In private browsing

I work across many different Office 365 (and Azure) tenants every day. Many times I need to be inside multiple tenants at the same time. How can I do that effectively? I use ‘private’ browsing modes inside each browser to keep login details isolated.

You can think of ‘private’ browsing as an isolated instance of surfing the web. When you start ‘private’ browsing you start with a ‘clean’ environment (no credentials, logins, etc) are remembered. When you close down the sessions everything is forgotten.

Here’s how you start ‘private’ browsing sessions across the major browsers.

Microsoft Edge


Right mouse click on the Microsoft Edge browser icon and select New InPrivate window from the menu that appears.


If you are already using Microsoft Edge, select the three dots in the upper right to display the above menu. Select the New InPrivate window option.

Google Chrome


Right mouse click on the Google Chrome browser icon and select New incognito window from the menu that appears.


If you are already using Google Chrome, select the three dots in the top right to display the menu shown above. From this menu select New incognito window.

Internet Explorer


Right mouse click on the Internet Explorer browser icon and select Start InPrivate browsing from the menu that appears.


if you are already using Internet Explorer, select the Cog icon in the top right, then from the menu that appears select Safety. From the fly out menu that then appears, select InPrivate Browsing.



Right mouse click on the Firefox browser icon and select New private window from the menu that appears.


If you are already using Firefox, select the three lines in the top right to display the menu shown. From the menu that appears, select New Private Window.

Thus, between these four major browsers and their ‘private’ browsing modes, I can work with eight different tenants all at once. Barely enough, I’m telling you. Barely enough.

CIAOPS Need to know Webinar–March 2017

Webinar time again! The free March webinar will features the usual cloud updates and news along with open Q & A but our deep dive will focus on Microsoft Teams. You’ll learn what Teams is, how to enable it, create new Teams and determine the resources that they use. Teams is a fundamental change in the way collaboration works inside a business so make sure you don’t miss this event.

You can register now for free at:

March Webinar Registration

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – March 2017
Thursday 16th of March 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.

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 138

We once again dive straight into our focus on Microsoft Ignite Australia speakers. This time it’s with Hamish Watson Operations Manager from Jade Software in Christchurch New Zealand. His topic is:

​Making DevOps work in the wild..

​You may have heard about DevOps and wondered whether it is just another buzzword and/or what it can do for you and your organization. In this session I will demystify the concepts of DevOps and more importantly show it in action in a real life application deployment pipeline. By using a realistic live demonstration and great technologies such as the Azure platform, Team Foundation Server, SSDT and docker on Windows Server 2016 I will show how DevOps can help you automate deploys reliably and repeatedly to your production applications. You will be able to take what you learned in this session and implement it successfully in your organization.

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.





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The middle age spread

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

and the previous parts are at:

We live in exponential times

Consider the following

Major Trends

Macro Trends

Software will eat the world

The phone is the desktop

Build a tailored service

Focus on adding value


The reality of many IT service businesses today is a model that looks like the above graphic I believe. To my mind, it illustrates that the majority of resources inside an IT services business are spent on managing and maintaining human capital. Now that human capital could be people management (i.e. employees) or it could be knowledge management (i.e. keeping up to date), but is most likely a combination of both. No matter what the components that constitute it, it is by far the largest drain on the business and is something that affects both IT resellers, both large and small.

In this old model, the human capital resource has to be the widest component to cater for all eventualities and is the base on which everything else sits. Most IT providers need people and knowledge to cover the huge variety of products and services they sell and the systems they utilise to support these. Some of these may only be required occasionally but there is too much risk involved in not having them covered. So the base of the structure traditionally needs to be the widest to support those layered on top of it.

This traditional model for revenue growth for IT providers has been to add more products and customers constantly. Adding more product generally also means introducing additional vendors. For example, ‘we hear there is good money in VoIP phone systems, let’s do that’ and off the business goes, charging down the path of adding more products that require additional resources for ill defined or unknown returns. Likewise, many IT providers have traditionally taken on any client they come across because their focus is on revenue rather than profit. If duly examined, many IT resellers would find that probably 20% of their customers are providing 80% or more of the profit in their business, yet the amount of resources dedicated to the most profitable customers is probably quite low. That is simply an indication that the IT reseller has lost business focus and is merely fighting fires. In short, they are letting the business control them.

Much of the diversity of products that resellers have to support comes from the variety of customers they also elect to support. Many customers has little in common with other customers, so each becomes a unique instance to accommodate. This requires unique knowledge and lots of time spent doing things that can’t be applied elsewhere or are worthwhile automating. The greater the variety of customers on board the exponentially worse this all becomes.

With a huge variety of both customers and products to support, you end up having far more resources than you need, ‘just in case’. This means an ever decreasing width as you move towards the top of the structure shown above, because the lower level must be larger than the upper one ‘just in case’. Unfortunately, at the top of this model sits the smallest component of all, profit. That has been eaten away by all the supporting structure underneath. Thus, the business now has the ‘middle age spread’ as I like to call it, far bigger in the bottom than the top. Which is not what you want it to be like if we are honest right?

You’ll also notice that I have included an unnamed mystery box floating over the whole structure. This is something that nearly every IT reseller I know of does not do or even take seriously, yet is one of the most factors in the success of a business. Any ideas on what it could be? Stay tuned.

The question is, what can be done to fix the situation? The next article sill start delving into the solutions in more detail.

Build a tailored service

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

and the previous parts are at:

We live in exponential times

Consider the following

Major Trends

Macro Trends

Software will eat the world

The phone is the desktop


The problem with those delivering IT services, especially in the SMB market, has been the constant growth of offerings. This has been driven by the commoditisation of the IT market in general. The prevailing belief is that to add more to the bottom line you need to offer more services to more people. That is playing a game you can never win. That is playing a game that can never scale for small providers. That is playing a game with the rules set by the largest players. That is playing the game dumb!

You simply cannot be everything to everyone the smaller you are. Trying to be everything to everybody means you end up being nothing to nobody. That is simply a path to mediocrity and ruination. You need to focus on providing tailored products and services.

There are plenty of examples of this in operation today in the business sphere. A great example is business frequent flyer programs. The more you fly the more benefits you get but unless you fly enough, you don’t qualify. Airlines typically generate far more revenue from their business frequent flyers and importantly, they lock them into their own brand. Their programs don’t attempt to qualify for all, they target a specific demographic and reward that handsomely. This is the model smaller IT providers should be aspiring to.

The important thing therefore, in a market that is restricted to a certain set of customers, is what provides value in their mind? If you simply migrate email from on premises to the cloud and do no more, what value have you added? The customer sees no difference at all. They had email before, now they have email again? Why did you charge them so much? Is what is really going through their mind. Why? Because you haven’t added value to the equation, in their minds.

Likewise, if you simply move files and folders data from on premises into something like SharePoint, in exactly the same structure, what real value have you added? Zero! No added value means you are a commodity and the smaller you are the more likely you are to be squeezed out. Also importantly, you have left value on the table that a competitor can take advantage of. You have in fact made it easier for a competitor to gazump you by doing after doing the hard migration work for them and failing to take the high value offerings such as automation, enhanced security, training, consulting, etc..

The key point here is to provide value in the customers mind not your own. That could be something as simple as automating a time consuming process of the customer or providing more flexibility. It doesn’t have to be solving a difficult technical problem. Again, it is important not to confuse value in the customers mind versus your own.

Many would claim that customers want the same thing. If they did, why are we all driving different cars? Why isn’t there a single functional car on the road that everyone has? Why? Because people want different things when it comes to driving experience. Some simple want a functional devices to move them from point A to B. Others want something that is more an experience or a statement of who they believe they are. In today’s market, why do people buy luxury cars like Aston Martin’s, Lamborghini’s, etc? Because they provide value in their minds.

Sure, the number of people actually buying up market sports cars is small, however those marques are targeted at a specific market segment and aim to provide value there. If they didn’t then they wouldn’t still be in business now would they? Recent stats show that most high end luxury goods providers do very well no matter what the economic conditions. Why? Because they know their market and focus on value not price. Here’s the key. No matter what, customers buy on value not price.

Another piece of the puzzle here is that luxury good have an aspirational value don’t they? Few can actually afford that level of luxury but most still aspire to having it right? That is how you need to look at building your products and services in the tailored market space. They need to be inspirational. They need to move to the point where price isn’t even a consideration. They need to move to a ‘must have’.

One of the most common complaints I hear out there from resellers is that their customers complain about the cost of technology. You know what? If any customer ever complains to you about the cost of your goods or services I would contend that it’s your fault! It’s your fault because you’ve failed to have then understand the value of that item. It is you who have failed to take price out of the equation and make the offering something they aspire to, not just pay for. It is your problem to fix, not theirs.

This value concept is so key to success in the smaller space. It is something that requires time and effort to develop and understand, however the benefits reaped are enormous. Success in the smaller business space is define by becoming more specialised, having a deep understanding of that customer demographic and providing value beyond expectation. And that is all doable by a business of any size, yet few actually do it. Why? Because it requires the discipline to actually sit down and make it happen. The discipline to sit down and actually change from the way things are today to a more focused and streamlined business model. In short, in means saying “No” far more than “Yes”.

So, in summary, another key investment businesses need to make to remain competitive in the future, especially when it comes to technology, is to get focused. To tailor specific services to specific customers and solve their specific pain points. The only players who can remain generalists are the largest of the large. Don’t play a game you can’t win. Stay small, stay focused and crush your competition by providing unbelieve value for your customers with outstanding offerings that no one can compete with.

Special access for CIAOPS Patrons

I have created a number of different levels that you can become involved in my CIAOPS community. You sign up using the CIAOPS patron page at:

on which you’ll find the following support levels (per month)

$10 per month – Pledge ten dollars a month and you’ll receive access to my restricted Facebook support group that will answer your questions on Office 365, Azure and other Microsoft cloud technologies. You’ll also get 25% discount off any one of my online courses per month. You’ll get free access to the recording of each monthly recorded support webinar. You’ll also get 50% discount off any one of my existing paid publications.

$50 per month – Pledge fifty dollars a month and you’ll receive access to my restricted Facebook support group that will answer your questions on Office 365, Azure and other Microsoft Cloud technologies. You’ll get 50% discount off any one of my online courses per month. You’ll receive an invite to attend live my monthly support webinar that will answer questions and demonstrate Microsoft cloud technologies as well as receive access to the recordings. You’ll also receive free access to all my existing paid publications and any new paid publications I create.

$100 per month – Pledge one hundred dollars a month and you’ll receive access to my restricted Facebook support group that will answer your questions on Office 365, Azure and other Microsoft Cloud technologies. You’ll get 80% discount off an one of my online courses per month. You’ll receive an invite to attend my live monthly support webinar that will answer questions and demonstrate Microsoft cloud technologies as well as receive access to the recordings. You’ll also receive free access to all my existing paid publications and any new paid publications I create. You will also receive a monthly one on one remote consulting session for training or problem solving up to one hour (valued at over $250).

Not only will you get access to all the information that I regularly create, you’ll get access to a community of cloud focuses resellers who are digitally transforming their business and those of their customers. That is knowledge you can leverage when you become a CIAOPS Patron.

My Podcasts

Apart from my Kindle and Audible consumption I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Whether travelling in the car, on the train, out walking, taking a flight, wherever. I’m not usually far from a having a podcast in my ear.

So here’s my current listening list:

1. Windows Weekly

The latest Microsoft news with some fun and entertainment along the way. Paul Thurrott’s musing make this podcast alone.

2. This Week in Google

Always good to hear about the wider internet but of late has become too involved in US politics for me. May need to review my subscription is that continues.

3. The Tim Ferriss Show

Some really great advice and business insights. Also lots of life lessons that I have found work really well for me. A weekly must listen for me.

4. Microsoft Cloud Show

Can get a little deep into the developer weeds for me sometime but generally great information and insight into what’s happening with the Microsoft Cloud.

5. Hardcore History

Not a regular event but when these episodes drop I’m all ears. They are are deep dive into history told by a master narrator. If you love history, you’ll love these episodes.

6. Jocko Podcast

Probably too hard core for most. For me it is a great mix of military history and business mindset training. If you have a ‘fanatical’ tendency then give this one a listen.

7. Unbeatable Mind Podcast

A short format that hosts interesting people who have typically overcome adversity to succeed. Also some great mind and resilience training methodologies as well.

8. Ammo NYC

Another thing I’m fanatical about is my cars and especially detailing them. Here you’ll learn all the tricks and secrets to becoming a master car detailer. Why? Because there’s is nothing more satisfying than a shiny car.

I listen to all episodes at at least 2X speed to allow me to crank through most of these episodes in a week. I’ve added and deleted many podcasts over the time, and continue to do so, but the above is are the long term residents of my device.

Since 2010 I have published my own podcast:

Need to Know podcast

which covers the Microsoft Cloud (typically Office 365 and Azure) as well as business topics. I do these with my co-host Marc Kean and encourage you to have a listen and me know what you think.


Software will eat the world

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

and the previous parts are at:

We live in exponential times

Consider the following

Major Trends

Macro Trends


If you consider all the trends in the changing IT environment the next questions that results is ‘Where should I invest for the future?’. Luckily, the answer to that is pretty simple. Software.

Marc Andreessen wrote an article back in 2009 entitled:

Why Software Is Easting the World

that I encourage everyone to read. In essence, it is saying the the IT world of the future is all about software. Every business, whether they are in IT or not will effectively become a software company given the amount of data it needs to analyse. Software provides automation, reducing costs. Software provides efficiency and a competitive edge, etc., etc..

Some other articles that echo this are:

Hardware is sexy, but it’s software that matters

from Seth Godin

Software is still eating the world

from Techcrunch

How robots, drones and artificial intelligence will change everything

from the Financial Post.

Those who only have on premises IT skill sets are fast being left behind by those who have embraced the world of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) thanks to Azure, AWS and the like. However, the journey does not cease there. It will continue from IaaS to Platform as a Service (PaaS) and to Software as a Service (SaaS).

The reasons for retaining a complex system such as an email server on premises are pretty minute these days in the face of the pricing of global services like Office 365 Exchange Online. It makes more sense for the creator of something like Exchange to set it up, manage and maintain the system then sell it as a demand based service per user per month. Global corporations like Microsoft can get economies of scale that no one else really can, effectively making many computing services simply a utility much like electricity.

That trend means there is less need for Exchange engineers and technicians on premises. What happens to these people? Simple. If they don’t skill up they are going to struggle big time.

IT Professionals increasing face an environment that is all about DevOps. That is the intersection between being a developer and managing operations of computing resources. However, the key skill for that role is clear. It is software and more so coding. If you can’t code to some extent going forward you are not going to have a skill set sought by employers or businesses.

The classic example I see in the Microsoft eco-system is the lack of skills IT Professionals have with basic tools such as PowerShell. You should be using PowerShell to manage your on premises networks TODAY. You should be using PowerShell to manage Office 365 TODAY. You should be using PowerShell to manage Azure TODAY. Write once, run many should be the mantra of today’s IT Professionals but sadly it isn’t. The excuse is normally that ‘I don’t have the time to learn PowerShell’ to which my response is ‘your problem is NOT a time issue, it is a priority issue’.

The world of DevOps doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole day writing code or diving deep into APIs. What is does however mean is that you need to have a balance of skills in the software world, whether that is PowerShell, JSON, Visual Studio, or whatever. Software skills are mandatory for the future of the IT industry because that is the basis on which our future is built on. Software.

Just about every system we interact with today is done via the web. HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc are again key technologies I see few IT Professionals actually possessing or seeking to develop. Even automation tools as simple as If This Then That, Zapier, Microsoft Flow, etc are things most IT Professionals have NEVER seen, let alone used. These tools are the future of the IT Professional and a key skill that must be acquired because they are all the solution of some business problems simply created by connecting available software services together. You don’t need to writing C sharp code to be considered a developer by any means!

The great thing about software is that is all about the creativity of the human mind. That’s why software skills will always be in demand, because it is hard for a ‘machine’ to be artistic. Good software is an art and there is a shortage of good artists because so many have failed to update their skills and embrace the new world of software. Those that have now have a vehicle they could potentially use to develop mobile applications that could be sold to just about everyone on the planet with a mobile device, all without stepping outside their office. You can’t do that with hardware!

The take away here is that our world today and increasingly of tomorrow, is going to be dominated by software. If you can’t do software then you are going to be consigned to an unskilled role that it isn’t even worth a machine doing. There has never therefore been a better time than now to invest in software skills. Learn PowerShell. Learn how to deploy Azure JSON templates via scripts. Go and develop a mobile app using Microsoft PowerApps and Flow for starters. There has never been more opportunity for those who are willing to embrace the tenant that ‘Software is eating the world’ and a greater warning for those who ignore it.