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Office 365 – Using the New PST Import Service

Mention the word “PST” around an Exchange admin and you’ll likely receive the same gloomy expression as if you mentioned “Public Folders”. PSTs, however, cause headaches for many others outside of the Exchange administration world. They’re even a pain for the users that create them as they can be wiped away with the reimaging of a workstation or failure of a hard drive. From a legal eDiscovery standpoint, they’re a nightmare and they make data security, well, not so secure.

During the course of a mail migration, it’s not uncommon to find that users have accumulated gigabytes or possibly terabytes of PST data. In some cases they’ve been forced to as we’ve enacted artificially small mailbox quotas. So the user takes their emails off the mail server and places them into a PST on the file server instead.

Few will argue that PSTs should not be used but what do we do with the PSTs that we have?

Microsoft has a new offering in Office 365 that will hopefully provide an answer.
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Perficient to provide insights on cloud solutions at #MSIgnite

Today, Perficient announced that its team will be heading to the inaugural Microsoft Ignite conference as an exhibitor. The Perficient team will be showcasing their Microsoft Cloud expertise in booth 330 and Joe Palarchio will be sharing his Office 365 experience in a session on Exchange in a hybrid environment. We’ll also be giving away a Surface Pro 3. The winner does not need to be present to win.

From the news release:

The inaugural Ignite, scheduled for May 4-8 in Chicago at the McCormick Place Convention Center, is Microsoft’s largest and most comprehensive technology event. More than 20,000 technology leaders, IT professionals and enterprise developers are expected, bringing together attendees from previous Microsoft events including the Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and TechEd conferences.

Perficient’s Joseph Palarchio, Office 365 Technical Consultant, will share insights about integrating Exchange and ensuring a smooth migration during the session titled “Exchange Hybrid – The Unspoken Limitations That You Should Know.” Palarchio will address commonly overlooked limitations that should be accounted for when deploying an Exchange Hybrid environment. His session is scheduled for Wednesday at 11:35 a.m.

Throughout the conference, Perficient’s Microsoft experts will be available in booth No. 330 to demonstrate how companies can deploy enterprise solutions that promote user adoption, increase operational productivity, and drive measurable business value. Perficient’s Microsoft consultants specialize in several practice areas including unified communications, social business solutions, business intelligence and cloud computing to provide digital marketing, portals and collaboration, mobile development and custom application development solutions to clients.

Perficient consistently has been recognized by Microsoft as one of its premier national solution providers, particularly around cloud services. With nationally known experts on Office 365, Azure and Yammer platforms, as well as a deep and rich history in SharePoint, Lync, and Exchange, Perficient will show attendees how to use Microsoft platforms, products and best practices to connect employees to key communications and data, and especially to one another.

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Office 365 – How to Handle Departed Users (Part 1 of 2)

As a result of a decision made by either the employee or the employer, users will inevitably leave your organization. Whether you call these user “separations”, “terminations” or “offboarding”, the impact to IT is the same: network access needs to be secured and the user’s data needs to be addressed.

When using cloud services such as Office 365, there are additional aspects to consider which will make your process different than in an on-premises scenario. There may be a licensing impact which can equate to costs and you are dependent upon another party (Microsoft) for handling the disposal of data.

In this two part series, I will cover some of the ways to handle Office 365 data for users that have left your organization. This article, part 1, will cover how to handle Exchange Online data or more specifically, the user’s mailbox. Part 2 of this series will cover how to handle the user’s OneDrive for Business data.
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Azure: Did You Know? Always On Web Apps

alwayson-1When you creating a new web app (or web site, how it used to be called until recently) it’s have “Always On” setting off by default, which means the web site will be recycled after period of inactivity (20 minutes). This setting is somewhat similar to “Idle Time-out” setting on IIS application pool.When you web app is recycled, it will take Azure some time to bring it up the site when it’s accessed next time (in my experience it may take about 5-10 seconds) which could be frustrating for user.  So enabling “Always On” setting on Azure web app increases application responsiveness, especially if application is not very frequently accessed by users.

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Top 10 Announcements from Build 2015 Keynote on Day 1

The 2015 BUILD Conference kicked off today, and today’s keynote was packed full of TONS of announcements and new information. Some of these things are going to be released sometime this year, but some of it has also been released to be available today! Even though you can watch the Build 2015 Day 1 Keynote anytime online, I thought I’d compress it down to the points I think are the most significant.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a full list of everything announced. Honestly, you have to watch the keynote to get everything.

Visual Studio Code for OSX / Linux / Windows

Visual Studio Code Announcement
This is exactly what it looks like, a lite version of Visual Studio that runs on ANY operating system you want. As of today, Visual Studio isn’t only on Windows anymore.

Visual Studio Code can be downloaded today, here:

Windows Holographic Platform


The Windows Holographic Platform is the platform behind the hardware that is HoloLens; Microsoft’s Augmented Reality glasses/headset. This is some super innovative technology that has the potential to fundamentally transform the way we use computers. The HoloLens was first announced a few months back, but today Microsoft shed a little more light on the technology surrounding it:

  1. HoloLens applications are built as Universal Windows Apps and distributed through the Windows Store
  2. HoloLens is stand alone and doesn’t require a phone or PC to use
  3. Any Universal Windows App can be placed / overlaid on your wall, refrigerator, or what ever you want within your space

Universal Windows Apps = 1 Platform & 1 Binary


Universal Windows App will allow for developers to build a single application and distribute that application as a single binary that will run on any device that runs Windows 10; including: phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, Xbox, HoloLens and IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

Universal Apps built with Web, .NET, Win32, Java, C++ or Objective-C


This one is a handful of awesome! The tooling for building Universal Windows Apps will support the ability to write Universal Windows Apps with .NET, Win32, C++, Java, Objective-C and web technologies (html/javascript). You’ll be able to share code between Android and/or iOS with your Universal Windows Apps!

Web Apps as Universal Windows Apps

Web apps will be able to be registered in the Windows Store so that they run on Windows 10 as if they are a native Universal Windows App.

Android App Support

Windows 10 will have a Android based sub-system that will allow for Android apps to be packaged up and distributes through the Windows Store. This is to make it extremely simple to take an existing Android app or Android Java code and reuse it to target the Windows 10 Platform.

One thing to note about the Android sub-system is that it will run the apps within a sandboxed environment, so the system can be kept safe and secure.

Windows Store for Business


The Windows Store will be able to be customized by companies and schools who wish to customize the apps listed.

Windows Phone as Desktop Replacement

Functionality was announced with a demo of using a Windows 10 Phone as a desktop computer by connecting an HDMI monitor/tv with Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Universal Windows Apps run on the phone as normal, but when you connect a monitor/keyboard/mouse you can use the apps as if you’re on a desktop computer.

Microsoft Edge Browser


The Microsoft Edge Browser was announced as the official name of the new web browser from Microsoft that was formerly known as Project Spartan. This is a browser that is “built for doing” by integrating built-in note taking and sharing. The Edge browser will also include support for Browser Extensions built with standards based JavaScript and HTML.

New Azure SQL Database Features


There are a few new features being introduced to Azure SQL Databases:


This was a very exciting day to kick start a very exciting week for Microsoft and the Windows platform! There is so much more in the Build 2015 Day 1 Keynote than I could list here. If you’re interested, I encourage you to go watch/listen to the full keynote over on Channel 9.


Image Credits: The images above were taken from screenshots of the keynote video.

Azure Did You Know? Diagnostic Logs in Azure Web Sites

In order to properly diagnose and troubleshoot various issues that may come up on a web site (or web job for that matter), diagnostic logging is a must and one type of diagnostic logging is often not enough.  Just because the code is deployed and hosted in the cloud doesn’t mean that you won’t have access to various logs for troubleshooting purposes.

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Introducing Azure SQL Data Warehouse

azure dw - 4

Today, during annual Microsoft Build conference keynote, Microsoft’s own Scott Guthrie (executive VP  of cloud and enterprise group) introduced new Azure service which is going to be available in public preview in June: Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

Large enterprise today can’t effectively function without big data realtime analytics. Realtime analytics means processing large amounts of data and providing business with key metrics derived from that data and answers to the questions it have in real-time. Microsoft already has a few analytic services in Azure:

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Microsoft and Adobe to Partner Around Marketing and CRM Spaces

A news item from Microsoft at Adobe Summit today indicates that they will engage in a strategic partnership which will    feature the integration of Adobe Marketing Cloud Solutions with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

According to Microsoft’s Kirill Tatarinov (EVP, Microsoft Business Solutions):

Helping our customers reinvent productivity and business processes is one of our top priorities. Partnering with Adobe enables us to deliver a comprehensive set of customer engagement processes to enterprise customers to help them be more productive and better engage with their customers

In terms of concrete outcomes, it is likely that Adobe solutions will continued to be enabled on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.  Adobe Campaign and Experience are already certified for Azure, and Adobe’s Primetime service for live event streaming has an Azure backbone.

Further development is also expected on a connector that will allow Adobe Analytics to appear in Microsoft’s Power BI. This will allow users to see Analytics data as well as other business data in a single “pane of glass” interface.

Longer term, customers of these tools/platforms will benefit from superior customer experiences as complementary capabilities between the two solutions allow for end-to-end customer management.  Strategically, this reflects a continued openness of Microsoft to partnership with firms traditionally considered competitors, if not downright enemies, e.g. Office for iPad, running Linux virtual machines on Azure, etc.

Office 365 – “A Day in Life” Outlook Tips


Email is a primary channel in our work lives and is an integral part of how we communicate and get things done. We continuously strive to make our life simpler and automate the repetitive tasks, and email is no different. This not only encompasses the enterprise email user but also the personal email user. Outlook has always provided users with mechanism to automate lot of different tasks, but with Office 365 things are becoming even more easier. The focus is around saving time and making a day more productive for an end user. You can see some of these in my previous post in this series:

1. Day in Life of an Office 365 User

2. Clutter 

Three tips listed below helps me save a ton of time, hope it helps you too.

1. Clutter – Found under the Home–>Delete tab in the ribbon. This newly introduced feature in Office 365 outlook works on the Azure machine learning algorithm.
Trivia question – can you point out another feature which uses this machine learning algorithm? (answer at the end of the post)


This feature (requires turning ON) will learn your behavior over time and move messages over to the “Clutter” folder. Unread messages, messages you don’t reply to are interpreted as clutter and are moved over to the clutter folder. You can also manually move messages over and help this feature to become smarter quicker.


2. Ignore – This feature has been part of Exchange 2013 as well as Office 365 and is a great reply to the mass distribution list emails we get on a daily basis. I’m talking about the welcome and promotion emails to which people respond with “reply all”. If you’re like me, you do not want to get bombarded with those reply all emails. Use this feature and move the current and future messages directly over to “Deleted Items.”

3. ignore-annoying-reply-all-conversationsClean Up – Found under the Home–> Delete tab in the ribbon. This feature removes redundant messages in a conversation. Now this is different from the “Ignore” feature in that it only removes/deletes the redundant messages keeping intact the original and new messages. So think of times when an email was sent to a distribution list and then people reply with new information. Each reply typically carries the footprint of the previous reply. In that case the previous message (which is now part of the new one) is removed from the conversation. You can clean up at three different levels a. Conversation b. Folder c. Sub Folder

Know how of tips & tricks are important for any product or software and having some in your pocket almost guarantees to make your day more productive.

Trivia Answer – Office Graph in Delve

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.