Thursday, June 29, 2017

Turning off Teams cloud storage connectivity

I wrote an article recently about how Microsoft

Teams adds cloud storage connectivity

and I noted in there that the ability to connect Microsoft Teams to things like Dropbox and Google Drive was enabled by default, as it typically is.

Of course, there may be the need to disable this ability, which can be done. Let me show you how.


You’ll need to login to the Office 365 portal as an administrator with the rights to make the changes. You’ll then need to navigate to the Admin center as shown above.


In the search box on the right hand side of the page, type “service” and from the menu that appears select Service & add-ins settings.


Scroll down the page and select Microsoft Teams from the list.


Locate and select the option Custom Cloud Storage Options and expand it as shown above.

You can now unselect one or all of the storage services here.

After you have made your choice ensure you scroll to the bottom of the page and select the Save button to update your preferences.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Need to Know podcast–Episode 156

In this episode we talk to Tas Gray about the tools and processes he has developed to allow resellers to automate Office 365 billing. We discuss the solutions, how to set it up as well as the benefits of billing automation via CSP licensing.

Marc and I also give you the latest cloud news on Azure and Office 365 to help you stay up to date in this fast paced environment. Don’t forget to rate us and let us know your feedback.

Take a listen and let us know what you think -

You can listen to this episode directly at:

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.





Office 365 WHMCS


Azure news from Marc

Microsoft Build Australia

Amazon now a big Azure customer

Amazon vs WalMart

Microsoft Forms now available

Microsoft Stream

Microsoft Teams and Dropbox

New Azure VPN gateways

Storage service encryption for Azure managed disks

Increased Azure disk size

This episode brought to you by:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Teams adds cloud storage connectivity


if you go into the files area of any Microsoft Teams channel you’ll now see an option to Add cloud storage.


You can then add a connection to one of the services shown above.


In this case, I added a connection to Dropbox where my podcast recordings are located.

This means that you can now easily access your third party cloud storage locations directly from within Teams and you can effectively put a link to the location of your files directly into the appropriate location within a Microsoft Teams channel.


Even better than that, you can now easily go to the cloud storage location you have added and copy or move a file, all within the Microsoft Teams interface.


You can then copy the file to another location, not necessarily within the added cloud storage. What immediately sprang to my mind was the ability to copy/move from the added cloud storage directly into the Microsoft Teams files area.


This therefore makes it not only dead easy to migrate files from other cloud storage locations into Microsoft Teams but also dead easy to move them directly into a SharePoint Teams Site.



Thus, Microsoft Teams now has added an integrated ability to migrate files from other cloud storage services to Microsoft Teams. This is going to be very handy because I see a lot of customers who are already using something like Dropbox but want to move to Microsoft Teams. This new ability allows them to link the appropriate location quickly and easily within a channel and start using those files in their current location. Then over time, they can start migrating them to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Teams Sites without additional assistance.


Once the location is linked it will also appear in the Files area of your Microsoft Teams interface as shown above.

I can see Microsoft Teams becoming more and more a central hub of not only Office 365 information but also cloud information. I also like how it is making it easier for people to get started using Office 365 by removing a lot of the complexity and allowing them just to get things done!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June webinar resources

We’ve now crossed the Rubicon of 12 months of CIAOPS Need to Know webinars with the June episode. You can now download the slides from:

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:

I covered as much as I could on Rights Management and had some issues with buttons on the screen when sending emails but I hope that didn’t detract too much from the information presented. But, as always, there is so much more I could have done, so if you have questions let me know. Thanks everyone for attending

you can also now get access to all webinars via:

for a nominal fee.

See you next month.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

When to use Internet Explorer with SharePoint Online

Although there are fewer people using Internet Explorer these days, there is still a reason to use it when it comes to SharePoint Online in Office 365.


That is because when you do you get one additional option you don’t get elsewhere – View in File Explorer as you see above. This option is only available (at the moment) when you browse to a Document Library in SharePoint Online using Internet Explorer.

Viewing in File Explorer effectively maps a location from your Windows file manager on your desktop directly to that Document Library in SharePoint Online. This comes in real handy if you need to bulk copy and move files from one location to another as it makes the Document Library just like any other folder on your computer.

I cover all the basics in the above video, so take a look and let me know what you think, and remember, for the time being at least, Internet Explorer still has its uses when it comes to SharePoint Online!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Need to Know podcast–Episode 155

We'll apologise up front for the poor sound quality on this episode. The stars didn't quite align for us. We'll work to fix it for the next episode. In this episode we focus on bringing you up to date with the latest Cloud news from Microsoft. Plenty for events and updates to services like Azure and Office 365 that we cover for you. So tune in to stay up to date.

Take a listen and let us know what you think -

You can listen to this episode directly at:

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

Upcoming Microsoft Ignite session

Skype for Business PSTN calling in Germany and Belgium

New sharing experience for Onedrive for Business and SharePoint

Office 365 Saturday Australia

Azure AD conditional access now supports Microsoft Teams

System state backup for Azure file backup

Modern Flow Approvals

New Windows phone flow app

OneDrive support for Apple files app

This episode brought to you by:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lean in to the changes NOW!

I came across this video from Brad Anderson’s lunch break. In it he speaks with tech journalist Paul Thurrott. Now I am a big fan of Paul’s dry wit but also the volume of content that he produces in the Microsoft space. However, what interested me most about this interview is what you’ll find at 3 minutes and 20 seconds in. Either fast forward the above clip or click this link to go straight to that location:

The advice Paul gives the IT Pro crowd is effectively that the reality is this industry is all about change and you need to keep up.

This resonated with a lot of current thinking I’ve been doing around the changes products like Microsoft Teams bring to the game. You can read about how I think products like Microsoft Teams are fundamentally changing the way people work with IT here:

The modern way of collaboration using Microsoft Teams

What concerns me is that I see customers almost immediately ‘get’ Microsoft Teams, whereas IT Pros don’t. Microsoft Teams is simply a combination of existing services from Office 365 which I outlined here:

Understanding Office 365 Groups and Teams

I find that most IT Pros either don’t know what Microsoft Teams is or they dismiss it as being merely a Slack competitor. I can only surmise that this attitude is actually rooted in the fact that most don’t have the expertise or knowledge of the base Office 365 services that Microsoft Teams in built on, such as SharePoint.

As harsh as it sounds, I firmly believe that Microsoft Teams will become in the line in the sand for those who ‘get it’ and those who don’t in the IT Pro world. This effectively means that if you don’t at least know what products like Microsoft Teams are all about then your chances of staying relevant in the new world of IT are slim.

The concept of staying current is something I’ve talked a lot about here, including:

Skill up or fade away

Why IT today is like coffee

but the article I think that crystalises it best is:

The traits of a “modern” IT professional

One of the key points in that article is a need to develop a long term learning process. But how can that be done in a world where it is so challenging to keep up? Agreed. 100%. But you know what? That challenge is never going to get easier. That challenge is always going to require work. That challenge can only be solved by implementing a system to deal with it. Simply ignoring it or complaining about it and taking no action doesn’t make it magically disappear!

I have also spoken about the

Major trends

that many haven’t also yet acknowledged. Traditional IT Pros need to be especially cognisant of the changes automation and AI are going to bring not only to business in general but also to the IT field.

My advice for some great places to start learning the Microsoft Cloud stuff for free is YouTube and the Microsoft Virtual Academy. However, I’d also point you to the recorded sessions from Microsoft Ignite 2016 as well the sessions from Microsoft Build 2017. If you wanted something with a more Australian accent try the sessions from the recent Microsoft Australia Ignite conference. All of these are available for free.

Ok, yes, I hear you. That is a lot of content. Probably more content than anyone can get through in a single lifetime. Your are looking at this with a close mind set. The fact that there is so much free content is great! The challenge is integrating that into your own learning path. That is something you alone are going to have to do. No one is going to do it for you for free unfortunately. Where do you start?

Instead of looking at the mountain of content (the destination) just look at one thing you’d like to learn (i.e. the steps). Focus on the first step. Then the second and so on. You need to take an approach that isn’t attempting to ‘boil the ocean’ here. I’ve spoken about this here:

Don’t run away, filter for value

A great method of learning that I’d advocate is to scratch your own itch by solving your own business needs with the technology. That is in fact how I initial got into Azure and I detailed that experience here:

I finally get Microsoft Azure

and here using Microsoft Flow:

Using Microsoft Flow for event confirmations

Most IT Pros have access to services like Azure and Office 365 by virtue of being Microsoft Partners. At worse, you can at least sign up for free trials. Try starting with learning about virtual machines in Azure or maybe Power BI, but don’t do it randomly. Have a system.

A great system I can recommend is to use something like OneNote to capture all your learnings. I’ve detailed here:

One of the ways I use OneNote

It doesn’t however HAVE to be OneNote, use whatever system works for you. But use a system!

Another way is to learn is to commit to a completing a certification exam. Microsoft here in Australia runs regular training courses that incorporate certifications:

Microsoft certification – The joy I get out of coming work each day

Value of certification and training to help get you there

Having a definitive end point to aim for, as well a defined limited learning scope, can be challenging but it does help you focus on the task at hand as well as giving some valuable credentials upon completion.

So in summary, as Paul says in the interview – “This industry is always about change. You cannot sit still”. Change is always challenging but if haven’t already, you don’t have a lot of time in my books, to make that change. I personally believe the knowledge gap is getting to a point where it is simply too great to overcome for many. Once that transpires, there won’t be much option, you’ll have missed the boat.

As an aside, I will also point to plenty of “stuff” I do to help educate people on the Microsoft Cloud. These offerings are available as both free and paid options. However, the two free options I have that I’ll call out for you here are:

Cloud Lecture Series


Free Office 365 demos

I’m also happy to help answer any questions you have or provide any advice I can (beware it will be candid and direct). However, please remember that I can’t give everything away for free, I still gotta pay the bills!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Understanding Office 365 Groups and Teams

A while ago I wrote an article that detailed:

Where to put data in Office 365

and in typical fashion, technology has now moved on. This means that I need to revisit the concept of where you should be putting inside Office 365.

We of course now need to remember that we have new locations like Microsoft Teams and Staffhub, as well as improved locations like Office 365 Groups to house our business data. So let my try and broadly explain the the data locations that are currently available to you in Office 365.


Let’s start by considering the two major types of data we have to deal with in today’s businesses. As the above slide shows, we can typically categorise data it shared and personal. Personal data is typically created and owned by a single user in the business. Personal data is also only shared between a handful of people at most. By contrast, shared data is data that is not owned by any single individual and typically needs to be seen across a wide wide audience.

You also typically tend to find that shared data is a much greater percentage of the overall amount of data as illustrated by the size of the bars above. From here on in, we’ll consider shared data locations being green and private data locations being blue. We will also consider shared data locations to be on the left while personal data locations will be on the right.


Office 365 provides us a location into which we can store all business data, whether shared or personal. It is the box into which everything will live, both shared and personal.


We store business data inside a number of serviceswithin Office 365. These include Exchange for emails, SharePoint for files, Planner for tasks, Yammer for social conversations and Skype for meetings.

You’ll notice that the majority of these services are designed for the storage of shared data, however both Exchange and SharePoint have the ability to store both shared and personal data. Thus, they appear twice in the above slide as locations in which we can store data.


Into the personal data location for Exchange we place a users individual mailbox. This is designed for them to receive emails from outside the organisation and also typically from individuals inside the business. A personal mailbox is not a good location for generic email addresses like accounts@ or info@. It is designed for personal correspondence to and from an individual.

Likewise, SharePoint provides the OneDrive for Business location designed for a user’s personal files. These files are owned by the user and typically shared with a very small number of people. OneDrive for Business is NOT designed as a file server replacement, it is designed as repository for an individual users to store files they typically have on their desktop, on their local hard disk, or on an external USB drive or a home directory on a network.

Thus, Office 365, thanks to both Exchange and SharePoint, provide each and every licensed user a distinct location in which to save their own own personal information. Because that information is still within the Office 365 environment it remain secure and compliant as well as being easy to manage for the business owners.


Now Exchange and SharePoint also provide locations to save shared data into. Exchange provides this via shared mailboxes. Best practice is for shared mailboxes to be things like info@, sales@, etc that may need to be shared between a number of people and will also persist beyond any individual currently performing that task.

Likewise, SharePoint provides Team Sites as a location to save information into that all people in the business can access. You can of course provide custom security around all shared Office 365 services as needed.

However now in this space of shared data in Office 365, you get additional locations to store your information. Services like Planner allow the organisation of tasks and schedules across a team. Yammer allows the business to get out of email and work in an enterprise social network. Not only does that reduce email overload for users but because information is shared publically, it makes it more searchable and shareable. Finally, Skype for Business allows people in the business to meet virtually. They can chat, conduct meetings, share desktops, whiteboards, files and more.

Each one of these shared locations can be used stand alone if desired. Thus, you can have a Team Site to fill a single need. Likewise, you can use Skype as a way of chatting to people. As I have written about before:

The modern way of collaboration

To get a job done these days, people need more than stand alone tools. They need all the power of the individual services that Office 365 provides but they need them rolled together in a single place that is easy to work with.


Enter Office 365 Groups. If you combine a SharePoint Team Site, an Exchange shared mailbox, a Planner plan and a Yammer network you get an Office 365 Group. However, an Office 365 Group also provides you with an additional service, called ‘Connectors’, that allows you to bring information from services outside your business (i.e. Facebook, Twitter and more) directly into the Office 365 Group.

You can create as many Office 365 Groups as you need and when you do each one will get its own dedicated SharePoint Team Site, Exchange shared mailbox, Planner plan and Yammer network. You can also still have each service stand alone, like a stand alone Team Site, but each Office 365 Group you create automatically provisions all the individual services inside it and links them together.

Why might you still need a stand alone service like a Team Site?  Maybe you just want a single location to put all your brochures for people to sent to customers. That function might not need email or plans or chat, so you simply provision a stand alone Team Site to perform that function. However, when the people who create those brochures need to actually collaborate, then an Office 365 Group makes sense and you can mix and match as needed.

Again, it is totally up to you how and when you use these services. You may choose to only use stand alone services and no Groups. Likewise, you may choose to only use Groups. The choice if yours. That’s the flexibility Office 365 provides


If we now take an Office 365 group and add a Rostering service we get Staffhub. So when you create a new Staffhub for your business to manage rostering and employee times you also get a dedicated SharePoint Team Site, Exchange mailbox, Planner plan, and Yammer network. Do you have to use them all? Of course not, but they are provisioned automatically for you when you create a Staffhub because chances are that you will find use for the services.

Imagine you need to create a roster for your business. You will also probably need to share documents with your staff about their duties. That’s where the SharePoint Team Site fits in. There also probably be the need for staff to chat about their work. That’s where Yammer comes in. Hopefully, you get the idea here is that when you create a Staffhub or Office 365 Group Microsoft automatically gives you a range of stand alone services integrated together because the chances are you’ll find a need for them. It’s bundling at its best!

Again, you don’t need to use them all immediately, but they are there from the start, ready for your to use, whenever you need.


Finally, if we ingrate Skype for Business and add persistent chat to our Staffhub resources (that were a superset of Office 365 Group resources) we get a Microsoft Team.

As with Staffhub, when you create a new Microsoft Team you get everything Staffhub provided plus additional integrated services. If all you want to use is persistent chat then you can use that but again, chances are you are going to need more options down the track so they are automatically provisioned for you.

Everything in Office 365 is built on core services like Exchange for email, SharePoint for files and Skype for Business for communications. You can use each of these services stand alone or you can combine them together in an Office 365 Group, a Staffhub or Microsoft Team.

Of course, there is more planning involved than what I have laid out here when it comes to collaboration but I hope that I’ve made things a bit clearer and shown you all the options Office 365 provides you for storing your information. The trend today is certainly to provisioning something like a Microsoft Team first to give you everything you want immediately, even if you don’t use it all. However, the choice is yours. Go with a single service or go with them all. Do what makes the most sense for your business today and don’t too much about what will happen down the track as you can easily scale up into all the options that Office 365 provides, because typically, you’ll find that what you want is already provisioned thanks to Office 365 Groups, Staffhub and Microsoft Teams.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Exclaimer cloud signatures for Office 365 review

Full disclosure – this is a sponsored post. I was asked to take a look at Exclaimer cloud signatures for Office 365 and write an article based on my thoughts and experiences.

As I have mentioned many times here, one of the most common things I see with traditional IT resellers is that they focus on just doing email migrations to the cloud. The ability to generate on going profits with that business model is simply no longer sustainable for so many reasons.

As I continue to advocate, IT resellers should be looking to add value to what they provide. One of the ways they can add value to email is to provide company wide email signatures.

Exclaimer has one such product called Exclaimer cloud signatures for Office 365 which I’m going to take a look at here. The place to start with the is product is to sign up for a 14 day free trial.


After you have set up an account you’ll need to configure Exclaimer for your tenant. To do this Exclaimer will need admin rights to your tenant to set up a number of Exchange connectors.


Once you provide permissions, you’ll see a number of PowerShell commands running in a window as your tenant is configured. After a few moments you’ll receive notification that everything is complete and now you’ll need to sync you data.

Because Exclaimer cloud is a system based outside your tenant it will need to collect information about your domains and users so it can allow you to manage signatures.


This initial sync may take a little while depending on the amount of information (users and domains) that you have inside your tenant.


Once that is complete you can then choose from a number of templated signatures to get the ball rolling.

Wanting to get this all up and running asap I selected a template and then tried to send an email out so I could see what the result was. Problem was I got a bounce. Hmmm… I waited a little while and tried again. Bounce yet again. Ok, I must be missing something here.


Luckily, I checked the inbox of the account that I had signed up for Exclaimer with and found a handy email telling me that I needed to update my SPF record to include the Exclaimer domain.

Ok, now here’s the problem. I was just using the default domain. How do I modify the SPF record in that case?

After a bit of mucking around I couldn’t find a way that you can modify the SPF record for the default domain (which makes sense when you think about). PowerShell to the rescue, as I added a custom domain using a script I have created for just such purposes.

Thinking all would be good, I again sent an email and again, frustratingly, it bounced yet again. What they heck?? I thought.


After some nashing of teeth I found an Exclaimer KB article that contained the answer. It was obvious really. I needed to re-sync my tenant to the Exclaimer cloud so all the new details would be available to Exclaimer cloud.

Seems to be that this sync process only occurs once a day which strikes me as being a bit slow. I also couldn’t see where you could the sync to run at a certain time, so at least you’d know when the process does run. It would also be nice to be able to configure the sync to run say 3 – 4 times a day, at specific times, rather than just once. The reason I say this is because in small business, when you add a new user you want their details updated asap and once a day seems like a long time.

Of course, you can go in and run the sync manually at any time as I did, but it would be nice if this sync options was a little more configurable.

So now I go back and send again. Bounce. Oh damm, forget to add the extra entry to the SPF record for Exclaimer as detailed in that email for the custom domain I just added to the tenant. At least now that is easy to add. I quickly added the appropriate information and re-synced just to be safe.


Viola, the email goes through and is received! Yeah.

I like how Exclaimer embeds the graphics into the email so you don’t have to select whether the images can be downloaded after the fact. Nothing annoys me more than receiving an email from someone who has a massive graphic for a signature that is blocked until I elect to download it. Painful.


So I fiddle some more with Exclaimer cloud and work out how to upload images for users and them embed them into signatures like so:


The ability to embed head shots is a request I see quite a bit too and Exclaimer makes it dead simple. You just upload the images for each user to the Exclaimer cloud and then add that field in the global signature.


So now what I want to do is add all the additional fields to the signature for phone and fax so it balances up the image I just added. This is easily done using the signature editor. You just drag and drop the fields you require to the signature, save and you are good to go. Or so I thought.

Ok, why aren’t the new details showing up in the signature? Thinking, thinking… Ah yes. Need to do that pesky sync again to ensure the information is matched in the Exclaimer cloud.


Once the sync is complete I see:


Yeah. Really, pretty easy. You just need to remember to force the sync when you make changes.


You can also have multiple signatures across your organisation.


As well as apply these to different people (based on group membership). You can also have a signature apply within a certain date range as well which is pretty cool, as it is nice to change signatures up now and again to see whether people are paying attention to what it says down there.

Now, what does Exclaimer cloud actually do in the back end to your Office 365 tenant?


As you can see from the above screen shot it creates two Exchange connectors.


You can see that these basically establish a connection to an Exclaimer mail sever.


It also creates a transport rule that it makes it the highest priority.


It uses that rule to identify messages to send to the Exclaimer cloud as shown above. You can see that this rule uses the connector that was established.


So, what’s the cost for all this? As you can see from the above screen shot, for a typical small business of around 25 users, you’ll be paying A$48.50 per month. Obviously, the more licenses you have the cheaper per license it becomes. That’s pretty good value for a centrally managed and maintained email signature system I’d suggest.

There is a partner program that you can sign up for if you are an IT reseller. If you want more details that what you find on the web site contact Exclaimer to discuss. It would be nice if the program included one single partner console to manage all of you customers signatures but I’m sure whether that is available. As I said, speak with Exclaimer directly for more details of exactly what you receive with the partner program.

Add ons like Exclaimer provide an excellent opportunity for resellers to solve real pain points for customers. The Exclaimer cloud products provides a single location to manage all corporate signatures to ensure they are consistent across the organisation. This is a big pain point for many businesses today.

My feedback on the Exclaimer cloud system is that I find the interface a little dated now and I’d like more flexibility and regularity when it comes to syncing, but these are minor gripes for a product that does its job very well. Once it is all configured correctly, creating and managing signatures is quick and easy. Having the whole system hosted in the cloud means it can be updated anywhere. That’s were IT resellers can add value by perform that tasks for their customers in an ongoing manner (who said you can’t do managed services in the cloud?).

My advice would be to ensure you have everything set up in your Office 365 tenant first, i.e. the domain, the users and their properties. If you don’t, you’ll need to manually re-run the sync to ensure Exclaimer cloud has all the updated details. The other thing to note is that you’ll need to make changes to the default SPF DNS record for the domain. If you can’t change that, then your emails will bounce as I discovered.

The revenue opportunities around pure email migrations are declining rapidly. A reseller should be looking at where they can add value for their customers and Exclaimer cloud signatures for Office 365 provides just such an opportunity.

If you want to learn more about the technology behind Exclaimer, listen to our interview with Brad Shepard, Senior Product Specialist, from Exclaimer all about their product.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Bye bye


Received the above from Microsoft today. Unfortunately, is going away. Damm and blast, I really liked and I put a lot of stuff up there over the years. However, I understand that Microsoft wants to consolidate entities and having less means you can focus on making the alternate better.

The other good thing is that Microsoft has provided a really option to migrate everything across to my OneDrive for Business, including all the statistics, which I was impressed with. I have completed and when you do use the migration Microsoft provides you account becomes read only, which means you can’t upload of change anything any more.

So, fear not, I have copies of the documents that were in and now it looks like I need to re-activate my Slideshare account and move everything up there.

Stay tuned for details for details of when I have moved the material across. Until then you can still access my but you won’t see any more information go there. It will now all be at:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ask what others can’t do


The shift from traditional on premises to technologies like cloud has created significant disruption in the market. Such disruption extends through the entire chain and also includes IT resellers who have traditionally made their revenue by selling physical devices like servers.

The move to the cloud has meant that many IT resellers are receiving significantly less revenue and thus need to look elsewhere to generate additional income. Most turned to email migrations as way to keep the dollars flowing. Unfortunately, that opportunity quickly became commoditised and in fact also declines as more organisations move to the cloud. Unfortunately for IT resellers, the email migration to the cloud is probably the last email migration they will do for a customer.

So now it is back to square one for IT resellers looking for revenue. Unfortunately, most are looking for additional opportunities in the wrong way I believe. Most now look for something they ‘want’ to do rather than looking for what nobody else can do.

The problem with doing what you ‘want’ to do is that based on your history, associations, experience you are most likely going to choose something your peers are also going to ‘want’ to do. Why? Because they are just like you and thus make similar choices. That simply lands us back in a world like the traditional box moving or email migrations, with many people are doing the same thing. The result? A commodity market where it is hard to make a decent profit.

Instead, I would suggest, you need to look out at the market and find what others are not doing or don’t want to do and fill that void. Profitability, in the SMB space, really doesn’t come from doing what everyone else does. It comes from being a specialist, from being a unique provider that remains largely unchallenged in the market.

Chances are that if you do something no one else can do you’ll need to improve your skills and incorporate new knowledge but the ROI you’ll receive doing that will be significantly higher. It simply supply and demand economics. You can charge more if there are less suppliers in the market.

So get known for something else that no else is known for. Be the go to person for that specific technology or technique. Don’t simply travel with the pack and do what everyone else does. That is lazy and the results you receive will be less than stellar for exactly that reason. Success doesn’t arrive or appear, it is earned. It is on the other side of hard work, persistence and discipline. The good thing is that success is definitely on the other side of those attributes and the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll arrive there.

So remember, to ensure future profitability and relevance, don’t ask what you ‘want’ to do, find what nobody else can do and then go do exactly that. That is your guarantee of success, mark my words.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book me for a free Office 365 demo

If you would like me to give you or your customers a free remote 45 minute demonstration of the power of Office 365 then please use the following URL to make an appointment:


Once booked I’ll provide you with a Skype for Business meeting link you can use to view my screen. You’ll need to ensure you sound and microphone are working beforehand to get the most from the demonstration. You also won’t need to have Skype for Business on your desktop, you can connect just using a browser.

You’re probably asking why would I do this for free and without obligation? Obviously, I’m keen to spruik my knowledge and services but more than that, I want to understand the questions people have about Office 365. I want to understand what solutions they need so I can improve my offerings and knowledge of the product. Finally, I also want to see Office 365 demo’ed correctly. I want to ensure that people know ALL the features that are available rather than just one or two.

So, if you are looking to understand what Office 365 has to offer please book me for a free and non obligation remote demo using the URL:

This offer is not limited to just Australian businesses and customers. I’m happy to present in any time zone provided you can live with accent!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

CIAOPS online course catalogue promotion


Here’s a special offer on the Complete Course Catalogue for my online training academy you can find at:

The Complete Course Catalogue is an annual subscription that gives you access to every course I have created (including courses on Azure, Office 365, Yammer, SharePoint and more) and will create. Thus, if you sign up today you get access to the 25+ courses I have already created PLUS you’ll also get access to all the new courses I have in the works for 2017-18.

So the deal, until July 1 and for a strictly limited number of takers, is:

- $100 discount off the first year’s subscription (making it US$499)

- a 1 hour remote consulting call with me that you can use for training, business mentoring or the like ($300 value)

- access to the private CIAOPS Facebook tech community to discuss and ask your questions in and share with other members ($120 value), including access to my Office 365 and Azure codexes.

- free Getting Started With Skype for Business eBook ($10 value)

- free Beyond the Basics with SharePoint Online eBook ($10 value)

That’s over $450 in value plus what you’ll get from the online courses that include video lessons, downloadable notes, links and more.

As I said, this offer is strictly limited until the 1st of July 2017 or until sold out, so don’t delay. Sign up today to take advantage of this strictly limited learning opportunity.

To take advantage of this deal use the code EOFY17 at checkout or click this link:

I look forward to seeing you in the CIAOPS Academy and Facebook Tech group.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 154

We again cover off the latest Microsoft Cloud news for you and then we dive into a real world migration scenario. We spend our time discussing the best way to move a legacy server environment like Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) to Azure and Office 365. There isn't a single path along this journey so we need to consider many things. That's why this topic is going to run into a few episodes no doubt, but here's the first one to get you started.

Take a listen and let us know what you think

You can listen to this episode directly at:




CIAOPS SBS to Azure course

Azure news from Marc

New Planner app on iOS

SharePoint and OneDrive updates

New SharePoint Communication sites

Migrate Azure Recovery Vaults

This episode is brought to you by:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar–June 2017


We are half way through 2017 already! Wow, where did the time go? Good news is that the CIAOPS Need to Know webinar is back again with a focus on some little known functionality in Office 365. For June, aside from the usual news and update we are doing to do a deep dive into information rights management (IRM) in Office 365. IRM provides you the ability to protect your document no matter where they are shared on the Internet. It allows you to effectively embed permissions inside your documents. This is a great way to protect your intellectual property and you’ll see how to do this if you attend the webinar.

You can register for free at:

June Webinar Registrations

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – June 2017
Thursday 22nd of June 2017
11am – 12am 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 via with your webinar topic suggestions.

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