The ever changing face of Office 365


As outlined in a recent blog post from Microsoft:

Introducing a new home page experience for Office 365 users

things are going to start looking rather different for users when they login to the Office 365 web portal. Above you can see how it is currently,


and here you can see what the new experience looks like. Much cleaner. It will also report that the page is far more ‘mobile responsive’ in that it scales and adjusts to window size much better.


Also, if you are an Office 365 administrator you are probably familiar with the ‘classic’ interface for managing things shown above. However, a while back Microsoft again announced that a new look and feel is in preview for the Admin center:

The new Office 365 admin center preview


which you can now see above.

The changes to the UI a excellent, I gotta say. They make things much clearer, less cluttered and have a much ‘nicer’ look and feel. This is going to help users work (and I would suggest adopt) Office 365 more readily, especially when you compare how Office 365 now looks to other cloud based systems.

I would also point out that if you are an IT reseller who is only doing administration for your customers using the web portal then I reckon it is only a a matter of time before customers decide they can do this for themselves. Honestly, in my opinion, the web console is aimed at end “power” users not resellers.

I would therefore suggest that IT resellers should be doing most of their regular administration via PowerShell for a variety of reasons (the biggest being automation).

Although these interface changes can be a little jarring to some not used to the rapid change in the cloud, they definitely improve the service, make it more appealing for existing and new users and best of all, existing Office 365 users get it for free!

Unfortunately for me personally it means I got to redo my publications, but hey, everyone needs a hobby right?

The bots are coming

The recent Microsoft build conference reinforced to me the fundamental change that is taking place with technology. For me what really stood out was the fact that ‘bots’ are now front and center of businesses like Microsoft. They are providing the framework for greater automation as the above video highlights.

Although this is a longer video from Dan Pink, I really urge you to watch and listen to the message it contains.

In essence, what Dan is saying is that anything where the steps can be written down will be automated. This means that only creative, or right brain jobs, are those that will survive in the future.

I’d also draw your attention to this list he provides in regards current tasks about your work that are under threat:

  1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper
  2. Can a computer do it faster
  3. Is what you’re selling in demand in an age of abundance

Think about that in light of IT. More and more tasks are being outsourced overseas to at labour rates that are much cheaper but in many cases at a higher competency rate. Tools like PowerShell, If This Then That ( and Zapier (, Microsoft PowerApps and the new Office 365 Connectors are only the start of the automation that technology will bring us. Finally, it is going to be almost impossible to sell a product that isn’t unique in an age where you competition can come from virtually anywhere on the globe.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to bring us not only automation on a unprecedented scale but thanks to machine learning the bots are going to know more about you that you know yourself. They’ll know where you go every day at 9am, they’ll know what meals your prefer, who you regularly talk to and when, your favourite holiday destinations and hotel and more. This is all thanks to the explosion of not only big data but also automation.

The funny thing is that I see so many people in IT who believe they are at the cutting edge of technology because they install the latest OS onto a desktop or server. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks to Windows 10 updates with AUTOMATICALLY be installed. Thanks to Windows 10 new features will AUTOMATICALLY be installed. Thanks to click to run Office updated and new features will AUTOMATICALLY be installed. See the trend? Automation rules.

Services like Azure that allow infrastructure to be migrated to on-demand data centres where you only pay for what you need. They also allow the consumption of services that were once only available to the biggest businesses, now available to all. They are also moving to complete software as a service (SaaS) offering, where you don’t even need to worry about what makes the stuff tick. It scales automatically as demand increases and whose costs decrease as it become more commoditised. All this speaks to rule number one above, can someone else do it bigger, better, faster? Yes, they sure can when it comes to IT.

If you are selling Managed Services today, how is your business any different from your competitors? You use the same tools. You provide the same type of service. You are simply maintaining the system, not really adding value. We are already seeing the MSP market become commoditised. This means the only path to sustainable profitability is with scale. I can’t see many in the MSP being able to scale to a level to maintain profitability thanks to growing outsourcing and automation.

It is clear to me that if your business conforms with any of the rules listed above you really need to take a long, hard, pragmatic look at where your opportunities may lie in the future. For as Dan says, if it is all left brain stuff then it is only a matter of time before the bots put you out of business. As I said over four years ago:

It’s a dev world

and if your business isn’t about building ‘right-brain’ products and services then your chances of success are low. I urge you to examine your business in light of:

  1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper
  2. Can a computer do it faster
  3. Is what you’re selling in demand in an age of abundance

and prepare for the changes that are on our doorstep today.

Ingram Cloud Elevate Bootcamp 4


I’m doing another session around SharePoint in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in mid-April for Ingram and encourage you to come along. You can register here:


Introduction to Sharepoint Online and Managed Services.

Creating your own repeatable IP is key to maximising profit for every MSP. SharePoint Online within the Office 365 tool box is the perfect platform to start building that. It also serves as great way to introduce your clients to world of possibilities you can help them achieve around automating many of their day to day tasks.

Be it a simple holiday calendar, receipt tracker or even just taking advantage of implementing many of the prebuilt apps, building a templated set of tools you can apply to all your clients allows for high margin implementation and support – plus leading the way to even more the further you get into your client’s business.

Maximize your profits with ConnectWise® CloudConsole™ by reducing time spent managing Office 365 user accounts and time savings from automating the billing process, saving you time counting users and updating agreements. Increase control by proactively monitoring Office 365 services so anytime there is a disruption or outage, you can be alerted to inform your clients.

Join us for the Cloud Elevate Bootcamp to understand how you can enable your customers to automate their business processes using Office 365 SharePoint with Robert Crane, Microsoft MVP. Plus , Jeff Tessier from Connectwise to understand how it can help you automate your Office 365 business.

Topics include:

Session 1:

Introduction to SharePoint Online & OneDrive for Business: Learn how to create and sell a SharePoint Online Intranet, create a site, deploying the site using a template and creating a sales/marketing process around that. This session will help you put in place the building blocks for introducing your clients to Office 365 SharePoint with basic document libraries and workflows and prebuilt apps.

Session 2:

Introduction to Connectwise Cloud Console: ConnectWise® CloudConsole™ is a management, monitoring, and billing tool for Microsoft® Office 365™, built to save you time and reduce the complexity of supporting your clients’ Office 365 licenses.

I hope to see you there.

Need to Know Podcast–Episode 99

Marc and I speak have a chat about Azure storage. We look at all the different ways that you can save data into Azure and discuss the best options for your needs. We look at things like SMB File shares, tables and blob storage as some tips and tricks on how to make the most of what Azure has to offer with storage and how to keep your costs down.

You can listen to this episode at:

or subscribe to this and all episodes in iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

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


Creating Azure SMB File shares

Azure SMB file share price and performance

Azure storage

Azure storage documentation

Introduction to Azure storage

Azure storage team blog

I’m totally blown away with what’s coming with Skype for Business

If you have ANY interest in Office 365 and especially Skype you MUST watch the above keynote presentation from Microsoft. Only then are you going to get an idea of how huge Skype for Business is going to be in the very near future.

I then suggest you have a read of the following blog post:

Pay special attention to the section on Project Rigel.

After doing both of these things I defy you not be totally blown away with what Microsoft is doing with Office 365 and Skype for Business.


Here are some screen grabs of the single pane of glass Office 365 will bring to Skype for Business calls, over the Internet and the standard PSTN network.


You can drill into areas to measure load versus call quality, allowing you to optimise your performance.


You can also drill into any call and get information like that shown above as well as easily see the live stats (shown across the top of the page).


You can then drill into an individual user to get a dashboard of all their communications inside and outside the organisation as shown above.


And just to really blow your mind the above screen shows pretty much live transcriptions of Skype for Business meetings into a variety of foreign languages.

Believe me, take the time to watch the Microsoft keynote presentation. I guarantee it will blow your mind. It has also made me even more excited about what’s coming for Skype for Business and Office 365.

Roll on Office 365 Cloud PBX.

Microsoft Devices Day Slides

I was lucky enough to be recently involved with the Microsoft Devices Day Roadshow around Australia, during which I presented on Office 365.

The first session was news around Office 365. That presentation is shown above and can be downloaded from my site directly at:

The second session I presented was all around building offerings beyond just simple email with Office 365.

You’ll find the slides from that session above as well as at:

This second session was more focused on white boarding solutions around Office 365 and that may not come across in the deck. However, there is other stuff in there that may benefit people so feel free to download it.

If you have any questions about these sessions, whether you attended or not, feel free to contact me as I’m happy to share with your directly more details on either of these.

I take this opportunity to thank Microsoft for the opportunity to present as well as everyone who attended.

Wanna transform your current technology business?


One of the most common frustrations I see when I speak with IT businesses is the fact that they are still struggling to transform their business to the new cloud model. The challenge is independent of technology, it is about the business model and many simply don’t know what to do.

Nigel Moore and myself, who also head up Cloud Business Blueprint, have decided to address these frustration head on with a new offering called My Cloud Business.

How is My Cloud Business different? It is totally business focused and technology independent. So if your business is Office 365, Amazon, Google, etc it doesn’t matter. If you want to transform your technology business to the new cloud model then My Cloud Business is for you.

Cloud Business Blueprint will remain doing what it does so well, providing technology resellers a community to share, learn and obtain both technical and business resources from. My Cloud Business however will be the place for people who want to take the step outside the technology and learn how to structure, build and grow their business to not only adapt to the world of cloud but also thrive in it. You’ll need to be committed to this transformation. My Cloud Business is therefore not for everyone but is designed to fully support those who want to ‘step up’.

Nigel and I are busily building content for release very shortly but this is an opportunity to be an early adopter. If you sign up right now you’ll go on our mailing list to be kept abreast of everything we have planned. We also expect to provide early adopters significant benefits for supporting us early in the piece.

So, if you are struggling to transform your business to the new cloud model and are looking to step up and really exploit the opportunity it now presents then I suggest you sign up to our notification list today to get in on the ground floor. There is no obligation if you do, you’ll simply receive updates via as we bring them online.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 93

In this episode I’m joined by Amy Babinchak to chat about Azure for SMB. We talk about the opportunities Azure provides as well as how to get started using Azure. Amy shares her experience with converting Azure services into revenue opportunities you can utilise with your clients. There is the usual news updates to keep you current with everything that is happening in the cloud.

A big thank you to Marc Kean for all his work producing this episode.

You can listen to this episode at:

or subscribe to this and all episodes in iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send me any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show. I’m also on the hunt for some co-presenters so if you are interested on being a regular part of the show please contact me.


New CIAOPS Academy

Skype for Business Basic

Skype for iOS

Office Lens

New OneDrive Sync client

Third Tier

Enterprise Mobility Suite

Azure AD Domain Services

Configuring the Azure SSO portal