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How to Plan & Prepare for Skype for Business – Webinar Recap


It’s official – as of mid April, which was covered in another post – Microsoft Lync is now Skype for Business. As expected, customers who have Lync deployed either on premises or in the cloud have questions, and folks who use Skype for personal use are wondering how well this communication tool, which works wonders to connect with family and friends, crosses the chasm into enterprise-grade unified communications.

All these questions made for a popular webinar topic last week. Nick Elniff, a senior technical consultant at Perficient who works within our unified communications practices, packed a lot of information into the 50 minute session.

He began with a brief history lesson on Microsoft and unified communications, and then shared with attendees what the change means from a rebranding perspective, and the different clients and timelines for availability. He compared the differences in the interfaces, and then showed what’s new beyond the new look.

It’s definitely a webinar worth reviewing, whether it’s the slides or the replay. You can find both here. Read the rest of this post »

Guest Post: Extend Business Processes to the Cloud with Nintex

VadimNote: Today’s blog post comes from Vadim Tabakman, Technical Evangelist for Nintex with over 8 years of experience in SharePoint and Nintex technologies. He understands how SharePoint, business process automation and forms can join forces successfully in numerous industries and business scenarios to drive business adoption and succeed in SharePoint projects. Vadim brings an excellent technical perspective to the discussion of how to use SharePoint workflow and forms to solve business needs.

As businesses grow, the need for the automation of business processes grows with it.  With that need, the inevitable discussion of  hardware support and scalability comes up.  Can your current hardware and software environment support your ever growing need?  How much of an investment will you need to make, in order to accomplish your automation needs and will there be future investments or upgrades needed as requirements grow even more?

Those are the types of questions that come up and Microsoft and Nintex have expanded their product offerings to help answer those questions.


Firstly, living in a SharePoint world, companies need to consider the investment required for the different types of SharePoint servers.  You have Web Front End servers, Application server, Index servers and Database servers.  Over time, the user base grows and adoption grows with it.  This results in additional servers required in the on-prem environment to cater for that growth.

In comes the world of the cloud and Office 365.  Office 365 takes away the worry of growth and scalability as it is hosted on Azure and that handles all of that for you.  But really, what is SharePoint without Nintex Workflow and Forms?  Nintex Workflow and Forms have been available in the Office 365 SharePoint Store since the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in 2013 and are fundamental tools for companies to help with automating business processes and driving user adoption. Read the rest of this post »

Webinar: O365 Deployment, Security & Management Best Practices

Joe Palarchio Ignite

Perficient’s Joe Palarchio presents a session on Exchange hybrid at Microsoft Ignite

As we get back into the swing of things after heading home from Microsoft Ignite (some of us didn’t have to go very far, lucky Chicagoans), we’re excited to have a bunch of new webinars lined up on various topics. One was today, on Skype for Business – stay tuned for that recap!

Next up, on Wednesday, June 3 at 1 pm CT, Joe Palarchio, Lead Technical Consultant at Perficient, who presented a session at Ignite on Exchange in a hybrid environment, will be teaming up with Chris Webber, Director of Product Marketing at Centrify for a webinar on Proven Practices for Office 365 Deployment, Security and Management.

When it comes to email platforms, Office 365 Exchange Online has quickly become the choice solution for many enterprises as they move from an on-premises environment to the cloud. In this session, you will learn how single sign-on and automated account provisioning for Office 365 can stop the cloud password sprawl, close security holes and free up IT time for new projects.

You’ll also see how to:

  • Drive cloud app adoption and eliminate password sprawl
  • Centralize, standardize and automate access management – across apps and devices
  • Leverage active directory, without the expense and risk of replicating it
  • Provide seamless access to on-premises apps without the hassle of VPN
  • Simplify with a Microsoft-validated alternative to AD FS, DirSync, and Azure Active Directory

We hope you can join us to learn how to get ahead of cloud challenges you may be facing and simplify your deployment of Office 365. Sign up today!


Office365 May Updates Enhance Power Map

In the May 2015 update for Office 365, Power Map users get a number of enhancements and new features.

Unfamiliar with Power Map?  It’s one of the “Power Tools” that are part of the Power BI offering as included in Excel 2013 and Excel Pro Plus in Office 365,  Power Map provides some very cool presentation capability around geospatial data.  Basically, it’s a data storytelling tool oriented around geospatial data.   It integrates with Bing Maps to provide various 3D visualizations of geographically oriented data (think heat maps and other similar map-oriented data visualizations).  Once you have created your map, you can make a video “Tour” of it and use that for presentations, etc.

To illustrate, here’s a video we made about using this tool:


As you can see, the existing features are pretty cool. But this update adds some interesting new ones. First, you can now create Custom Regions in your Power Maps. While it was possible to use various map shapes previously in Power Map, you can now define things like Sales Regions, School Districts, electoral maps, etc. Additionally, some other great customization features have been added including the ability to control formatting of map legends, to control text box foreground and background color, and more.

Read more about the details here, and happy mapping!

Microsoft Azure Data Platform Capability Expands Yet Again

Yet again, Microsoft builds on their increasingly compelling Data Platform story by bringing out new offerings.

As my colleague Stan Tartinovksy wrote last week, Azure Data Warehouse is coming.   But that’s not the only new piece of the Microsoft data environment.

Also announced at the Ignite 2015 conference was a new Elastic Databases feature for Azure SQL Database.  This feature is ideal for developers who build SaaS applications that use large numbers of databases to scale to unpredictable resource demands.   Rather than needing to overprovision in order to accommodate peak demand, developers and sysadmins will be able to use Elastic Databases to configure a database pool to help share resources across multiple databases (upwards of thousands) within a controllable budget   Microsoft will also be making tools available to help query and aggregate results, as well as to implement policies and perform transactions across the database pool.

And the other major new offering is Azure Data Lake.  A Data Lake is a hyper-scale data store for big data analytic workloads, designed as a single place to store every type of data in its native format, with no fixed limits on account size or file size, and with high throughput to increase analytic performance.  Azure Data Lake is a Hadoop File System, compatible integrated with Azure HDInsight.  It will also be integrated with Revolution-R Enterprise and industry standard Hadoop distributions like Hortonworks and Cloudera, not to mention supporting individual Hadoop projects like Storm, Spark, Kafka, Flume, etc.

Elastic Databases for Azure SQL Database is currently in preview.  Azure Data Lake will be released to preview later in 2015.


Azure: Did You Know? Bulk Import/Export

microsoft-azure-logoWhen moving to Microsoft Azure, you may need migrate large amounts of data to the cloud. Traditional upload methods require moving that data across the public internet, which can be limited by a number of factors. The Azure Import and Export service for storage allows you to ship data into or out of an Azure Storage account by physically shipping disks to an Azure datacenter. Read the rest of this post »

Microsoft Ignite 2015 Sway

If you have already played with Sway (member of Office 365) then I bet you’re in love with it, and if you have not yet then you’re going to love this. I thought of presenting a recap of the conference in the form of a Sway publicly available here. Sway is an app that lets you express and share ideas in a very new way, using any browser on a PC, Mac, or tablet.



Are you using Sway? If so – what do you think about it?

Ignite 2015 Recap – Top 3 Sessions to Replay

ignite mainWelcome back from a great Ignite Conference! By now, I hope everyone knows that the conference recordings are posted to channel9, a section of MSDN. Microsoft does a great job of recording and publishing all of this content quickly, its pretty awesome.

One of my biggest challenges at the conference was knowing which session to pick. There were 3-6 sessions at any given time that I wanted to go to. All week it was like that, crazy.

This year, Microsoft added “foundational keynote” sessions. Sadly, most of them were on Monday and over-lapped each other. I went back and downloaded the videos and they are all amazing, filled with product name changes, roadmap discussions, and a very transparent look at Microsoft’s Cloud Strategy. Read the rest of this post »

Azure: Did You Know? No Integrated Authentication in SQL Azure

azure sqlMicrosoft Azure SQL Database is very similar to on-premises SQL Server, but there are a few key differences. One of these difference is that SQL Azure doesn’t support integrated authentication (i.e. when caller is identified by its domain account). I assume this is a technical limitation which could be explained by the lack of domain infrastructure in Azure cloud. Integrated authentication requires client and server to be in the same domain or in trusted domains, which would be complicated in the cloud scenario.

So, the only way to connect to Azure SQL is to provide a user name and password in connection string. This authentication method is traditionally considered to be less secure than integrated authentication because user name and password are exposed as a part of connection string which in most cases resides in application configuration file, unencrypted. The recommended mitigation for this security issue would be to store Azure SQL connection string in some secure place, like, for example, in Azure Web App settings. In this case, when Azure Web App (formerly – Web Site) is deployed to Azure, Azure settings taking precedence over deployed settings, so if Azure Web App have any stored connection strings then these connection strings will be used.

Azure: Did You Know? There Are Two Types of Message Queues?

azure_queuesDid you know that Azure provides two different types of message queues?  They each provide robust message queuing functionality but they have different features and capabilities.


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