#Microsoft #MSIgnite Day 5 #Office365 #Cloud #SharePoint #ProjectOnline

May 8, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Administration, Configuration, Functionality, Information | Leave a comment
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The last day of the Microsoft Ignite conference I lined up three sessions, one on why trust Microsoft Enterprise cloud with your data, the next session was on auditing in Office 365 and the final session before we make our way home back to the UK was the Project Online / Project Server support.

The session on Office 365 and why trust Microsoft is a big topic and one with split views, Microsoft are working very hard to make customers data secure and also make the customers know their data is secure. There is lots of information on how Microsoft do this and the compliance standards etc. here: https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-trust-center-cloud-computing-security. I believe the data is probably more secure in the Microsoft cloud than it is in your own network – obviously there would be some exceptions to this for government / highly secure sites etc. Also a key take away from that session was that it isn’t the cloud that isn’t secure, it is the devices that the end users use each day (connecting to on-prem or cloud). Microsoft do monitor unusual activity from devices and make this information available to the admins.

The second session was on auditing options in Office 365. This covered the compliance center, the audit activity reports, the API available to for activity management and the centralised compliance auditing store. All the work Microsoft are doing around auditing shows how seriously they are taking security and how they are making this data available to admins.

The final session of the day was the Project Online / Project Server support session by Brian Smith. This was a great session and gave good insights on how the Project escalation engineers support project. Brian blogged about this session earlier: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/brismith/archive/2015/05/07/my-ignite-session-brk3146-troubleshooting-tips-and-tricks.aspx

Time for me to head to the airport now to head home back to the UK. It’s been a great week here in Chicago with lots of things to understand and digest. Top marks for Microsoft, a great conference 🙂

#Microsoft #MSIgnite Day 4 #Office365 #Cloud #SharePoint #ProjectOnline #ITPro

May 8, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Posted in Administration, Configuration, Functionality, Information | Leave a comment
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Day 4 of the Microsoft Ignite conference was spent at the following sessions. The first was on how to strategically evolve your role as an IT pro, then a session on best practices on design and performance for SharePoint Online, the next session was on BI for Project Online and Project Server 2013. The session after that was around the experiences Microsoft IT had in migrating from on-prem to Office 365 and the final session of the day was the Project Online customisation best practices.

I didn’t know what to expect from the first session of the day as it wasn’t really a specific technology session but it was a very good session and one I’m glad I went to. This covered how the role of the IT Pro is changing and the role will continue to evolve. As you can imagine this is a big topic and one with many split views. In summary, in my opinion the role of an IT Pro is evolving to more of a business / IT strategic role – I guess an internal IT consultant to the business.

The second session of the day was best practices for design and performance for SharePoint Online. I felt this was a good session as the concepts for SharePoint are applicable PWA. Firstly the branding was side of things was covered. This summarised every thing from the very basic changes such as the composed looks / theme, the next level up with the designer and CSS and to the higher end with custom master pages and layouts. The very basics have a low impact with upgrades etc. where as the more complex changes can be high impact and the customisation may stop working with updates to SharePoint Online etc. With customising the UI /UX one key factor is to think about the users and devices, make the designs responsive, an example can be found here for making Seattle.master responsive: http://blog.sharepointexperience.com/2015/03/making-seattle-master-responsive/

If you are not familiar with custom master pages, a good place to start is here: http://startermasterpages.codeplex.com/

The next part of this session covered performance considerations. The top 5 reasons for slow loading sites are: site structure and navigation (publishing sites), content roll up (expensive queries), large files (large high res images and videos), lots of different requests on the pages (JavaScript, CSS, images etc.) and lots of different web parts on pages. The session then gave some ideas and examples of pages load times by make changes. Some of the changes included: Navigation optimisation using search etc., Content by search web part for content roll up instead of content by query, Optimise images – correct resolution etc., Load content that is displayed on the visible part of the page rather than the whole page, download remaining images etc. as the user scrolls the page and those images need to be visible. Look to use CDNs for jQuery etc. For guidance see the Performance Tuning guides: http://aka.ms/tune

The third session after lunch on BI for Project Online / Project Server, this was a great session demonstrating the tools available, Excel, Power Pivot, Power Query and Power BI. There were some announcements around performance improvements to OData, things like increasing the row limit for timephased data from 200 rows to 2000 rows which has increased performance – other endpoints have also been optimised and Microsoft will continue to monitor and optimise the service.

The fourth session was around the experiences that Microsoft had when migrating from On-prem to Office 365. This discussed some approaches that they used with some tools and custom PowerShell scripts.

The last session of the day was the Project Online customisation session which followed a similar theme to the SharePoint design and best practices. Consider what is displayed on the pages, only have web parts you need, only have columns in the views that you need etc. It was also mentioned that Microsoft are constantly monitoring performance logs and optimising the service, many improvements are in the service already and more will be coming. The changes will also be in Project Server 2016, one interesting overhead / improvement Microsoft have made is to drop the Project Service Application in SharePoint as this was an overhead that has been re-engineered. Project Server 2016 will still have the windows services (queue, event, calculation) etc. For performance considerations for Project Online see: http://aka.ms/projectonlineperf

Lastly I dropped by the Ignite party to grab a beer and have a chat with some familiar faces. Another great day at the Ignite conference. 🙂

#Microsoft #MSIgnite Day 3 #Office365 #Cloud #SharePoint #ProjectOnline #Apps / #Add-ins

May 7, 2015 at 3:34 am | Posted in Administration, Functionality, Information | Leave a comment
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Day 3 of Microsoft’s Ignite conference I went to sessions covering what’s next for SharePoint 2016 for an IT Pro, a session on App /Add-in provisioning and deployment, planning for Internet performance and capacity, how to deploy Project: online and server and the final session was on a developer session for Project.

The first session of the day was on what’s was new for SharePoint 2016 for an IT Pro covered all of the new features and changes in SharePoint 2016 that will improve the performance, deployment and availability of SharePoint. As most of you know, my focus is Project / Project Server / Project Online (the site title gives that away :)) so I was keen to hear about what was going to change in the SharePoint world as that will directly impact Project Server too. All of these great new features that the SharePoint product team are introducing in SharePoint 2016, Project Server 2016 also benefits from these.

The key changes mentioned this morning were that SharePoint 2016 requires Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 10 for the OS and SQL Server 2014 SP1 x64 or SQL Server vNext x64. SharePoint 2016 no longer supports a standalone install using SQL Express, SQL Server will need to be installed on the box. The upgrade path from previous version is the database upgrade approach. If the SharePoint farm is earlier than 2013, the databases will need to be upgraded to SP 2013 before SP 2016.

SharePoint 2016 uses a MinRole approach for User roles / services, Robot services and cache services. The user services are for all user generated requests such as page loads, project, excel and one note etc. The robot service all for all system generated requests such as timer jobs and provisioning. I’m sure you can guess what the cache role is for :). The roles are setup on the install using the configuration wizard, you can choose whether the server is a web front end, application server, search, distributed cache or a specialised role. The specialised role option enables you to determine the server role by starting / stopping the services running on the farm (like 2007, 2010 and 2013). There is a new health analyser for the MinRole feature. This health rule will check that the correct services are running on that server based on the role selected on the install. If the specialised role is selected that particular server will be ignored by the new health check.

Patching of SharePoint 2016 has greatly been improved as mentioned here. There is now zero down time for build to build patches with SharePoint 2016 as this a an online process where as before the process took services offline. The patches are also a lot smaller, with a lot less MSI and MSP files so the patching process is quicker.

The software boundaries have not yet been confirmed but will be increased, the indicated boundaries are content DBs in the Terabytes, 100,000 site collections per content DB, the list threshold will be great than 5000, the max file size has been increased to 10 GB and character limit restrictions removed, index items increased to 500 million items.

Other key changes include, a change to the user profile service to remove the built in FIM service, this is now possible to use an external FIM server. The Project Server database has been merged into the SharePoint content DB but it is still licensed separately. Links are now durable so that if a link to a document is emailed to a colleague then at a later date the document name changes or the document is moved in 2013 the link would be broken but in 2016 the link would still work as the links are based on resource ID based URLs. There are options to view how the systems is used, browsers, sites accessed etc. to give you insight and have a better understanding of trends. There are improvements to the “Follow” functionality so that it works across on-premise and online. Hybrid deployment configuration is now possible via the UI rather than PowerShell.

The second session I went to was around app / add-in provisioning and deployment, nothing new here in the technology just an overview of what can currently be done. Only new (ish) change is the name, apps are now known as add-ins.

The third session I went to was planning for Internet performance and capacity with Office 365. This session covered the things your network admins should be aware of. If migrating from on-prem to Office 365 (or any cloud based solution for that matter), it is key that you have good baseline information for the network bandwidth usage so that you can work out if you need a more bandwidth. For Exchange / Outlook: http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Exchange-Client-Network-8af1bf00 for Skype for Business (Lync): http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=19011 for OneDrive for Business: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=44541&751be11f-ede8-5a0c-058c-2ee190a24fa6. Other general recommendations for SharePoint are around caching with proxies, also considering using WAN accelerators and for working with documents using the Office Web App rather than the rich clients. For Outlook it is recommended to use Cache mode and by pass any proxies and also use the latest version of the Outlook client.

The fourth session was on Project Online and Project Server – an intro into deployment for both environments.

The last session of the day for me was the developer session for project. This covered general best practice for developing add-ins for Project and Project Online. A demo of the new Project client JavaScript APIs that now allow you to write back to the project plan from the task pane – a great improvement for the task pane add-ins for Project. You can also get all tasks in one go too which is.

This evening finished with an MVP social event at the House of Blues which was great.

That’s it for today.

#Microsoft #MSIgnite Day 2 #Office365 #Cloud #Office #SharePoint #ProjectOnline #PowerBI

May 6, 2015 at 6:26 am | Posted in Administration, Functionality, Information | 1 Comment
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Today was the 2nd day of Microsoft’s Ignite conference, a summary of my 1st day if you missed it can be found here: https://pwmather.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/microsoft-msignite-day-1-office365-cloud-office-sharepoint/ – one thing I did miss off this was the end of the day keynote that gave details into Microsoft Research – a great summary here.

So today started out with the Project Portfolio Roadmap, this session announced some key changes for Microsoft PPM – these were highlighted in a blog post yesterday: https://pwmather.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/projectonline-projectserver-2013-improvements-office365-msignite/ so i won’t cover these again. Look out for blog post covering these topics in detail soon.

The next session I went to was the Power BI overview where some improvements were discussed around new visualisations, content packs and the Power BI designer. Power BI is a great data visualisation tool!

The 3rd session of the day for me was the Tools and Tips for administering Office 365. This session demonstrated some great new report dashboards and Power BI content packs for visualising usage data for Office 365. There will also be workload specific roles in Office 365, so not just the usual Global admin, billing admin etc. there will be SharePoint Admin, Skype for Business Admin etc. Also improvements to the Office 365 Admin mobile app such as push notifications were on the roadmap. It was also clear PowerShell will still play a key part in Office 365 admin. A blog post can be seen here: http://blogs.office.com/2015/05/05/whats-new-in-office-365-administration-from-microsoft-ignite/

The final session of the day for me was Building Solutions with Office Graph. Office Graph is very exciting and opens up a lot of opportunities to be able to map the relationships between people, content and interactions from all of the Office 365 workloads.

Walking around the Expo hall I came across the MVP wall which was cool:


That’s it for now until tomorrow.

#Microsoft #MSIgnite Day 1 #Office365 #Cloud #Office #SharePoint

May 5, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Administration, Functionality, Information | 5 Comments
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I am lucky enough to be at Microsoft’s Ignite conference this week, there are several of my CPS colleagues here with me too: Alan Eardley, Ivan Lloyd and Sacha Cohn. I will try and blog a summary each day if I can.

So on day one we arrived at the conference center ready to start the day. We collected our passes the day before so didn’t have to queue up to do that luckily! When we arrived at 07:30 in the morning I was surprised how many people where there already. After breakfast we headed to the main hall for the keynote, even at 08:10 in the morning there was a swarm of people heading there:



Inside the man hall was very impressive, the pictures below do not do it justice:



The keynote’s were interesting, some new things demonstrated and discussed. This included all of the changes and new features coming to the cloud. These are summarised already on the following Microsoft cloud blog:


Office productivity too:


Also a great demo showing the new features Windows 10 has to offer – having only really read about Windows 10 and not having installed it yet, this was very impressive. I am looking for to this operating system.

Other key announcements were Office 2016 Public Preview, Skype for Business improvements, Sway for Business and Education. A good round up can be found here.

I then went on to look around the Expo hall, WOW this was impressive. So many booths and I would have been there all day if I went to all.

After lunch I went evolution of SharePoint session, the key takeaways for this for me were that the SharePoint 2016 server roles can be set on the install using the configuration wizard. In previous versions the server role was defined by the services that were running on the server, for SharePoint 2016 when running the configuration wizard as you install there will be role options such as Web Front End, Application, Search, Distributed and an option or a customised role. Cache SharePoint 2016 will have “zero down time” patching (great news!) and the are going to be improvements in the hybrid models for the SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online. NextGen portals were also mentioned including Delve and Office 365 videos. There will be an update released later this year for SharePoint 2013 to include Delve.

The last session I went to was for Excel 2016, this session gave an overview of what was coming in Excel 2016 client. The key takeaways for me here were that Excel 2016 will have components natively in the product rather than add-ons, by this i mean things like Power Map, PowerPivot and Power Query will be included in Excel 2016 by default and no longer require separate add-ons. The advantage to this is that the usage of these tools will be more intuitive and accessible, this also enables automation of Power Query using VBA etc. There is a new function is Excel 2016 that does exponential smoothing for Forecasting – this was pretty cool how simple Excel 2016 will make forecasting for time series data. Another great feature is the Time Grouping option so that you can group time data by month, by quarter, by year etc. at the click of a button without having to write the DAX query. New chart types will also be in Excel 2016, these include Tree Map, Sunburst, Waterfall, Box & Whisker and Histogram & Pareto.

That’s it for now, hope to have a summary for Day 2 later 🙂

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