Tag: office 365

Microsoft Ignite Conference: Day 1 One Round-Up

Microsoft’s Ignite was a huge event- 23,000+ attendees -and a lot of news came out of it on day one. I’ll share with you here my take on the big items of the day, flavoured through my lens of SharePoint/Office 365.

Since there was so much going on, i’m going to break it out into day-by-day posts- easier to digest and gives me time to collect my thoughts after being hit on the head with a Chicago-sized Microsoft frying pan. 🙂

The core concepts: Microsoft is taking a mobile-first, cloud-first approach with three top priorities: to usher in an era of more personal computing, to reshape work and productivity with enhanced products and processes, and to build trust in a reliable, extensible cloud service offering.

Let’s get started. First, check out the official Microsoft news homepage for the event at http://news.microsoft.com/ignite2015/

Here’s a selection of  some of the hot sessions now available from Day 1:

Also available in the on-demand recordings is the Monday morning keynote, which was delivered effectively by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and the evening keynote hosted by Harry Shum titled The Next Era of Computing: Seeing the Future Before It Happens.

spark the future
First, a little recap on the sheer scale of the event. 23,000 of some of the world’s best IT Professionals in one spot, yet the Borg-scale capacity of the McCormick + Lakeside Conference Centers seemed hardly enough:
stack overflow

The keynote began on the upswing, with a DJ pumping out music to many, many IT peeps who are perhaps used to a little more mellow entrance in Monday Morning: 🙂

A pretty unexpected kick off to the keynote: The rapper/Artist know as Common takes the stage and delivers some inspiring words:

Soon thereafter, the big boss Mr. Satya Nadella took the stage.

Satya Nadella



Office 2016 Public Preview
Skype for Business broadcasting
Office Delve Org Analytics
SQL Server 2016 on-premise Azure (if you want the deep-dive version, check here: http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2015/05/reading-the-sql-server-2016-data-sheet/)
Windows users can try Office 2016 and its new desktop co-editing feature
Microsoft launches Operations Management Suite to deal with infrastructure across clouds

“Move IT from delivering services in our org, to delivering transformation and innovation.”
“Mobile first, cloud first – but it’s not about the mobility of a single device. It’s about the mobility of the experience. It’s about the cloud back end, and adding intelligence to your experiences.”
“MobileFirst is not about a device, it’s about sharing computing across all the experiences in our life.”

“Social collaboration and co-creation are at the core of what we do.”
“There are going to be more devices than people on the planet.”

“Exchange, Skype for Business and OneDrive span both your personal and work life”
“The next version of SQL Server is considered a breakthrough.”
“It is important to us to build trust into the core of the operating system…that’s not a bolt-on, you have to build that in.”

There was a brief unscripted comedy moment when Mr. Nadella was describing a scenario where Delphi software would allow one to know exactly when their partner was coming home:

Joe Belifiore

– Joe says about 5-8% of users use Alt-Tab to switch between apps. Adding multiple desktop support. Hold down control/Windows/right-arrow and switch between desktops, or left-arrow to go back. Dragging an app from one desktop to another got the first spontaneous audience applause.
– Demos Cortana, and Cortana driving PowerBI
– Demos Continuum, a new way of changing the Windows user interface to change between tablet mode and laptop mode depending on how you hold the device
– Demos Windows Hello, a new facial recognition authentication mechanism that works through the webcam. Takes a cloth off a webcam, and it unlocks his laptop in a matter of seconds without the user doing anything.

.. at this point I had to move on to the rest of the Conference –

The Evolution of SharePoint

– OneDrive integration improvements are a big priority for the SP team
– Experiences, Extensibility & Management are the core principles
– On track in development efforts for delivering SharePoint Server 2016 next year
– Cloud-inspired features eventually will make their way back into the server product. Functionality that doesn’t make it into the server will be offered as Office 365 services that can be leveraged by premises-based systems
– Microsoft is continuing to focus on SharePoint’s Files, Content Management, Sites and Portals components going forward. It plans to make it easier to use hybrid architectures (SharePoint Server plus Office 365 services) and make it easier for organizations to perform migrations when they are ready, according to Seth Patton, global senior director for SharePoint and OneDrive product marketing
– A new About Me next-generation portal coming to SharePoint Server 2016. It uses Microsoft’s Delve content discovery tool, based on Office Graph enterprise search technology, to surface content and organizational information. Microsoft is also planning to ship an upgrade to SharePoint Server 2013 that will enable the Delve portal for those organizations that can’t wait for the release of SharePoint Server 2016.

Information Management with Office 365 in Mind

The Next Era of Computing: Seeing the Future Before It Happens

All in all, a heavy duty day full of news, connections and learnings. Day two recap coming tomorrow, subscribe to my blog to stay looped in!

Update IP address lists by May 16 to avoid service interruption to Yammer

Here’s a pretty important message from your friendly neighbourhood Office 365 Message Center which could require some IT Pro action in your organization/Clients tenancies:

On May 16, you may encounter issues if you haven’t updated IP address list filtering for Yammer.

If your organization restricts computers on your network from connecting to the Internet, we have a list of the URLs you should include in your outbound allow list to ensure your computers can successfully use Office 365. URL allow lists are the recommended approach due to the modern web architecture of Office 365. For guidance on how to best implement URL or IP allow lists, please work with the manufacturer of the hardware or software you use to protect your internet connection.

The full updated URLs and IP ranges are detailed here:

Enabling Yammer Access from Office 365 App Launcher

From the  Microsoft Enterprise Social Service Updates group on Yammer :

We’ve always held the view that Yammer is the future of team collaboration in Office 365, and to that end we’ve been hard at work to make it easier than ever to get started with Yammer from Office 365. Over the past months, we’ve made it possible for users to use their Office 365 credentials to sign in to Yammer, manage access to Yammer via Azure Active Directory, and — for organizations that choose Yammer as their default social experience in SharePoint Online — access Yammer from the Office 365 navigation bar.

Today we are simplifying the process to enable Yammer access from Office 365. As of April 19, 2015, the Yammer tile will show up in the Office 365 app launcher when your organization activates Yammer Enterprise. This is similar to how the Sites tile shows up in the app launcher for users with access to SharePoint.

Read on to find out if your organization needs to take additional steps in advance of this change:

  • If your organization has already activated Yammer Enterprise through the Office 365 admin portal as described here, there is no action required. Soon eligible users who are licensed for Yammer will start seeing the Yammer tile in their Office 365 app launcher.
  • If your organization selected Yammer as the default social experience through the SharePoint Online admin portal, the Yammer tile already shows up in the Office 365 app launcher for eligible users. However, your Office 365 admin will need to take the additional step of activating Yammer Enterprise through the Office 365 admin portal if they have not already done so. Without this additional step, the Yammer tile will no longer appear in the Office 365 app launcher for eligible users. Please see these step by step instructions to activate Yammer Enterprise through the Office 365 admin portal.

To understand more about the SharePoint social collaboration settings, click here.

  • If your organization wants Yammer as the Enterprise social collaboration experience, activate Yammer Enterprise through the Office 365 admin portal as described here.

Today’s update is an improvement on the existing process, aligned with our goal to make Yammer on by default for all eligible Office 365 customers in the future.

Nintex Workflow and Nintex Forms now available in the SharePoint Store

From Nintex: We are pleased to announce that we have updated our apps for Nintex Workflow and Forms for Office 365, now available for download from the SharePoint store. We’re focusing heavily on the great feedback being provided by our community, and we’re working on packing in as many features as we possibly can. You will continue to see us adding new, exciting features to deliver a compelling user experience and capabilities that allow our customers to be more productive on a powerful cloud platform.

Nintex Workflow for Office 365

Nintex Workflow for Office 365 is available as a free, fully featured 30-day trial. Continued use requires an active subscription licence from Nintex. For more details, Nintex sales can help you make direct contact with one of our partners. Learn more at http://www.nintex.com/workflowO365


Nintex Workflow for Office 365 provides a powerful and intuitive web based designer to build 2013-style workflows for Office 365.Empower business users and IT professionals alike, to quickly and easily automate business processes; from a simple leave approval request, to complex integration across external applications, cloud services and data sources. You can now integrate people, content, and applications.

With Nintex Workflow for Office 365, users can:

  • Onboard Users into Office 365 and assign licences
  • Automate provisioning of SharePoint sites, collections, and other resources
  • Assign and track IT help desk tickets and customer support cases
  • Gather content from and publish content to third-party repositories
  • Scan social media for actionable discoveries
  • Crowd-source content reviews on Yammer
  • Manage leave requests and expense claims
  • Review and edit press releases
  • Manage budget reviews and approvals.

Nintex Workflow for Office 365 includes support for in app purchases of additional actions via the Nintex Store.

Known for being a leader in SharePoint workflows, Nintex is now enabling Office 365 users to create and run workflows in the cloud, leveraging SharePoint’s native actions. Visit www.nintex.com for more information.

Nintex Workflow for Office 365 does not support Internet Explorer 8.0.

Nintex Forms for Office 365

Supercharged for Office 365 – Create powerful, dynamic web forms to collect data within SharePoint Online.


With Nintex Forms for Office 365 you can quickly and easily create tailored, engaging forms using simple drag and drop capabilities with customization options. From simple approval forms to complex data capture and calculations, you can input data, update data, and trigger workflows. When combined with Nintex Workflow for Office 365, the possibilities are endless. You can create complete business applications that range from a simple leave request system to a complex order processing system connected to third party cloud or on-premises applications.

Nintex Forms for Office 365 gives you the power to design the right interface for your users.

Get started with a fully featured free 30-day trial now! For more details, contact sales@nintex.com.

Nintex is the world’s leading SharePoint workflow company, with over 5000 customers in 90 countries serviced by a global network of high quality partners and service providers. Nintex delivers innovative software and cloud services that empower organizations to automate business processes, quickly and easily.

Nintex Forms for Office 365 does not support Internet Explorer 8.0.

Local Union works anywhere with Office 365

cupe_401_logoOffice 365

CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) is the largest labour union in B.C. and in Canada, representing workers in municipalities, education, libraries, universities, colleges, social services, health care, public utilities, transportation, emergency services and airlines and around 680,000 members across Canada.

The Union local in itgroove’s area of Canada (Vancouver Island) is CUPE Local 401. Until recently, they had a single Microsoft SBS (Small Business Server) located in their office. SBS 2011 delivered Exchange, SharePoint (2007), File Sharing, MS SQL, Active Directory and is an all-in-one, more cost-effective package – on average  45% cheaper than licensing those components individually would cost.

The problem was SBS has been effectively morphed into Windows Server Essentials, which removes key components such as Exchange and is also limited to 25 users instead of the 75 permitted by SBS 2011.

CUPE Local 401’s SBS server had many happy years, allowing Exchange-powered email, basic file collaboration, and simple team sites in the Windows SharePoint Services portal. The local came to rely on it as their centralized portal and the bulk of the organizations digital assets orbited the system.

Times change however, and in addition to just general software lifecycle pains, new requirements come up. There became an obvious need for new functionality:

– Workflows to run procedural business processes
– Mobile access so staff members can work on the go
– Simplified enterprise backup of all their data, moving away from on-site managed backup
– Easier collaboration in team sites with more/new functionality
– Instant Messaging so staff members can streamline communications

Additionally, CUPE Local 401 maintained a public website using the Joomla CMS.  However it was generally regarded as not very usable for their staff to edit and update content – in fact, they had all but abandoned trying to update their website content themselves. The learning curve was simply too high for them to absorb how to use yet another software system (Joomla).

So when it came time to look at bringing CUPE Local 401’s systems up to date, there was one clear, cost-effective solution: Office 365.  Working with Bob Palmer, the Secretary Treasurer at CUPE 401, itgroove formulated a migration plan for CUPE Local 401 to move into the Office 365 Cloud, and since then there has been no looking back.

In the first phase, we quickly signed up the required user accounts on their new Office 365 presence. Since Office 365 is licensed on a per-user basis, it was determined they required a mixture of Enterprise E3 and Enterprise K1 (Kiosk) user accounts. The executive and staff members that required full Office 365 functionality including being able to download the Office 2013 desktop software would get the E3 accounts, and those members who only needed email access and lighter functionality went on the K1 plan.

Our in-house Office 365 specialist (and Exchange whiz), Jeremy Dahl, worked to backup each users local Outlook mailbox and then migrate them into their new Office 365 Exchange system. It’s good to have a pro stick-handle this phase as users tend to do all kinds of crazy stuff with their Outlook inboxes over the years, including letting them grow to huge file sizes by using email inappropriately as a file transfer method. 🙂

Next, we used the great ShareGate to migrate their SharePoint 2007 portals from the SBS server into their new cloud-based SharePoint 2013 team site. Once again – for a simple migration you should be able to get the job done with ease. When it comes to moving many years’ worth of organizational data, even when you have access to semi-automated tools like ShareGate, it’s best to have a SharePoint pro involved so that you can ensure maximum fidelity with your SharePoint migration. Sometimes it’s less of a technical issue and more of “do we really need those 2 gigabytes of old files, in our new SharePoint?”.

The next step was to create their new public website. All Office 365 plans include one public SharePoint-powered website.  We quickly sourced a 3rd party theme to apply to the out-of-the-box look and feel of the site and in addition to the content pages, added a couple 3rd party Apps from the new Office SharePoint Apps store. These Apps increased the site’s functionality by providing a blog aggregator on their homepage, and a “Latest Events” calendar rollup web part.

CUPE Local 401 members were pleasantly surprised to find that a full Blog system comes baked into the public website and were in no time posting news from their executive to their members. They are now working with itgroove to flesh out a communications strategy which includes new blog posts getting automatically posted on Facebook & Twitter – eliminating the need for the staff chore of re-posting news releases and content on many different websites.

CUPE-401 Office 365 Public Site Homepage
CUPE-401.com Public Office 365 Website

We’ve experienced that customers that formerly had WordPress or Joomla are updating their content on their own in their new SharePoint portal with much more ease. The secret? It’s the Ribbon. They were already familiar with the Ribbon in Office (and possibly their SharePoint Team Sites) and this was such a simple extension of that knowledge that these formerly “technically intimidated” users are updating their own website content.

CUPE Local 401’s case has been a prime example of this effect: staff members of various technical aptitude levels express that they feel more comfortable using the new Office 2013 UI and can accomplish more before getting “stumped” and having to refer to the help section or seeking professional advice. This is an essential trait of a usable CMS.

CUPE Local 401 now has one centralized dashboard for all their systems, and no longer has to have someone manage backups for them as all their data is secure in Microsoft’s tier-1 datacenters. Health indicators show if there’s any problems with the global networks, with detailed descriptions of what the response is and what to expect, should glitches ever occur. They also now have 24/7 support for free in case there is an after-hours or weekend issue that we at itgroove cannot help them out with, or even if they just have simple questions about how to use Office 365.

CUPE Local 401 Office 365 Aministration Dashboard
CUPE Local 401’s Office 365 Administration Dashboard

We asked some key questions of Bob Palmer from CUPE Local 401, so he could share CUPE Local 401’s experience with their move to Office 365 cloud firsthand:

Q1- How has Office 365 made it easier for you to accomplish CUPE work anywhere?

“All staff & executive members access Outlook Web Access, the SharePoint team sites from both inside the office and out. The mobile experience with SharePoint and the webmail is great and lets us be mobile. We are just getting started with using Lync as our instant messenger service and so far it seems to be a great option for communicating and doing remote meetings.”

Q2- What is your favourite Office 365 feature?

“Integration. The fact that we now have one style of system which manages our intranet, our public site and our email is great. And we now rolling out SharePoint Workflows.”

Q3- Does an Office 365 subscription allow you to get more work done outside the office?

“It’s easier by far to access. We previously were having to make concessions like having people use remote desktop to access certain systems. Now everything is all available and accessible to everyone in the organization. It’s easy to navigate and easy to use.”

Q4- Since you have an Enterprise E3 license that allows up to 5 installs of the desktop Office 2013 per user account (including on home devices) – Does your family use it?

“Yes – in addition to my workstation at the office, I have an additional install of Office 2013 on my personal laptop which orbits work and home.”

In conclusion, the move to Office 365 has been a positive experience for both itgroove (as the IT Service Partner for CUPE Local 401), and the client themselves. While there’s some nostalgia about retiring the traditional on-premise server model, ultimately the Cloud model can maximize the business goals of small business clients by reducing infrastructure, maintenance and support footprints. Having a trusted IT partner to provide guidance will never go out of style but the Office 365 advantage is that we can focus on offering clients like CUPE Local 401 help where it’s really needed such as designing workflows, business intelligence and training.

RSS blog feed missing items in Office 365 SharePoint Online?

A client reported in that their homepage newsfeed which was being fed from the RSS feed that comes with the Blog on SharePoint Online, was missing it’s content. Despite there being blog posts, the RSS feed was rendering just the header section with no article content.

The reason this occurs is because feed items will expire after a certain period of time, 7 days by default. To change this,  follow these steps:

1.      Navigate to the blog post list your RSS feed is reading from. e.g. https://<mySharePointSite.com>/Lists/Posts/AllPosts.aspx

2.      From the ‘List’ ribbon, select ‘List Settings.’

3.      Select ‘RSS Feed.’

4.      At the bottom of the page, adjust the thresholds. The upper limits are 1,000 items and 9,999 days old.

11-5-2013 9-41-41 AM

Note that there’s a bit of a caching mechanism in place – I had to wait 20 minutes or so to see the posts return to the RSS feed.

Personally I think 7 days is a very low threshold for this kind of thing and is bound to create similar confusion as to what we experienced. No doubt it made a lot of sense when crunching numbers to design a scalable global Cloud architecture, but if we want to get more small business & mom & pop users on O365 it’ll be good not to put in too many abstract default limits. Hopefully Microsoft will take note and crank this up to something more standard like 30 or 90 days!