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Microsoft giving away Power BI — for FREE?!?

As crazy as it may sound, Microsoft has decided to give away Power BI  for free.

Why?  That’s easy: they want Tableau’s market.

Well, maybe that’s not the entire answer.  After all, Microsoft played nicely with Tableau for years, largely viewing them as a partner.  But frankly, they were leaving a fairly large market opportunity untouched.  So Power BI is a whole is definitely a move in that direction.  But, if they’re giving it away, that can’t be the entire answer.

I think this move ties in with other recent Microsoft data bets — e.g. the acquisitions of Equivio and Revolution Analytics, the internal development of Cosmos and SQL-IP, the creation of Polybase for APS, the positioning of HDInsight and Azures cloud-based data services, etc.

Basically, Microsoft is doubling down on their Data Platform.  They are investing heavily in what Satya Nadella sees as a more and more data-driven world.   Given the history of Microsoft with creating ecosystems linking related (and sometimes unrelated) products, it will be interesting to see how these various products come together.

In the meantime, for the low, low price of a simple business email, it’s definitely worth checking out the new Power BI preview…

 

 

 

 

 

Office 365 – How to Configure UPN Filtering in AADSync

Azure Active Directory Sync Services (AADSync) was made “generally available” in September 2014. While the old DirSync tool is still available (and actually still linked to in the portal), AADSync should be what you’re looking to deploy at this point. As we make this transition, there is a learning curve in trying to understand how to accomplish certain tasks in AADSync that you may have previously done in DirSync.

One of the configuration settings I often implement with DirSync is the creation of a filter to only synchronize attributes with a properly formatted UPN.

Below is how this filter can be implemented using the AADSync PowerShell module.
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Mixing MPA and SPA: worst of both worlds

angry.personWhen the web was young, it was simple, it was stateless. It was originally envisioned by its creators as a set of hypertext documents linked together. Then, somebody added a forms tag and the era of web applications has begun.

Nowadays, web applications could be as complex as needed. Pretty much any kind of application could be implemented as web application. But advanced functionality requires advanced application architecture and design. There are two corner-stone design patterns for web applications – multi page web applications (MPA) and single page web applications (SPA).

MPA is traditional kind of web applications. Every time application needs to submit user input to the web server or needs to display new data to user, it have to request a new page from the server and then render it in the web browser. This approach works fine for simple pages, but when the application have a rich user interface, then pages may become very complex and loaded with a lot of data. Generating complex web pages on the server, transmitting them over the internet and rendering in the browser takes time and thus degrades user experience, because user can’t continue working with application while it’s in process of serving a new page. In the beginning of 2000s MPA were improved with AJAX technology, which allows to refresh parts of the page without reloading the whole page. That definitely makes user experience better, but it adds complexity to the page.

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7 Reasons You Should Be Fired Up For Windows 10!

win10We first heard last fall about Windows 10, Microsoft’s new operating system version. Today, we heard a whole lot more and personally, I’m thrilled!

The new vision for Windows is an operating system designed to deliver a singular, cohesive experience across a myriad of device types. Traditionally, Windows has been built for the PC. So, this is the first time that the operating system has been designed for a cloud and mobile-first world.

Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices – from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens – some have 80 inch screens – and some don’t have screens at all. Some of these devices you hold in your hand, others are ten feet away. Some of these devices you primarily use touch/pen, others mouse/keyboard, others controller/gesture – and some devices can switch between input types.

And across this breadth of devices, Microsoft is delivering one application platform for developers. Whether you’re building a game or a line of business application, there will be one way to write a universal app that targets the entire family. There will be one store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased and updated across all of these devices. Awesome!

After we heard more in today’s announcement, here are my 7 reasons why you should be fired up too! Read the rest of this post »

SharePoint 2013 On-Premises Search Improvements – Nov 2014 CU

SharePoint2013,pngOne of our ace lead consultants, RGB or Roydon Gyles-Bedford, alerted our team of some great improvements made to Enterprise Search in SharePoint 2013 on-premises. These 2 important new updates can be found in the November 2014 CU –

#1 – Search can now index office documents embedded in other office documents!

Example – you have a Word doc (.docx) embedded in a PowerPoint slide (.pptx). That word document has text. SharePoint Search will now index that text. You can use the Enterprise Search Center to search for a word in that document and your PowerPoint presentation will be listed in the search results. Awesome! For more information, visit the MSDN Blog here.

#2 – Search stays online even when one or more partition(s) is unavailable! 

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Office 365 – Watch Your “Recoverable Items Quota”!

Many of the limits within Exchange Online are values that your users are unlikely to exceed. Despite this, we occasionally see situations where a limit is exceeded in ways you might not expect.

As perhaps best illustrated by the fabled “640K ought to be enough for anybody” quote (falsely?) attributed to Bill Gates, the requirements of users changes over time. Fortunately, Office 365 has maintained pace in most cases by raising various limits.

I recently worked with a client that exceeded the default 30 GB “RecoverableItemsQuota” value set on their mailbox. As a result, meeting invites sent to the user were being returned as undeliverable to the senders.

What is the “RecoverableItemsQuota”?

How can you tell if you’re at risk of exceeding the limit?

Is 30 GB a limit we can expect to exceed?

How can we increase the limit in Exchange Online?
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Set up Document ID prefix in SharePoint 2013 programmatically

While it is simple to set the prefix of Document ID Service in SharePoint 2013 manually, it’s less straightforward if you are looking to set it up programmatically (but still fairly simple once you know how). If you’ve been wondering how to do this correctly, last week, Perficient’s Peng Zhao wrote a blog post that walks through the necessary steps.

This post introduces you to a correct way to set up Document ID Prefix in SharePoint 2013. Immediately after you kick off the timer jobs for Document ID service in this approach, all of your documents under the new site will show up with correct prefix.

We have recently rolled out a web template based on our team site template. It requires you to set the prefix of Document ID service when the user is creating a site with the web template. It is simple if you can do it manually in the “site settings>>Document Id Settings” like this:

SharePoint2013 Document ID Settings

If you plan to do it programmatically, it is a different story. The articles or blogs I searched on the Internet demonstrate that the following will do the trick:

SharePoint2013 Document ID Settings by web properties

It sets the root web property “docid_settings_ui”. It also sets the prefix value on the Document ID Settings page as if it were set manually. If you go to the settings page, the prefix string shows up there; nothing seems wrong. But after you kick off your timer jobs for Document ID service, you will find all your documents never get the new prefix.

The CORRECT way to set the document id prefix should be like this:

SharePoint2013 Document ID Settings by server side model

Neat and simple, right?

In this way, right after you kick off the timer jobs for Document ID service, all your documents under the new site will show up with correct prefix.

 

Thanks Peng Zhao and Matt Connolly for sharing this tip!

Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute is free through June 30, 2015

The most common way for enterprises to connect their datacenters or home offices to resources in Microsoft Azure is over VPN. Although Microsoft has made connecting to Azure quick and easy, VPNs, in general, do have their drawbacks. Because they traverse the public internet, availability and performance are difficult to control. Latency can also be an issue for those applications and connections which depend on low latency communications.expressroute

Fortunately, Microsoft realizes many companies require better connections to their Azure resources, and they offer ExpressRoute as a solution. ExpressRoute provides private connections between Azure datacenters and a company’s on-premises datacenter. These connections don’t traverse the public internet so the result is higher security, lower latency, better reliability and faster speeds.

If you are thinking of extending your existing datacenter to Azure, or if you want to take advantage of the storage, backup, and recovery benefits of the Azure cloud, now is a great time to give it a try. Up until June 30, 2015, the Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute 10 Mbps Network Service Provider (NSP) offering is free of charge. Just to sweeten the pot, some Microsoft NSP partners are offering related promotions during this period.

If you want to explore the many benefits of a fast, reliable and secure private connection to the Azure cloud, you can find more information about the ExpressRoute promotion here.

For more on Azure and Microsoft’s cloud offering, take a look at our latest white paper.

Office 365 – New Features Appear on the Office 365 Roadmap

Trying to stay on top all the changes in Office 365 can be a daunting task. In a previous article, “How to Stay Informed of Changes“, I described some of the methods that I use to try and stay informed.

One of those methods, the “Office 365 Roadmap“, seems to have been updated recently with a handful of new features planned. Ideally there would be an RSS feed or an update log for the page, it’s a bit of a treasure hunt when reviewing the roadmap.

Below are a few exciting new features that look to have recently appeared on the Office 365 Roadmap.
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Introducing Azure Key Vault

azurekeyvault_overviewOn Wednesday, I published a new post – 10 Best Microsoft Azure Features for 2015. I wanted to include a feature I have heard about for some time now, Azure Key Vault, but I couldn’t find any public information to reference. Because of our NDA with Microsoft, I must have reference able public info before I can blog about it. Turns out, Microsoft released it to preview on Wednesday, so I was publishing at the same time they were, kind of funny.

Do you want to build an Azure application that uses keys for signing and encryption? Do you want these keys and secrets to be protected, without having to write the code yourself? Do you want customers to own and manage their keys in your SaaS application? Do you want to ensure that your applications comply with FIPS 140-2 Level 2 HSMs and Common Criteria EAL4+ standards for secure key management? Enter Azure Key Vault! Read the rest of this post »