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Webinar: Ensuring a Successful SharePoint Migration to the Cloud

Last week, at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, it was mentioned that there are one billion Microsoft Windows and Office users today, and Office 365 is Microsoft’s fastest growing business in its history. At Perficient, we are definitely seeing this. Our customers are using Office 365 more than ever, from SharePoint to Exchange and Lync to Yammer and Power BI. webinar - internet education concept

That being said, when it comes to SharePoint, if you are considering moving your on-premises SharePoint environment to the cloud, you aren’t alone. There are a plethora of reasons to make the move – with Office 365, SharePoint is easy to manage, has enhanced security, and is accessible from just about anywhere. To add to that, you have OneDrive for Business, you can extend the collaborative nature of SharePoint with Yammer, and you can find tons of SharePoint apps in the Office Store  to extend functionality.

If your company is considering such a move, and you want to learn more, join us on Thursday, August 14, at 1 p.m. CT for a webinar, Best Practices for a Successful SharePoint Migration or Upgrade to the Cloud. During the session, Jason Bell, senior solution architect and SharePoint guru at Perficient, will show you how to make the migration process less daunting, including key details needed for a successful migration to Office 365. He’ll also cover: Read the rest of this post »

Partner Spotlight – AvePoint Online Services for Office 365

Perficient has many great partners that support our development and deployment of the best of breed solutions we provide for our clients. This post is the first in a series that will highlight some of the products available from our partners. Today, I’ll be presenting AvePoint and their Online Services for Office 365.

Requiring no installation and no agents, AvePoint Online Services is the industry’s first and only 100% Microsoft Azure-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for Office 365. With simplified Office 365 administration, compliance, and governance, AvePoint Online Services empowers organizations to extend cloud computing as dictated by specific business needs.

There are 3 main components to the solution:

Office 365 Management

avepoint logoOffering granular content protection for SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and Exchange Online as well as comprehensive configuration and audit reporting, DocAve Online provides administrators enhanced management and control of Office 365 users, permissions, and content.

Manage. Protect. Report.

  • Enhance management with DocAve Online’s unmatched controls for Office 365 security, configurations, and content.
  • Ensure data loss protection with quick, granular restore and easily reorganize content to accommodate enterprise scaling.
  • Optimize platform performance with real-time publication and synchronization. Gain valuable insights with customizable reports, allowing for comprehensive understanding of SharePoint Online environments.

More information

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Partner Spotlight – Metalogix Diagnostic Manager

Perficient has many great partners that support our development and deployment of the best of breed solutions we provide for our clients. This post is the second in a series that will highlight some of the products available from our partners. Today, I’ll be presenting Metalogix and their Diagnostic Manager for SharePoint. 91583_Metalogix_Logo2011

Metalogix Diagnostic Manager ensures SharePoint performance and availability at all times. It monitors SharePoint content and servers from a single console, quickly identifying , diagnosing, and resolving problems before users even notice. It also provides critical planning information by storing size, count, and performance data of both servers and stored objects. Diagnostic Manager also monitors SharePoint in real-time, enabling administrators to quickly pinpoint performance and availability issues with servers, resources, HTML controls, web parts, and web controls.

Key Features

  • Preventative Care, Not Just Emergency Care

Diagnostic Manager provides constant insight to your server and content performance. It continuously monitors, diagnoses, discovers, analyzes and resolves SharePoint performance and availability issues.

  • Diagnose Without Delay

Read the rest of this post »

Readmissions Analysis using Epic’s Cogito and Microsoft Tools

One of the myriad of new requirements tucked inside the Affordable Care Act is for healthcare service providers to implement strategies to reduce the number of inpatient readmissions, which in many cases are deemed to be costly and indicative of poor quality of care.

One way to drive such a reduction strategy is to enable analysts and providers with business intelligence tools that put various readmissions metrics at their fingertips.  Additional value is garnered when those metrics can be filtered, sliced, diced and compared against a number of useful dimensional attributes.  Developing and automating such tools helps business users avoid having to write monotonous queries, piece together disparate data from various sources, and manually compile things like month end readmission rates.

To accomplish this goal at a recent client engagement, as a member of a larger Perficient consulting team, I chose to build a Microsoft SSAS Tabular Model, a new feature of SQL Server 2012, paired with Power View to enable a self-service BI visualization layer.  Additionally, this particular client chose to leverage the fairly new Epic Cogito Data Warehouse (CDW), and thus the semantic and visualization layers were built on top of that existing data model.

A tabular model was chosen in lieu of an OLAP cube for a few reasons.  The engine that runs tabular models is columnar based and fully in-memory.  In short this means queries execute extremely fast.  Additionally, tabular models tend to be simpler and faster to develop than cubes, which is good for future maintenance and extensibility.  Finally, tabular models offer the bulk of features expected from a multidimensional data source.

Early client conversations were organized into 3 main topics:

  • Measures:  what are all the various types of calculations needed regarding readmissions
  • Dimensional attributes:  what are all the ways the client would like to filter, slice, and aggregate these calculations
  • Security:  who are the various audiences that will access this data, and what should their level of granularity be, especially regarding HIPAA compliance, patient and provider level detail, etc

Once I felt confident with the requirements I’d gathered, I started reverse engineering the Cogito DW to figure out what fact and dim tables I would need to leverage.

Inside the tabular model, I decided to go with two customized fact tables:  one at the encounter/admission grain, and one at the readmission grain.  This second fact table involved self-joining encounters back onto themselves on patient id, and building some date logic to include only those patients readmitted within 30 days.  From there, I developed around 40 various DAX calculations that performed rollups in different ways.  Examples include various permutations of:  admission counts, discharge counts, distinct patient counts, all cause readmissions, cause readmissions, readmission rates, non-readmitting discharges, and readmission percent of total.

For dimensional attributes, many existed as part of Cogito DW natively, and it was just a matter of trimming records down to inpatients and newborns only.  Examples of such dimensions include:  date, department, patient, provider, coverage, primary diagnosis, drg, billing account service profile, and admission profile.

Some dimensional attributes were trickier, however.  Some were not part of native CDW, and therefore had to be added as extension tables first in the data warehouse.  Some, such as all discharging diagnosis, had many-to-many relationships to fact records, and therefore had to be massaged into comma-delimited lists that became 1-to-many related.  Finally some attributes incorporated extensive business logic, for example Unit, which was based on an AdmissionDischargeTransfer fact table not part of native CDW.

The final security implementation could likely be an entire blog article on its own, but in short, the strategy involved:  slightly customizing fact tables for different audiences, creating limited attribute dimension tables, varying relationships per audience, limiting certain calculations, and leveraging perspectives for an overall clean user experience.

The final readmissions tabular model was leveraged via SharePoint in multiple ways:  Power View dashboards we developed along with the “self-service” capability for business users to create their own dashboards, SSRS integrated reports, and direct model browsing in Excel with classic pivot tables.  The platform was very positively received by our client, and I performed a series of trainings to enable members of their internal IT to build tabular models on their own.



Finally, here’s a screenshot of the final tabular model, resembling a general star-schema:

Readmissions Tabular Model 2014-05-16








Posted in News and Events

Kapow to Sitecore Migration: Part 2

In my previous Kapow migration post, I gave an overview of the tool. In this post, I’ll give a short technical explanation of the migration process I developed. Keep in mind that my upload target was Sitecore, so some of my setup was Sitecore-specific.

First, an inventory of all the current pages in the site must be done. For our site, these pages were grouped according to Sitecore template and the URL of each page was loaded into spreadsheets. So I had 8 spreadsheets with names like “FAQ”, “Video”, and “LandingPage”, correlating with Sitecore templates named similarly. My spreadsheets had the following layout:

Read the rest of this post »

Perficient wins Microsoft Partner Awards in all 3 US Regions!

The Perficient team is out in force in Washington DC this week attending Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC14).  At the conference the team was honored to receive Microsoft Partner of the Year awards in every Microsoft US region. This was a big honor, building on last year’s US Partner of the Year award and our US Healthcare Provider Partner of the Year awards. Thank you Microsoft, we appreciate the partnership and value the recognition!  From the news release

Member's of the Perficient team getting ready to accept Partner of the Year awards in every Microsoft US region

Member’s of the Perficient team getting ready to accept Partner of the Year awards in every Microsoft US region

For the second year in a row, Perficient was named both the East Region NSI Partner of the Year and the Central Region Enterprise Office 365 Partner of the Year. Additionally, the company was declared the West Region Compete Partner of the Year. These awards highlight Perficient’s capabilities in and successful implementations of Microsoft technology solutions including cloud computing technologies like Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Lync Online, Yammer, SharePoint Online, InTune and Dynamics CRM.

“Microsoft’s enterprise offerings have grown increasingly cloud-based as companies move to adopt this innovative, efficient and secure technology,” said Mike Gersten, vice president of Perficient’s Microsoft national business group. “Cloud computing lowers operating costs and provides agility and scalability options unavailable on limited legacy infrastructure. We are honored to receive these three Partner awards, which which reflect the strength of Perficient’s Microsoft cloud consultation and delivery expertise at work across the country.”

Perficient has helped clients across multiple industries implement cloud solutions like Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. The company has activated more than one million Office 365 seats, which is more than any other National Systems Integrator.

Highlights of recent Microsoft implementations include:

  • Working with a multinational firm to create a custom MVC application utilizing many Azure components, including SQL Azure, Web Roles, Worker Roles, and BLOB Storage. The solution replaces previous spreadsheet-style reporting with dashboards and data visualization, and is used to identify potential hazards and recognize exemplary employees.
  • Partnering with a leading transportation operator to plan and develop a global cloud-based employee portal solution utilizing Office 365 and, specifically, SharePoint Online. With a responsive design and support of multiple devices, the portal offers users improved search capabilities and better ease of use.
  • Collaborating with a large health plan provider to supply an integrated digital experience solution leveraging Sitecore and the Microsoft Server Stack. Basing all of the client’s sites on the same core set of components and a single framework, Perficient delivered a common user experience, independent of device, to all.

Through its partnerships with leading technology innovators, Perficient provides clients in all industries business-driven technology solutions and support in a wide range of practice areas. Perficient’s Microsoft consultants specialize in several practice areas including unified communications, social collaboration, business intelligence and cloud computing to provide digital marketing, portals, mobile and customer relationship management solutions to many of the most complex organizations in the country.

Microsoft’s WPC14 continues through Thursday.

Kapow to Sitecore Migration: Part 1

In my many years of writing Web Content Management sites, a number of clients have discussed migrating content from an old site into a new site via some kind of automatic migration, but always ended up doing a manual migration. This past spring, we finally had a client who decided to use Kapow as the migration tool to move content from their current Sharepoint site into their new Sitecore site.

Kapow to Sitecore Migration: Part 1In Part 1, I’ll give an overview of Kapow by asking and answering questions about its use. In Parts 2 and 3, we’ll dip into more technical topics.

What is Kapow?

Kapow is a migration/integration tool that can extract data from many different sources, transform that data, and move it to a new platform. In my case, I extracted data from a Sharepoint site, adjusted link and image paths, and inserted the transformed data into our Sitecore system.

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Transforming the Patient Experience with Epic, BI, and PressGaney

During my project over the last 6 months, I have spent my time developing two BI Solutions for ProHealth Care in Waukesha, WI. ProHealth Care is a health care organization that is using an Epic Cogito data warehouse on a Microsoft SQL server 2012 database. Over the last year we had an aggressive project schedule to bring this warehouse online and integrate reporting within a Microsoft SharePoint 2013 BI center.  This would be the 2nd phase of this year-long project. On deck was the task of improving workflow through the Patient Experience program. The Patient Experience program is an internal program common to any healthcare system that focuses on patient satisfaction and quality. Surveys are a key component of the data gathering processes many healthcare institutions use to manage patient experience.

Title Text (1)Press Ganey is a survey company that provides survey results and statistics for ~ 10,000 healthcare providers according to their website. By providing surveys and data services to a large number of organizations, they are able to compile a national database of questions, answers, and statistics of patient satisfaction. This data is used to evaluate any participating organization on their current performance with a percentile ranking against every other facility. The results from the surveys are an industry benchmark against which many organizations measure their level of service.

Needless to say, it is critical information for any health care organization that wants to improve their overall quality and performance levels.   Our goal was to automate, integrate, and to distribute two data feeds from Press Ganey via SharePoint BI Center, keeping a self-service model as a design goal, all within in a 6 month time period. No problem.

The problem: The problem ProHealth Care was having could probably best be summed up as “data overload”. A lot of hours were being spent every month downloading reports from a website and then creating a multitude of excel worksheets to do the number crunching in order to calculate high level performance metrics.

Another problem was that the data was being stored in an unstructured format. There was no simplistic way one could relate the data results from the top level “score card” numbers back to the source data. Who was the doctor, where and what time did this patient visit, what was their diagnosis-all questions any person in charge of making sure patients are happy with their visit would be interested in.

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Posted in News and Events

Surprise! Microsoft Future Is Dependent on Data

In his July 10th email to employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella mentions the word “data” no fewer than 15 times.   This simple fact serves to highlight how dealing with data is a foundational part of Microsoft’s future strategy.   When he describes a “mobile-first and cloud-first world”, Mr. Nadella is describing a world where data is ubiquitous in “the background of our lives”.   He wants to position Microsoft at the twin apexes of both producing and consuming all that data.

Surprise! Microsoft Future is Dependent on DataThe keystone to that strategy is Microsoft’s hyper-scale public cloud platform, Azure. Azure is positioned to serve as a cloud data storage hub, offering NoSQL style BLOB storage as well as traditional relational storage with Azure SQL Database.   The HDInsight service leverages Azure BLOB storage to offer a Big Data option in the form of a full-blown Hadoop installation in the cloud. And virtualized SQL Servers can also be spun up for purposes including cloud-based BI and analytics.

Beyond even the cloud, the newly re-branded Microsoft Analytics Platform System is combination of SQL Server PDW (Parallel Data Warehouse) appliance with a local installation of HDInsight. Microsoft’s breakthrough Polybase technology allows integration between the two, allowing SQL users to query Big Data directly. And of course SQL Server 2014 joins the In-Memory database market, and still provides traditional SQL Server value and power in the on-premises market.

So, that sums up the Producing side. But what about Consuming?

Working from a position of some strength — and frankly also trying to ignore a traditional weakness — Microsoft has ordained that Excel is really the ultimate front-end for their BI platform. Power BI is the branding for this collection of services, and the so-called “Power Tools” themselves (Power Pivot, Power View, and Power Query) are the baseline components, available as plugins for desktop Excel and natively in Office 365 Excel.

Office 365 is truly the focus of most of the evolution of the BI delivery platform right now. In addition to the 3 basic Power Tools mentioned above, Office 365 also provides the geospatial analytics tool Power Map (currently also available in Preview for desktop users). And the coup de grâce comes in the form of Power BI Sites — an app available for SharePoint Online that provides collaboration, mobile, and natural language query functionality to the table.

All of these options combine to form Microsoft’s platform for pervasive data. As this strategy matures, I think we can expect to see tools merge and even go away to be replaced by others. But the fact remains that Microsoft is positioning their data platform to serve both cloud and on-premises, to be scalable, and to support goal, to “reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.”

Microsoft, the productivity & platform company for a mobile world

This morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sent his employees an email, and a pretty important one at that (Read it here). July marks the beginning of FY15 for Microsoft, and it’s a time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the future. For Nadella, this means determining where the focus lies as the company forges ahead in an industry deeply rooted in innovation.

Nadella is the third Microsoft CEO, leading the company since February, and has been with the company for over two decades. It’s safe to say, he’s seen a lot change at Microsoft during that time, and has held a variety of roles and positions – most recently, as the executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.

With his background, running the division responsible for the technology powering Microsoft’s cloud-centric services, and the fact that Microsoft has led with the cloud for several years now, the choice to make Nadella chief executive fits right in with Microsoft’s transition. This cloud focus has been evident in recent partnerships with Oracle and Salesforce, both of which serve as a way to grow Azure, Microsoft’s cloud hosting platform, by providing popular application choices to use with Azure.

In today’s email, Nadella wrote:

We live in a mobile-first and cloud-first world. Computing is ubiquitous and experiences span devices and exhibit ambient intelligence. Billions of sensors, screens and devices – in conference rooms, living rooms, cities, cars, phones, PCs – are forming a vast network and streams of data that simply disappear into the background of our lives. This computing power will digitize nearly everything around us and will derive insights from all of the data being generated by interactions among people and between people and machines.Microsoft core

He goes on to describe how the many devices, combined with cloud services, create a unique opportunity for Microsoft. And Microsoft’s passion? Well, it’s to allow people to thrive in our mobile-first, cloud-first world. And, while officially announced today, the company’s been heading in a more multi platform supportive direction for some time now (even releasing Office for iPad a few months ago).

It seems Microsoft is saying what so many have been looking for – the device doesn’t matter. Read the rest of this post »