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After the Governance Plan: SharePoint Governance in Action

SharePoint Governance is a topic everyone talks about, yet very few actually understand.  The confusion surrounding SharePoint Governance is well-rooted; for one, it’s an incredibly large set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that detail, literally, every aspect of how the SharePoint platform should be used.  For another, successful SharePoint Governance is only achieved when it is tailored for your organization.  SharePoint Governance is not cookie-cutter – it is specific to each organization’s culture, preferences, tendencies, and current processes.

At Perficient, we often participate in Governance Planning engagements for the SharePoint platform.  A typical Governance Planning engagement includes hosting collaborative workshops with stakeholders of all levels within the organization to determine both the current state of collaboration, as well as the desired future state of collaboration.  It is essential that representatives from all parts of the organization are included, as they will all be impacted by the Governance Policy decisions.   A good governance model will not only emphasize ensuring management and control of the platform, but also in driving adoption and maximizing the return on investment. Read the rest of this post »

Nintex acquisition means tighter Salesforce integration with O365

handshake

With the acquisition of Drawloop, we should expect to see additional capabilities added to Salesforce and Office 365 / SharePoint. In terms of Office 365 and SharePoint, Nintex is planning to add document generation (docGen) to the platform. And with SalesForce, we should see tighter coupling to the O365 space, and workflow and form automation capabilities. As a Top 10 paid app on the Salesforce AppExchange, Drawloop has consistent 5 star ratings and is a leader in the document generation category. More than 1,000 customers use Drawloop to streamline document creation and drive productivity.

From the news release:

Businesses rely on Drawloop to automate and standardize their document generation processes. Its LOOP Document Services solution, http://www.drawloop.com/solutions/salesforce-app/, utilizes existing structured and unstructured data to deliver the most commonly used sales and service documents, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint or PDF, and merges them with Salesforce data. This helps sales operations and sales and service professionals close deals, serve customers, and convert renewals more efficiently. As a result, companies achieve higher returns on their CRM investment by increasing adoption, improving data compliance and forecasting, and increasing deal visibility.

The company’s newly combined development team will immediately begin working to integrate Nintex’s platform which includes Nintex Workflow, Nintex Mobile, and Nintex Forms for SharePoint and Office 365, with Drawloop’s automated document generation capabilities. These combined offerings will be made available to SharePoint, Office 365, and Salesforce users in the future.

Aside from Perficient’s Microsoft team working closely with Nintex, we are also a Salesforce Platinum Cloud Alliance partner. The teams are excited to see how this acquisition plays out for both Salesforce and Office 365 / SharePoint.

You can review all the details of the announcement here.

New Microsoft Trend: “Intranet in a Box” Built on SharePoint

kid_in_box

If you walked the exhibit hall at last month’s Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago, you might have happened upon a conversation, or even a booth, touting the concept, “Intranet in a Box.” In fact, while attending Ignite, I recall talking about it with a colleague of mine, Rich Wood. Last week, he wrote an article over on CMSWire discussing the new trend.

Rich talks about how both inspiration – and confusion – came out of Ignite, as noted below:

Microsoft shared a lot about the future as Redmond sees it at last month’s Ignite conference. It’s a future that looks, by turns, both inspiring and somewhat confusing. When Microsoft peeks ahead into the space-time continuum, it sees the future of communication as Skype for Business, and the future of information discovery looking a good deal like Delve and other search-based applications.

The future of teamwork through this lens looks distinctly like Office 365 Groups. Except when it resembles Yammer… or maybe SharePoint. All three together in some sort of mashup? “Where the roadmap is heading,” we were told.

Interesting? Certainly.

Vague? Definitely.

Confusing? Absolutely — unless you find some good counsel to help make sense of how this can benefit your organization.

So, what’s to come? Rich sets us straight when it comes to SharePoint being synonymous with intranet solution (it’s NOT).

Let’s be clear: Microsoft has never claimed to offer an intranet solution. And it still isn’t. Sure, a whopping proportion of the world’s intranets are built on SharePoint every year — but Microsoft has always stopped short of calling SharePoint an intranet solution. That’s because it isn’t. SharePoint is a platform, not a packaged solution. We’ve been hearing that for years, because it’s true. But will it remain that way?

The times are definitely changing, and between Microsoft and its partners, Ignite showed us that more and more packaged solutions, using SharePoint as their baseline, are available to take some of the pain and cost out of intranet design and delivery. None of these solutions alone — these “Intranets in a box,” if you will — are being marketed as truly viable monolithic corporate intranet candidates, but they each address a specific business case that used to require moderate-to-heavy customization.

But times are changing. Business needs are changing, and Microsoft is not only getting on board with the boxed intranet trend – they are setting the agenda. 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.

nintex

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 »

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.

sway

 

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 »

Office 365 NextGen Portals Under the Hood – Ignite 2015

ignite main

Family of NextGen portals

  • Video
  • Delve
  • Infopedia

Notion of these portals is built on the following pillars

  • Intelligent
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Ready to go

NEXTGEN PORTAL MODEL

1

NEXTGEN PORTAL ARCHITECTURE

2

Office 365 Video

Powered by azure media services
Easily consume
Share ideas broadly (rich discoverable social video across devices with yammer embedded)
Secure & easy to manage (scalable, encrypted, cross-geo video streaming service)
Also powered by Office graph which means it learns from your behavior over time.

Using SP: storing nextgen portal data Read the rest of this post »

HUGE Improvements Announced for SharePoint 2016 – Ignite 2015

Bill Baer today shared and announced some significant changes coming up in SharePoint 2016.

To quote him:

“SharePoint 2016 is the most durable version shipped till date.” (tweet this)

These announcements are very welcoming, not only from a IT admin perspective but also for the end user (file size, list threshold etc.) This might be the best SharePoint version to date.

TOPICS
• Management
• Reliability, performance, scale
• Insights and data
• Cloud accelerated experiences

Management
Convergence
Code base – took a cloud snapshot of SPO. Brought a lot of SPO investments back to on-premises (the one which couldn’t be brought will be covered by cloud accelerators.) Cloud down codebase based on SPO. Backported capabilities for on-premises differentiators

Hardware Reqs
Single – 16-24 memory; x64 processor; 80 GB disk
Farm – 12-16 GB RAM

Pre Requisites
OS
Windows Server 2012 R2, WS 2010

Services
.NET Framework 4.5.2
Windows Server App Fabric
Provides in memory distributed caching
MS Information Protection and Control Client
WCF Data Services – enables creation and consumption of services

Database– 64 bit of SQL 2014
Deployment – unchanged from SP 2013

NOTE: Standalone installations will no longer be supported (Single Server Farm does not include SQL Server Express)

Upgrade – Attach SP 2013 DB to SP 2016. (For SP 2010 scenarios -Upgrade 14.5 mode (SP 2010 mode) site collections to 15 mode)
Migration – Migrate content to SP 2016

NOTE: The services that don’t exist in SPO will be backported to SP 2016 like PerformancePoint

Identity
SAML authentication becomes a first class citizen (default). Normalizes on OAuth and JWT/SAML with WSFED
(Apps will trust Azure AD) (Moving away from windows identity and moving towards cloud based)

SMTP Connection Encryption
Supports sending mail to SMTP servers using STARTTLS connection encryption
No fallback support for unencrypted connections
SMTP can use non-default ports (no more relying on port 25 for mails)

Performance and Reliability

MinRole (Roles and services)
Four discrete roles –
• User services – Any requests coming from the end user will be handled here like sync client; onenote; user profile; page rendering; excel services; sandbox. code; project; subscription settings. These are optimized for low latency
• Robot Services (Application Services) – not end user initiated like provisioning; timer jobs; search. Optimized for high throughput
• Specialized Load – reserved for services that needed to be isolated from other services like 3rd party
• Caching Services – supports for distributed cache (load balances request from end user)

New Role Screen -Specify Server Role (in config wizard) like special load role (third party solutions); web front load role; search; application; distributed cache

NOTE: For automated deployments – use -IsLocalServerRole <RoleName> from PSConfig commandlets to assign role to a server
NOTE: Chose specialty load role for assigning multiple roles to a server

Role Enforcement and Health
Health rule will scan each server in the farm daily (except special load)

Central Administration
New columns in the “servers in farm”- Role; In Compliance (yes or no) with fix button (in cases where one server is assigned multiple roles

PATCHING
Zero downtime patching – 2 MSI’s per service and 1 MSI’s per language pack. Smaller update footprint.
You can install patches middle of day online w/o stopping services.

Boundaries (HUGE HUGE)
Content DB – probably sizing into TB’s
Site Collection per Content DB – 100,000 site collections per content DB
List threshold – well beyond 5000
File Size -10 GB and removed character restrictions
Indexed items – 2x increase in search scale to 500 million items

Performance
Download – byte range HTTP Gets
Upload – BITS specific block-based upload protocol
*Moving away from file sync
Fast site creation – simply copies site collections with SPSite. Copy from already created templated site collections. Mitigation of feature activation.

User profile service
Removed built in FIM service and supports external FIM service.

Durable Links (BIG)
Renaming or moving files in earlier versions broke the link. With SP 2016 links will use Resource ID based URL’s. URL remains intact with rename and move. Enables discrete Url on visibility. Moving between site collections or sites will not change the URL

Insights and Data
Real time telemetry – real user monitoring for Services, Actions, Usage, Engagement, Diagnostics

Compliance
Classification ID – complex query based on complex predicate. 51 classification ID’s OOB provided for SSN, license #, etc.
You can now use Azure RMS and eDiscovery for on-premises SharePoint.

Search Service Application
New application will provide support for Office Graph/Delve. Unifies on-premises and cloud indexes.

Extranet
Site publishing – leverages Office 365 Identity federation services

Team Sites
Hybrid scenarios – Be inclusive of both online and on-premises. e.g. when you follow documents online you should be able to see the same on-premises too.

I am sure you are as excited as I am to get your hands on this new, improved and well-designed version.

Next-Gen Information Protection Announcements – Ignite 2015

The following are my notes from the Next-Gen Information Protection announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2015.

Microsoft thinks about security in three ways:

  • Being pervasive
  • Transparent
  • People-centric

Pervasive – policy applied to data level (when its created inside the ecosystem)
so it goes with data across devices.

Unified compliance – running data through compliance center across email, SP, messaging, etc.

Pervasive -Admin goes to compliance center
Sets up files and links with security
User opens links received via email. Malicious links redirect user to a threat warning page blocking access. Read the rest of this post »

New SharePoint Online Migration API Announcement – Ignite 2015

The single biggest benefit of this new Migration PowerShell API is speed. Close to 5 times faster than CSOM calls. The new API was released today and is available for public consumption.

An Overview

  • Source – file share, SharePoint on-prem, potentially any other data source
  • Package – create package for the API to be able to accept it
  • Azure temporary holding storage – use power of Azure to bring content faster in MSFT network
  • SharePoint /OD4b final destination – timer job based import in a scalable way that will not hurt the service using back-end resources

Who is it for?
IT admin and developers Read the rest of this post »