Posts Tagged ‘Office 365’

Yammer Roadmap Session #msignite

A small post to go over the Yammer Roadmap session and to highlight the key parts.

New Features:

Single Sign On (Future)

A major investment coming soon is Single Sign On with the rest of Office 365.  You can already link your Active Directory accounts but currently Single Sign On is not implement.  Watch out for this feature soon.

External Messaging (Available Now)

You can now invite any external user into your Yammer conversations by simply adding their email address as part of your post (section at the bottom).

  • When you do this, a small yellow dot icon is next to the name to signify that it is external
  • The post button has a small globe next to it to show that it is now interacting with external users.

Once you post the message it appears in the external users yammer private message inbox (assuming they have one) and an email is sent to their inbox with the ability to sign up if they need to.

They can reply via email or via the yammer private message system.

The author of the conversation has the ability to take the external user out of the conversation at any point.  The private messages are deleted out of the users inbox and they can no longer reply.

If you wish, you can stop external messaging across your organizations Yammer tenant within Administration settings.

Compliance (Future)

Currently Microsoft is working hard to move Yammer into their own infrastructure and once it has done, compliance will be a priority.

Group Focus (Future – Coming Soon)

Improved focus on Groups within Yammer (not to be confused with Office 365 Groups)

  • Navigation for creation of groups as well existing groups has moved from the Top Navigation to the Side Navigation.
  • New users will be able to search for new groups as soon as they sign up, helping to improve the overall experience.

Delve Cards (Mostly available now / when Delve is in your tenant)

Watch for a different post on what Delve is… but in the meantime…

Yammer “signals” are built into the Delve boards, allowing you to start a discussion from any article or item that appears within Delve.

Next to the icon, notification counts show others discussing the item in Delve within Yammer (Please note this relies upon Single Sign On being implemented in the future)

image image

Mobile App Improvements (Coming Soon)

  • Notifications are being added to iOS and Android clients with swipe actions to take you straight into the discussion within the app
  • Inline @mentions within the discussion rather than a separate list at the bottom of the discussion post
  • Photo publisher within the app with annotation capability
  • New mobile experience and UI will surface important content first by group (with number of items not seen).  This is designed to ensure you always see the latest content without missing a thing!


Office 365 Group Sync (Far Future)

Towards the end of the session a number of people asked about integration with Office 365 Groups.  It was mentioned that this is in the road map but not timeline could be confirmed as they are working hard at bringing Yammer into the Microsoft infrastructure.

The #msignite experience from the view of a customer–SharePoint 2016

Putting things in context…

If you have followed this blog over the last few years, you will know that I am no longer part of the Microsoft Partner Network and I now find myself working on the other side of the fence.

Rather than looking for the very latest technologies and keeping myself up to speed to aid my customer’s requirements, I now have a specific customer in mind, with specific requirements.

Right now I manage a team of .NET and SharePoint developers and contractors with a heavy emphasis on wanting to know how to develop in cloud based technologies such as Office 365, Azure etc.

Anyway, so lets talk about the sessions (multiple blog posts to come) and discussions at the Office Expo area (vendor stands)

SharePoint 2016 Roadmap and New Features

Delve and the Office Graph API

So they are bring SharePoint 2016 to the On-Premise environment with the key feature that Microsoft is bringing down is Delve and along with that the office graph API.

For those not in the know… Delve has been around for little in the Office 365 space but this will be the first time bringing the technology to the On-Premise environment and if you are to believe the hype in the conference… Delve and more to the point the Office Graph technology is the future in bringing disparate information to the end user from most technologies in the Microsoft Online space.

So lets talk about the Office Graph API… essentially it is the API to their machine learning engine behind the scenes, designed to bring together the information that is relevant to you!

Delve is the current front-end view of this API that surfaces the information from SharePoint, OneDrive, Search, Office 365 Video, & Exchange for now… but the API is in place for you to add your own custom apps!

New Blog Experience / Next Gen Portals

Along for the ride is new terminology called Next Gen Portals.  Designed to be a single consistent experience for a particular piece of functionality.

For example,

  • Blogs with the ability to drag images into the page that automatically get uploaded and stored
  • Knowledge Management portals
  • You Tube like Video Portals (O365 Video API’s are coming we are told!)
  • New Personal Profile (as part of Delve) – the Me Contact Card

The theme being very much, why do all this customization to your portals, the 1st class experience is available out of the box and will be available On-Premise as well as on Office 365.

Hybrid Cloud Search

Introduced with the 2016 release will be a new Managed Service that will allow us to combine Office 365 Search and On-Premise Search into a single set of results (yes, all refiners will work across both indexes!).  This is to help with Office 365 adoption in hybrid scenarios.

This coupled with the fact that the Office Graph API (built on top of search) essentially means you can inject search results and have them surface up in delve makes the whole proposition very powerful.

This hybrid Managed Service capability is also coming to SharePoint 2013 later this year!

Document ID’s

The Document ID is no longer limited to a Site Collection and now works across the Farm.  This is now known as Durable Links.

The User Profile Service is dead! long live the User Profile Service!

So what on earth do I mean by that?  Well it will no longer be a Managed Service within SharePoint 2016.  AD Import will still exist within SharePoint but if you want to still use the User Profile service, you will need to setup FIM (Forefront Identity Manager) as a separate server outside of the SharePoint Farm.

Personally I believe this is a good thing… FIM was cut down within SharePoint caused no end of troubles!

Testing / Reliability

Also highlighted was the amount of testing that has gone into SharePoint 2016.  It is clear that this version is only a step change compared to SharePoint 2013 but as a result, we have better experiences that are well tested from the various learning and implementations of the Office 365, SharePoint Online solutions.

Distributed Cache has been vastly improved in reliability.

As part of this, there is a solemn promise that One Drive for Business Sync will be improved with a brand new version coming soon.  (Thank goodness for that – no more Groove / SharePoint Workspace related products please!)

Installation and setup changes

You can now build servers with specific roles from the Product Config Wizard… this includes roles such as:

  • Web Front-end
  • Search
  • Application
  • Distributed Cache
  • As well as other, depending on your need.

This is designed to minimize workloads for specific purposes and although you could do this before… it certainly makes life easier!

Zero downtime patching

It has been recognized that patching is a nightmare nowadays with the bi-monthly patches often being bigger than SharePoint’s initial install to allow for differences in patch versions.

Install’s are long and the farm is out of commission whilst doing so.

It is also recognized that patches need to be tested thoroughly still, due to the amount of changes inside them.

So to help improve this situation for On-Premise… they introduced the idea of Zero downtime patching with SharePoint 2016.  Patches can be applied without downtime of the servers.

Not too much more was said about this during the roadmap session but I suspect to learn more throughout the week!

Release Schedule

Lastly, what we all really wanted to know and confirm!  The release schedule for SharePoint 2016

  • SharePoint 2016 Beta 1 – Q4 2015
  • SharePoint 2016 Release Candidate – Q1 2016
  • SharePoint 2016 RTM (Release To Manufacturing) – Q2 2016

Ok that’s it… more to follow when I get time…

PowerBI price model revealed

January 16, 2014 Leave a comment

The pricing of the Business Intelligence on the Cloud (Office365) #PowerBI that we demonstrated a few months ago has now been revealed :

Only US pricing for now.

With 3 licence models to choose  and a price per user, it is fair to say that if you have 1 or 2 “main BI developers” you just need 1-2 licences and all users will be able to see your beautiful BI.

PowerBI Pricing

But be wary looking at the prices as explained here by ZDNet Mary JoFoley:

Andrew Brust, founder of Blue Badge Insights (and “Big on Data” blogger on ZDNet), was a bit less bullish on the Power BI pricing.

“The ‘full boat’ package of Power BI + Office ProPlus is $624/user/year, which is almost exactly 25% more than Tableau Online, at $500/year. Even the Standalone package is $480/user/year which is only a little less than Tableau,” Brust said.

On a side note, there are some really cool PowerBI examples taking part of the PowerBI Contest being submitted so keep an eye on the line-up (interestingly on Facebook, not Yammer or Office365 site : link here). Last submission was 15/01/14 and final judging : 01/03/14.

check out this short video “Ivonne’s story” or how to show-off some BI in a few minutes and make someone’s day.

Ivonne's Story

Ivonne’s Story

By: Carlos De Leon


#Office365 Two Factor Authentication (Preview) (Phone Factor) #O365

August 13, 2013 1 comment

So I am about to embark on a client who is interested in two factor authentication in their existing Office 365 environment.

Oliver StickleyWith the speed Microsoft is going at these days, surely there is a solution to this and speaking to some contacts with Oliver Stickley, Microsoft helped us out.

What is Two Factor Authentication?

Single factor authentication is via a single method such as a Username and Password.

Two Factor Authentication adds an extra measure into the mix to ensure that you are who you say you are.  This could be an RSA Security Key or more recently the market is shifting towards using mobile phones as the security key with the use of automated phone calls, text messaging (SMS) or mobile apps.

The Solution

In October 2012, Microsoft acquired a company called PhoneFactor (more info) which has been developing two factor authentication solutions in the cloud for a while now and recently the capabilities have been added to Office 365 in the form of a preview which is free to try for Administrators.

NB: Please be aware that this is currently in preview, so they are still working out the kinks, pricing model, release schedules etc..

Given that we are in preview, not everything will be perfect, but there is still options that you can try out now assuming you have an Enterprise plan.

Three options are available:

  • Cloud IdentityOffice 365
  • Directory & Password Synchronisation
  • Federated Identity (ADFS)
    The various pros and cons of each option are described below in the video presentation.

NB: I can confirm that this is not available on the P1/P2 plans but unsure about the small business plans.

How does it work?

As part of my research I came across this excellent presentation from Microsoft Consulting Services which goes into detail about how the solution works.

Understanding Identities and Single Sign On.



Ignite Webcast – Understanding Identities and Single Sign On 

NB:   Please note that some limitations exist with non-ADFS setups and local client software (Outlook, Office etc.).  (it is a preview after all)

Original Source:

2nd Factor Authentication Options

So we know what two factor authentication is all about and we have seen how it is likely to work within Office 365, lets explore the options we have available to us:

Phone Call & SMS

Using any mobile phone (smart, non-smart or event an office phone), you can log-in with an automated phone call from Microsoft or an SMS Text Message which provides and authentication code.


Mobile App – Windows Phone 7 & 8

If you don’t have phone signal, then you can use generated no. authentication methods via a mobile app.  Microsoft of course support their own platforms

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Mobile App – iOS / Android

The mobile app is also available for iOS and Android as well which pretty much covers most of the mobile market.  Search for Active Authentication from the Microsoft Corporation or use the links provided below.

iPhone Screens:

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Before the Microsoft re-brand iOS demonstration

iOS (iPhone / iPad) App Download:

Android Screens:

android1 Android2

Android App Download:


That’s great, how do I get started?

Excellent question, it’s available in your Office 365 admin panel right now and is incredibly easy to setup without ADFS…

Login to your Office 365 admin portal, click Users and Groups:


Click the set up link shown above.

Now select the name you want to use two factor authentication with and click enable.


Please keep at least one admin account with single factor authentication whilst you are using this preview version.

NB: Admins are free to use the capability, standard users require a license.

Once you have turned it on against your admin user account.  Log out and log back in.  You will be asked to initially verify your second type of authentication.

Choose your preferred option from below:


NB: You will find this link useful later as in the preview there doesn’t appear to be a link within the Office 365 interface:

Even though it is Windows Azure based, login with your Office 365 account details.

That is it.  You are setup and working.

Preview documentation is available on TechNet here:

    If you would like to use ADFS, take a look at the links above and perhaps contact your favourite Microsoft partner (hint: CPS ( to help you out.
    Ok, v.long post today but hopefully you will all find it useful.  Till the next time…

    Business Intelligence in the cloud, phew thank goodness… #Office365 #BI #SharePoint #PowerBI

    So the Worldwide Partner Conference is going on in Houston at the moment and as much as I would love to be there, unfortunately projects here in London have to continue.  Still early starts and watching the world go by in Pret (coffee shop for those outside of the UK) is always interesting before the hub-bub of the day starts.

    Anyway, as with every year at WPC, there are always exciting announcements and this year is no different.  We can hail this as official business intelligence in the cloud day!3731.SUMMARY_MobileBI_300x166.jpg-550x0

    Now many of the projects I work on consider Office 365 as a platform, however the more enterprise you go, the more the requirements tend to need some level of business intelligence.  I was excited before with the release of SQL Reporting Services Online, however as functional as it is, limitations and costs current pose this solution to be only for the fully cloud invested.

    My new hopes for BI in the cloud however seem to be starting to be answered in the form of Power BI for Office 365.

    Using the capabilities already available on premise (Data Explorer, GeoFlow, Power Pivot and Power View) with tweaking, some re-branding and a little bit of mobile love (mobile apps to be available also (Windows 8, RT and iPad, HTML5) it looks like we may have an answer.

    This to my mind almost completes the Office 365 capabilities to truly propel the cloud for use in the projects I get involved in.  (Project Management, Business Intelligence, Intranets, ECM solutions).

    I urge you all to read up on the following and register for the preview coming “later this summer”.  I have a feeling this is going to be major!



    As I try things out, I will post my findings and any limitations I come across, but hopefully with the new OData / REST capabilities of Excel and SSRS, we should be able to have some fun with SharePoint list data!


    #Skype and #Lync seamless harmony? My experience of getting them working #O365 #Office365

    So I’ve come into work today all happy because I am actually on some time booked out for management time and learning.

    Given that Microsoft have opened up the interoperability between Skype and Lync, what better thing to try for 20 mins. (Articles from Skype here and from Microsoft here)

    I happen to be in a lucky scenario:

    • My company has just moved to using Lync Online (as part of a general move to Office 365). 
    • We are also in a transition between Lync 2010 and Lync 2013.
    • We also use Skype heavily for clients who do not have Lync.
    • I also have a Windows Live Messenger account that is linked to Skype
    • I have a personal version of Office 365 that I use as well.
      So pretty much, with no setup time, I can test all the scenarios without any of the pain.

    Initial Setup – Server (Office 365)

    So my initial setup in Office 365, Lync Online Admin is as follows:


    • External access: On except for blocked domains
    • Public IM connectivity: checked (Turn on communications with Skype users and users of other public IM service providers)
      Initial Setup – Client

    So after playing with it today, here are some facts that you need to know.

    Ensure that you are logged into Skype as your Microsoft account.

      Skype Name

      Microsoft Account

    You do not appear to need to update your clients, I am using Lync 2013 (RTM) and haven’t updated Skype in a while (there is certainly an update pending, but it is working).

    Other than that, we are good to go.

    Scenario One – Lync 2013 to Skype

    • So load up Lync as per normal and go to add a user:


    • Enter the Microsoft Account username and click OK:


    • On clicking ok, after a little while (couple of minutes), the Skype account will get a contact request:



    • Click Add to Contacts and away we go…


    Scenario Two – Lync 2010 to Skype

    • Very similar to Scenario One, but instead of searching of a contact “Outside of your organisation”, just type in the Microsoft Account address, click the plus and add to the appropriate group.


    • Upon adding the user the group, a contact request is sent to Skype and after a couple of minutes you can chat away.


    Scenario Three – Skype to Lync

    • Fairly simple again in this scenario.
    • Click Add Contact button
    • Type the Office 365 Account Name
    • Add them to the appropriate List in Skype


    Now in order for it to kick in (and this maybe a timing issue), I had to send an instant message to receive a connection invite within Lync.  Other than that, we are cooking on gas!.

    Windows Live Messenger, Huh?

    Why did you mention Windows Live Messenger, isn’t it supposed to be dead?

    Well as an interesting thing to note, I used to separate my personal and business IM activities, therefore WLW was the personal and Skype / Lync was the business.

    However, now that WLW is almost no more, I found that logging into my Skype account with my Microsoft Account brought my personal status message into the Lync contact list.  Not the most professional thing I could have done, potentially.

    So surely, we can just go into Skype and change it… right?  Well apparently no, as this only controls the Skype status message… so I downloaded Windows Live Messenger, logged in and changed it and all was well with the world again.

    And Finally…

    So there you have it.  Skype, Lync working together with a bit of Windows Live Messenger thrown in for good measure.

    Voice calls work well too, as does IM via mobile.


    The #Office365 Upgrade Experience

    May 23, 2013 1 comment

    So the magic email finally arrived recently.  Microsoft have finished upgrading my Office 365 (2010 version) to the new 2013 (Wave 15) version (both the E1 and P1 plans that I have).


    Now as some of you know already, I have created a new Office 365 tenant for my partner who has recently entered the world of HR consulting.  It is just a small endeavour at the moment whilst we sort out other personal to do’s like weddings etc…

    Anyway, we needed a good email system, Lync is useful and a site for document collaboration.  Office 365 fits the bill perfectly.

    I also created a very basic public website and sorted out all the DNS entries etc…

    Anyway, enough of the background stuff – lets talk about the upgrade went?

    Well Exchange & Lync is all done for you behind the scenes.  This worked perfectly for us and the new Outlook Web App interface is great (very similar to and now includes Lync presence information with the ability to control your online status.



    Lync is of course changed in look and feel and the user interface is certainly a lot nicer than Lync 2010 and Office Communicator 2007 R2.

    It is nice to see this all working together.  More on this in a minute!

    Now for the interesting bit – The SharePoint Online upgrade:

    So logging into any of your site collections you will see the following message on the top of the site:


    Clicking on Start now takes you to this…


    And given that I have a pretty much blank sites at this point (a few document libraries here and there), I went straight for the upgrade.


    Even after this warning, you still get the chance to stop the process:


    In my case, for the main site collection, there seemed to be a warning around task lists, which presumably is not upgraded from the 2010 version, since they are all new in 2013 with great integration with Microsoft Project 2013.

    Now after all that, go back to the root of the site collection and you are done!

    A few things to note

    This needs to be done on every site collection.  By every site collection, they mean every one – including:

    • Team Site
    • My Site (each individual)
      • My photo had to be re-uploaded but otherwise details stayed the same.  The photo also took quite sometime to propogate to Lync and Exchange, however this is a huge improvement.  One picture to fit them all!
    • My Site Host
      • Interesting this had to be upgraded separately to the My Site Content
        • Although technically this makes sense, I know that some of the non-technical business using Office 365 won’t understand this.
    • Search
      • Upgraded without issue but left old search symbol in place.
        • Interestingly, search box is no longer centred but the page layout could be updated as required.

    That is about it, so nothing major to an experienced SharePoint and Office 365 techy like myself but I know that a number of my friends who use their Office 365 for their small business will be giving me a call when the time comes.

    Anyway…  lets start talking about some of the new unexpected features that come with the upgrade:

    New Features

    We now have new Mobile Apps

    • Lync 2013
      • Works as per Lync 2010 but contains the new style and options about video / voice over 3G connections etc…
    • SharePoint Newsfeed
      • A new mobile app that relies upon My Sites being used.  Here are some screenshots…

    photo 0

    photo 2

    photo 4

    photo 3

    And last but not least…Outlook Web Access

    New look and feel but mostly the same but some new capabilities that caught my eye:

    • Lync presence capability is built in
    • Offline Access – which works a treat in IE and Chrome
    image image


    That’s it for now, but expect more as I come across it!

    Categories: Giles Hamson, Work Tags: , ,

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