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Perficient wins Microsoft Partner Awards in all 3 US Regions!

The Perficient team is out in force in Washington DC this week attending Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC14).  At the conference the team was honored to receive Microsoft Partner of the Year awards in every Microsoft US region. This was a big honor, building on last year’s US Partner of the Year award and our US Healthcare Provider Partner of the Year awards. Thank you Microsoft, we appreciate the partnership and value the recognition!  From the news release

Member's of the Perficient team getting ready to accept Partner of the Year awards in every Microsoft US region

Member’s of the Perficient team getting ready to accept Partner of the Year awards in every Microsoft US region

For the second year in a row, Perficient was named both the East Region NSI Partner of the Year and the Central Region Enterprise Office 365 Partner of the Year. Additionally, the company was declared the West Region Compete Partner of the Year. These awards highlight Perficient’s capabilities in and successful implementations of Microsoft technology solutions including cloud computing technologies like Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Lync Online, Yammer, SharePoint Online, InTune and Dynamics CRM.

“Microsoft’s enterprise offerings have grown increasingly cloud-based as companies move to adopt this innovative, efficient and secure technology,” said Mike Gersten, vice president of Perficient’s Microsoft national business group. “Cloud computing lowers operating costs and provides agility and scalability options unavailable on limited legacy infrastructure. We are honored to receive these three Partner awards, which which reflect the strength of Perficient’s Microsoft cloud consultation and delivery expertise at work across the country.”

Perficient has helped clients across multiple industries implement cloud solutions like Office 365 and Microsoft Azure. The company has activated more than one million Office 365 seats, which is more than any other National Systems Integrator.

Highlights of recent Microsoft implementations include:

  • Working with a multinational firm to create a custom MVC application utilizing many Azure components, including SQL Azure, Web Roles, Worker Roles, and BLOB Storage. The solution replaces previous spreadsheet-style reporting with dashboards and data visualization, and is used to identify potential hazards and recognize exemplary employees.
  • Partnering with a leading transportation operator to plan and develop a global cloud-based employee portal solution utilizing Office 365 and, specifically, SharePoint Online. With a responsive design and support of multiple devices, the portal offers users improved search capabilities and better ease of use.
  • Collaborating with a large health plan provider to supply an integrated digital experience solution leveraging Sitecore and the Microsoft Server Stack. Basing all of the client’s sites on the same core set of components and a single framework, Perficient delivered a common user experience, independent of device, to all.

Through its partnerships with leading technology innovators, Perficient provides clients in all industries business-driven technology solutions and support in a wide range of practice areas. Perficient’s Microsoft consultants specialize in several practice areas including unified communications, social collaboration, business intelligence and cloud computing to provide digital marketing, portals, mobile and customer relationship management solutions to many of the most complex organizations in the country.

Microsoft’s WPC14 continues through Thursday.

Surprise! Microsoft Future Is Dependent on Data

In his July 10th email to employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella mentions the word “data” no fewer than 15 times.   This simple fact serves to highlight how dealing with data is a foundational part of Microsoft’s future strategy.   When he describes a “mobile-first and cloud-first world”, Mr. Nadella is describing a world where data is ubiquitous in “the background of our lives”.   He wants to position Microsoft at the twin apexes of both producing and consuming all that data.

Surprise! Microsoft Future is Dependent on DataThe keystone to that strategy is Microsoft’s hyper-scale public cloud platform, Azure. Azure is positioned to serve as a cloud data storage hub, offering NoSQL style BLOB storage as well as traditional relational storage with Azure SQL Database.   The HDInsight service leverages Azure BLOB storage to offer a Big Data option in the form of a full-blown Hadoop installation in the cloud. And virtualized SQL Servers can also be spun up for purposes including cloud-based BI and analytics.

Beyond even the cloud, the newly re-branded Microsoft Analytics Platform System is combination of SQL Server PDW (Parallel Data Warehouse) appliance with a local installation of HDInsight. Microsoft’s breakthrough Polybase technology allows integration between the two, allowing SQL users to query Big Data directly. And of course SQL Server 2014 joins the In-Memory database market, and still provides traditional SQL Server value and power in the on-premises market.

So, that sums up the Producing side. But what about Consuming?

Working from a position of some strength — and frankly also trying to ignore a traditional weakness — Microsoft has ordained that Excel is really the ultimate front-end for their BI platform. Power BI is the branding for this collection of services, and the so-called “Power Tools” themselves (Power Pivot, Power View, and Power Query) are the baseline components, available as plugins for desktop Excel and natively in Office 365 Excel.

Office 365 is truly the focus of most of the evolution of the BI delivery platform right now. In addition to the 3 basic Power Tools mentioned above, Office 365 also provides the geospatial analytics tool Power Map (currently also available in Preview for desktop users). And the coup de grâce comes in the form of Power BI Sites — an app available for SharePoint Online that provides collaboration, mobile, and natural language query functionality to the table.

All of these options combine to form Microsoft’s platform for pervasive data. As this strategy matures, I think we can expect to see tools merge and even go away to be replaced by others. But the fact remains that Microsoft is positioning their data platform to serve both cloud and on-premises, to be scalable, and to support goal, to “reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.”

Microsoft, the productivity & platform company for a mobile world

This morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sent his employees an email, and a pretty important one at that (Read it here). July marks the beginning of FY15 for Microsoft, and it’s a time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the future. For Nadella, this means determining where the focus lies as the company forges ahead in an industry deeply rooted in innovation.

Nadella is the third Microsoft CEO, leading the company since February, and has been with the company for over two decades. It’s safe to say, he’s seen a lot change at Microsoft during that time, and has held a variety of roles and positions – most recently, as the executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.

With his background, running the division responsible for the technology powering Microsoft’s cloud-centric services, and the fact that Microsoft has led with the cloud for several years now, the choice to make Nadella chief executive fits right in with Microsoft’s transition. This cloud focus has been evident in recent partnerships with Oracle and Salesforce, both of which serve as a way to grow Azure, Microsoft’s cloud hosting platform, by providing popular application choices to use with Azure.

In today’s email, Nadella wrote:

We live in a mobile-first and cloud-first world. Computing is ubiquitous and experiences span devices and exhibit ambient intelligence. Billions of sensors, screens and devices – in conference rooms, living rooms, cities, cars, phones, PCs – are forming a vast network and streams of data that simply disappear into the background of our lives. This computing power will digitize nearly everything around us and will derive insights from all of the data being generated by interactions among people and between people and machines.Microsoft core

He goes on to describe how the many devices, combined with cloud services, create a unique opportunity for Microsoft. And Microsoft’s passion? Well, it’s to allow people to thrive in our mobile-first, cloud-first world. And, while officially announced today, the company’s been heading in a more multi platform supportive direction for some time now (even releasing Office for iPad a few months ago).

It seems Microsoft is saying what so many have been looking for – the device doesn’t matter. Read the rest of this post »

Released – Official name for Oslo and New Office 365 SMB Plans

Oslo Renamed to Delve

Announced earlier this year as Codename Oslo, today Microsoft published the official name as Delve. Delve, the first experience powered by the intelligence fabric we call the Office Graph, will be available to Office 365 customers later this year.

Released - Official Name for Oslo and New Office 365 SMB PlansNew SMB Plans

Microsoft will release as of October 1st, 2014 three new Office 365 plans tailored to meet the needs of small and midsized businesses (SMBs), ranging from 1 to approximately 250 employees. The new plans are:

  • Office 365 Business – The full Office applications – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher, with 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage to access, edit and share your documents across your Windows PC, Mac, iPad, Windows tablet and smartphone.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials - The core cloud services for running your business – business class email and calendaring, Office Online, online meetings, IM, video conferencing, cloud storage and file sharing and much more.
  • Office 365 Business Premium – Get everything from both the Office 365 Business and Business Essentials plans.

This new lineup will replace our current plans for SMBs over time – Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business (more on that here).

 

 

 

 

Office 365 Roadmap Communications

Overview: Last week Microsoft hosted a Roadmap Communications discussion forum to align with the new Office 365 for business public roadmap. Panel involved experts from Microsoft and Office 365 MVP’s. I am sharing the summary  here for everyone’s benefit.

roadmapcom

Specific topics:

·         Roadmap at a glance

·         General Questions & Functionality

·         First Release

·         Yammer

ROADMAP AT A GLANCE

Q: How and where are the road maps communicated? 

A: You can find the latest roadmap information in our new Office 365 public roadmap. http://www.office.com/roadmap

Q: How is the new roadmap site and the Admin Portal Message Center going to work together?

A: The roadmap provides a view into features that we intend to delivered whereas the Message Center will provide a notification when the feature rollout will start.

Q: Will the roadmap show “everything”, “Most things” or “some “highlighted things”?

A: The roadmap will aim to show feature updates and enhancement to the service. Not all updates will be in the roadmap some due to PR sensitivity (small group) and some because they are incremental without impact (security patching). This process like any feature of the service will improve over time.

Q: Is there a Yammer roadmap page that shows all the upcoming releases, expected timeframes and things that are under consideration?

A: Here is the Yammer Release Schedule: https://about.yammer.com/success/engage/grow-your-network/release-schedule/

Q: On Yammer, we see the new Yammer features appear on the Customer Network. Will new features also appear first in the Office 365 Technical Network? 

A: Yes, they will also appear in this network.

Q: When will Office for Mac be updated? When will OneDrive for Business be available for Mac and/or Android?

A: Watch the roadmap for future releases.

Q: How will this new Roadmap Communications process interact with A/B testing or new features that are occasionally rolled out without notice to Yammer & Office365 admins? Can we expect advance notice of such changes, or is the onus on us to proactively keep up to date?

A: It is our intention to announce new features via the public roadmap, but to be clear, there are some updates that will not be announced. We are constantly making small improvements to the service including security and bug fixes that will not be announced. There are also updates that are sensitive for PR reasons (like the Office on IPad release) that we will not provide advanced warning for.

Q2: Will security changes will not be announced?

A2: We will announce updates to security controls and compliance capabilities to the service. As for changes to the services, datacenters etc., we are continually monitoring and managing security patching and updating the service to maintain the integrity of the service. Those changes are happening on a continuous basis and are not part of our roadmap disclosure process.

Q: There have been a couple of mentions of feature requests and notes that this YamJam isn’t the forum… But what is the proper forum for providing feature requests and feedback? Is the officespdev User Voice the right place? Is there one for business & IT? Is there an activelymonitored inbound channel for Yammer/Office 365 business/IT feature requests?

A: We don’t think there is one today. The developer User Voice space is probably not the right place. We’ll look into it and come back to the technical community.

Q: Will there be a separate roadmap for Office 365 Government Community Cloud and Office 365 Dedicated/ITAR customers?

A: As outlined in the “Improving visibility” post, the roadmap currently does not incorporate Government Community Cloud or Officed 365 Dedicated/ITAR plans. http://blogs.office.com/2014/06/19/improving-visibility-to-service-updates

Q: How often is the Release Schedule updated? Can a “last updated” be added at the page level, if not the accordion/feature level?

A: For the Office 365 roadmap, we are always looking at ways to make the information more useful for customers, and we appreciate the feature suggestion. We think to make this useful it would need to be at the feature level. We are evaluating our current systems to see how much overhead we would add to track this additional piece of data.

GENERAL Qs & FUNCTIONALITY

Q: Would it be possible to get a User Voice site that is setup to correspond to the Roadmap? Then people could vote on the items that are most important to them…

A: Great idea. We don’t currently have plans but we are always looking at ways to improve the customer input into the development process.

 Q: Is it possible to have a link to a corresponding blog post, technet article, etc… which has a description of the feature being implemented within the roadmap instead of just a small blurb about it?

A: Great suggestion, we’ll work with content publishing to get this implemented.

Q: So are there any Yammer Groups focused on OneDrive for Business? 

A: Yes, there’s a OneDrive for Business group that has all the content from a YamJam plus more recent discussions. Find it here:https://www.yammer.com/itpronetwork/#/threads/inGroup?type=in_group&feedId=4208139 

Q: Should my attention as the Yammer champion in my organization be focused on this network or the YCN?

A: If you’re a Yammer champion, you’ll likely want to spend time in the YCN to share successes and learn how to improve business processes. However, if you have any technical questions or want to talk roadmap, then this is your network. We will have more info soon explaining “which network to use and when”. There are dedicated teams running the 3 Preferred O365 networks (YCN, O365 Technical Network, O365 Partner Network) and we be making another announcement soon that clearly defines the difference between the networks and where you should go for info. 

Q: Currently the Office 365 for Admin app is broken for Windows Phone. Are there any plans to enhance the app? Maybe include a newsfeed for Roadmap and other portal notifications? 

A: An update that fixes the app should be arriving in the coming weeks. Thanks for you suggestion. We don’t have any plans to share yet but when we do, we will communicate out on the blog and message center.

Q: For OneDrive for Business, can we have logs for auditing the file uploads and downloads? As an Admin, I would like to track what documents my associates are uploading and where they are downloading?

A: Have you looked at the auditing features available as part of SharePoint Enterprise? Depending which license you have, but this might be useful. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-help/configure-audit-settings-for-a-site-collection-HA102866204.aspx  

 

FIRST RELEASE

Q: There was talk of the #firstrelease program allowing Office 365 admins to release the new features to a defined group of users. 

Will this be possible? Or are features released to everyone in the organization?

A: First Release applies to the entire tenant – it doesn’t provide any capability to designate a set of users for piloting new features.

Q: Will there be an option to “roll back” after opting in for the First Release update?

A: Yes, you can turn off First Release after turning it on and you will lose the updates that haven’t yet been applied to Standard Release customers.

Q: Will there be a way to get a similar experience as the Yammer Customer Network in Office 365? A network where we could experience the new features first?

A: Yes, in the First Release program. We encourage folks that can to enable First Release in their tenants to see the latest releases first.http://blogs.office.com/2014/06/19/improving-visibility-to-service-updates

 Q: Any plans to join the o365 first release users into a yammer first release set of users? 

A: Not at this stage, but that is an interesting idea! 

 Q: Where / How do I find security related fixes and enhancements to Yammer? For example, I plan to submit an enhancement request today about a requirement from our Information Security group: “Yammer allows users to upload dangerous files e.g. .exe”. It would be helpful to know where security-related enhancements or fixes are in a roadmap, or so I can see if my enhancement request “makes the cut”.

A: Let’s please engage in this network in the “Enterprise Social Service Updates” group. Have you seen our recent compliance announcements?https://about.yammer.com/yammer-blog/yammer-receives-iso-27001-certification-offers-dpa/

You can also find this information this network in the “Enterprise Social Service Updates” group in this network.

Q: Is there anything you can share yet about a possible instant messaging integration between Yammer and Lync?

A: Not at this stage beside what we said last March: http://aka.ms/esspc “In the future, we’ll integrate Yammer with Lync and Skype to enable a full spectrum of social interactions, from asynchronous posts to audio and video.” Once we have Unified Identity (slated for later this Summer) that opens the door for many things like Lync integration to happen.

 Q: Will there be opportunities for customers & partners to communicate needs or even help co-create improvements to features & functions? In the spirit of rapid iteration and failing early, it would be good to be able to give feedback early and often.

A: That is a great idea. We have been working quite a bit to get more customer input into the product development cycle. We don’t have any plans today but we will look into it in the future.

 Q: Could we get subscriptions, notifications, or something to tell us a change is coming without the need to go to the site? Even an update in a Yammer group that we could subscribe to would work, but ideally an email, or an RSS feed would be best!

A: Great feedback! We are looking at ways to make the public roadmap even better. We are in the process of finalizing an API for Message center that will let you get those communications which include some new feature announcements as well as other communications.

A2: Consider joining a group in the network called Change Alerts. The idea is members post the changes they have observed or notifications they see in the message center, or by any other method. https://www.yammer.com/itpronetwork/groups/changealerts

YAMMER

Q: Yammer will be integrated into Office 365 … but which user profile should I focus on populating now”?

A: Active Directory will always be your source of truth! Keep the most relevant info in the AD, and let the user add work experience, social sites in the collaborative / network platform you use (aka SharePoint / Yammer). The vision is to have a unique Office 365 profile at some stage, so that will solve the potential profile discrepancies between tools we see today.

 Q2: The ‘unique Office 365 profile’ sounds good – can you give an estimated timescale?

We are still at the vision level with no timescale.

It is going to be incremental starting with a unified login experience (see this earlier announcement:http://blogs.office.com/2014/02/18/simplified-login-to-yammer-from-office-365/), then a unified navigation experience coming this summer (Office 365 navigation bar in Yammer: https://about.yammer.com/success/engage/grow-your-network/release-schedule/) and more to come!

Q: How do you edit a post in Yammer for iOS? Am unable to edit a reply I just posted.

A: No, there isn’t a way to edit posts on any device (mobile included). Check out this thread for more discussion on this subject:https://www.yammer.com/yammerycn/#/inbox/show?threadId=361143370

 Q: Where is the release cycle for Yammer and Office 365 Midsize plans? Rumor had it Spring 2014 but have not seen any updated timeframes.

A: All Office 365 plans are on a continuous release cycle. All of the multi-tenant plans are always up to date including the enterprise, mid-market, small business options.

Q2: That I understand, but where Yammer is the social tool for E plans, it is not live for M plans so that it can replace the newsfeed – or am I mistaken?

A2: Coming soon!

Q: As a Yammer admin, how should I manage A/B tests that are per user as opposed to per network?

A: Good discussion in the YCN about how other folks handle the change management aspect! Check it out:https://www.yammer.com/yammerycn/#/inbox/show?threadId=400168566

Q: Will there be any improvements to the monitoring features? Like notifications for new groups created for admins? Or only allowing specific users to create groups?

A: Monitoring and limiting usage to a set of people is a dangerous path with a social network. Even with good intentions you can quickly deter engagement.

Q: The roadmap doesn’t talk about Yammer Dsync with password-sync option like the Office 365 WAAD DirSync. This is the major roadblock for our users (to remember passwords when logging directly or through mobile). The roadmap talks about seamless transparent login to Yammer from the Office 365 portal and that too is in development. When will Yammer utilize the same identity?

A: It will take time to have DirSsync across O365 & Yammer. In the meantime, we are on track to support Office 365 credential support in Yammer this summer!

Q2: Isn’t this already available? Our users are able to transparently get on to Yammer from the top suite bar in Office 365. What do you mean by O365 credentials? I thought they are the same as our on-premise Active Directory?

A2: No, what we first delivered was the ability to go from O365 to Yammer, and this summer we’ll deliver the reverse: being able to login into Yammer with your O365 credentials & surface the O365 suite navigation. Watch this SPC session for explanation and demo:http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/SharePoint-Conference/2014/SPC282

Q: Will the (Yammer) Groups feature that will be made availabe in Outlook Web Access, also move into the Outlook client. Any timeframe on this?

A: Keep an eye on this page to see the latest updates for Yammer: https://about.yammer.com/success/engage/grow-your-network/release-schedule. Also, take a look at this blog: http://blogs.office.com/2014/03/31/the-evolution-of-email/

Q: I love the way Yammer and now O365 communicate their updates but do not like the level of detail that is provided (i.e. UI Enhancements with a screenshot but no real dates or how it will be rolled out, impact of the change, etc.) Will there be more details coming in the product release schedule website?

A: Continuous development makes it difficult to set a concrete release date. Like any feature of the service how we release and communicate is improving over time. The public roadmap is a big leap forward in what we believe is the right direction. We will use the Office 365 roadmap for the overview and link to more details about features once those details are available. Often when something is still in development we’re working on gathering all of the details.

Q: When is Yammer Enterprise available to education plans (A2). Was announced back in March and still no update?

A: We said “spring” last March: http://aka.ms/esspc. Stay tuned for an update! 

 

 

 

Source: IT Pro Nework

Office 365 Feature Rollout and First Release Program

FrustatedDid you always feel Office 365 has been going through rapid updates and you as a customer or partner are left with no insight? Until now Microsoft has been rolling out features without regard to the tenant profile. There is generally no process for partners to get updates before or after customers. I personally know of multiple instances where it’s been a nightmare for organizations to keep track of and stay informed of all the changes, left alone the communication to their end users.

Microsoft has taken the first step by coming out with a new feature called “First Release” Program.  This will allow anyone (customer or partner) to be in the front of the line for a small subset of significant updates. The program is scoped to Exchange and SharePoint features and I hope they expand to more capabilities. Each tenant can choose to be in the First Release group or in standard release to determine when they get the select list of releases. If you’re responsible for a number of different organizations tenants, you may persuade them to keep First Release turned off, so that you get early warning and experience. Then you’ll be able to support them more knowledgeably.

Note: Yammer is NOT part of this program

With Office 365, you get product updates – like new email features, more site storage, and new collaboration features – as they become available. You can decide when to receive the updates by opting in to the First Release program or remaining on the Standard Release program.

First Release

FirstRelease

With this option, you and your users receive a select set of significant service updates as early as one week after the official announcement. Choose this option if you and your

employees are comfortable with regular updates to the Office 365 service.

Standard Release

StandardRelease

With this default option, you and your users receive a select set of significant service updates 3 weeks or more after the official announcement. For at least 3 weeks, you have time to learn about the updates and prepare your employees.

How to take benefit of this new feature?

1. Go to your Tenant portal

2. Go to Admin > Service settings > Updates.

3. Turn First Release on or off.

One another widespread frustration we usually experience is when users in an organization on the same tenant see different updates on the UI.  This is due to the fact that it is an ongoing upgrade and is not completed yet. The users in one Office 365 organization are located on different server farms and the update is performed not by Office 365 organization; the new patches are deployed on the server farms. This is the reason why not all users in a company can see the new feature (for e.g. toolbar). While the upgrade is ongoing it is normal that some colleagues of yours still don’t have the feature available. An update might take up to 2 months and after this time passed all users in your organization should see already the feature available.

Webinar Recap: The Modern Data Warehouse – A Hybrid Story

Last week, we held a webinar, The Modern Data Warehouse – A Hybrid Story. As the world of data evolves ever so quickly, it transforms the industry and creates a need for new approaches to business intelligence. Data warehousing technology that worked well for years, serving its purpose to manage and understand business driven data, is now falling short for some.

During the session, Duane Schafer, Director of Perficient’s Microsoft BI Practice, first reviewed what makes up a traditional data warehouse, discussing both logical and physical architecture, and stressors to the traditional data warehouse that drove the need for change. Gartner reported in The State of Data Warehousing in 2012, “Data warehousing has reached the most significant tipping point since its inception. The biggest, possibly most elaborate, management system in IT is changing.”

Duane went on to describe this change, and what was behind it, including recent findings from TDWI Research. and shared his thoughts around a modern DW alternative, and answered a common question – How does this affect our ‘traditional’ DW approach? As is often the case with a more modern alternative, there are new capabilities that make it a worthwhile choice. For the modern DW, these capabilities include:

  • Scaling out relational data to petabytes / scale out technologies within the Parallel Data Warehouse
  • Scaling out “Big Data” / scale out non-relational data in HDInsight (for Azure or PDW)
  • In memory columnstore for next generation performance (up to 100x faster and 10x compression)
  • Great performance for mixed workloads / query performance at scale
  • Integrating relational data and Hadoop

As well as forecasting capabilities in Power View for Office 365 and Microsoft Azure Machine Learning.

For the full webinar replay, including the Q&A portion, click here.

What’s New in Microsoft Azure Active Directory

Azure Active Directory is a comprehensive identity and access management cloud solution. It combines core directory services, advanced identity governance, security, and application access management. Azure AD also offers developers an identity management platform to deliver access control to their applications, based on centralized policy and rules.

In the last few months there’s been significant changes to the Azure Active Directory (AAD) features and capabilities and this post will give you a taste to some of them.

Subscription Management

Easier now for large teams to share a single subscription due to increased support for up to 200 co-administrators per subscription, a big change from 10.

Administration Roles include Billing, Service, User, & Password Administrator

AzureAdminRoles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the rest of this post »

Developing for Office 365 and SharePoint

Recently I participated in a Microsoft developer discussion on the Yammer Network where some great ideas were shared. I am re posting a summary of the session posted in that group here for everyone’s benefit

——————————–

Overview: Microsoft responses to questions are provided by Chris Johnson, Sonya Koptyev, Jeremy Thake, Dorrene Brown, Mauricio Ordonez, Brian Jones, Ricky Kirkham, Christophe Fiessinger, Jeremy Chapman, Alister Spiers, and 365 IT Pro Team as well as MVP Juan Carlos Gonzalez Martin.
 

FUTURE PLANS
Q: When will we see the O365 APIs move out of preview? When will we see the O365 APIs move out of preview?
A: We’re aiming for end of this calendar year. We’re getting a bunch of great feedback and have a few partners building solutions that have helped us identify some additional work we’d like to get in. We will have a public roadmap soon that we will be keeping up to date to help give people a heads up on when developer related features will be coming.

Q: Are there any plans in the SharePoint roadmap for an analytics API about user actions (like Usage or Audit data for SharePoint On-Prem)?
A: It is something that our Information Management team are working on. This is obviously challenging from a multi-tenant perspective due to the nature of where we have come from historically with the SharePoint platform

Q: Is there is any plans for Lync online API so we can schedule and add people to meetings from our custom application? 
A: We are working to expand our APIs across the suite, but we don’t have any announcements around the Lync Online APIs at this time.
 
Q: Can you please provide a little more insight around the plans for auto versus provider hosted apps and what is going to happen to Cloud Business Apps (light switch / html)? I understand provider hoist is the current guidance but I’d like to understand what the path will be so we can make some good architectural and strategic decisions for our apps in the near future – 3-6 months timeframe. We currently create, and have a need for small, dedicated task oriented apps that interact between Office 365 and SQL Azure.
A: The Auto-hosted apps preview program is closed (http://blogs.office.com/2014/05/16/update-on-autohosted-apps-preview-program and we will be allowing the apps to run until close to the end of the year. The guidance is to convert your auto-hosted apps (if you have any) to provider-hosted. That is the preferred app deployment model today. We cannot comment on the CBAs but can pull in the right folks to answer your questions around CBAs.

Q2: Are you working on a replacement for Autohosted Apps? Autohosted Apps were a really powerful App Type for creating and deploying small Apps without having to worry about deploying them in Azure.
A2: We heard from developers that they wanted to have full access to Azure, and so as we announced in the blog post we will continue to work with the Visual Studio team to continue to simplify and streamline the deploy process into Azure.

Q: Is there a plan to enhance the APIs available for administrative activies such as managing domains/DNS entries or modify Exchange/Lync/Sharepoint settings via APIs?
A: Our approach is to have management APIs via PowerShell + the remote APIs via REST/CSOM. We don’t currently have anything to share about new APIs coming to PowerShell about those specific things. We’re always looking to improve what can be automated! The big focus has been to make it easier through poweshell cmdlets… check them out on TechNet - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn194107.aspx

Q: Are there any plans to be more transparent about updates to the UI? Given that our development is focused on a client side API, any changes to the standard HTML can immediately render our solutions broken. For example — the top navigation bar’s text color recently changed. If my branding had used that color for the background color, the text would have been invisible. Even “non-disruptive” changes can be disruptive.
A: There is work in progress to be more transparent with our roadmap where we will share changes such as the user experience changes along with new and changed APIs.

The nature of us running a service now is that we are continually improving the user experience. With SharePoint On-Premises the user experience has changed between Cumulative Updates, Service Packs and major releases. As a SharePoint developer we have always had to manage this balance, taking a dependency from your code on the UI is a fragile one due to the frequency of change and we would recommend you avoid it at all costs.

With regards to the scenario you provided around the top navigation bar text color recently changing…the Theme approach is fully supported. I do agree that it is unfortunate that the text became invisible. We are working on some new features to improve this experience, but are not quite ready to disclose them

Q: Are there plans to make it easier for public facing and publishing sites to be Responsive ready? What can we look forward to?
A: Have you checked out this post about responsive web design in SharePoint? http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sharepointdev/archive/2013/04/01/implementing-your-responsive-designs-on-sharepoint-2013.aspx
Also, you can find additional information about designing public facing sites here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/office365-sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/public-website-faq-HA104135026.aspx#_Toc383417646

Q: CRM now supports multiple instances within a single Office 365 tenant. Will SharePoint receive this same capability in the future so that we can better manage Development and QA instances?
A: Currently SharePoint has the capability of creating different Site Collections in the same tenancy which is how some handle dev/QA areas to keep things separate. However, others choose to create an entirely separate tenancy to keep things separate.

In your case what are you looking for isolation of? Sites, User profiles? Mailboxes? All of the above? Keen to hear more about what you are looking for. Please log it on UserVoice: http://officespdev.uservoice.com/

Q: A request that we get from Office365 customers is hiding specific content from the suite bar. Are there any plans to implement customizing and hiding content? This would need to be consistent across all Office365 Services. 
A: We’ve also heard several times that customizing the suite bar is something that users want as well. While we aren’t quite ready to share our thinking just yet, this is something we are thinking about at this time.
 
APIs 
Q: How much change should we expect moving from the Preview APIs to the Production APIs?
How much notice will we get when this happens to make sure we can make adjustments in our code?
A: We don’t anticipate huge changes in the O365 APIs moving from preview to production. There will be changes to the APIs while they are still in preview, but we’ll make sure to let everyone know in advance. We are currently working on a 30-60-90 day roadmap for the public that will show people what will be changing in the near future.
 
Q: In the preview Office 365 Files Rest API what is the reasoning behind limiting file copy and move operations to only within the same document library? This really limits the usefulness of those operations and is less functionality than what is in the existing SharePoint web endpoints.
A: No reason other than we haven’t implemented the feature yet :) The Files APIs are still in preview mode, and while we can’t share the exact improvements we will be making this is definitely a good idea. Can you add this feature request to our UserVoice (aka.ms/officedevfeedback) so we can get it on our backlog?

Q: What is the relationship between the O365 APIs (http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/office/dn605893) and SharePoint apps intended for SharePoint Online? Are SP apps going to be replaced (eventually) by the O365 APIs? If not, what scenarios are appropriate for SP Apps, but not for O365 APIs, and vice versa?
A: No, they are not replacing Apps for SharePoint. The way we see is that the Apps are the contextual experience of surfacing your customization into SharePoint and Office. Such as App Parts, Ribbon Custom Actions, List Item Block Actions in SharePoint or Read/Write Compose in Outlook and Content App in PowerPoint.

The Office 365 APIs are your way of reaching into the services (Calendar, Mail, Contacts, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint All Sites) from your standalone web applications or mobile applications.We see these two complementing each other to deliver your business solutions. We will be sharing more soon on this direction and strategy.

Q: From my SharePoint site can I call my custom for example WebAPI endpoint and use OAuth to authorize this call on the backend? I want to call external backend from JavaScript in my SharePoint site and just know the caller from my backend I don’t want to call back to SharePoint I will just get data from my backend and send it to the caller. 
A: We don’t think you can use the context token in that way. There’s no way to obtain a context token programmatically. What we would suggest for these JavaScript scenarios is that your WebAPI use an Auth cookie that gets sent in response to the initial context token.

GENERAL QUESTIONS AND FUNCTIONALITY 
Q: When will we get to know more about the Discovery Service? We work in integration, and knowing what’s out there instead of having to search for it would be extraordinarily helpful.
A:The Discovery Service allows applications to find the specific endpoint location for resources. For example, when a user signs into an application it can call the discovery service to determine URL of the user’s OneDrive. This saves the user from having to manually type in the URL. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn605898(v=office.15).aspx

Q: I’ve been having a lot of trouble figuring out leverage Office Web Apps as a provider hosted app. What’s the best path for third party companies wanting to give users the best web experience possible?
Is it possible to use Office Web Apps with a client dropbox account? Feed them a byte[] or some such action?
A: If the files are stored in O365, then you should be able to use the Web Apps to render the files. If the files are in dropbox, you’d need to first get them into the user’s OneDrive for business folder, and the Web Apps would then render them.

Q: What is the relationship of the O365 Common Consent Framework (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn605895(v=of…) to SharePoint apps? Assuming the app is targeted only for SharePoint Online, is the ComCon Framework and alternative to the existing ACS/OAuth system for SP app developers? Is it meant to replace the existing system?
A: The Common Consent Framework allows applications to access multiple services. Today the set of services supported by common consent includes SharePoint, Exchange, and the directory. In contrast, SharePoint app authorization model allows access solely to SharePoint resources. At SharePoint Conference 2014 we announced our direction is to converge these two models.
Right now you can actually already call the CSOM and REST APIs if your app asks for at least READ permissions that the user consents to. You can pass the Auth Bearer token as you make calls to both those APIs.

Q2: How would you use CSOM in an O365 APP? Would you use a token to establish a ClientContext?
A2: Yes, you can use CSOM completely out of SharePoint…there is a post of Kirk Evans where he shows how to create a Timer Job where you can see this idea.http://blogs.msdn.com/b/kaevans/archive/2014/03/02/building-a-sharepoint-app-as-a-timer-job.aspx
The Microsoft team is also working on getting out some simple blogs posts dealing with this particular subject.

Q: When developing Apps for Office 365 and the App Catalog: we may want to update our app from time to time. What resources are there to learn the best way to do this and could this potentially translate to On-Prem app updates? 
A: Ricky Kirkham did an amazing session on this at SharePoint Conference http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/SharePoint-Conference/2014/SPC425. Due to the app model not sitting on the SharePoint Server, the good news is that IISRESETs are not required that would impact the operational uptime of the SharePoint server.
There are naturally strategies just like any web applications of releasing new versions of your web app into production still. But it does not impact your SharePoint SLA now, just your app. We have several topics on MSDN about updating SP apps. The top node is: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/fp179904%28v=office.15%29.aspx. It is not necessary to stop SharePoint to update an app. Only the app itself is inaccessible while the update is running.

Q: Why is the Recycle method not exposed on SP.Web in CSOM? In order to recycle a web rather than delete it. I only see DeleteObject exposed where other objects such as SP.List have a Recycle method.
A: That would be a great one to add to user voice, and we can take a look at it. http://officespdev.uservoice.com

Q: Tenancy scope app can’t install app part. How I can create the concept of app stabling to my site and run code in the host web without needing to install an app and add my app part to the host web?
A: If it is a scenario when a user launches the home page of the host web and you want to execute some code and render something on the page,right now you would need to add the App to every Site where you wanted the App Part.
Right now you can’t automatically add the App Part to a page, we have an engineer investigating this scenario right now. In the future we intend on improving this scenario of deploying apps at a tenant level. If you just want to execute code against multiple host webs, have you can build a Standalone Web Application or Mobile Application that calls the Office 365 APIs.
 
Q: How to deal with the announcement of discontinuation of InfoPath in SharePoint? Is there any guidance or migration path?
A: Customers can still use InfoPath until 2023. We plan to release a replacement (side by side for now) with the SharePoint form customization technology, currently codenamed “FoSL” later this summer. We are also working actively on vNext technologies for other scenarios, and we will provide more details later this year, closer to Q4. http://blogs.office.com/2014/01/31/update-on-infopath-and-sharepoint-forms

Q2: Regarding the 2023 date… will this include InfoPath Forms Services or just InfoPath Desktop Client? Dates this far in the future would certainly impact a client’s decision.
A2: InfoPath Desktop Client will continue to be supported through 2023. InfoPath Forms Services in on-prem deployments will also continue to be supported until 2023. InfoPath Forms Services in SharePoint Online (Office 365) will be maintained until the next on-premises release of SharePoint. We will provide a year’s notice (via blog post) before turning off IPFS in the service.

Q: Will it be possible (or is it already possible) to use Word Online, Excel Online, etc from SharePoint Online as a drop in replacement for textarea/ckeditor html-fields in .Net/Azure web applications?
A: We currently have the ability to drop a document on a page and use Word Online to view it. However, we don’t have the ability to just use it as a generic rich text editing control like you would with the radEditor for example.

Q2: When you say drop a document on a page, do you mean a web page that is not within SharePoint Online (like a regular MVC-web application pages (for example a cshtml-page))? And does this solution require the users to login to SharePoint online also?
A2: Yes, that’s right. Auth depends on where the document sits. If it’s in Office 365, then yes, they would need to authenticate. You can also do the same with documents in OneDrive.

 

 

Source: Yammer IT Pro

Upcoming Webinar: The Modern Data Warehouse – A Hybrid Story

Organizations of all sizes are looking more seriously at the cloud, and beginning to understand the scalability and cost savings benefits of a hybrid solution. Given the benefits of a properly implemented hybrid solution, it’s logical to consider other areas of the business that can gain from the cloud – one of those being your data analytics platforms.

Data warehousing in the cloud. Sounds almost idyllic, right? Well, it just might be, especially if you are looking for a fast, efficient way to stand up a data warehouse. So, how can you leverage SQL Server 2014 and Azure to build that data warehouse? sql-server-2014-logoFind out next week, on Thursday, June 19 at 1 pm, during a webinar on The Modern Data Warehouse – A Hybrid Story.

Duane Schafer, Microsoft Business Intelligence Practice Director at Perficient, will discuss the hows and whys around implementing your analytics platform in a hybrid environment. While on premises vs. cloud is the major decision, you’ll also want to consider things like “traditional’ disk-based storage and computing vs. in-memory.

If you’d like to learn a bit more and can’t wait another week, Duane shares his excitement for the new capabilities of SQL Server 2014 and Azure in a recent blog post.

To register for the webinar, click here.
The Modern Data Warehouse – A Hybrid Story
Thursday, June 19, 2014
1:00 p.m. CT