer and fewer people are remaining tethered to a network cable, desktop and cubical in the business. You want your sales people out talking with customers. You want your support staff out with customers in the real world. In fact you want your whole business out in the listening to what customers want and they can only do this if they have access to information through their mobile devices.

So how are you enabling your mobile workforce? Are you supporting and encouraging staff to work from the field? Are you enabling them to work when it suits them to provide a better work/life balance? If you aren’t, then there is a good chance you won’t retain them for long. Work is no longer somewhere you go to, it is something you do. Smart businesses reward their staff on what they do, not how they do it.

We are still at the beginning of the mobile revolution. What happens when countries like India, China, Indonesia and like come fully online? When they do, it will be via mobile devices not traditional desktops. How as a business are you going to enable, and also importantly, control this mobility? How are you going to enable ease of access but also ensure your information remains secure? There are no longer any borders to your network. You business information is free to roam outside your walls, wherever your users go. How are you dealing with that?

Mobile technology puts a powerful computing device within everyone’s hands cheaply. Combined with cloud services like Office 365, Azure, AWS and like it also gives them access to computing power beyond the wildest dreams of the largest governments just a few years back. The cost of all this is mere pennies per month. Importantly, it is also available freely to anyone. Anyone can sign up today for a 30 day trial of services like Office 365 and Azure, no matter where they are in the world. Technology has become pervasive, it is everywhere and technology alone is no longer the differentiator. How you actually use technology is the main determination of how successful you are personally and your business is.

Such pervasiveness allows anyone to deliver a product or service just about anywhere in the world. Mobile app stores are available to anyone who has a mobile device 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Successful businesses understand their greatest opportunity if outside their existing markets. As mentioned before, the sheer number of potential consumer is countries like India, China and Indonesia should have any business salivating ate the prospect of selling into such markets. With technology, it is possible today. Right now.

You can never be a success in business if you do what everyone else is doing. If you are simply selling hardware items you are in a race to the bottom with companies who are larger, better funded and more suited to the commodity game. The rules of this game you should be following are – if you can’t win, don’t play!

Here in Australia we have seen the demise of large businesses such as Dick Smith and Master’s who tried to play the commodity game against stronger players and lost everything. Even our biggest retailers, Coles and Woolworths, are struggling and deathly afraid of players like Amazon coming into our market, which they are by the way:

Amazon plans to ‘destroy’ Australia’s retail industry

The only conclusion a rational individual can make is that the commodity business is for ‘mugs’ and you shouldn’t be in it, yet you continue to see so many holding dearly onto it as their sole business model. Right. Good luck with that.

The world is a very different place from what many believe. The evidence is all around us, plain as day, yet many fail to heed the new reality. In the face of just points the mentioned here alone, you should now be looking to go back to the drawing board and chart a new plan for the future. There is massive opportunities for those businesses that embrace these changes because many are still living in denial. Yes, change is hard but it is also a fact of life. Once you embrace it, it won’t control you, you won’t fear it and you’ll see the opportunities were others only see threats.

We live in exponential times. The actions that you take right here and right now are what will determine your personal and business viability in the future. Grasp the opportunity or fade away. The choice is yours.

Friday, November 11, 2016

They shall not grow old

As a student of military history it is easy to gloss over the personal impact that war reeks. Millions of people have willingly and unwillingly sacrificed their lives in the human experience that we call war, which unfortunately continues to this day.

Reflecting on the grandeous ambitions of a war to end all wars (1914 – 1918) it is truly sad to see that what it really brought to the fore were more effective methods of killing more people. Resulting in tremendous waste of human life.

Into this hellfire marched many Australia soldiers to serve for what they believed to be right. We can certainly fault that naivety given the hindsight of history, but we cannot fault their sacrifice and dedication to duty.

It is for this reason, on this date, the 11th day of the 11 month, we pause to remember theirs (and others) commitment and belief to the future which we now enjoy.

We are a product of our past and soldiers like many of those from the First World War gave up their future for something they believed in. Being right or wrong is simply a judgement history makes, however at its core is an individual making a decision that, for many, cost them their lives for just such a belief.

Today we should focus on the those that scarified in a way that many of us will never experience or hope to experience. Our legacy should be to leave the world a better place, to live up to the expectations of those who had their lives tragically cut short.

If nothing else, take a moment and simply remember those that fought and died for causes they held true and hope that you are never put to such a test.

Lest we forget.

For more information on the Australian Battlefields of World War One visit my historical site:


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Enabling Azure AD Domain Services

One of the last remaining pieces of infrastructure that was required to either stay on premises or be virtualised was the Active Directory Domain Controller (DC). That is no longer the case as Microsoft has made its Directory Services as a Service available from Azure.

What that effectively now means is that you no longer need a dedicated box (physical or virtualised) for Active Directory, you can simply consume it as a service directly from Azure.

Given that this is a new Azure service there are some challenges. The main one is that Azure Active Directory Services is only available in the older Service Manager portal, not the newer Resource Manager model where everything should really be created these days. Azure Active Directory Services will be coming to the Resource Manager, however at the moment, we need to deploy it using the older Service Manager.

In preparation, I’ve used Azure AD Connect to synchronise users from an existing on-premises Active Directory to Office 365. This has also created accounts for those users in Azure AD. I’ve then added a paid Azure subscription to my free Office 365 Azure AD to enable all the services required.

Next, I created a Virtual Network in both Service Manager and Resource Manager. I then connected these together using a site to site VPN. The idea is that the Service Manager network will simply be used for Directory Services, while the Resource Manager network will hold all the other services such as member servers and so on.

Now, with the site to site VPN between Azure Service Manager (ASM) and Azure Resource Manager (ARM) in place, I navigate to the ASM portal.


Here I select my Active Directory option and then name of the Active Directory.


I select the Groups option at the top of the page and create a new security group called:

AAD DC Administrators

It is to create a group EXACTLY as it appears above.

Into this new security group add all the users from your AD that you want to be effectively Domain Administrators in Azure AD Domain Services.


Now select the Configure option at the top of the page.


Scroll down the page until you locate the Domain Services area as shown above.

Select the Yes option to enable the service.


You’ll also need to check that the DNS Domain and Virtual Network options are correct. in this case I’ve select the custom domain I have in Office 365 and synchronised from an on-premises AD.

Select Save at the bottom of the page to complete the configuration.


Azure will now hum away for about 35 minutes enabling the service for you.


When the enablement process is complete you should now see two IP addresses at the bottom of the domain services area as shown above.

You should update the virtual network on the ARM network to point to these DNS servers on the ASM network. You can think of it like the Domain Controller for the whole network is now on the ASM network which is reached by the ARM network across the VPN.

So let’s say you now spin up a member server on the ARM network. You add this member server to the domain as you would normally. When you do, you’ll be prompted for credentials to allow this. Here you’ll need to use a member of the security group AAD DC Administrators you created earlier. Apart from that everything is exactly the same as if there was a physical domain controller in the network.


So your next question is probably going to be about to manage this ‘DC as a service’? Easy. Simply add the AD management tools to any member server and as you can see from the above, the domain appears exactly like it would if there as an on-premises server on the network. If you go in and look a the domain controllers on the network you’ll two, as see above. They have a random GUID and obvious correlate to the two IP addresses provided by the Directory Service during configuration.

If you then elect to say, remove the on-premises domain controller you’ll have all your users and a fully functioning domain in Azure. You’ll have your AD now as service rather than requiring dedicated equipment, which is far more flexible as easier to manage. You’ll be able to manage your users, group policy and the like just as you could on premises, but now totally in the cloud.

At the moment there is some extra configuration because of the necessity of an ASM network for Directory Services but in time everything will move to ARM which will make it even easier to have your domain controllers as a service!

For more information on Azure AD Domain Services visit:


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Answering common questions with Office 365 Part 4

This is the fourth article in a series of typical customers questions around Office 365. These questions were part of presentation I did with two other resellers at the Australian Microsoft Partner Conference in 2016. You’ll find the other parts of the series here:

Answering common questions with Office 365 Part 1

Answering common questions with Office 365 Part 2

Answering common questions with Office 365 Part 3

The question for this article is:

My team isn't in one location and staying in touch is a challenge. Email is not the answer as we already get too much of that as it is. How can I allow my team members to stay in touch in real time and be connected better so we can respond to customers faster?

There are obviously many potential solutions here that Office 365 can provide, however the biggest question is around mobility and real time communications.

This means that the solutions that makes the most sense are ones that are available on all platforms, both desktop and phone. Now the question also doesn’t speak to ‘collaboration’ per se, it simply talks about ‘staying in touch’. So to narrow our choices somewhat, let’s focus on Office 365 services that can typically replace the bulk of email communications inside a business.

The most likely candidate to replace many email conversations is Skype for Business. This will allow employees to conduct things such as text chats, one on one phone conversations as well as group video meetings if required. It cam even be connected to normal phone lines.

What is Skype for Business?

Skype for Business has a desktop app as well apps for all mobile platforms. You can also attend Skype for Business meetings with nothing more than a modern browser.

Download Skype for Business across all your devices

All Skype for Business chat conversations are automatically recorded within each users inbox for later reference and is also interfaced directly to each users Outlook so they can schedule meetings with others directly from their personal calendar. When they don’t have access to their Outlook calendar they can use the Outlook Web Scheduler to create meetings for anyone, inside or outside the business, to attend. Skype for Business meetings can also be recorded and output from those recordings could be uploaded to Office 365 Video for internal use or YouTube if for public consumption.

Now Skype for Business is probably more about immediate communications, much like using a phone. It is however going to eliminate many of those annoying emails that require only a simple response. For communications that you want to be more persistent, in that people can revisit topics at their leisure, you probably want to consider something like Yammer.

Yammer is an enterprise social network that allows people to post information and others to comment on it. Information appears in user’s feeds as part of their membership of different groups within the Yammer network.

The Business of Yammer

Yammer allows the posting of text discussions, images, links, videos and so on. It also supports standard social networking features such as ‘@’ mentions and ‘hashtags’ to allow people to easily focus on relevant information. Yammer also allows you to create internal or external groups, typically focused on a single topic. These groups can be have their access restricted to only designated members (for example management).

Getting Started with Yammer

There are Yammer apps on all platforms and on a desktop you simply access Yammer via a browser. When a user looks at their Yammer they will see all messages directed to them as well as other relevant messages they have not have directly participated in as yet.

The real bonus about Yammer information is that it is easily searchable using the search box in the top left hand corner of the browser page. This makes it quick and easy to locate information.

By making information that was once siloed public in Yammer it makes it easier for people to not only find the information they need but also share with others. Why email when you can Yammer?

The final option to look at here is the new Microsoft Teams, which can be thought of as basically a combination of the features of Skype for Business and Yammer with SharePoint also thrown into the mix. With Teams, messages are persistent like they are in Yammer but it is extremely easy to jump into a direct video conference using Skype for Business from Teams.

Teams also has apps on all devices, including a dedicated version for Windows 10 now!

Teams is more a collaboration solution than a pure communications service. However, most collaboration challenges require communications, so Teams is probably the right place to start if you are looking at sharing and working on files and documents, even down the track.

The great thing about Office 365 is these are only a few of the services that you can use to help make your employees more connected and productive in real time. The other great thing is that many of the services detailed here are integrated through the rest of the Office 365 suite. For example, in SharePoint Online, you can see who last modified a file and quickly launch a Skype for Business conversation with them as you can see directly whether they are online.

Working out what the right tool or tools are for organisation is probably something you’ll discover over time and with experience. However, services like Skype for Business and Yammer are a great place to start when it comes to easing the burden of email overload on staff.

Watch out for the answers to more common questions with Office 365 coming soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

We live in exponential times

This is the first section of my presentation “Making money from the cloud”. You can find the full slides at:



The pace of technological change today is unprecedented. However, most fail to fully appreciate how fast indeed the world is changing around them. This means most don’t really understand the world in which they live.

We all get set in our ways and become comfortable with the familiar because we don’t like change, however the more we fail to embrace change the more obsolete we become. Success today is achieved by those willing to challenge themselves with the ‘uncomfortable’ for which the payoff is knowledge.

A thought provoking video on this topic is The Fourth Industrial Revolution created by the World Economic Forum. 

One of the key points made by the video is the following:

“Almost anyone will be able to invent new products and services cheaply and quickly”

The impact of that is going to be immense, in every industry. However, it is going to have the greatest impact on those who are locked into the status quo and the belief that they are immune from competition.


Most people and businesses today believe they reside in a linear world, in that if you do X, Y happens. Alternatively, if you wait X then the result will only have progressed Y ahead.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. We live in exponential times where a change X results in YN difference, with N constantly increasing. Thus, the further you get along the horizontal axis X, the great the change in Y becomes, trending to vertical.

Thus, the longer you wait in an exponential world, the steeper the curve. The more energy you need to expend to simply keep up. However, the biggest challenge is simply the fact that many still have linear expectations and face an ever growing expectations gaps between where they believe they are and where the reality is.

A great quote which I think sums this up well comes from the former CEO of GE, Jack Welch:

“If the rate of change on the outside exceed the rate of change on the inside, the end is near”

The first challenge is therefore to accept that we live in exponentially changing times. The second challenge is then to actually adapt to that and do something to deal with this. One of the most common excuses hear today is that ‘things are moving so fast, we just can’t keep up’. Yup, welcome to the exponential world. Now show me what you are doing about it? Simply whining about the challenges doesn’t make them go away and every minute you waste doing this, the further things progress. Thus, execution is what matters here.

The greater you allow the gap between belief and reality to become, the greater the risk becomes when change is forced upon you. The longer you wait, the large you allow that gap to become, the more violent the change will be to the point that the chances of survival are minimal. In short, the bigger the gap, the greater the chance of an extinction event, a al Mr Welch.

Like most things however, there is an alternate way of looking at this. If you have an open mind set you’ll see nothing but opportunity. You’ll see that thanks to today’s exponential times you’ll need to invest a very small amount of resources to yield significant resources. The scale and speed you achieve with technology now is unprecedented. Tools such as Azure and Office 365 give ANYONE access to the same resources. They provide the ability to automate and scale beyond anything that was previously possible. The trick is that you can only see these opportunities if you have an open mindset!


Evidence of our exponential world is most evident through the technology we use. The above diagram show the rapid exponential decline in storage pricing with the rapid exponential increase in storage capacity (taken from http://www.go-rbcs.com/articles/the-increasing-pace-of-technology-advancement).

I’ll dig into some other major trends that we see happening in our business world today thanks to technology in upcoming articles, but it is important I feel to set the scene here about how we are living in an exponential world whether you like or not. The question is, as you can’t change your environment, how are you managing your response to it?

The rate of change will only continue to increase. The actions that you take right here and right now are what will determine your personal and business viability in the future. Grasp the opportunity or fade away. The choice is yours.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 118

After the usual cloud news wrap up with both of us Marc dives deep into Azure backup with Trinadh who is the Program Manager for Azure IaaS backup. He also ropes in fellow MVP Stephan Budo to learn more about what Azure backup can do and what options are available.

You can listen to this episode directly at:


or subscribe via iTunes at:


The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:


Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.


Marc Kean - @marckean

Stephane Budo - @_TheWorks_

Robert Crane - @directorcia

Dynamics 365 now generally available

Microsoft Flow and PowerApps now generally available

New scheduling experience for Outlook for iOS

Azure Onboarding Guide for IT organizations

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Free Skype for Business webinar

The co-author of our book:

Getting Started with Skype for Business

Greg Plum, is running a free webinar about Skype for Business can save you money by eliminating many services for which you are probably paying extra for that are in fact included natively with Skype for Business.

You’ll find the link to register here:

How Skype for Business Saved Me $2,750 and 120 Hours a Year!

If you are not using Skype for Business and you have Office 365, then you should be! Buy the book and join webinar to learn more!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar–November 2016

The November Need to Know webinar is now open for registrations. This is a free event that I put on once a month where you can come and hear about the latest Office 365 news as well as ask any question you want about Office 365. I’ll also be doing a focus session around building a basic intranet using SharePoint Online.

You can register now via:

November Webinar Registration

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – November 2016
Thursday 17th of November 2016
11am – 12pm Sydney Time

I will of course record the session and make it available via the CIAOPS Academy.

As for content, well, there is still plenty of news and updates flowing from from the recent Microsoft Ignite Conference. For the focus session I’m going to give you a head start and some best practices around creating an intranet using SharePoint Online. You’ll learn how to structure, build and create something that you can use for your business today to be more productive. Best of all, it will be exactly what your business needs since you created it!

There of course will also be open Q and A so make sure you bring your questions for me.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron (for only USD$10 per month) which you can do here:


or purchase them individually at:


Also feel free at any stage to email me directly at director@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session.

Updating your Office 365 profile is now even easier


I’ve written previously about how important I think Delve is to improved productivity:

Delve should be the centre of your Office 365 universe

One of the key components of Delve is the profile area. As part of any Office 365 adoption strategy I get users to fully complete their profile, which is accessed via Delve.


The idea behind this is mainly get the user familiar with using Office 365 and secondly to provide a global address book of details that will surface in various areas but especially in search. Thus, if you do a search for a technical skill, say PowerShell, and someone has that it in their profile it will be displayed in the results as shown above.

It is amazing how easy it becomes to find people and skills once a users profile is completed. The more users there are the more beneficial this becomes. However, even small organisations can benefit, so my recommendation is always to complete user profiles in Delve as the first task when adopting Office 365.


The problem used to be that previously completing profiles was a little cumbersome because doing so actually took you off to a SharePoint page as you see above. This was somewhat confusing for users. However, now that has been updated.


When you now edit your profile from Delve you’ll be able to do so directly on the Delve page as you see above.


It’s now dead easy for users to go in and enter all the details for their profile and they should be encouraged to do so, no matter how large or small the organisation is.


You’ll also see that the contact card in Delve has changed, even showing a users calendar as seen above. You’ll also see these user cards popping up in more and more places in Office 365 such as SharePoint,


when you mouse over a user’s name as shown above.

The more you use Office 365, the more powerful Delve becomes. It is your central window to information in Office 365 and all users should be encouraged strongly to use Delve everyday as the starting point for working with information. Now it is even easier to update your own personal profile in Delve so take a few moments and ensure yours is up to date so people can find you.