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Webinar – Microsoft Big Data and Advanced Analytics

I recently participated in a webinar on the topic of Big Data/Advanced Analytics and how the Microsoft platform supports it.  My colleague Shankar RamaNathan spoke first about the various challenges of truly seeing ROI out of Big Data initiatives.  Then I spoke about how the Microsoft Data Platform, both in the cloud and on-premises, provides a compelling value proposition for exploring Big Data.

We discuss various use cases, the obstacles to success with Big Data, resourcing needs, level of investment, and then various offerings from Microsoft that help address those challenges.  In particular, I cover cloud-based tools like Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning, and on-premises Big Data capabilities in Microsoft’s Analytics Platform System (APS).  I try to place these tools in the overall context of the Microsoft Data Platform, and explain how they might help address specific platform concerns related to leveraging Big Data.

Our awesome marketing department has graciously posted a video of that webinar here on YouTube.

Enjoy!

Azure: Did You Know? Website Deployment Slots

azure deployment slotsEvery Azure Website (recently renamed App Service) comes with a default deployment slot – production. Did you know that you can create up to 4 additional deployment slots to be used for dev, test, QA, or staging? Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 People Experiences

Office365_1

Following on my previous posts in series “Office 365 – A day in life of an end user”, today I bring to you a recent discussion between the Microsoft team and Office 365 community around Delve. It touches on some real great areas on how this new feature enhances the people experience.

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Overview

On March 18th, Microsoft and the Delve product team hosted the Delve YamJam to answer questions about the product announcement that Delve will rollout to all eligible Office 365 business customers worldwide and that in addition, Delve will now surface content from email and social feeds within Office 365. Below is a summary of what was discussed during the YamJam. We hope you join us live next time!

Resources

Specific Questions

  • Rollout 
  • Functionality 
  • Feature Requests 
  • Best Practices 

Rollout

Q: When will it hit our production tenant?

A: As of 3/16/2015, Delve has started rolling out to eligible Office 365 business customers worldwide. Delve has been part of the First Release program since September 2014. Delve will also be included in the Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium plans. Delve will be rolled out to all customers that have one of the above subscriptions, both new and existing.

Q: Is there a roll out schedule for Delve? I’m wondering when my company might have the feature available so that some of us can start getting familiar and encourage engagement among our workforce.

A: We have started rolling Delve out to all eligible tenants, so you should see Delve in your tenant quite soon. It should show up in your App Launcher in a matter of weeks. All new capabilities will spend a bit of time in First Release before getting to worldwide, some will get quicker, some will take some more time. You can always turn on First Release to get new scenarios sooner, but do know we are working on this one.

Q: Any ideas on why our organization would not be seeing the ability to pin content to boards? Also, it seems as if Delve is not surfacing content from our Yammer instance. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

A: Those capabilities are in First Release program (which is something you can enroll in as-well) and will get to broader public soon. This page will give you a glance between different scenarios in the pipeline with First Release vs Standard Release .

Q: If I have a brand new tenant and I turn on first release I get boards. But if we are an existing tenant that has been waiting for the regular release cycle, we don’t get boards? Shouldn’t a tenant get whatever the current “package” of features that Delve provides, at the time of Delve hitting your tenant?

A:  New scenarios will always come to First Release first, we’ve also added this page to help you guys in the loop on these.

Q: What’s Delve’s team release cycle? What’s is the next major functionality on Delve you have planned to bring to the customers? Can you share the roadmap? 

A: We will be adding support for more content types such as OneNote, etc., in addition looking forward to building API’s to Office Graph so you can integrate content and activity from LOB, 3rd party systems, etc. Mobile is a hot topic too. You’ll definitely see more at Ignite conference for this, and we are working on a great session to show what’s cooking in the oven.

 

Q: Are the new signal sources immediately live for orgs that already have Delve? Or do they need to roll out as part of an update?

A:  As of 3/16/2015, Delve has started rolling out to eligible Office 365 business customers worldwide. Delve has been part of the First Release program since September 2014. Check out this page for Adminsthat includes more information.

Q: When are we likely to see updated content on Office Support to cover the new enhancements?

A: We are actively updating our content for Delve on Office.com – a good starting point is this article.

Q: Is it required to configure the O365 Login for Yammer to get the Delve Integration in the next couple of days, or will it also work with the standalone Yammer SSO?

A: It is required to have Yammer selected as your Enterprise Social solution in your O365 settings in order to see the Yammer integration once it is available. Here is the documentation to make Yammer your default.

Q: What is the licensing plan for Delve? What is the lowest tier of user type that can be used, and what will they be limited to access?

A: Delve is included in the Office 365 Enterprise E1 – E4 subscription plans (including the corresponding A2 – A4 and G1 – G4 plans for Academic and Government customers respectively). Over the next couple months, Delve will also be included in the Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium plans. Delve will be rolled out to all customers that have one of the above subscriptions, both new and existing.

Q: I understand you need a E1-E4 license, and you need an active SharePoint Online service, however is there any dependency on Exchange? We have an O365 plan without Exchange, will we still get Delve when it is deployed?

A: Yes, you will, but with more signals and activity the better the graph gets.

Functionality

Q: Does Delve support Office365 Video?

A: Yes. Office365 Video is supported in First Release.

Q: Do we get control of the signals into Delve though the Compliance Center?

A: Currently we consume signals from across O365. Are you suggesting you would want the ability to limit those? It might have an impact on the relevancy, as the graph depends on more signals to get smarter.

Q: In terms of tagging cards with keywords, is there something like “auto suggest” where it crawls the document or post to suggest possible tags?

A: Not today, but that sounds like a great idea for providing smart suggestions! We know that not all documents will get tagged manually, so suggesting tags is an interesting approach if the accuracy can be high enough. We don’t have this out of box, but in the future this would be good to see if this could be a great partner solution.

Q: Is authoring possible on documents through Delve?

A: You can open any documents within Delve using the powerful rich Office web clients. You should be able to edit documents using the familiar Word, PowerPoint and Excel apps. You can also add them to boards (when that makes it to worldwide rollout) so you can collect content, videos, etc. related to a given topic and share that collection with others.

Q: Some of the thumbnails for PowerPoint docs don’t show correctly for us: the background color of the first slide shows, but no text. Is this fixed in the next release?

A: Our current algorithm for picking a thumbnail utilizes the highest resolution image within a document. It could be that the background you are referring to is actually an image. Could you post an example document for us to look into? We’re taking input to see how we can improve this going forward.

Q: Delve became available to us today, and we’re already seeing concerns about private content in SharePoint sites. Right now I’m working with an HR director that is removing content from her site because the view count in Delve is showing in the hundreds. The documentation shows this number increments whenever a document is viewed, including whenever the logged in user views it. When does this number get reset, or is it a lifetime number? How could Delve go live for us today and a document that only 10 people can access have 134 views?

A: Tip: by clicking on the pawns icon on the card you can see exactly who a document is shared with. Also remember that document views do not just come from Delve, but from accessing the content from a document library as well. Every time you, yourself, view and edit or save a new version to the document, each goes to that count. You can always set the permissions of the content by the little people icons on the card, and/or also hide certain content from Delve via as an admin. The views are kept since the document was uploaded, and they are not introduced by Delve. If you for example, try to run a search query and you hover over the search result to see the preview you will also see the view count there. This is also a part of SharePoint 2013 on-premises. This page helps to explain security in Delve.

Q: How frequent does Delve graph objects gets updated? Will there be a real-time API for live feed/update? Is there a rate limit applied on APIs?

A: The update frequency depends on the type of information going into the graph. Creating a document takes a bit longer than updating an existing one, for example. For document activities you can expect indexing latency for the most part. We’re always looking at how we can get these closer to real-time and optimizing certain activity updates where we can.

Q: Is there a way to set parameters for the Delve feed? Perhaps by date? In the My Work feed, how far back does Delve go to pull in documents?

A: Today the Delve feed changes based on your usage of Office and updates automatically. “My Work” is sorted on recency, so scrolling down will take you back in time. As we adding more content types we will definitely look into filtering/sorting options for those.

Q: Are we only able to see activities of site user whom we follow or can search for any user to view their shared documents?

A: Delve shows content that is shared with you from OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, and Exchange. You can use Delve to search for any user within your Office 365 tenancy and see the documents they work on that you have access to.á

Q: Are all file-types stored in OneDrive discoverable by Delve? One of our folks has noticed that Project Files (MPP) don’t seem to show up.

A: At this time, only Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and Office Videos files are discoverable by Delve. We are working on OneNote support as we speak!

Q: Our security team posed an interesting question in an internal Delve discussion. It centers around discoverability of someone’s boards. So if someone is put on legal hold, opposing council might really want to see/discover who someone is connected to and use Delve boards as a way to gain further insight. Has there been any discussion about this?

A: There has some discussions, but not much. We think there is value in eDiscovery center tapping into Office Graph down the road, vs just using the search index and activity logs.

Q: As Delve uncovers content that sometimes you aren’t aware was public, is there a way to quickly hide items that are appearing?

A: Yes, you can always click the “who can see this?” icon on the cards and change the document permissions.

Q: Since tags and notes was deprecated last year I’m wondering if Office graph can aid in adding Yammer commenting/conversations to publishing new articles? If so could you briefly highlight?  I understand that we will soon be able to place/embed a feed for Yammer conversations relating to a particular document. In the same vein, could we also embed a Yammer feed for conversations relating to a particular Sharepoint news article?

A: In Delve, there will be the possibility to have Yammer conversations for any content type that we support in the experience. Adding a Yammer feed to a specific open graph object is an idea we are evaluating, so definitely stay tuned. It’s available if it exists on a Yammer Group, not standalone. Boards are another type of object Yammer conversations might be integrated with.

The first release experience includes these content sources:

– Office Docs: Content from across OneDrive for Business and SharePoint team sites that you work on or have been shared with you.

– Videos: Trending video’s from the new O365 Video Portal, that you have permissions to view.

– Email attachments: Trending and most relevant email attachments that have been shared with you.

– (and very soon) Links in Yammer: External links discussed in public groups in Yammer will also show up in Delve.

Q: Delve is in French for me, how do I switch to the English or language of my choosing? Not everyone in our tenant speaks the same language.

A: Have you tried changing your browser language preference? Delve will support all languages supported for Office 365.

Q: Is it possible to track the Sharing history “sharing graph” of a document based on information in Office Graph?

A: No, this is something you would need to do with the e-discovery center with-in O365. Delve is tailored for end-users and we are always sensitive on privacy of each user.

Feature Requests

Q: Will the Board tagging concept be proliferated across the Office 365 suite? For instance, instead of tagging through Delve, have the ability to tag to a Board in Outlook, SharePoint, Yammer, OneDrive.

A: We are currently working on the ability to rename boards. The design of the new Boards system is definitely targeted to be more pervasively accessible. We would love to see “+Add to Board” available everywhere. One other idea we have is, how cool would it be if we can one day auto-board content. We know there are partners/developers that already have some really great ideas on this.

Q: For Boards, will there be an ability to organize them into a hierarchy if we wanted to create some type of structure? For an example, we may want to place key topics on a landing page. Would be a great feature for a future portal.

A: Thanks for the suggestion! Boards are still new and we’re certainly interested to hear ideas like this for how we can improve and utilize them moving forward. Sharing boards is something we do have in mind and are working on.

Q: Any plans for a leaderboard of most followed boards; some way for people to see most relevant/ popular topics?

A: Great idea! Including some leaderboard concepts in Delve would make the workplace more fun but also help with discovery. We can see a dashboard, analytics on top of Office Graph which can surface not just boards but also interesting artifacts later down the road.

Q: As a partner, I would love to be able to create a board for a user based on the context of their day as well as known upcoming activities, populated with contextualized recommendations for them.

A: Delve will get more context sensitive over time! It’ll become more and more smart about what you have to know to make the most of your work day.

Q: It would be nice to see more telemetry around the use of tags in boards. That way users or admins can see what tags are more popular (maybe even trending). It would also be nice to be able to manage and consolidate tags at an admin level.

A: That sounds like an interesting feature! We’re discussing ways users can do more with boards.

Q: I’m interested in a future hybrid story in Delve where it can ingest objects from an on-prem search instance. I would love to see a story where I can get items from LOB systems into it.

A: That is a great idea. Something we are definitely looking into for the future. We know customers have a tremendous amount of content on-prem.

Q: When can we expect an API to allow us to inject foreign objects into the office graph? We have a large and complex intranet. I would expect to inject objects (articles, videos, documents) that live on intranet sites (SharePoint, WordPress, Jive, Confluence, etc.). Ultimately, I would like to considering tearing down the traditional concept of intranet search in favor of publishing objects to the office graph.

A: We are working on this. We are planning to have a set of API’s to add external content as-well as pull insights from the Office Graph to power your own apps. Long term, we do plan to support that with the extensibility as-well as natively with SharePoint intranet sites/pages.

Q: Will there be a Delve App? What about a SharePoint App for Delve?

A: We’re working on native applications for Delve on different platforms and are looking into when to roll out on which platform. While not from us, folks from Mavention built something cool. You can check it out here .

Q: Are there plans to integrate delve into the Office Backstage screen? I can open files from OneDrive for business that were recently used, but it would be great if I could have a Delve option to search from with in Excel (for Example). At the moment I find myself opening Excel looking in the recent files and then going to Delve to search hand open the file from there. For instance, I’d like to be able to search from with Excel for a file just like I do in Delve. 

A:  That’s a fantastic idea! Here’s a similar idea: we’ve seen that a lot of users search for names of people as a way to find things in Delve. What if you could search for a person and get the documents you’d see on their page in Delve? We’re listening to your feedback and open to suggestions.

Q: When will Delve include signals from Yammer and how? 

A: We are already enabling sending/receiving signals from Yammer into the Office Graph and Delve. As a first step, very soon you will see URLs within in Yammer in Delve on First Release. Once rolled out, you can click on the Yammer button on each Delve board to start a Yammer a conversation. Yammer integration in the form of Yammer links showing up in Delve and Yammer post action on the cards are coming soon to First Release. Stayed tuned!

Q: Does Microsoft plan on developing or releasing other apps besides Delve that showcase Office Graph technology? Maybe something else that depicts the other uses of Office Graph?

A:  The Office Graph drives a number of page/app experiences in the Office 365 Video portal. Things like “Popular” and “You might also like” . Also, don’t forget the Clutter feature in Outlook. We also have some other cool things cooking in the oven. We are just scratching the surface. Today, with over 6 Billion signals in the Office Graph, we have so much more we can do.

Q: Any plans for an iPhone app?

A: We’re working on native applications for Delve. Are there any features you would particularly want on your iPhone? Thanks!

Q: Any announcements forthcoming around #skype4b and Delve? 

A: Nothing to announce now. Any new information will be posted here, and the Office Roadmap is always a great place to check.

Q: What ever happened to the Windows Store (8.1) app for Delve that was shown at SPC14? Maybe it will make an appearance with Windows 10?

A: Windows 10 is important to us, and we are looking into investments in this area. We have no date to share yet, but such an investment matches well with our productivity focus of Windows 10.

The app mentioned was a great prototype environment for us to mature scenarios. We took some learnings from there and some things didn’t work as expected. The best part was the notifications.

With all the noise, we need really smart/intelligent notifications that anticipate what is really relevant for you. Notifications should have a high bar, it should have an impact for you in the next 2-4 hours and not something that you would care about in the context of a week.

Q: Distant integration scenario, it would be cool if Delve was incorporated into other products like HoloLens so that as the user interacts with other business content, suggestions could be superimposed in that environment.

A: We are waiting to get a prototype to play around with some ideas. Also, check out this Productivity Future Vision video.

Q: It would also be nice to see some updates to the Office Graph API documentation. There are a lot of ActorId (i.e.: 1050) that the community has found that aren’t listed. It’s a supportability issue I know on your end, but I know a lot has been added since some of the early documentation has come out.

A: Thanks for the feedback, we’ll look into it.

Q: Let me mention two of my favorite news “discovery” apps here in case the Delve team wants to build in future enhancements: Zite and Yahoo! News. I love how I can train Zite and it brings me new stuff from places I wouldn’t normally travel. I love Y! News because of their content popularity and summary algorithms that condense the info into a more consumable format.

A: Thanks for sharing! We love exploring other applications that customers use and enjoy. We’ll have to give these ones a spin.

Best Practices

Q: Where is there an example of a live Delve instance in action that we could see and interact with?

A: Although not an interactive experience, Satya shared how he uses Delve. If you’re a Microsoft partner, you may be eligible to spin up a tenant here .

Q: Is your vision of the future of work “Not caring where documents are anymore” so to speak? Seeing a trend of “Just put it in your personal OneDrive for Business and let Delve take care of it”

What is your vision of the flow in which people need to work?

A: We think the cloud is a great example of how to abstract the knowledge from the physical storage. Knowledge should be organized around metadata, behavior and workflows and not based on “folder”.. In the past we have been relying on as physical locations as a indicator of metadata, but I think we are living in a much more agile and abstract world.

Q: We just (today) got delve in our Tenant. What’s the best way to ramp up?

A: Good starting point is this page. Go to the home page of Delve and see if you find relevant info. Go to the pages of your coworkers and see if you discover what they are working on.

we also have email templates you can share with your users explaining delve and pointing to more help documentation. Check this link here for more info, as well as the Learning Center.

Q: What’s the best way to socialize the use of Delve?

A: Great question John. We’ve found that showing people the value of Delve (for example searching for people in meetings to see who they are and what they are working on) works well. Some folks send email about what Delve can do, but not everyone likes getting more email. :)

Demo it :-). Showcase main Help articles and videos. Talk about the value of Discovery AND Search. Talk about all the signals created that would be typically lost across all users, and that the service is listening and listening and listening and providing a very refined, relevant, useful nudge of content and people of interest, based on these now “not lost” signals.

Demos are definitely the best way. Nothing convinces people more than seeing the real data personalized for them.

Q: I’ve had a few users express that they think Delve feels very Big Brother-ish and invasive. Has anyone else heard that, and if so, how did you counter the objection?

A: It’s a valid thought process. Insights from software based on data are always going to be a balance of convenience and privacy. Delve provides convenience while always respecting your privacy. People only see what they have access to. Delve never changes permissions. You may also share this article with any users that may have privacy concerns.

We think Delve does a great job in providing transparency around the workplace. We believe the future is that IWs can become far more efficient by getting tailored information delivered to them. To be clear, Delve will never change permissions on any documents. Because the information shown in Delve is personalized, users will only see content they already have permissions to. Also, other people cannot see others’ private activities, such as what documents they’ve read, emails they’ve sent and received, or Lync conversations they’ve been in.

Q: What is the use case for a 5 person to 15 person low-end scenario vs just use SharePoint for what it already does? Once you get to 100+ seats, I begin to see how Delve “applies” but “our 100 seat customers do not”. They think Delve is for a 100,000 employee company like Microsoft only! Any suggestions or articles that you can point to?

A: Even with 100 people we still find a massive disconnect between people working on similar projects or sharing knowledge, Yammer is exposing (in a good way) the work others are doing and let’s people be more efficient and collaborate well. I would imagine Delve will be the same, people will be able to see what similar things there colleagues are working on and possibly save time by not reinventing the wheel! There’s a lot of good stuff that comes into my feed from across my entire organization, but even in my own small team of about 50 people I find a lot of value. We don’t always know the entire audience to which we should share something. It’s nice when something I didn’t know about pops up in my feed, and to know that my work will show up for others to find in case I neglected to explicitly share it.

The thing I personally use Delve for the most is to go find information when I know a certain person in my team is working on that area. There’s no need to track a person down or wait for an email response to get a pointer to information all the time anymore. I just go to their page in Delve and save myself a lot of time.

Q: I found Delve to be absolutely useless as I had admin access, I could see a whole load of stuff that I’m not interested in, and that meant I couldn’t easily find stuff I was interested in. I asked for that access to be removed, as technically I’m in Delivery and O365 is now in Support … and now Delve is proving very useful. That raises an interesting question about how do other companies manage admin access;  separate logins or elevated permissions granted when needed?

A: I like to hear more on this scenario, but agreed. Being an Admin is never easy! Maybe we should have relevancy tailored for the admin user.

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Boosting Cloud Security in Office 365

Microsoft has been spearheading the security campaign across cloud services. This week has been in focus with announcements of new capabilities affecting SharePoint Online (SPO), Email, and customer controls. I’ve been involved in numerous customer strategy sessions where similar concerns were raised. It is becoming increasingly clear that customers are expecting higher level of security controls across all Office 365 workloads. The vision has always been to extend these controls to services beyond email.

ExtendDLP1Data Loss Prevention (DLP) has been part of Exchange since 2013. In this post I explain how DLP feature extends within SPO and OneDrive for Business (OD4B). Last year DLP was added to SPO, where it provided capability to find sensitive information by searching and querying the data. This helped organizations to surface sensitive content, put them on hold for legal benefits, and take manual actions (like export). In Exchange, it provided with policy tips and notification emails. It is this capability that is now being extended to SPO and OD4B which in turn means greater proactive control over sensitive data.

These policies include simple “if-else-then conditions” and actions. It also provides preconfigured templates to start from. Users get real time notification if working within the context of SPO and OneDrive for Business

ExtendDLP2

Within SPO and OD4B it will detect if the user is sharing content externally and provide the user with policy tips. Furthermore it’ll go one level deeper by scanning for document metadata.

ExtendDLP3

Admins will get built in reports for incident and tracking

ExtendDLP4

If until now you were on the edge, concerned with the SPO security capabilities then hang on just a bit more until second quarter of 2015 when it rolls out as public preview.

Image source: Office blogs

Office 365 – Unable to Activate Directory Synchronization

Between demos, trials and actual production environments, I’ve probably activated Directory Synchronization on a couple hundred tenants at this point. The process is pretty non-eventful, you add a domain, validate it and click the button that says “Activate”; then it’s on to the fun stuff.

Just when you start to feel like you’ve seen just about everything, technology is quick to bring you back down to earth…

I recently worked with a client that for some odd reason, we could not activate Directory Synchronization in their tenant. After working with support for a couple days, it turned out to be something quite ridiculously simple.
Read the rest of this post »

Sitecore with Slow Cheetah and Web Deploy

When you combine Slow Cheetah with Web Deploy in a Sitecore solution you get the benefits of quick deployments with the ability to store any custom code and configuration in your source control. Slow Cheetah brings xml transformations to Sitecore so you only specify the differences between configuration files and can store every environment’s configuration in a single source control repository without polluting the project. Web Deploy offers one button deployments and only transfers the files that have changed. Together, they reduce the complexity of deployments and help you keep track of all of the configuration files in Sitecore.

Slow Cheetah

Slow Cheetah is a fantastic, free Visual Studio extension by Sayed I Hashimi (he needs a raise). It uses XSL syntax to transform configuration files. If you’ve worked with Sitecore, you know the plethora of configuration files you have to deal with. Slow Cheetah will nest config transform files under a configuration file in Solution Explorer and gives you a shortcut to create these transforms for every publishing profile. In these transforms, you only specify the changes from the original and when you publish to the associated profile, the configuration file is updated automatically.

You can install Slow Cheetah in your Visual Studio solution (2013 Professional + and earlier versions) by selecting Tools -> Extensions and Updates. Select Online from the left pane. Enter Slow Cheetah in the search box and press enter. Select and install Slow Cheetah – XML Transforms.

Unfortunately, Sayed is unable to continue support for Slow Cheetah past Visual Studio 2013, but Microsoft has said that they will bake XML Transformations into future versions of ASP.Net and Visual Studio (let’s hope that happens soon).

Web Deploy

Web Deploy is an excellent, free IIS extension that allows you to publish changes to web applications on the server. Using Visual Studio, you can create a publishing profile that will build your Sitecore solution and then automatically transfer only the changed files to the server.

There are decent articles on installing Web Deploy on your server, but a brief summary is:

  • Install the Web Management Service on your server
  • Create a local user for deployment
  • Install Web Deploy
  • Configure your IIS site for Web Deploy
  • Create a Web Deploy publish profile in your Visual Studio solution

Summary

Once you have both extensions installed and working you can include the configuration files that change between environments in your solution and source control repository. I would suggest you try to keep this to a minimum, but some configuration files are necessary. In fact, with these 2 extensions I was able to keep almost all changes to the Sitecore configuration in the config transformations for just 1 configuration file.

Most Sitecore projects will be using multiple servers in each environment and should follow the Sitecore recommendations for each server role. These tools can help you maintain the different configuration changes from Visual Studio and store them in your source control.

Slow Cheetah and Web Deploy will help you maintain your configuration files in one place and deploy them quickly. The changes can be stored in source control while not cluttering your solution. Only the changes are transmitted to the server making deployments quick and accurate.

Working with dynamic schema in Azure DocumentDB

dynamicAbout a week ago Azure DocumentDB, a new Microsoft’s entry into NoSql database market, become generally available. DocumentDB allows user to to store/update/delete arbitrary objects (as complex as needed, not limited by relation structure) and query these objects using a special (quite limited) flavor of SQL (yes, SQL!) or LINQ when it’s used from .NET. Although these kinds of databases are called NoSql, they should rather be called object databases, or non-relational, because, well, you can still use SQL to query them.

So, these objects that you can story in DocumentDB, they could be really anything. However, in order to effectively use DocumentDB .NET client library, you need to know the object schema in advance. For example, let’s say you have the following class:

public class Person
{
  public string FirstName { get; set; }
  public string LastName { get; set; }
}

And then you instantiating the object of this class and storing it to DocumentDB (assuming that you already created database, document connection and client): Read the rest of this post »

New Additions to Delve

This post goes one level further in showcasing features within Office 365 which makes day in life more productive (Read the previous post in this series)

In order to get more background on Delve, read my previous articles here

1. Delve

2. Everything about Delve

3. How Delve makes life easier

4. Global Rollout

“Check out your personalized feed of relevant documents. What you see is based on what you and your colleagues are working on. You can easily find colleagues to learn more about them and what they’re working on. Type your name now to see your own page”

This is what it says when you first sign in to Delve. The focus here is around the most important assets for any organization, “People”. Delve is more than just search. It brings over the content and people you have been working with, content and people trending around you, and it does so by learning your behavior over time. I bring here few quick nuggets of information which can help with your everyday work.

Can’t seem to remember the document(s) you’ve been working on or worked on in the past month or so? Go to Delve and select “Me” on the left panel.

Delve6

 

Do you miss the organization chart from MySite in the past? Select “Profile” and you see their contact information, organization chart, OneDrive, blog information etc.

Delve7

 

Delve8

 

Want to find what your coworker is working on? Get to someone’s profile from Delve screen by searching with their name

Delve9

 

Note: Security is still very much respected and others won’t see the content if permissions don’t allow. Here is a message on your Delve home screen to confirm

Delve5

All this is fine but you are a mobile worker and this alone does make the cut for you. Looking for similar experience on mobile devices? Look no further

Note: mobile app only available on android and iPhone

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BUILD & IGNITE Know It. Prove It. Tech Challenge Tour

KiPiTour

I recently blogged about my personal experiences with the first “Know it. Prove it.” challenge that ran through the month of February 2015. The “Know it. Prove it.” challenge is back! This time it’s bigger and better than ever. The new challenge is a companion to both the Build and Ignite Conferences with 11 amazing tracks for both Developers and IT Professionals. Also, just like the first round, this set of challenges are completely Free!

Join the tour and accept a challenge today.

Whether you’re looking to learn something new or just brush up on something you’re already using, there’s definitely a challenge track for you.

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2015 Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference – The Power of Community

The Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference is a virtual/remote, 2 day live event on May 14 – 15, 2015. This is a brand new conference presented entirely by Microsoft MVP’s! Conference sessions will be provided in IT Professional, Developer and Consumer tracks, in addition with sessions available in English, Spanish or Portuguese tracks.

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The full agenda for the sessions and tracks of the conference is really long. There is a ton of sessions being presented in this conference and it appears to be a very excellent event. Along with it being free to attend, it should be pretty phenomenal. Plus, you don’t have to pay for airfare or hotel accommodations since you can attend from home or work!

Register | Agenda | Sessions