Now Offering… BaaS

Starting today, I’m announcing a new service offering…

Bacon as a Service, or BaaS for short.

You will only pay for the Bacon that you consume. If you require different flavours of Bacon based on your requirements, we can provide you with that Bacon at tiered pricing.

If you consume significant amounts of Bacon. We will lower the price as you consume more during that time period, making use of economies of scale.

If you prefer to bring your own Bacon, we allow that as well, providing griddle space and power to cook your Bacon. Because you’re bringing your own Bacon, the cost is less, but there’s still a cost associated with it as you’re using our infrastructure.

We look forward to serving you the finest Bacon. Please provide comments as you see fit below.

SPS Events – Baltimore 2014

It’s surprising how quickly time passes when you plunge yourself into the world of technology. Nevertheless, SPS Events Baltimore was a great success – especially considering the competition of the Preakness Stakes up yonder in Baltimore proper. This year we were at the Anne Arundel Community College Campus just north of Annapolis, MD. As Rob Windsor made note of, it’s been a while since I registered for a college class. You see, to be an attendee we had to sign in for the day as a student.

That being said, I gave it the old college try, presenting on two topics that are near and dear to my heart… okay so there are a lot of topics that are near and dear to my heart but these two seem to be ones that keep popping up on my radar.

First up was Getting Started with Office 365. The audience was fantastic and outside of a minor snafu where the VM that I ran the demo out of required a little bit of extra finesse, the session went over well. If you’ve got questions, don’t hesitate to ping me, Office 365 is pretty big and all encompassing – that being said, I don’t know all the ins and outs of the platform, but happy to redirect to those that have expertise in different areas.

After that it was a mental reset moving back to pure SharePoint best, I mean Worst Practices. It was a lively audience with Jason Himmelstein, Brian Alderman, Jared Matfess, and Thomas Carpe in attendance. Great engagement and fun times :)

Nevertheless, I look forward to next year’s SPS Events Baltimore – hope you’re able to make it to the next one!!!

Azure Files…

With Microsoft TechEd going on this week there are several announcements of new technological releases from the Redmond teams. Looks like the Azure team is at it again, taking things a step further, pushing the fabric envelope as they take yet another component to 11.

This go round they’re adding in Microsoft Azure Files, an elegant way of sharing files stored within Azure through a mapped drive for consumption by Azure Virtual Machines and REST APIs. More information and getting started available here:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazurestorage/archive/2014/05/12/introducing-microsoft-azure-file-service.aspx

Spring Break 2014…

This year, I had the pleasure of spending Spring Break in Orlando, FL at the DevIntersections conference as a part of the SharePoint Intersection. It was nice to get back to Florida and connect with attendees and hear about their experiences as well as share some of the experiences I’ve had with SharePoint, Office 365 and the ever nebulous cloud.

For attendees (and anyone curious) I’ve uploaded the slides to SlideShare.

Definitely looking forward to the next event in Orlando next year, should be a great time of collaboration and sharing!

Windows Server 2012 R2 Update

**UPDATE** Oddly this portion of the update is no longer published in the TechNet Article. Hoping that it’s added back soon.

To coincide with the Microsoft Build conference and the announcement of Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft will be releasing an update for Windows Server 2012 R2 per the published TechNet article on 2 April 2014 found here:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn645472.aspx

The most interesting of the three major updates as noted in the TechNet article is by far this:

Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) has added the capability for an administrator to enable signing in with an alternate login ID that is an attribute of the user object in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). This enables customers to adopt Azure Active Directory without modifying on-premises User Principal Names (UPNs). It also allows users to log in to the computer using an Office 365 email address instead of a UPN. This change does not affect the Active Directory schema. For more information, see Configuring Alternate Login ID.

If you start to think about the opportunities this provides for an additional way to store user identity without necessarily having to go through and completely change the naming schema that you’re using for your AD at the moment. Or at least that’s the way that I see it.

Looking forward to these bits being available on 8 April 2014 on the Download Center to begin testing this things out.

Official blog announcement from the Windows Server Product Team available here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/windowsserver/archive/2014/04/02/windows-server-2012-r2-update-is-now-available-to-subscribers.aspx

A pleasant surprise…

This morning I received a note from the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program stating that I’d been selected as an MVP for technical expertise within the SharePoint Server community.

In a word a few words – stunned, flattered, honored.

I’m flattered and honored to have been recognized by Microsoft. Six years ago I would probably have told you that I never expected to really be that involved with the community – the SharePoint community was just starting to get on board with Twitter and connections were being made between individuals throughout the community across the country. I had met a few folks, Becky Isserman, Eric Harlan, Shadeed Eleazer, John Miller, Dan Lewis, Dux Raymond Sy,  Joel Oleson, Mike WatsonCathy Dew, Laura Rogers, Lori Gowin, Geoff Varosky, Michael Gannotti, Fabian Williams, Susan Lennon,  Rob Foster, Eric Shupps, and none other than Joel Ward.

Over the years I’ve made several other connections and friendships for a life time with folks like Scott Hoag, Joel Ward and Jason Himmelstein, Cathy Dew, Lori Gowin, Becky Isserman, and Isaac Stith and so many more that I think that I’d run out of room here :)

Needless to say, I want to say thank you to the SPS Events crew that I’ve been able to be a part of the past five years. Eric, Tasha, Susan and folks that helped start the group – thanks for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. To the DC crew, I’d be remiss without saying thanks to Rachel and Adam (and Scott and Isaac of course).

So what changes? Nothing, really. I’m still Dan Usher. Still organizing SPSEvents DC with the help of the crew, still running the Reston SPUG that Scott and I started a bit over a year ago, still toying with Azure and Office 365 in my free waking hours.

I look forward to being able to be a part of the MVP community over this coming next year and hope to be able to continue to support the DC community. Let’s rock and roll friends!

Seeing through the sensationalism…

I do have to say that it cracks me up seeing authors try to spin different information from a non-technical perspective to explain things to consumers rather than just stating, “Hey, it’s a service that already exists, they’re just allowing you to buy it separately.”

In this case it’s an article on CMSWire on the topic of OneDrive for Business takes on SharePoint.

I’m sorry, what? OneDrive for Business, formerly SkyDrive Pro, is comprised of two components. Me thinks it’s not trying to take on SharePoint as a whole. The article might as well say “XYZ document synchronization software takes on SharePoint.”

The client agent for OneDrive for Business is an outgrowth of SharePoint for Workspaces 2010 which was an outgrowth of Microsoft Groove 2007 which was a rebrand of Groove 2006. The OneDrive for Business is merely the document library that’s standard for a user’s mysite user profile that happens to now connect back into the Groove software, I mean OneDrive for Business software with a special folder that shows up through File Explorer / Windows explorer thanks to the client agent. On a side note, all the functionality that you had in Groove and SharePoint Workspaces for metadata synchronization, forms, conversations and such no longer exists in OneDrive for Business.

I would like to say that my hat goes off to the Microsoft Office SharePoint Product Group and the associated teams that were able to make OneDrive for Business possible. It’s not easy to integrate something like this and it’s further not something simple especially with all the other turning wheels in the SharePoint platform wheelhouse.

Back to the article though… do I think that OneDrive for Business is taking on SharePoint? Trying to replace it? For certain use cases? Sure. If you’re an army of one or a small team of individuals that lack hard core processes, don’t require workflow and are primarily concerned with document management and collaboration, sounds like a nice service offering to go after.

For team collaboration however, where you’re working in an integrated workspace with calendar information, tasks, workflows, metadata, applications, dashboards, project schedules and other particular information – no.

Also, it’s interesting that the article mentions the “OneDrive for Business” following document libraries… that would be the client software allowing you to sync to document libraries… perhaps I’m missing the significance here but that’s SharePoint document libraries.

The subscription service to me is basically Microsoft offering it out there to compete with Dropbox for Business or other enterprise services. This just happening to key off the capabilities of SharePoint that already exist. Props to Microsoft for setting up the infrastructure and commoditizing it for those simply looking for document management and document collaboration through Office Web Applications.

All in all, I’m excited to see OneDrive for Business continue to gain popularity since until now SharePoint MySites and the document library were largely overlooked in SharePoint 2003/2007/2010.

To me though, the best part, if you look in task explorer and look at the process that’s running, while it might have a label that says “OneDrive for Business” it’s still good ole Groove.exe. :)

Come to the dark side…

It’s been a fairly light week after all the news pouring out from the Consumer Electronics Show, but a few highlights of interest.

  • It would seem that Andrew Connell has finally come back to the dark side with the procurement of a MacBook Pro. Funny enough that he’s got a similar logo on his MBP as Scott Hoag. As for me I’ve been sporting a Lego on my MBP for a couple of years now.

Speaking of off-topic, there’s been the drive as of recent for Microsoft to be recognized as more of a devices company than a platform company. In as much, we’ve seen Office 365 begin to bridge that gap, offering Office Web Apps that for the most part provide similar experiences across devices and browsers. Granted, not all browsers are created equal (IE6, you’ll always have a special place in my heart…). Nevertheless, I came across Addictive Tips blog postings on the “Best of Addons for 2013.” Specifically for FireFox and Chrome. So eat your heart out and check these out when you’ve got a few spare cycles:

With all of the security concerns as of recent note such as the Starbucks App being found to store passwords in clear text, it’s interesting to see that Google is adding the ability to send e-mail messages to individuals that you happen to be connected with through Google+. Note that there are ways to get out of this engagement by simply going in and changing your settings. More on how to do this is available here:

http://www.addictivetips.com/web/how-to-opt-out-of-gmails-new-email-via-google-plus-option/

And speaking of Google, don’t forget that the same technology baked into the Galaxy Nexus 5 where you simply say, “Okay Google” and a search page pops open ready to listen to your every beck and command – it’s also available for your Chrome web browser as an extension that can be added from the Google Chrome Store here:

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-voice-search-hotwo/bepbmhgboaologfdajaanbcjmnhjmhfn?hl=en-US

If you’re me and you’re still looking to finish out your MCSE SharePoint certification and just have to knock out the 70-417 MCSA upgrade exam, it couldn’t hurt to check out some of the materials that the Microsoft Virtual Academy is offering up on the Windows Server platform. More details are available here – and best of all, the training is free.

http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/product-training/windows-server

The Microsoft Office 365 team has updated the services that were added to Office 365 today for the December 2013 update on their Service Update Wiki. More details on this are available here – http://community.office365.com/en-us/wikis/office_365_service_updates/974.aspx#dec2013. Nothing overly significant, just three modifications.

On January 15, the Apps for Office and SharePoint blog posted an article on “Publishing apps for Office and SharePoint to Windows Azure Websites.” Definitely a handy article and walk through when you’re looking to create provider-hosted apps. Kudos to the Office Developer Team.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/officeapps/archive/2014/01/15/publishing-apps-for-office-and-sharepoint-to-windows-azure-websites.aspx

Last but not least, the Simpsons will be available throug the FX app as its sister station FXX has the exclusive on-demand rights for the show. The details are thin at the moment but it looks like a cable subscription will be required. More on this is available from the Unofficial Apple Weblog post here:

http://www.tuaw.com/2014/01/16/dedicated-app-will-stream-every-episode-of-the-simpsons-and-mor/

UserCode Solutions… collaborative guidance

This just in, we finally have a ruling from the SharePoint court of appeals… Sandboxed Solutions are deprecated!

Okay, some of them are deprecated. If you’re using declarative code and JavaScript, then keep on writing those Sandboxed Solutions, they’re still supported.

If you’re using the slimmed down API that Microsoft presented to us in SharePoint 2010 for the use of custom code within a Sandboxed Solution, then you’re outta luck as the SharePoint Developer Team has posted guidance leaving things pretty cut and dry as to where things stand. The only caveat being that they don’t define what they mean by “deprecated”.

More on this thrilling story is available here – Deprecation of Custom Code in Sandboxed Solutions.

Something that the article calls out, but I’m guessing that a lot of developers still may have overlooked is the Reimagine SharePoint Development session that they’ve been pushing folks to check out.

If you’re not too keen on these changes though, or you have a use case that you feel will make Microsoft think a little differently or perhaps augment the way custom code Sandboxed Solutions are handled going forward, be sure to speak your mind over at the Customer Feedback for the Office Developer Platform.

If you happen to live in the DC area, there’s an IT Pro Camp going on
22 February 2014 at the Chevy Chase offices of Microsoft. More details are available along with registration here:
Washington DC IT Pro Camp

A few other articles of note that might come in handy that I’ve come across from friends in the community:

Connecting… Collaborating… Communicating…