SharePoint Online Service Descriptions – Hidden Gem

TL;dr – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office/dn788955

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So I should have posted this a while ago… back in December 2013 (http://www.sharepointdan.com/2013/12/29/sharepoint-online-versus-on-premise-v15/), but figured that it deserved some reminding to folks that might be looking for it…

If you’re like me and you get questions about SharePoint Online and how it compares to SharePoint On-Premises, you typically just start drawing from experiences – some that might be subjective, some that might be objective. Regardless, it’s not something that typically provides for an overarching analysis of services that SharePoint Online provides for thereby leaving you in a rut of sorts trying to determine what each different version of SharePoint and SharePoint Online provide for.

If you’re familiar with Microsoft, the SharePoint Product group released spiffy downloadable Excel spreadsheets detailing the different capabilities and feature sets of the different SKUs (Foundation, Standard, Enterprise) SharePoint for both the 2007 and 2010 versions. With SharePoint 2013, many of us were wondering where we could find something like this for the most recent version – sure there was the Office 365 service description but for those of us working with On-Premises deployments we didn’t know where would get this information.

This is available here – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office/dn788955

The Product Group snuck this in somewhere in fall of 2013 – I can say this because I was working with a client at the time and stumbled upon it in an update and was ecstatic :)

So what does this have? It’s got ever SKU of Office 365 as well as the On-Premises feature sets so if you want to compare what SharePoint Online has in E3 against what SharePoint 2013 Enterprise provides for you can do that comparison. The spreadsheet also has built in filters so that you’re able to choose the SKU you want and compare between SKUs easily.

If you decide that you want a full up view of the Service Description displayed through Excel Online, you can simply https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?cid=41e528b989881d4a&id=documents&resid=41E528B989881D4A!194&app=Excel&authkey=!AJTaHXrAwKrOd68&.

And what’s more if you want to download a copy of the spreadsheet for use later, you can simply click on the Download button within the Excel Online application to pull down a point in time copy. Mind you that similar to the Service Descriptions that overarch all of Office 365, these are updated regularly – the date of the update to the Excel file is displayed in the document in the upper left cell.

Happy comparisons!

Office 365 Service Descriptions

TL; dr – http://www.office365sd.com

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One of the most common questions that I hear on a regular basis is, “How do I decide which Office 365 plan should I get? Just the small or mid-size business or do I need the E plan?”

Up until recently, if you were an organization that was running Active Directory on-premises and you were hoping to use the same password or federate your identity, I would have told you that you needed at least the Mid-Size business plan or one of the E plans. However, Microsoft has changed things up and more or less all of their business plans (not the consumer plans) now support the use of Azure Active Directory integration.

But wait, you’re still scratching your head asking the question, “But which plan do I need?” Without reading through the marketing information on the office.com site, I’d recommend you hop on over to the Service Descriptions to determine what really meets your needs and requirements.

“But Dan, that’s a lot of work…” True, you can go with the information that’s presented just at office.com and get up and running now and change things down the road plan wise… or you can go over to the Service Descriptions and figure out what you really need.

“But Dan, I don’t have time to hunt and peck for URLs…” Sure you do… no wait, you don’t. So head on over to http://www.office365sd.com.

Remember that the Service Descriptions are updated regularly so you probably want to bookmark that handy URL that Microsoft put out there for you to find the resource more quickly.

Azure and Office 365 Certification Opportunities

For those of you that are looking to get certified on cloud based products in the Microsoft stack – well there’s a great opportunity for you to get certified – for free.

Microsoft Learning is giving away 10k vouchers for individuals to attempt to gain an MCTS between now and the end of the year for the newly released cloud certifications for Azure and MCSA for Office 365.


Update 3 – And Microsoft is out of certification vouchers. For those of you that were able to attain one – good luck in your studies!

Update 2 – MS Learning tweeted me to let me know that they still have exam vouchers, seems that the initial message was incorrect. Get’em while they’re hot!

Update – They’re fresh out of exam vouchers – they went pretty quickly it would seem, good luck to those of you that were able to snag one!!!

If you’re looking for studying materials – I’d recommend checking out the learning objectives for each of the exams, available on their exam pages listed here:

Azure Certifications:
Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions – 70-532 – https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-532.aspx
Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions – 70-533 – https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-533.aspx

Office 365 Certifications
Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements – 70-346 – https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-346.aspx
Enabling Office 365 Services – 70-347 – https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-347.aspx

If you pass both Office 365 certifications, you’ll gain your Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) for Office 365 which can be counted toward the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) SharePoint 2013.

For more information about getting a free voucher though, check out the Microsoft Learning blog here:

http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/btl/b/weblog/archive/2014/10/16/get-certified-on-microsoft-azure-or-office-365-with-free-exams.aspx

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!

Connecting… Collaborating… Communicating…