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Office 365 – Using Office ProPlus? Take Caution Upgrading To 2016

Office ProPlus has done a great job of getting many organizations in a position where they’re running a fully patched and current version of Microsoft Office. It’s a component of Office 365 that really brings great value to organizations that previously didn’t have a solid deployment or patching process for Office.

Quick Aside: If you’re still running Office 2010, mainstream support is up in October

While the current version of ProPlus is essentially Office 2013, there will come a time when Office ProPlus upgrades to Office 2016.

In the article below I’ll outline some of the reasons you’ll want to take some caution with this upgrade.
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Azure: Did you know? PowerShell Automation

PowerShell has existed within Windows for some time now, providing much superior scripting / automation abilities than the old command line. Although, you can use the Azure Xplat CLI from the command line on Windows, Linux or Mac, the Azure PowerShell cmdlets provide a better environment to create, test, deploy and manage your Azure solutions using Windows PowerShell. Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 – Efficiently Connecting to Office 365 Via PowerShell

If you’re an administrator for Office 365, you’re likely very familiar with the fact that while some tasks can be performed in the portal, many need to be done via PowerShell. If you’ve managed to get this far in your IT life without using PowerShell, Office 365 is going to force you to learn it.

Even those that are savvy with PowerShell at times still do things in what I would consider a less than efficient manner. I’ve watched countless admins paste commands into the PowerShell window in order to connect to Office 365. They open up their OneNote or a Notepad file on the desktop every time they want to connect to Exchange Online and paste in the string of commands.

Below is an easier and more efficient way…
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Azure SQL – Row Level Security Now Available

RLS-Diagram-4-636x300Row-Level Security (RLS) for Azure SQL Database is now generally available. RLS simplifies the design and coding of security in your application. RLS enables you to implement restrictions on data row access. For example ensuring that workers can access only those data rows that are pertinent to their department, or restricting a customer’s data access to only the data relevant to their company.

The access restriction logic is located in the database tier rather than away from the data in another application tier. The database system applies the access restrictions every time that data access is attempted from any tier. This makes your security system more reliable and robust by reducing the surface area of your security system.

Row-level filtering of data selected from a table is enacted through a security predicate filter defined as an inline table valued function. The function is then invoked and enforced by a security policy. The policy can restrict the rows that may be viewed (a filter predicate), but does not restrict the rows that can be inserted or updated from a table (a blocking predicate). There is no indication to the application that rows have been filtered from the result set; if all rows are filtered, then a null set will be returned. Read the rest of this post »

How The Default SIP Domain Impacts Exchange Online UM Connections

Background

I was recently working on an engagement where the customer was migrating from Exchange 2010 to Office 365 Exchange Online. The customer had been a long time Enterprise Voice customer (OCS, Lync 2010, and now Lync 2013). As the customer grew over the years, so had their Lync environment. The customer originally deployed OCS 2007 R2 for only internal use. The default SIP domain was based off their internal Active Directory namespace (corpnet.domain.com). When Lync 2010 was introduced, the publicly routable SIP domain was added to the Lync topology (domain.com) to clean things up and match their SMTP addresses. Fast forward to 2015, the customer is migrating to Office 365 Exchange Online, which means voicemail and auto attendants were also being migrated to Exchange Online Unified Messaging.

Note, this article will not walk through the actual steps necessary to configure Lync/Skype for Business with Exchange Online Unified Messaging. If you need guidance in this area, refer to this article.

Issue Overview

The issue encountered was internal Lync calls to Exchange Online Unified Messaging (voicemail, auto attendants, etc.) would complete successfully, but any call made from a PSTN caller to Exchange Online Unified Messaging (subscriber access, auto attendants, voicemail) would fail. After reviewing traces of the call, it appeared that the default SIP domain was appended to the From/To fields in the SIP INVITE.   It makes sense why a SIP domain would get appended to these types of calls (so Office 365 knows where to route traffic). The problem is, an administrator cannot control which SIP domain is appended in the INVITE. From my testing, the default SIP domain will always be the domain appended to the PSTNGateway FQDNs when egressing out to Office 365.

From the traces below, you can see that the cause of the failed calls was a result of Office 365 not being able to do a DNS SRV lookup for _sipfederationtls._tcp.corpnet.domain.com as the ms-diagnostics response from Office 365 mentions “Unable to resolve DNS SRV record.” Read the rest of this post »

Microsoft Azure Helps Drive Healthcare Advances through Analytics

A recent press release from the University of Washington Tacoma provides a great example of how Big Data and Advanced Analytics are having a direct impact on the Healthcare industry. Readmission rates are a hot topic for hospital and health care systems across the country, so the application of cutting edge data science to the task of reducing readmissions could be a literal life-saver.AzureML

This is exactly what the team at MultiCare Health System in Washington found when they asked for assitance from the Center fro Data Science at UW Tacoma.   With the help of an Azure for Research grant from Microsoft, the team was able to leverage Azure to accelerate the data analysis and model building process to develop their “Risk-O-Meter” predictive analytics tool.  This tool is able to predict 30-day readmissions with a walloping 82 percent accuracy rate.  Ccontrast this against a standard accuracy rate of predictive models of around 60 percent.

While initial use of the tool was granted to clinicians, the team was able to expand its availability to patients as well — putting in their hands the ability to predict how likely they are to be readmitted within 30 days given biometric and behavioral inputs.

The collective UW Tacoma and MultiCare teams are now looking towards commercialization of the tool as a “readmission score as a service” offering.  This could help put a serious dent in the estimated $26B annual national cost of 30-day readmissions.  Yes — that’s “Billion” with a B.  To healthcare companies, this is obviously an area with serious potential for cost savings.  And that doesn’t even take into account that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will soon start levying penalties on companies exceeding threshold readmission rates.

And of course, this is obviously of great benefit to patients, who can see a direct link between following their courses of care and avoiding readmission.  The coming together of Big Data technology and Healthcare know-how will continue to provide advances in quality of care and cost savings.   To find out more about how Microsoft and Azure technology play a role, follow these links:

http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/default.aspx?id=217993&r=1

http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/default.aspx?id=159290

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/machine-learning/

Office 365 – Common Confusion with Email Retention Policies

A topic that seems to be surrounded with much confusion in Exchange Online is the concept of “Retention Policies”. While the feature itself is not new to Exchange, for many organizations it seems that establishing their first email retention strategy is coupled with their migration to the cloud.

Even for organizations that have a well established email retention strategy, the move to the cloud changes many of the factors that may have contributed to the policy and it’s worth reevaluating.

Below are some of the commonly misunderstood functions of Retention Policies and some of the pitfalls I’ve seen in unsuccessful attempts to establish an email retention strategy.
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Azure: Did You Know? Virtual Machine Config Management – DevOps

By now you’ve heard the term DevOps. (If not, Wikipedia’s definition works.) So what tools are available to me in the Microsoft Azure environment to support DevOps?

051414_1128_techedna2012Azure Virtual Machines have a variety of built-in extensions that can enable configuration management. There are two extensions for Windows Powershell. The custom script extension allows you to run a script on a virtual machine at provisioning time or after it is running. The Windows Powershell DSC Extension allows you to define the state of a virtual machine using the Powershell Desired State Configuration language and apply it. There are also extensions that allow you to configure your virtual machines to use open source configuration management utilities such as Chef, Docker, or Puppet.

If you’d like to know more about DevOps and how Microsoft Azure can help enable your business transformation, contact Perficient and one of our 28 certified Azure consultants can help!

What to consider when moving applications to the Microsoft cloud

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According to Computerworld, 42% of IT decision makers planned to increase spending on cloud computing in 2015. While companies are adopting cloud technologies at rapid pace, migrating from existing technology to the cloud can still be a challenge. For an optimal (read: as smooth and quick as possible) move to the cloud, it’s critical to consider your requirements and explore the available features.

While this ZDNet article where Mary Jo Foley interviews a former Azure evangelist is a couple years old, I think these tips to guide your thought process still hold true: always plan for the long term, start with something simple and know the outcomes you want to achieve.

When done right, migrating on-premises applications to the cloud can lead to a significant ROI. The process, however, can seem rather complex, as there are numerous paths to take and changes that are required. A directive as simple as, “lets move some applications to the cloud,” involves many choices, and must consider an organization’s requirements, evaluation criteria and architectural principles, according to Gartner. You’ll want to look at a number of salient points, which we will cover in a webinar this Wednesday, July 29 at 1 pm CT: Optimize Business Performance by Moving Apps to the Microsoft Cloud.

During the session, Perficient’s Joe Crabtree, National Practice Lead for Custom Application Development, and Chris Pietschmann, a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect, will give an overview of migrations to Microsoft Azure, a rundown of the various service options and a tried and true approach to planning for a successful migration. Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 – A Deeper Look at the Microsoft “Send” App

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced a new Office 365 mobile app called “Send“. The idea behind the app is to be able to send quick and simple messages to other users via email.

The first question that came to mind was, “What problem is this app trying to solve?” My phone can already send emails, IMs and text messages, did we really need another option?

My thoughts then shifted to “How does this work?”, “What kind of security options are there?” and other questions that clients are bound to ask.

In the interest of peeking behind the scenes, I ran the app through Fiddler to see what the traffic looked like. Some thoughts based on the results are below…
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