Friday, March 31, 2017

The power of uservoice

No software product is perfect. There are always features that can be added. There are always improvements that should be included. The problem has always been, how to make the developers aware of these? From the developers side, the problem has been, ok, we could add this feature but really, how many people will actually use it? Enter Uservoice.

Microsoft uses this system to allow for feedback and suggestions on their products, especially Office 365. You simply do a search for ‘uservoice’ and the product you are interested in, say ‘teams’. Thus, searching for ‘uservoice teams” will take you here:

Here you can view all the suggestions people have made about improving the product. You can also vote on which improvements you’d personally like to see. The more votes a specific feature gets the more resources Microsoft can devote to make it a reality.

Uservoice provides a really great for both users and vendors to understand what features and improvements are the most critical for a product.


Case in point. I recent wrote a post about some of the administration challenges around Microsoft Teams:

Compliance challenges of Microsoft Teams

but what I also did was go onto the Uservoice for Microsoft Teams and log a suggestion as you can see above. I then let others know and asked them to go and vote up this suggestion.

As you can see, that suggestion has been seen and responded to by Microsoft and we will hopefully see the ability to restore a deleted Microsoft Team very shortly. The system works!

Too many times I hear people complaining about products. I then ask them whether they have taken the time to let the supplier know. Most never do. So how’s the product ever going to improve if you don’t take the time to provide feedback? Thanks to Uservoice this is now really, really simple way to provide feedback for all Office 365 products.

I’d therefore encourage you to take a look at Uservoice for Office 365 products (just search for the Uservoice for each product) and vote up suggestions you’d like to see as well as make you own suggestions. You can help make a better product by providing feedback and as you can see, Microsoft is listening.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 146

We try some different things in this podcast. Firstly, our normal news segment we do from a local cafe. This means you'll get the full experience of outside dining plus all the latest Office 365 and Azure news. Our content piece this week is from a live presentation I gave to a number of resellers on how different the world is today from what many believe.

Take a listen and let us know what you think -

You can listen to this episode directly at:

or on Soundcloud here:

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.




Azure news from Marc

Microsoft Teams now available in Education

Compliance challenges of Microsoft Teams

New Office 365 MVA course

Web SSO Portal Evernote set up tutorial

Office 365 video now supports Kiosk plans as view only

How SMB resellers can transform their business

Azure Logic Apps

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don’t say “can’t” when you mean “won’t”


When I present the Office 365 opportunity to IT resellers I typically show them the above slide which provides an overview of the major Office 365 suites and services that they contain.

I them ask them what is the most typical Office 365 suite they sell and is sold in overall in SMB. The answers is generally always Office 365 Business Premium. I then ask why that is? The response is that it is the cheapest way to get hosted email and the latest version of Office applications on the desktop.

I then suggest that instead of Business Premium they should be focused on only presenting the top of the range suite, E5, to all their customers as the starting point of any discussions about Office 365. It is at this point that I am greeted with the complete range of negative responses, from incredulity to outright hostility. At least I have you attention eh?

When pushed, most resellers retort that their customers “would never” pay for E5 over Business Premium. The reason sighted for that is purely based on price. My response is that ANYTIME you get push back from customers in regards to the price of a product, including Office 365 E5, it is because the seller has failed. They have failed to show the customer the value the E5 suite holds.

You then typically hear how resellers “know” their customers will never pay the extra for the E5 suite. Are you sure about that or just making assumptions based on your own prejudices? People will only ask for what they know, if they don’t know there is something better they won’t for it will they now? They haven’t been educated in what the full range of Office 365 plans offers so how will they “know” to ask for things like unlimited inboxes, unlimited personal file storage, legal hold, information rights management, customer lockbox, etc., etc.?. It’s not the customer’s job to know the product range and details, that’s the role the reseller should play.

So, the reason customers aren’t asking for the E5 suite is probably because they don’t even know that it exists or what it includes. Again, the responsibility falls to the reseller not to “guess” what the customer wants but to “show” them the what’s available and how different options may suit their needs. Showing them may in fact open their minds to opportunities in their business. It may show them how to solves a challenge or concern in their business today. But how the hell will they ever see that if it isn’t shown to them? They are being deprived of choice because a reseller “thinks” they understand what their customers want.

However, on the other hand, being able to demonstrate the benefits of the E5 plans means the reseller has to actually invest the time and firstly learn what the plan includes and then how those options help solve business needs. “Oh, I can’t do that”, is the typical response, “I don’t have enough time to dig into that” or “I don’t know where the information for that would be” or a variety of other lame excuses.

It comes down to saying “can’t” when you really mean “won’t”. It means you “won’t” tell customers about the value Office 365 E5 provides because you don’t know it yourself. It means that you “won’t” because you aren’t prepared to invest the time to learn about the benefits the E5 provides. It means you “won’t” try doing something different. It means you “won’t” focus on value rather than price. It means you “won’t” help give your customers the best solutions for their business. It means you “won’t” because you don’t want to invest the proposal process.

What do resellers have to lose by focusing on E5 and presenting this to customers? If you learn about E5 you learn the full suite of Office 365 services because every other suite is simply a subset of this one. E5 provides over twice the number of services that Business Premium provides. That means additional services you can enable, configure and bill for as a reseller.

Another benefit of focusing on E5 for customers is that if you have your business value proposals down and the majority of customers agree with you and go E5, but that one customer doesn’t. It might be an indication that that customer is focused more on price than on value. That means they are always going to be beating you down on the price of everything. Do you really want those sort of customers or the ones who see the value and are excited for you to enable everything E5 provides for them? I know what I’d be doing if faced with that decision.

Finally, by focusing on the right hand side of the above list of suites, you have a first fall back from E5 being E3 which still provides a HUGE amount of value and opportunity for customers and resellers. Why start trying to sell from the cheapest option? Pushing uphill than down is much harder in my experience. A much better approach is to educate customers on the full features set and help them understand the value. If you only show them the cheapest option, you are doing them a complete disservice as their technology provides and should hang your head in shame.

Everything I hear the phrase “I can’t sell anything but Office 365 Business Premium” I know that it typically really means “I won’t sell anything but Office 365 Business Premium because I have a closed mind set”. If you open your mind, invest in some deliberate learning around what the full suite Office 365 provides and develop business value scenarios, then have the courage to step outside your normal “won’t” mentality,  you may be surprised to find out what customers actually will buy!

If you focus solely on price, then that is how people see you as well. But if you focus on value ,you’ll graduate to a completely different level where price isn’t part of the equation.

Monday, March 20, 2017

More free training from CIAOPS



I’ve just added four more lessons to my free cloud training at:

CIAOPS Cloud Lecture Series

In there you’ll now find over 25 individual lessons on not only technical topics like Office 365 and Azure but you’ll also find information about building a successful cloud business. I cover a lots of the techniques I use and what you should also be using if you are a IT reseller focused on the Microsoft Cloud.

These are recorded sessions I have conducted live and now posted up for anyone to take advantage of. The ones that I have just added include:

- Office 365 adoption tool

- Selling Office 365 Azure options

- Marketing approaches

- How to demo Office 365

All the lesson materials can be downloaded for you to view at your own leisure without the need of an Internet connection.

Stay tuned for more free lessons soon.

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 145

Just news this week, no guest. We'll bring you up to date with the latest happenings from the Microsoft Cloud around Azure and Office 365.

Don't forget to send us your feedback at

You can listen to this episode directly at:

or on Soundcloud here:

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.




Azure bootcamps

Script to download Australian Ignite sessions

Azure news from Marc

Success with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams rolls out worldwide

Get started with Azure machine learning

The modern way of collaborating using Microsoft Teams

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The traits of a “modern” IT Professional


I recent wrote a piece on

The modern way of collaborating with Microsoft Teams

which highlighted the change from traditional work with IT systems to the very different ‘modern’ world we see today. It is a world where the user controls the provisioning and access to information is no longer a linear affair. The article also highlighted a number of challenges for IT Pros and Admin when it came to working in this modern world. I thought that I'd take a moment and talk about the major changes that IT Pros and Admins need to make themselves to also successfully transition into this modern world as well.

Firstly, this modern world is all about software as I have talked about before here:

Software will eat the world

This means the focus for anyone, whether they are in IT or not, should be software. For traditional IT Pros,. this means a transition to the world of technologies such as PowerShell to manage and maintain systems. Software provides the ability to automate repetitive tasks and create consistent repeatable processes that just about anyone can run. However, IT Pros should not just stop when it comes to PowerShell, they should also be looking at services like Microsoft Flow and PowerApps to automate and connect data sources to make users lives easier. In short, you now need to know how to assemble software not hardware to solve business problems.

Another factor about living in the world of software is “trusting the algorithm”. Services like Delve and Yammer have underlying intelligence to surface what a user needs to see based on their activity. There is nothing to configure with these underlying services, software just makes it so. Understanding this process and being comfortable with it is a must as there is now far too much information, from too many sources, for a single individual to be able to process it all. Social networking algorithms prioritize what unique information is presented to users without the need for any configuration. IT Pros will need to get comfortable with services in which they can not adjust every feature and setting but they still need to understand how they operate at a high level. 

IT Pros must adapt to working in parallel, on different projects, consuming information from different sources not just traditional emails and other linear sources such as file shares. Yes, there is way too much information to be across everything all the time. This is why you need to be far more selective and only consume sources that provide you with the premier information you need. In many cases, apart from algorithms, these sources will be individuals within your social network who are staying abreast of the changes you also need to follow and distilling the abstract into the practical. Thus, follow the people rather than the information and let them lead to where the best information lies. You need to leverage the power of social across many sources and be pro-active in seeking out information rather than just waiting for it to hit your inbox.

You also need to get comfortable with the fact that users information is going to reside in many different inconsistent locations. This will include the traditional places like emails and network shares but today it will also mean in various SharePoint Teams Sites, OneDrive for Business, Yammer, Teams, Groups and more. Users can put information in a variety of places for a variety of reasons. Thanks to Office 365, this will all fall under a single compliance umbrella making management easier. It no longer means files are on a single network share where they once used to be tightly controlled by IT Pros. There is no longer a need to macro manage each individual information repository. IT Pros have to be comfortable with the user being responsible and desiring that now. IT Pros need to manage the next level up, the Site Collection in SharePoint, the complete Service like Yammer, etc. and Office 365 overall.

One of the reasons users implemented Shadow IT is because IT Pros where too rigid and restrictive in the way they managed and allocated technology resources. In the end, these resources are for users to get their work done. If users hit a road block they simply find a tool on the web and work around the impediment. IT Pros have to get back to serving their users, enabling the tools that they need and giving them guidance on how and why the services should be used. They need to change their role to being an enabler of technology. As I have said before, IT Pros need to

Stop making their users feel stupid

, understand and accept how users want to get their jobs done today.

Being an enabler means keeping things simple and adding value. This means an IT Pro can no longer simply 'resell' a product by merely adding margin and passing it along. That is simply being an overhead. The requirement is to move from being a 'reseller' to a 'consultant' who helps users get their work better thereby making the overall business more profitable.

Many users are yet to fully comprehend the features and benefits of all the services like Office 365 and Azure. It is therefore important for IT Pros to help the users enable the systems as they become more comfortable and educated on how they can help them perform their jobs. This means understanding the technology that users have access to and what is available as add ons. If you believe the end of the opportunity with a customer is email migrations to Office 365, then you are missing out on the huge revenue opportunity of implementing services that comes with products like CRM, Project Online, Intune and Microsoft Mobility and Security that extend the base functionality of Office 365.

All of these above things are important to help IT Pros make the transition into the modern era of support, however by far, the most important in my mind is the discipline of deliberate practice.

"The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity" - Josh Waitzkin

Many IT Pros have failed to keep their IT knowledge current, to the point where most users know far more about the systems they use than resellers. This is because that IT Pros have not carved themselves out regular time to study, learn, update  and use the latest in technology. It isn't hard to do, but the secret is to make it a deliberate practice, not something that you say you'll get around to and never actually do! Remember, doing random things only leads to random results.

I am amazed at how many resellers for example don’t use a tool like OneNote! I live in my OneNote every day and in there is all my training resources. It lists the things I've done as well the things I have scheduled myself to learn. The great thing about using OneNote is that it will sync information across all your devices seamlessly so you can keep learning anywhere. Most important, however, is that since you know how to use OneNote yourself you can then sell that expertise to customers to help solve their business challenges. Here a good example of what I implement initially for customers to get the using OneNote for themselves:

One of the ways I use OneNote

You can’t sell the stuff unless you use the stuff.

Thanks to the Internet there is a wealth of free information available to IT Pros to learn at their leisure. Places such as Microsoft Virtual Academy, recorded Ignite sessions on YouTube, Technet libraries are all available for free, just to mention a few. There is simply no excuse when it comes to availing yourself of the information and developing your knowledge. Every Microsoft partner receives a bounty of free resources from Microsoft. Most get access to all the products they are selling to their customers for free, such as Office 365. How many actually take full advantage of that?  Not just the basics but the full suite of services Office 365 provides?

There is also the opportunity to interact with product specialists directly via social media and the Microsoft Tech Community to mention just two, that doesn't even cover other online communities such as LinkedIn, Experts Exchange and more. Relevant information is now delivered freely by social means in parallel from a variety of sources.

There are lots of changes IT Pros need to make to remain relevant in the modern world but these are the most important I believe. In summary they are:

  • Embrace software
  • Embrace adhoc and parallel access methods
  • Become more user focused
  • Practice and learn deliberately

There has never been more opportunity and need for skilled IT Pros into today’s technology environment. Doing things the same way and expecting different results simply doesn't make sense. So do today what others won’t so tomorrow you can do what others can't. That is your key to future success in this industry.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Compliance challenges of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a fantastic service and users absolutely love it, as I mentioned in a previous article:

The modern way of collaboration using Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams requires a different approach to not only using the service but also managing it. In this article I’ll cover off some challenges Microsoft Teams currently brings to IT administrators.


So let’s start with who can actually use Microsoft Teams at the moment. As you can see from the above table found in the Office 365 Service descriptions, Microsoft Teams is currently unavailable to Office 365 Business, Education and Kiosk licenses. So it is available to most but not all.

When you create a Microsoft Team it also creates an Office 365 Security group for you:


Permissions to different services are provided via this security group. It is also important to note that this group and the Microsoft Team by association also gets a public email address assigned to it. This means people outside the business can potentially email directly into the tenant without the IT Admin’s knowledge.

This could be a problem if a malicious user created a private Microsoft Team for themselves called ‘accounts’ say. That would potentially given them an email address They could then start using that email account for nefarious things without the IT admin or the business being any the wiser.


If I have a Microsoft Team (here NSA) I also get a new SharePoint Site Collection for that Team.


That looks like:


The important thing to pay attention to here is the URL for the Microsoft Team Site Collection which in this case is:

Let’s now pop into the SharePoint Admin center to do some administration on this new Site Collection.


So what Site Collection is missing from my list above? Yup, that’s right, the one that was created by the Microsoft Team (here NSA). So, Site Collections created by Microsoft Teams don’t appear in the standard SharePoint Admin area.

But what about using PowerShell to work with the Site Collection created by Microsoft Teams?


As the above screen shot shows, I can see the Site Collection URL via PowerShell.

(You might also observe here that I have a lot of sites with random two digit numbers at the end. These are test sites that were created when I was testing Microsoft Teams functionality. These are no longer linked to a Microsoft Team but they still exist! More on this in upcoming articles.)



I can also manage the Site Collection created by Microsoft Teams using PowerShell as shown above.

Luckily, as you can see we can at least get to this new Site Collection created by Microsoft Teams using PowerShell. Hooray for PowerShell!

So now what happens if you delete a Team? Remember, that firstly the user that creates a Team is considered the Admin and thus has the power to delete the Team maliciously or by accident.

This is very important question so I checked with Microsoft directly and this is what I received after logging a support ticket in my tenant.

Per an offline research and the testing, it is learnt that if a Team is accidentally deleted, all channels, chats, files and the associated Office 365 group for this Team will be deleted and cannot be recovered at the moment. For a channel, if it is accidentally deleted, all conversations for this channel will be deleted and this cannot be undone, however, files for this channel are still accessed from ‘Open in SharePoint’ for this Team.

We sincerely apologize that the feature of recovering a Team or a channel is not available at the moment. As the Microsoft Teams is still in the preview and many features still need development, could you please submit a feedback to our Office 365 product team by this link ( to help them improve this function? You opinion will be much appreciated.

Delete a Team:


Delete a channel:


Access files of the deleted channel by clicking this Team and click ‘Open in SharePoint’ :



Ok, if you are an IT admin responsible for managing the things Microsoft Teams creates then you are going to need to backup the Site Collection information and the Team mailbox using conventional tools that are readily available if required. However, it seems there really isn’t a current way to back up things like Planner plans, chats, channels, etc. Hopefully, we will see this option soon for Microsoft Teams.

The recovery of an Office 365 Group (which is the product Teams is built on) is on the roadmap:

and if you want to vote up this as a priority visit:

Another thing to consider is that when it comes to Teams, out of the box, there are only two levels of permissions, Admins and Members.


However, when you take a look at the Team Site Collection that the Microsoft Team created you’ll find everyone as a Member of the Microsoft Team Site Collection as shown above (they are part of the team name security group created when the Microsoft Team was created). However, you’ll also see that Everyone except external users is also a member. This occurs when you create a ‘public’ Microsoft Team. So this means, that even if people aren’t members of the Microsoft Team they still get access to the Site Collection created by a ‘public’ Microsoft Team.


For Microsoft Teams created as ‘private’ you see that only people in that Microsoft Team are made members of the new Microsoft Team Site Collection.

Using a ‘public’ Microsoft Team could be problem if you wanted to create an area that was designed to be restricted to say just the Executive level to discuss something confidential. A non-Team member who can work out the URL of the Site Collection could navigate there and have access (again, provided the Microsoft Team was created as ‘public’).


Remember, Members get Edit permissions by default. Edit permissions include the ability to DELETE!

Now of course you can go in and adjust the permissions for the Team created Site Collection but to really make it secure and give different people different levels of access someone is going to have to go in and do that manually. If you simply accept and don’t change the default for a ‘public’ Microsoft Team then all tenant users have access and the ability to read and change information in any Microsoft Team created as ‘public’!


What about this scenario? A user creates a new Microsoft Team and invites others in as members. There however only remains a single admin of the Microsoft Team, being the initial user. Now let’s say that some time elapses and that original user leaves the organisation. Their login is removed as part of the standard process. So now we have a Microsoft Team with no admin? How can we manage that Microsoft Team when everyone is only a member as you can see above?

Considered what happens if you create two Microsoft Teams in the same tenant with the same name?


It allows you and then creates two separate Site Collections:



One has the URL /sites/marketing the second has a URL /sites/marketing20/ i.e. it appends a random two digit number of the end of the URL.

Not unexpected behaviour but certainly means an IT Admin has to be diligent to what happens when two Microsoft Teams are created with the same name (which is easily done). Some places they look the same,others they don’t.

Another thing to watch is the fact that Microsoft Teams can take a little while to provision all its components. Give it time to complete all the tasks it needs to around creating Site Collections, Planner, etc.

The bottom line here for IT Admin is that you need to understand what Microsoft Team actually does, what and how it provisions services. Chances are that IT Admins will need to go in immediately after the creation of a Microsoft Team and ensure it is configured the appropriate way for the organisation. IT Admin is needed now more than ever!

Given this is still early days for Microsoft Teams it is expected that the challenges here will be addressed in very near future as the product continues to evolve. The message here is that even though the power of provisioning is now in the hands of users, IT Admins are required more than ever to ensure such systems remain compliant. However, this means IT Admin have to invest the time to learn about new products like Microsoft Teams so they are ready with the answers and solutions no doubt users will bring them.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The modern way of collaboration using Microsoft Teams

Helping users understand how Microsoft Teams fit into the current collaboration environment and when it should be used over things like Yammer and SharePoint is important. The following is my framework to help people understand how they should be thinking about collaborating.


I believe there are three ‘universes’ when it comes to collaboration today – Old, Modern and New.


The ‘Old’ universe is a place where files are locked away in file server shares accessed via mapped drives or on local C: drives or even saved on external USB devices. It is however also still a place full of paper. People still find the quickest and easiest way to capture information is to write it down because little else is available.

In the ‘Old’ universe, collaboration is typically done via email. Find the file you want to share, attach to an email and blast it out to others. When that attachment returns, it may or may not end up in the original location. Typically it doesn’t, which means you end up with multiple copies of the same file strewn across many locations. Apart from emails the major way people stay in touch is using the phone. Of course a majority of the time you have no idea whether the person at the other end is busy, unavailable or away so you leave a voice mail. Then, of course, when the call is returned you are away so the game of phone tag commences.

In the ‘Old’ universe applications live in silos and require users to switch between them. If you want to share information between such applications you have to do this manually. Typically, your calendar is separate from your emails and contacts.

Finally, in the ‘Old’ universe you are expected to work from your cubicle at the office using a machine that is tethered via a blue patch lead to a jack on the wall. The only way that you can actually work is being in the office at your desk, there is no remote access and no ability to access data outside the four walls of the office.


Unsurprisingly, users found working in the ‘Old’ universe very constraining. They then went to the traditional gatekeeper (IT) and asked for tools that allowed them to get their work done better, faster and in a manner that was more convenient to them. The response to this from IT was always ‘NO’. IT said that it was always too difficult, too insecure and too much trouble to actually provide these sort of abilities.

When presented with such roadblocks users simply moved around them and implemented what they needed using freely available tools on the Internet which they could easily download and install. This gave rise to ‘ShadowIT’ where users simple implemented what they needed independent of their IT overseers.

ShadowIT’ of course raises all sorts of issues around compliance and access to data. This however was of no concern to users who found the tools available from the Internet exactly what they needed, so they simply kept using them and then adding more and more.

This means that soon much of the corporate data and intelligence was on consumer grade system like Dropbox and Slack over which the business had no control, insight or management.  


Smart organisations then started shifting their IT resources to the ‘New’ universe of cloud based services like Office 365 because they could provide the tools users wanted to do their jobs but also give IT admins back the control they needed.


The great things that Office 365 also did was it provisioned many services together. Thus, when you enabled email you got a connected calendar that you could easily share with others. You also got a public (Team Sites) and a private (OneDrive for Business) area in which you could save and share your files. Also importantly, you could access all of this on your mobile device or anywhere you had Internet access.


Office 365 also provided tools like Yammer for social, Skype for Business for communications and great new tools like Power BI and Planner.

However, the challenge remained that many of these services were still a challenge to provision and integrate seamlessly together. Yes, you can share files from Team Sites in Yammer but users remained puzzled as to how to do this easily because IT was still not providing them with the training and enablement they required. IT was still trying to retain control of this ‘New’ universe while struggling themselves to understand how it should all be managed.


Users became frustrated again because the tools they needed were now available but still not easily provisioned. They also still had to go to IT to get things configured and that was just slowing everything now in their eyes.

Enter Microsoft Teams, which heralded the ‘Modern’ universe. Here users simply had to give their team a name and everything they required was automatically provisioned.


When users created a Microsoft Team they got things like an email distribution list, a shared calendar, a dedicated place to store files (Team Site), a place to chat, a place for tasks (Planner) and so on. They also got the ability to access all of this inside a dedicated app on every platform overcoming the need to keep swapping between applications. Now everything they needed was presented in a single common consistent interface.

And of course they flocked to this ‘Modern’ universe leaving the others behind.


So, when you take a step back and look at the transition that has occurred between these universes you can see how the balance of control has shifted from the IT Admin to the user. Now users can provision everything they need themselves. They get all the resources they need immediately. No longer do they have to wait for IT to provision things.

The users are now in control of technology.


The move to a ‘Modern’ universe has also meant the move away from structured data in files and folders. It has moved away from the structure of common Team Sites, Document Libraries, Subsites and the like. Microsoft Teams provisions things like Teams Sites but only surfaces a simplified interface for users. Users don’t care whether things like files are in this Team Site or that Team Site. As long as they can see their files they have no interest in understanding the structure it lives in. Also, if they can’t find what they are looking for they don’t trawl through the structure, they search. That’s the modern way, you search for for what you want.

Data is no longer structured as it once was. Search provides the ability to find stuff making the structure it lives in largely irrelevant.


Finally, the ‘Modern’ world moves us from a linear world of working through our inboxes top to bottom and through mapped drives, folders and sub folders to a world of being part of multiple teams, multiple chats, multiple channels, multiple document locations all at once. This universe requires being across a lot more information and switching between it faster. This is what today’s tools provide and this is the way users want to operate.

After presenting this to customers I ask them which universe they want to live. Nearly every one wants to live in the ‘Modern’ universe. Why? Because this the way their staff are ALREADY working. They also appreciate that this is the universe we are heading towards, so why not jump on board now rather than continue to live in the ‘Old’ universe and fight what users want?

Once customers have made the choice to live in the ‘Modern’ universe there is a need to develop a plan to actually get them there. There are also still reasons to have some of your stuff in the ‘New’ universe (typically global information). However, most of the specific information moves into Microsoft Teams.

Apart from the challenge of migration to and adoption of the ‘Modern’ universe there is also the challenge of compliance. How is stuff backed up? What happens if it is deleted either maliciously or on accident? How are permissions handled? All very important things that need to be addressed and I’ll do that in upcoming articles. Moving to a ‘Modern’ universe doesn’t make many of the fundamentals of IT disappear it just changes them. That change means that both users and administrators of the systems need to also change if they want to stay current.

As they say in IT, the only thing certain about the industry is change and if you don’t embrace change you’ll be left behind. Microsoft Teams is a further change that users are embracing wholeheartedly, because it is the way they want to work. However, traditional IT Pros are falling behind, trying to resist the inevitable. It’s time for them to embrace these changes, learn the ‘Modern’ way and provide the same service they have always provided their users not try and hold them back.

Microsoft Teams means a universal shift for everyone. It’s already here so get on board!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March Webinar Resources

This month’s webinar has wrapped up. You can download the slides from:

March 2017 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 think the key slide to help explain the new world Microsoft Teams brings us is shown above. Basically, Microsoft Teams brings a significant shift in the way collaboration is conducted inside an organisation as well as who is in control of that environment. Users are demanding the tools that Microsoft Teams provides and have working with them using Shadow IT. Microsoft Teams provides the latest collaboration features easily provisioned without the need for an IT Administrator.

These changes are great for users but bring challenges for IT Admins. If you want to hear more details about these and what Microsoft Teams can provide your business have a listen to to the webinar recording.

Thanks to all who attended and asked all those great questions. See you next month.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Needs to Know Podcast–Episode 144

Marc and I shoot the breeze with Andrey Korenkov Cloud Specialist from Rhipe Solutions, about the Microsoft CSP program. Andrey answers many common questions we hear from resellers as well as come curly ones that we also come up with in regards to CSP for both Office 365 and Azure. There is also plenty of news from Marc and I, especially about the recent release of Microsoft Teams into the wild. Listen in, stay up to date and be informed on the latest for the Microsoft Cloud.

Don't forget to send us your feedback at

You can listen to this episode directly at:

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Azure news from Marc

New Office 365 profile experience

Microsoft Teams becomes generally available

New features of Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

Dire warning for those who drive cars for a living

Azure bootcamps

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Microsoft Teams has arrived


After a period in preview, Microsoft Teams has now hit the app launcher in Office 365 as you can see above. This means that most users now have the ability to not only see this new tile but also to select it and start creating Microsoft Teams within their tenants.

I have been working with many organisations recently, introducing them to Microsoft Teams while it was in preview. They are all very excited by the opportunities it presents to improve collaboration. Microsoft Teams is a further example of the shift away from IT being the enabler to users being able to automatically provision the resources they need.

When you create a Microsoft Team you not only get a SharePoint Team Site you get a shared calendar, Planner, email distribution list, chat and more. All of this happens behind the scenes once you name you Microsoft Team. All of this happens WITHOUT the need of an IT administrator.

At the back end the resources a Microsoft Team provisioned are build on services like SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, etc but Teams allows them all to be automatically be provisioned and accessed by users from a single dedicated app on the desktop, browser or on a mobile device. This allows users to get everything they need and more quickly and easily.

If you are an IT admin of an Office 365 tenant and you don’t know what Microsoft Teams is then you better get up to speed pretty darn quick as it doesn’t users to locate these new features and start enabling them. The role of IT shift from being an installer to helping users get the most from all the components that Microsoft Teams provides.

I’ll be doing a Microsoft Teams deep dive session at my upcoming webinar:

CIAOPS Need to Know webinar – March 2017

If you are reading this after the fact then you’ll find a recording of the session at:

CIAOPS Academy

I’ll be writing more about the shift Microsoft Teams is creating in the work place very soon so stay tuned for more.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The rule of three


I’m a big believer in systems and doing things for a reason (because doing random things only generates random results, which ain’t good). I also like to keep things as simple as possible.

With that in mind I’d like to tell you about my ‘Rule of Three’. You may have already seen this in action in a previous blog post about designing an initial SharePoint structure for migration:

A basic SharePoint Online Framework

So where did this rule of three come from? Well, in my experience when it comes to change most people can’t handle more than three changes. In essence, they can’t juggle more than three new concepts or changes at a time in their mind.

Let’s view that in light of a migration to Office 365 from a traditional on premises file server. The first change is moving to Office 365 itself, the second change is around the fact that files are now accessed via a browser in SharePoint rather than via Windows Explorer and a mapped drive. The final change is around the structure inside a SharePoint site (i.e. where the hell are my files actually?).

Thus, most people can accommodate three changes but that is their limit. If you add a fourth then this is where the illogical occurs. At the point of mental overload (i.e. four or more changes) not only is the user unable to cope with this last change but they also abandon all the previous changes they had already accepted. That is, at the point of overload they throw their hands up in the air and say ‘this is all too hard’ and throw in the towel, abandoning all change. Like a house of cards, overload a user and their whole adoption acceptance collapses and you have to start again, but typically you are now starting with a bigger mess and face more resistance.

Thus, pushing people to the point of failure results in catastrophic failure of adoption, where they no longer accept any change. That is bad news when it comes to adoption and thus should be avoided at all costs. In many cases, after the point of overload and collapse the user becomes much more resistant to any thing that you propose that is different from what they already know.

So, when you are making changes in people’s lives, especially when it comes to how they use technology in their job, remember my rule of three and don’t overload them. Also keep in mind this article I wrote a while back:

Stop making your users feel stupid

because making them feel stupid is the fastest way to tip them into catastrophic failure and create a rod for your own back.

Keep it simple to start with but don’t give them any more than three things to juggle at a time. As they become comfortable with one thing add another but limit the balls they have in air to no more than three. A lot of small changes in rapid succession are much more likely to succeed than massive jumps.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A great tip to remember

Here’s a great a lesson about accepting work from one of the people I follow, photographer Chase Jarvis.

In essence the lesson is that you’ll never take a $500 dollar client to being a $50,000 client. Why? Because when they have the $50,000 budget they’ll go to the person they could get for $500.

If you also decide to take the $500 offered where you normally charge say $5,000 you are immediately devaluing yourself and your services which is basically a road to ruin.

Again, great short video with plenty of lessons for all. Well worth your time.

You’ll find my thoughts on these topic as it applies to cloud business along with technical information on Office 365 and Azure in my free online training course:


CIAOPS Academy – Cloud Lecture Series

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Azure Introduction presentation


Here is the presentation deck that I use when talking to people about Azure. It is designed to provide a simple overview and includes plenty of additional resources.

You can download the presentation from:

If you want to actually see the presentation in action then sign up for this free CIAOPS Academy online course:

There are also lots of additional ‘goodies’ in that course and I’m adding content there regularly.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Office 365 Introduction presentation

Here is the presentation deck that I use when talking to people about Office 365. It is designed to provide a simple overview and includes plenty of additional resources.

You can download the presentation from:

If you want to actually see the presentation in action then sign up for this free CIAOPS Academy online course:

There are also lots of additional ‘goodies’ in that course and I’m adding content there regularly.

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 143

Marc and I have a chat about the latest developments in the Microsoft Cloud. There is plenty of both Office 365 and Azure news to cover this week so listen in for all the latest updates.

Don't forget to send us your feedback at

You can listen to this episode directly at:

or on Soundcloud here:

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.




Azure news from Marc

New Office 365 Health Dashboard available

New Yammer integration with Groups rolling out

Visio for Office 365 now available

Domain joining servers to Azure AD

Random content for SharePoint

This episode is brought to you by:



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Adding value


I recently purchased a stand up desk from Varidesk because sitting is the new smoking don’t you rknow. However, this post is about the little extra item that I discovered inside.

After opening up the Varidesk I discovered these nifty Velcro ties, very handy indeed.

It is a great example of something small that provides value add for the customer. What are the ways that you are adding value for your customers? As these cables ties show, it doesn’t have to be expensive it just needs to be thoughtful.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Office 365 adoption spreadsheet

One of the challenges with Office 365 is that it needs to be seen as a platform rather than a single product.

Unsurprisingly, the most common service implemented in Office 365 is email. This is mostly because people don’t know what else their suite contains.

It is therefore important, for many reasons, that IT reseller enable every service in Office 365 that customers have access to do. At ther very least, they should be ensuring customer know about everything that is available to them. Unfortunately, I don’t see that being done well. The main reason for that is simply most resellers don’t have a system to help drive adoption. Hopefully, my spreadsheet above, that you can download and use for yourself, might help a bit.

What I have done is created a new tab for each Office 365 service. So for example, there is an E5 tab that lists all the customers in order and then has columns for each of the items in that service. For example in E5 there is Meeting Broadcast, Cloud PBX, Delve Analytics, Power BI Pro, Customer Lockbox and so on. Then there is a tab for Email, Delve, Yammer, Team Sites, etc.

The idea is that for each service you go in and enter a usage number as a percentage. This represents how much of that feature the client knows about and is using. Where do the actual percentage figures come from? In the spreadsheet I have created they are entered manually, however there is nothing stopping you getting them from the Office 365 utilisation stats in the Admin Console or even the Power BI Office 365 adoption content pack. I’d suggest that the idea is to keep things as simple as possible to start with and improve it from there.

Now that there are figures for all the individual items, these are then rolled up into a Summary tab at the front of the spreadsheet. I have also used conditional formatting to highlight those which are below an acceptable level. This allows you, at a glance, to see where you need to placing your energy to lift usage within your customer base.

By converting the lists of items to a table I can now sort by any column I choose. Thus, if I sort the Total column from top to bottom I can see my best and worst users over all. I can repeat that process for any column as well to see which users have the overall worst take up of something like Yammer say.

I can therefore look at the spreadsheet by row, i.e. per customer, to identify what services any individual business is not using. However, I can also look at the results by column, i.e. by service. That would allow me to focus say on Yammer and target the lowest adoption, then move to the next lowest adoption. I could look across all my columns and run a campaign to target the lowest service usage.

Even though the spreadsheet is pretty basic, the concept is rather powerful I reckon. It allows to more easily target those customers with low adoption of Office 365 products. It also allows a IT resellers to start setting goals like – ‘Our aim for this month is to get average Yammer user above 50% for all our customers’. It provides sales and business development types an easy way to target the biggest opportunities in their customer base. And so on, and so on. There are lots of ways that you can use the information that this spreadsheet provides.

Of course, you can take my concept and extend it any way you desire. You can of course simplify it to start out. Use it anyway you want to help your business drive more Office 365 adoption. The important thing is that it gives you a system that you can work to, automate, outsource, delegate, etc. Systems are for winners, so take what I have done, modify it for yourself and go out there and win!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Selling Office 365 Azure options

One thing that many IT resellers don’t appreciate is that when you get Office 365 you also get Azure. You don’t get the “full” Azure that allows you to run things like VMs (that requires a paid subscription), but you get a version with a limited subset of features. These included features that typically relate to Azure AD.

You enable the included Office 365 Azure AD by following these steps:

Enabling your Office 365 Azure AD access

Once you do that you can then use features like:

- Tenant branding

- Single Sign On web portal

- Cloud password reset

- etc

So there are a swag of features in Office 365 Azure that most resellers don’t know exist and are also not generating revenue from.

The above spreadsheet provides a framework to help IT resellers create a product offering around some of these features.

The spreadsheet has a number of tabs:

- Summary = summary of generated revenue

- Setup = costing for the initial setup of these advanced Office 365 Azure features

- Maintenance = costs for the ongoing maintenance of these features

- Extend = costs for extending these features beyond the standard provided

So let’s work through an example to give you a better idea of how to use this framework.

Start on the Setup tab. Start in cell C3 which is the fixed costs for Branding an Office 365 tenant. The figure you’d enter in here is you cost to do the branding. Let’s say that it costs about $100 worth of labour. Thus, we enter 100 here.

Cell D3 is the cost per user of enabling this service. Because branding is tenant wide there is no per user set up so there is probably nothing that can be entered here.

Cell E3 is other incidental costs for setting up the service. In the case of branding that may mean things like graphic design, etc. In this example, let’s enter 20.

Cell F3 is where you enter the total number of users in the tenant. For this example enter 15.

The Total column should now calculate to $120 which is the total cost of you enabling this service for the customer. Cell H3 converts that total cost to a per user cost.

Now in cell J3 you enter the margin (as a percentage) you want to add on top of your costs. Here enter 25.

The Total Sell column should now show $150 and cell L3 shows this sell price as a per user cost.

So that’s the product for setting up tenant branding. You can now move to the Maintenance tab and repeat the process to determine a maintenance product for branding. In this case there is probably not a maintenance product you can create for tenant branding since it is kinda a one shot deal. Likewise, there is probably not a product you can create about extending tenant branding beyond what is provided out of the box.

Therefore, let’s move to the second item – SSO portal.

You repeat the same costing and sell process in the Setup tab. There will however this time be a per user set up cost as each user needs their own unique portal. With that line completed on the Setup tab you now have another product.

Moving to the Maintain tab for SSO Portal you can create an ongoing product because updates will be required to the portal, so enter the costs, add some margin and determine the sell price. There’s your next product.

The SSO Portal can be extended with the addition of an Azure AD Premium license to add more features, thus we can again repeat the process for on the Extend tab for the SSO Portal. Part of the costs here will be the costs of an add on license for Azure AD Premium for each user. When complete, there’s another product.

If you now complete the rest of the spreadsheet you should have quite a few products you can now sell to customers individually or bundle up and include elsewhere. Easy eh?

Here’s you challenge. Use this framework and go out to your existing customer base with the products you have created here and sell at least $1,000 of new “products” you didn’t have before you read this post. You should be able to easily accomplish that within a week without too much effort. Start now and let me know how you go and how much more than $1,000 you actually make!