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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 »

Threat Resistance in Windows 10 – Ignite 2015

Enterprise and Personal Security Model revolves around:

  • Identity protection
  • Info protection
  • Threat resistance

Windows 10 addresses the threat resistance in the following three ways:

1. Windows Hello (will use fingerprints, facial recognition and biometrics.)
Unlocks your device with biometrics and gives access to your MS passport

2. EDP (Enterprise data protection)
Enrollments –> Data Ingress (everything gets protected at this file level) –> Data Genesis and Use –> Data Egress (RMS) –> Data Wipe

3. Device Guard

  • Enables Windows desktop to be locked down to only run trusted code
  • Resistant to tampering by an admin or malware
  • Requires special device configuration by either the OEM or IT

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: http://code.visualstudio.com

Windows Holographic Platform

HololensMars

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

UniversalApps

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

WinAppsWithJavaObjC

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

WindowsStoreForBusiness

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

MicrosoftEdgeBrowser

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

AzureSQLNewFeatures

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

More!!

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.

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2015/KEY01

 

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

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.

Read the rest of this post »

Lync Server 2013 Contributes to Perficient’s FlexJobs Award

Just recently, Perficient was named as a top 100 company for a remote job by FlexJobs. (Read About It) Being I work from home (as most people do in my field), I definitely felt Perficient was well deserving of this award. Although the FlexJobs criteria didn’t ask “what kind of tools do Perficient employees use to help in being remote?”, we all know what the single most common answer would be if asked; Lync Server 2013. So here is a break down of what I have to make myself productive being remote;

1.) A home office
2.) A company issued laptop
3.) Outlook connected to Office 365 Exchange Online
4.) SharePoint (On-Premises)
5.) Lync Server 2013 with Enterprise Voice. I use it extensively on my iPhone and obviously my PC.
6.) Yammer (on occasion)
7.) VPN – But only kind of. VPN is only used to do my timesheets as that system is not publically accessible…on purpose I believe.

Yes, I get it, you are probably reading all of those and thinking “why did you lend so much credence to Lync in the first paragraph, you still need all those other tools as well?”. That’s simple answer; The other technologies and the concept they represent have been around forever, so that really hasn’t changed. What ties it all together is Lync Server 2013, which in my opinion creates “Unified Communications.”
I’ve been using content management systems and email for quite some time prior to Lync going “mainstream”. Although those tools could be used while working remotely before Lync, they lacked the personal feel that Lync offers. With only those “pre-Lync” tools, I couldn’t rapidly connect with someone over IM/Voice/Video at the very moment I needed to. I required being with someone in person, which didn’t scale at all. Take for example; what if I needed talk to co-worker Jim in Chicago unscheduled. Then I needed to talk to customer Frank in Miami unscheduled 15 minutes after that? I can’t hop a flight to Chicago then to Miami in 15 minutes…I need a tool that allows me to see and communicate with these individuals immediately. That is the gap that the Unified Communications leader, Lync Server 2013, has filled.

So readers could be reading this and thinking, “Jason is bias, of course he’ll give this opinion.” Au contraire mon frere , I reached out to individuals, one of whom I don’t even know who work at Perficient.

Allison wrote this quote very professionally, so keep in mind this was a completely un-coached quote. She just joined Perficient through acquisition and her company prior didn’t have Lync.

How does Lync empower your day to day duties?
I typically get frustrated with technology, but I must say I really do like Lync.

Lync has actually saved me time and made it super easy to meet and collaborate with people remotely. Prior to the acquisition I used a conference call number, but that was only voice. If I needed to share a document or presentation I would have to schedule a GoToMeeting. That would take about 5 minutes to set up. For messaging I used a separate tool – Google Hangouts. With Lync everything is together in one tool. I can quickly schedule a meeting that includes a “Join Lync Meeting” link to join the call on my computer and an optional phone number for people that need to or prefer to call in via phone. Once in the meeting I also have the ability to share my screen, instant message people in the meeting, and record the call. I especially like the one click “New Lync Meeting” to schedule a meeting in my Outlook calendar. Only takes a second. So fast and easy.

Lync allows me to communicate securely from any location, be it office, home or the local coffee shop. It combines voice and video calls, meetings, screen sharing, and instant messaging into one, easy-to-use tool. This makes collaboration and sharing super easy.”
– Allison Gugala – Marketing Manager, Perficient

Second quote:
What would be the most challenging part of your job WITHOUT Lync?
Communication – tracking people down, scheduling meetings, answering questions, making a quick call – it’s all so much easier with Lync”
– Angie Lingk – BDE, Perficient

Now, to be fair, I also asked this question with an answer I didn’t expect;

How has the Lync Mobile “1-click” meeting join feature improved the Lync experience?
So, this is the one thing I have an issue with. It’s basically useless to me unless I am on Wi-Fi. When I’m traveling, specifically driving, I am never on Wi-Fi.”
– Angie Lingk

The “issue” Angie experienced happened to be a non-issue after all, it was simply the lack of user training. Once I explained to her how to setup the client, the Lync mobile client has become irreplaceable.
The client can indeed be configured to use with 1-click over normal cellular, which is incredibly invaluable to remote workers who don’t have good data signals. As much as the big cell carriers brag, they simply can’t get data coverage into all areas of the United States.
Stayed tuned for a subsequent blog detailing the simple Lync mobile client configuration to make your life easier while being remote.

So there you have it, Lync Server 2013 allows Perficient to be considered a top place to work fore remote workers. Without the proper tools to enable our users, Perficient would simply be unable to advertise jobs as being remote positions.

7 Reasons You Should Be Fired Up For Windows 10!

win10We first heard last fall about Windows 10, Microsoft’s new operating system version. Today, we heard a whole lot more and personally, I’m thrilled!

The new vision for Windows is an operating system designed to deliver a singular, cohesive experience across a myriad of device types. Traditionally, Windows has been built for the PC. So, this is the first time that the operating system has been designed for a cloud and mobile-first world.

Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices – from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens – some have 80 inch screens – and some don’t have screens at all. Some of these devices you hold in your hand, others are ten feet away. Some of these devices you primarily use touch/pen, others mouse/keyboard, others controller/gesture – and some devices can switch between input types.

And across this breadth of devices, Microsoft is delivering one application platform for developers. Whether you’re building a game or a line of business application, there will be one way to write a universal app that targets the entire family. There will be one store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased and updated across all of these devices. Awesome!

After we heard more in today’s announcement, here are my 7 reasons why you should be fired up too! Read the rest of this post »

Microsoft Azure updates for October

microsoft-azure-logo_11368901Every month Microsoft is releasing new Azure services and promoting other services from preview state to general availability. In October this year a few news services were released and a few graduated to general availability.

– Azure Automation is now generally available. Azure Automation is essentially a PowerShell scripting in the cloud. Microsoft was recommending to script Azure deployment tasks for a long time, but previously the scripting capabilities were limited by developer’s computer. Now, using  Azure Automation it’s possible to actually run PowerShell scripts in Azure cloud, create jobs and schedule them at given times, create automation workflows. These PowerShell workflows are called “runbooks”. Microsoft is providing a comprehensive catalog of ready to use runbooks made to automate and manage different part of Azure: web site, cloud storage, media service, VMs, etc.

– Azure Service Bus received a new feature – Event Hubs. Event Hubs is hyper-scalable pub/sub event ingestor which can ingest data from millions of telemetry events per second so it could be processed by Azure cloud services. Event Hubs is designed for use with “internet of things” (IoT) – cloud-connected devices with sensors.

– Microsoft Animalware for Cloud Services and VMs graduated to general availability. Microsoft Antimalware is a service and SDK enabling protection of cloud services and VMs from malware.

– Instance-level public IPs are now generally available. It’s now possible to directly assign a public IP to VM or a web or worker role. Limit of two public IPs per subscription was removed.

– Elastic Scale preview is now available for SQL Azure. Elastic Scale is a set of .NET libraries and management tools making horizontal scale-out (sharding) of SQL Azure servers easier. Sharding was a recommended scale-out (and scale-in) pattern for Azure SQL for a while. However, implementation of sharding required custom coding and writing management scripts (or manual management of SQL instances). Now it’s much easier to implement.

– Azure Batch is now in public preview. Azure Batch is new platform which is enabling user to run large scale parallel applications on thousands of virtual machines, auto-scale depending on work in the queue, monitor job progress and stage data and build computing pipelines.

– Stream Analytic is now available in public preview. Stream Analytics is a realtime event processing engine and built to process mullions of telemetric events per seconds when used together with Event Hubs.

– Data Factory is now available in public preview. Azure Data Factory is a framework for creating, managing and orchestration of data pipelines for connecting all kinds of data sources (SQL on premises or Azure, Azure tables or blobetc) to Hadoop cluster .

Windows Server 2003 End of Life – Migration Tools and Methodology

Windows Server 2003 will reach end of life on July 14, 2015. Support and security patches will no longer be available after that date. If you are still running Server 2003 in your environment, hopefully you are already planning how to migrate your workloads to a supportable platform. If you are just beginning to consider your migration, a sample of tools and methodologies are outlined below to help you get started.


 

Tools

 Windows Server 2003 End of Life - Migration Tools and Methodology~ Windows Server Migration Tools

Windows Server 2012 offers a built-in migration solution called Windows Server Migration Tools (install as a feature). Use this tool to ease the process of migrating server roles, features, OS settings and data from Windows Server 2003. The source server must be running at least Server 2003 SP2 or R2. It will handle both 32bit and 64bit. Find the Microsoft guide to this tool here.

 ~ AppZero

Microsoft Partner AppZero offers a tool which extracts and encapsulates only the target applications you want to migrate. You can choose to run the application in the encapsulated form on the destination server, which enables continued portability. This is handy for use in hybrid environments where you might want the flexibility of running the application on a server in the cloud, or in your on-premises environment. With the application encapsulated, you can continue to easily move them between those environments. Or you can choose to ‘dissolve’ the application to the destination server. This enables it to run as if it were natively installed. Learn more about how AppZero can help migrate your workloads, and provide ongoing flexibility.

 ~ Windows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant

This isn’t so much of a tool as it is a workflow type assistant with will help you work through the steps you need to focus on to identify the applications you really need to move. You may find legacy applications which your organization isn’t using any longer, or that so few people are using them that you can help them find alternative solutions and not actually migrate those apps. Get started with the Migration Planning Assistant.


 

Methodology

 The Migration Planning Assistant steps you through a methodology which helps you identify the applications, features and roles, services and data which you may need to migrate to a supportable platform. Your team may also use this methodology independent of the Planning Assistant.

1. Discover

The first step is to identify all the servers and applications running on Server 2003. Use the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) to help with identification. You may also decide to enlist the help of Microsoft Partners to help with this, and the entire process.

 2. Assess

Now that you have identified your at-risk servers and applications, it’s time to take a critical look at what they are, and how they will fit into your migration plan.

Type – What is it? What does it do?

~ Server Roles

~ Native Microsoft application

~ Third-party

Criticality – How important is it to your organization?

~ Mission Critical

~ Important

~ Marginal

~ Retire/Replace

Complexity – How many resources and how much time do you need to dedicate to each app?

~ Low

~ Medium

~ High

Risk – How long can you live without the app if it is unavailable during the migration?

~ Low

~ Medium

~ High

3. Target

What is the destination platform? You may decide to move it to a Microsoft Server 2012 R2 server running in your own datacenter. Or you may want to leverage the flexibility and potential cost-savings of Microsoft Azure. Should the server be physical or virtual? Perhaps this is a messaging or collaboration solution you want to run in Office 365.

4. Migrate

You have combed through your environment and identified the applications you need to migrate. Now decide who has responsibility for actually migrating the apps and plan the move. Again, you may utilize tools for the migration, or identify a Microsoft Partner to help you with the process.


 

Conclusion

How you get there is definitely important and these tools and steps will help you. The most important thing is to get started now. With time on your side, this doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Good luck!

Making sense of the recent Internet Explorer announcement

Last week, Perficient’s Zach Handing wrote a post over on our Spark blog explaining what to make of the recent Internet Explorer announcement published on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer blog. In the article, Microsoft discussed their plans for supporting older versions of IE. internet-explorer-8-logoThere was quite a bit of racket across the web, as people interpreted the information in different ways, facts quickly turned into exaggerations, or straight fiction. As Zach wrote:

I have seen many eager Interneters making loud claims to the tune of, “IE8 is dead!  We no longer have to support older versions of IE!”  However, it’s very easy to get caught up in the pandemonium or start bandwagon-ing and miss the actual facts of what is and will be happening according to Microsoft.  I want to clarify some things and set the record straight before we all hang up our Windows XP virtual machines.

What did Microsoft write to cause this, you ask? From the article:

After January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates.

Zach goes on to explain that there are two important things we can learn from this quote that are worth noting, one of which is the following:

The first is that Microsoft is only stating that they plan to stop providing technical support and security updates for all versions of IE except the most current available for each of their operating systems.  The table below shows exactly which versions they mean.

Windows Platform Internet Explorer Version
Windows Vista SP2 Internet Explorer 9
Windows Server 2008 SP2 Internet Explorer 9
Windows 7 SP1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows 8.1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows Server 2012 Internet Explorer 10
Windows Server 2012 R2 Internet Explorer 11

 

So where is Internet Explorer 8 in that table? What does the fact that it is missing mean?

…that doesn’t mean IE8 is going away.  All this means is that Microsoft is not going to provide updates or support for IE8 anymore; it does not mean that people are going to magically stop using it.  The article also mentions that “Microsoft recommends enabling automatic updates to ensure an up-to-date computing experience”, but recommending that it happens does not mean that everyone will do it.  Yes, this is a big leap towards a day when developers do not need to worry about IE8 specific styles, but that day is not here yet.

So what’s the second big part? Zach tells us to take a look at that date… January 12, 2016. That’s pretty far in the future… approximately a year and a half. So for the next eighteen months, Internet Explorer 8 will still be alive and kicking, as Microsoft will still be supporting and providing updates for the version. And after that, Internet Explorer will still be around.

You can read Zach’s full post here on our Spark blog. The Spark blog is Perficient’s perspective on all things innovative, and the crew that blogs over there has been posting some really interesting stuff around UX, UI and design. Check them out!

Microsoft Server 2003 to 2012R2 – More than just end of Life

With the end of life fast approaching, on July 14 2015, for Microsoft Server 2003 it will be hard for many organizations to make the move to a new Server Operating System, not unlike the pain many organizations are feeling with the move from Microsoft Windows XP.

End-Is-Ahead-Graphic-sm-570x350There are many business related reasons that companies need to start now with their migration to server 2012R2. For example when customers made the move from Windows XP, many found they should have planned more in advance, because many migrations can take 8 months or longer depending on the size and complexity of the environment. Security alone should be a big enough business reason to move to a supported platform, in 2013 Microsoft released 37 critical updates for Windows Server 2003, once end of life happens there will not be any more patches released.  By not patching the server environment, you now run the risk malicious attacks, system bugs and PCI compliance.

The good news is that while the move might be painful,  in the long run it will be worth the trouble. Microsoft Server 2012R2 offers so many enhancements and new features, that once you have completed the migration and become familiar with Microsoft Server 2012R2 you will probably wonder why you waited so long.

Microsoft Server 2012R2 offers many enhancements, including

  • PowerShell 4.0 – PowerShell 3.0 alone has 2300 more cmdlets than PowerShell 2.0
  • Hyper-V 3.0 – Supports 64 processors and 1Tb of Memory. Also supports VHDX format for large disk capacity and live migrations
  • SMB 3.02 – Server 2003 supports SMB 1.0
  • Work Folders – Brings the functionality of Dropbox to your corporate servers
  • Desired State Configuration – Lets you maintain server configuration across the board with baselines
  • Storage Tiering – Dynamically move chunks of stored data between slower and higher drives
  • Data Deduplication – Data compression and now with Server 2012R2 you can run Data Deduplication on Virtual Machines also is great for VDI environments.
  • Workplace Join – Allows users to register personal devices with Active Directory gain certificate based authentication and single sign on to the domain.

You can see from just these features how far Microsoft Server OS has come over the last 10 years. Scalability, Speed, Virtualization, Mobile Device Management and Cloud Computing have been vastly improved or were not possible with Microsoft Server 2003.

With  current trends moving towards organizations embracing a user centric environment and moving to cloud computing, Server 2012R2 is a stepping stone in the right direction.

So while the migration to Microsoft Server 2012R2 may be painful, all will be forgotten once the organization and Server Administrators, can utilize the new features and notice the new ease of daily management activities.