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The Sitecore Symposium Experience For You

Jamie Stump, Parshva Vora, myself, and others from the Perficient family attended Sitecore Symposium this past week. We absorbed a lot of knowledge about what is upcoming with Sitecore 7.5 and Sitecore 8. The cadence communicated from Sitecore is around “experience”. The building blocks are being put in place for you, our clients, to help your customers have a custom and personal experience while we as a partner provide solutions that allow you to place “experience before content”.  Read the rest of this post »

A “Connected Consumer” turns into lifelong customers

What a week it was! I am referring to the last week spent at Sitecore Symposium North America and Annual MVP Summit that took place in Las Vegas. There was plenty to absorb with as much as seven sessions in progress at the same time. Sessions were divided into three different tracks: Product, Business and Developer. Obviously I couldn’t make it to all, but I did attend a good mix of them. All sessions were diverse in terms of subject matter. However, from opening keynote to closing keynote, the emerging theme was clear, and it was the Connected Consumer Experience!

personalizationWell, the concept of the consumer experience is not entirely brand new. At the symposium, stronger emphasis was placed on the term ‘connected’. The digital marketing landscape is continuously shifting as customers are engaging in doing business across several channels – email, website, mobile sites, apps. social media, CRM etc., and it poses at least two immediate questions for any organization that takes their customers seriously.

  1. Are we ready, as an organization, to do business with customers across these diverse channels?
  2. And, if so, do we have the infrastructure and solutions in place that drive for us a single view of our customer across online and offline touch points so that we can offer them a connected and meaningful experience?

Read the rest of this post »

Everything You Need to Know About Delve & Office Graph

Ok, I’ve got to admit I really meant to say “Almost everything you need to know in first Release.”

The more you share, the more you get. Believe in that? Office 365 community does and as a result , this week Microsoft hosted “Delve Yamjam” to coincide with the launch of the new Office 365 product called “Delve”. (If you are new to I highly recommend reading earlier articles here and here to get to know your new friend Delve). Look at a screenshot of Delve from my demo tenant, looks pretty cool, huh?

Delve Img1

Some great questions asked some great thoughts shared. I summarize here for the larger community. Microsoft responses were from Christophe Fiessinger, Kady Dundas, Josh Stickler, Mark Kashman, Cem Aykan and on the phone Ashok Kuppusamy, Stefan Debald, Fredrik Holm, John Toews, and Robin Miller.

  • Which Office 365 business plans includes Delve?
    • Delve is included in the Office 365 E1 – E4 subscription plans (and the corresponding A2 – A4 and G1 – G4 plans for Academic and Government customers respectively)
  • Can I protect data from ever being shown in others Delve results?
    • Yes, Delve only shows documents based on permissions set and inherit those from OneDrive and SharePoint online. Also each card will have a sharing control and “who can see this” option
    • If your folder and contents are not shared with anyone, they will not appear in Delve for anyone. It always respect the permissions set on the items.
  • Which kinds of data is considered “private data”?
    • There’s both the concept of private data (e.g. files that only you or you and a select few colleagues can see) and private signals (e.g. the fact that you have viewed a particular document, even if it’s public). Delve respects SharePoint and Search permissions, so only users who have access to read a document can see that document appear as a result in Delve. Furthermore, details like the documents you view or documents others view are private.
  • Any Android / iOS apps in the pipeline for Delve?
    • Yes but no timeline could be provided yet
  • Not all content (file types) is included in Delve. Any plans for extending the list of file types, and/or list of content sources?
    • PDF, excel, and word file types are included but there is absence of image files and Visio files.
    • Yep, we are planning to add more content sources and signals to the Office Graph on ongoing basis
    • We are working on increasing the content types supported by Delve. We started with an initial list of Office doc types, but we will expand this over time.
  • Delve site has default branding and does not incorporate our corporate branding that is available on Yammer, OneDrive and Sites menu options in top navigation bar?
    • The top Office 365 navigation is now theme able and your theme should be available in Delve as well. Broader theming is something we’ll be looking at in the future.
  • Delve was rolled out to our business tenant yesterday. So far it is showing us trending documents that our co-workers are viewing on SharePoint. Is there a way to block certain areas so we don’t see our co-workers trends in HR searches?
    • You can make those documents not shared using the SharePoint permissions UI, but right now, there’s no feature to exclude documents from Delve but still available to everyone.  read here for more details.
  • Will Outlook be leverage into Delve
    • Outlook as part of Office 365 is already leveraged in Delve.
    • We are considering adding email attachments to Delve.
    • Office Graph is driving scenario for OWA. So appointments and attendee information are only leveraged in delve if it’s in OWA. You can imagine Office Graph providing insights multiple scenarios in the future…if you haven’t already done so check the Office Graph on the blog post from Monday.
  • Does ‘signals from exchange’ refer to email relationships (i.e. who the recipients and senders are)?
    • Yes, and to elaborate, it analyzes the set of people with whom you correspond via email and use this data as a factor to weight your working relationships with your colleagues.
    • The org structure is another factor taken into consideration
  • The 5 people to the left – seems to be right for most people (in terms of the ones with most interactions), but I have seen colleagues, with strange people presented as top 5 people.
    • have a bug where it is showing groups/crawler accounts instead of just people
    • The people on the left aren’t related to them in any way. Known issues MSFT working with no ETA
  • Will Delve work in a hybrid scenario using my On-Premise systems?
    • This is place for partner opportunities! But MSFT is working on a solution to feed on-premises (like exchange on premise) content into Delve, but no timeline can be announced.
    • Plans to release hybrid connector capabilities so that the Office Graph can integrate signals and content from on prem.
  • Any federation plans across multiple tenants?
    • No plans today
  • Delve supports the most common screen readers, high-contrast mode etc aligned with Microsoft policies in this area.
  • Is there a way to limit #delve deployment to some user groups in the company? Just to help company to graduate deploy it
    • An individual user can turn off Delve. This will also control Office Graph as-well.
  • Are you adding Delve results to the search page, or can we see this as an UI opportunity
    • Not to SharePoint enterprise search center but we look at that as an opportunity
  • Item limit for Delve
    • Delve shows up to 36 items in a view. This is the same when you search in the search box.
  • Details to the API Roadmap?
    • Right now you can do graph queries through the SharePoint Search Rest API using “Graph Query Language” as described here: GQL
  • If a user has permission to access a document/list item but the library/list is excluded from search in list settings will the content still display in Delve?
    • Nope, Delve uses the same permissions for search..
  • Do you have plan to return Yammer conversations in any form as Delve results ?
    • It’s something MSFT is actively working on showing the Yammer conversations tied to documents in Delve.
  • Is Delve going to work with Office 365 Pro Plus client or only Office online, and the other question, is it only working based on files saved only in ODFB and SharePoint online?
    • Yes if the document is stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online then yes the Office Graph will index it
  • What is the best way to introduce Delve within an organization? Are there best practices and change management recommendations?
    • We are working on an email template that Office 365 admins can then send to their users that helps address exactly what you’re asking. It would have info about What, How, Why with links and first steps. This template will be made available to admins via the message center to raise awareness.
    • We, too, plan to incorporate Delve info and insight into the adoption website we currently maintain here: Discover SharePoint  (with near-term plans to focus on broader Office 365 scenarios).

Hope this provides some insights around how Office Graph captures and renders signals. Check back for more details as I dive more into Delve.

Office 365 pushes Microsoft atop Gartner’s Social Magic Quadrant

Microsoft position as a Leader in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace has moved to the top. Read the rest of this post »

Webinar Recap: What to Know When Migrating to Microsoft Exchange

On Tuesday, we teamed up with Binary Tree, Microsoft’s 2014 Messaging Partner of the Year, for a webinar on Best Practices & Solutions For Migrating to Microsoft Exchange.

The session delved into Office 365, common challenges when migrating to Exchange, along with an example of a customer who recently migrated to Exchange Online with the help of Binary Tree’s solution, and then, how Binary Tree’s CMT Suite works with a demonstration of CMT for Coexistence and CMT for Exchange.

First, Perficient’s Rene Strawser, whose role as a lead technical consultant allows her to focus primarily on the deployment and migration of the Microsoft unified communications technologies of Exchange, gave attendees a bit of background on the trends surrounding the cloud, and specific features of cloud-based Exchange in Office 365.

Following this, James Tolentino, another lead technical consultant at Perficient, shared the common challenges he’s worked through when migrating customers to Exchange from legacy email platforms, and then walked through a situation where a customer recently moved from a legacy email platform to Exchange Online. He described the key features of the Binary Tree tools that were used as well as an overview of the migration process. This included the criticality of end user communication and the use of PowerShell commands and replica/staging.

For the second half of the webinar, Binary Tree solution architect Perry Hiltz went into further detail on Binary Trees’s award-winning SMART migration software solutions, CMT for Coexistence and CMT for Exchange, and then gave the audience a live demo of the tools in action.

You can view the entire replay here, including the demonstration. You can also catch up with the speakers on Twitter: @srstrawser and @PWHiltz.

Office 365 & SharePoint Online – Customize the Suite Bar

The Suite Bar is the thin blue bar that runs at the very top of your Office 365 window with your Outlook, Calendar, People, Yammer, OneDrive, and Sites links. Its your primary navigation to all the different services in your Office 365 Suite of products. Have you ever wished the bar wasn’t blue? Have you ever wanted to add your own logo? Well now you can!

nav-bar-1024x37

Microsoft has announced a new feature of Office 365 – Custom Themes. Go to your Office 365 Admin Dashboard, click your company hyperlink in the top right corner, then you’ll see options to change the following: Read the rest of this post »

SharePoint Online Retires Tags and Notes

As Microsoft continues to blend and expand Yammer capabilities across the platform, they have retired Tags and Notes in SharePoint Online.

Key factor to note is that users can no longer create create or access existing tags or notes. The only option is for SharePoint Online admins to export all existing tags and notes via an archived csv files, from the SharePoint admin center. Also, for those using this feature, the webparts will start showing up blank.

Tags-Notes

Tags and Note UX in SharePoint 2013

Below is the table of  how this will affect users :

Item
Change
Tags & Notes button on ribbonStill visible but disabled.
Note Board and Tag Cloud web parts in the web part galleryStill visible and enabled. The web parts will show up as blank when added to a page.
Note Board and Tag Cloud web parts embedded in a pagePage will display a blank space in the area previously occupied by the web parts. Edit the page to remove the web parts.
Social tagsSocial tags will no longer appear in the tags refiner. The refiner will still display hashtags.
Tags and notes listed on personal sitesThe area that previously listed tags and notes will be blank.

Delve Has Arrived

How long have you been patiently waiting for this amazing new search powered app called “Delve”? Days, weeks, months?
The wait is finally over with Microsoft announcing today that it is releasing Delve to office 365 subscribers!

What is Delve?
Delve is a new way to search and discover content with Office graph in the background doing all the heavy lifting.
I talk about it in detail here or Watch the video here.

Release ScheduleFinally Here
The Office blog says, “Delve will roll out to Office 365 customers in phases, first to customers that have elected to receive significant Office 365 service updates at first release, an opt-in program. Following that, Delve will roll out to all Office 365 customers over several months in standard release, the default option for Office 365 customers. We expect Delve to roll out to all eligible Office 365 customers by early 2015. For the Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Small Business, Small Business Premium, and Midsize Business customers, first release rollout will begin in January 2015.”

Admin Get Started
If you are wondering how to avail this feature, check out the Delve for Admins here.

SharePoint Online (O365) adds security and compliance services

In the past month, Microsoft has added two key new service capabilities to SharePoint Online and Rights Management that provide a more robust secure computing experience.  The first is the introduction of data loss prevention and the second is the improvements in protecting content across all platforms including OS X Support.

Data Loss Prevention

DLPSharePoint Online now provides the ability to perform a legal audit to determine the amount of risk posed by data stored on SharePoint sites and OneDrive, commonly known as data loss prevention or DLP. This capability provides the ability to identifying 51 built-in sensitive information types such as credit cards, passport numbers, and Social Security numbers. Once discovered there is the ability to perform an audit and export a report with suspect content.

There is future capabilities for policy creation that automatically detects sensitive content and applies protection, such as deletion or quarantine for review.

For more information about Using DLP in SharePoint Online, review this TechNet article
For more information about the Using 51 DLP Information Types, review this TechNet article.

Read the rest of this post »

Windows Server 2003 End of Life – Migration Tools and Methodology

Windows Server 2003 will reach end of life on July 14, 2015. Support and security patches will no longer be available after that date. If you are still running Server 2003 in your environment, hopefully you are already planning how to migrate your workloads to a supportable platform. If you are just beginning to consider your migration, a sample of tools and methodologies are outlined below to help you get started.


 

Tools

 Windows Server 2003 End of Life - Migration Tools and Methodology~ Windows Server Migration Tools

Windows Server 2012 offers a built-in migration solution called Windows Server Migration Tools (install as a feature). Use this tool to ease the process of migrating server roles, features, OS settings and data from Windows Server 2003. The source server must be running at least Server 2003 SP2 or R2. It will handle both 32bit and 64bit. Find the Microsoft guide to this tool here.

 ~ AppZero

Microsoft Partner AppZero offers a tool which extracts and encapsulates only the target applications you want to migrate. You can choose to run the application in the encapsulated form on the destination server, which enables continued portability. This is handy for use in hybrid environments where you might want the flexibility of running the application on a server in the cloud, or in your on-premises environment. With the application encapsulated, you can continue to easily move them between those environments. Or you can choose to ‘dissolve’ the application to the destination server. This enables it to run as if it were natively installed. Learn more about how AppZero can help migrate your workloads, and provide ongoing flexibility.

 ~ Windows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant

This isn’t so much of a tool as it is a workflow type assistant with will help you work through the steps you need to focus on to identify the applications you really need to move. You may find legacy applications which your organization isn’t using any longer, or that so few people are using them that you can help them find alternative solutions and not actually migrate those apps. Get started with the Migration Planning Assistant.


 

Methodology

 The Migration Planning Assistant steps you through a methodology which helps you identify the applications, features and roles, services and data which you may need to migrate to a supportable platform. Your team may also use this methodology independent of the Planning Assistant.

1. Discover

The first step is to identify all the servers and applications running on Server 2003. Use the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) to help with identification. You may also decide to enlist the help of Microsoft Partners to help with this, and the entire process.

 2. Assess

Now that you have identified your at-risk servers and applications, it’s time to take a critical look at what they are, and how they will fit into your migration plan.

Type – What is it? What does it do?

~ Server Roles

~ Native Microsoft application

~ Third-party

Criticality – How important is it to your organization?

~ Mission Critical

~ Important

~ Marginal

~ Retire/Replace

Complexity – How many resources and how much time do you need to dedicate to each app?

~ Low

~ Medium

~ High

Risk – How long can you live without the app if it is unavailable during the migration?

~ Low

~ Medium

~ High

3. Target

What is the destination platform? You may decide to move it to a Microsoft Server 2012 R2 server running in your own datacenter. Or you may want to leverage the flexibility and potential cost-savings of Microsoft Azure. Should the server be physical or virtual? Perhaps this is a messaging or collaboration solution you want to run in Office 365.

4. Migrate

You have combed through your environment and identified the applications you need to migrate. Now decide who has responsibility for actually migrating the apps and plan the move. Again, you may utilize tools for the migration, or identify a Microsoft Partner to help you with the process.


 

Conclusion

How you get there is definitely important and these tools and steps will help you. The most important thing is to get started now. With time on your side, this doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Good luck!