Category: SharePoint stash

Stash related to SharePoint – all versions

Did Microsoft Decode the Future in 2016? Not really

Microsoft Future Encoded
Microsoft Future Encoded

Billed as an event where the future direction of Microsoft (and its partner network) would head in the next 3-5 years I thought it worth heading to London for the ‘Technical’ Day. It was a 2 day event but day 1 on Tue 1st November 2016 was billed as ‘Business Day’, so of course I booked in for the geek chic on the 2nd Nov.

It was a well organised event at the Excel centre, smooth check-in & badge print out and well staffed. A little crowded outside the single escalator everyone was trying to use straight after lunch to get up to Levels 1 through to 3, which is where the breakout session were held in various meeting/seminar rooms. You are suposed to use the ‘Future Encoded’ app to set a schedule and browse the timetable/sessions – the app was pretty rubbish, it kept showing me day 1 (no way to change it) and didn’t work properly until day 2 actually arrived. Without the app you are stuck – no printed copies just dashboard screens outside each meeting/seminar room with the schedule for the remainder of that day for that room only.

You had the chance to explore the Expo area on Level 0 prior to the main AM keynote session. As well as the Bloodhound SSC they had a DeLorean, a RR engine and a HoloLens ‘VR’ area. It was lablled VR, silly really when MS themselves do not consider it Virtual but Mixed Reality – MR.

Microsoft Hololens
Microsoft ‘VR’ or ‘MR’? – Hololens

The Keynote

The main stage was occupied by Andrew Spooner from MS as the host, the hall was 2 thirds full (in contrast at closing keynote it was less than half). We had Joseph Sirosh (MS VP, via Amazon in 2013) talk about data, AI/Machine Learning – not all that great. Next Katja Hoffman talked about Project Malmo, an AI project and the progress her team has made. For me Chris Messina was the standout, his stuff on bots was interesting and has inspired me to look further especially into the social aspects of combining a chat interface (Messenger, WhatsApp) with service/retail opportunities.

Abe Davis (PhD researcher) claimed the work his group were doing – extracting sound/music via just silent video (using the movement of plants/objects in reaction to sound) – was for nice, rosy beneficial purposes. For me it was purely surveillance, surveillance, surveillance. To be able to (eventually) video someone from 100m away, then use the slow-motion capture video of vibrations to their coffee cup to extract local speech was very impressive, but i see no real commercial application except spying!

I will say if the onscreen subtitles are in fact real time and using MS tech then that was impressive, some forgivable errors but generally very responsive and in tandem with speakers!

Lunch – I had prepared and had some with me. The queues were too long, we only had 45 minutes. Plenty of eating places however and much quieter later on.

Future Decoded 2016
Did they really Decode it?

Breakout Sessions:

I decided to hedge my bets as I could only choose 1 of 20-25 sessions in each time slot. First I went to the ‘IDENTITY DRIVEN SECURITY & CYBER CRIME PROTECTION” (Dan Noakes, Zane Freame) expectig something useful. Instead I was hit by a (rather poor) sales pitch for MS’s Enterprise Mobility & Security (EMS) offering now based in the Cloud (the Azure one!). The big demo was where an end user with a ubqiquitious device (e.g. iPad) was accessing Office365 email to read a sensitive corporate message, the take away was supposed to be ‘protection’ of said email by Ctrl+V, then Ctrl+P into say Twitter, or Facebook. So they tried to paste a sentence from the email into twitter and it would not allow a paste. Awesome! NOT. I immediately thought of 3 ways my own non-IT literate wife would use to bypass that, which in order of difficulty are

  1. Re-type the entire sentence
  2. Screenshot the email and send as JPG
  3. Use your smartphone to snap your ‘iPad’ screen & simply share wherever you wish

Of course there are many more ways (print to PDF anyone?). I had now hopes pinned on my next session “FULL CLOUD MIGRATION & ACTIVE/ACTIVE HYBRID CLOUD” (Carl Holt). It was hosted by Kemp Technology who then proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes telling my why I should buy their ‘load balancing’ solution over anyone elses (e.g. Brocade, F5). These are called Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs). I didn’t learn anything about Cloud Migration that was technical or really meaningful, it was a pure sales pitch and how we are faster, better and more efficient.

Then came the session hosted by one of the 3 highest tier sponsor partners ‘Risual’, titled ‘DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION, THE RISUAL WAY‘ (Brian Cain, John Pittaway). Now hoping to get some insight to see how they actually did transform someone from slow/robust IT to fast Digital IT I should have known I would be disappointed. No technical information provided, this session was perfect for Day 1 ‘ the Business day’ and talked more about business processes leading to digital rather than any deep technical information.

Closing Keynote

The closing keynote was 2 things – Hololens and 3D printing.

Roger Walkden talked about Hololens from the MS world view, real life applications on how processes, services, efficiencies could be realised. All commercial dev, asking the crowd to go and create content for Hololens.

Avi Reichental (external speaker) then had the bulk of the keynote and talked a lot about 3D printing, especially on improvement both in terms of complexity and scale. Also cost reduction too. There were some nice videos of very promising use cases (cheap fabricated housing, medical enhancements) but as usual the reality is that commercial drivers would be more important for driving innovation in 3D printing than social ones. I see this picked up more by the Defence/Aerospace industry than anyone else.

Overall closing keynotes were OK but longer than needed with a cry out for both for those still in attendance to ‘go out, innovate, do stuff and help us sells lots of this Hololens stuff’.

B2TF DeLorean
Where’s Marty?

I didn’t stay for drinks/networking, there was really no point. I walked through the Expo and only spoke to people for those orgs that interested me in terms of my current role & future direction. The Lenovo iBook was a neat concept, but don’t see mass market appeal, MS only had 2 Hololens headsets so the queue times were silly, and there wasn’t much else. Overall, I won’t be attending a free event like this one again, I suppose my expectation was more TechEd than Sales 101, so for me best avoided in future and maybe consider a paid event in the future in the vein of VMworld.

It does however make me think what Fujitsu Forum (held in Munich and Tokyo) is like in comparison.

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It’s 2015, coming soon to my blog…

Right, another year gone. Another already started.

thank you

First I’d like to thank all those who have visited my blog, and especially those who have commented or provided feedback. I really do appreciate it, my stats have been steadily trending upwards which encourages me to share more.

Here I quickly outline my blogging plans for the new year:

More car stuff – by far the most popular post on my blog (by hits/month) is my post on the engine pump failure on my Vauxhall back in 2008. The blog post is here and was posted back in late 2010. I still have said Vauxhall and also have a Zafira, i’ve done bits of work on both and will post updates soon.

More technical stuff – this is both my job and passion, so expect lots more. Hopefully I’m aiming to restart my beginners Server 2008 courses, for Server 2012 of course – both online and classroom based. I’ll be covering AD, Exchange, SharePoint, SQL and PowerShell in lots more detail. Oh and lots on Windows 10 as I march on with my Technical Preview.

Birmingham – the city I live in. There is a tonne of stuff I wish to share, from activities through to infographics. What’s good, what could be better and in the words of Oliver Queen I must do what i can to “save my city” in these years of budgetary crises.

Personal Computing – the prevalence of the internet, gadgets, storage and phones means everyone is creating and using data. This is critical data (photos, tax information, licensing, bills, banking, passwords) and I’d like to share how I both store it (with resilience) and secure it (with confidence). This is domestic technology, not corporate.

Trading & Economics – another passion of mine. I will start to share my trading strategy, my actual trades and advice & tips on how to get started and crucially how to create the correct mindset for this. Mental toughness required. Although I concentrate on Forex i’ll be dipping into wider issues such as banking and personal finance where relevant.

CVs/Resumes, Job Hunting, Scam Hunting – as per usual I’ll continue along this path, the 2nd most popular blog post on my site is the CV site one found here. Exposing scams and helping people in their efforts to better their future prospects is something I love doing.

Islam – as my faith is currently under constant attack I believe it a responsiblity to add my input as and when I feel it may improve someones knowledge on an issue. I often find the basis of prejudice is lack of knowledge, educating people and doing it the right way counters bigotry.

There you go, some simple plans for 2015. The good Lord willing I hope to accomplish all of these.

[7 is my lucky number!]

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Migrations – been there, done this…

Always in a state of transition, IT departments around the world are continually deploying new systems, applications and hardware. However one of the biggest changes, and challenges, is the successful migration from an existing infrastructure to a whole shiny new one with all the bells and whistles it comes with.

Let me quickly introduce myself, I’m Zulf and I currently work for Fujitsu as a Solution/Technical Architect mostly on migrations with a particular focus on Active Directory, Exchange and SharePoint.

Preparation, preparation, preparation! That there is my mantra, the first word that comes out of me when looking at any migration. It really doesn’t matter whether the migration is large or small, preparation is key and I’ll tell you why.

Without it you will undoubtedly fail, or if you to manage to somehow struggle through, the stress and strains upon the shoulders of those tasked with the migration will lead them to breaking point. I can truly say I have “been there, done that”, I worked on one of the biggest migrations in the UK – 125,000 seats over a 30 month period – yet the migration of the data (filestore and email) was treated as a minor irritation by the project planners as it was deemed straightforward – copy and paste anyone?

The result? An inefficient, trouble strewn, terrible state of affairs that ended up using more resources than it needed, took twice as long as it should and resulting in levels of stress and anger never before seen in the user environment. The ‘planning’ time set aside for this monumentous migration task (which spanned the whole UK) was a truly dismal 6 weeks.

The fix? Prepare! It is actually quite simple, follow my easily digestible non-technical guide to running a technical migration. Here goes:

Understand what you want to do: What are you trying to achieve? What are your outcomes, timeframe and budget. Your timeframe? Double it now!

Understand how you are going to do it: Identify the tools, resources, expertise and finances needed to effect your change.

Prepare: Lay the groundwork, communicate with the affected parties and create a plan of action in your chosen project methodology. Be realistic with your timelines.

Prepare again: Purchase the products and tools you need, book in the resources and ensure the right equipment and tools are available and accessible.

Prepare once more: Prepare for the unknown. Yes, that’s right – prepare for something you’re not even aware of yet. How? Purposely set aside delays in your project (catch-up days, firebreaks) for the infamous Rumsfeld ‘unknown unknowns’ – use them if you need them, finish up early if you don’t.

Pilot: Once you’ve got what you need find a sample (whether it is users, computers, servers etc. etc.) and run through a mini version of your end to end migration. Yup, the whole thing from start to finish – in some cases you may not be able to go the whole way, but if that means you have to pilot a further change at a later time DO SO!

Deploy & Migrate: Finally that point when you can approach a migration with confidence

If you are indeed planning or going through a migration and need assistance get in touch with me here at my Blog and you can be assured that a friendly and experienced consultant (me!) will respond.

Too often an organisation changes only when forced to, either by policy, necessity (end of life, end of support) or organisational change. It is always best to change when you have the control, so be proactive, look at what’s coming over the horizon and act quickly.

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SharePoint does NOT solve your problems…

…SharePoint in fact provides a toolset that CAN be used to solve your business problems.

I often get asked by clients “What is SharePoint?” or “What can SharePoint do for us”. This is a much more difficult question to answer than one might think.

I can provide the Microsoft spiel “SharePoint is a collaborative platform blah blah blah”, but really…SharePoint can pretty much do anything you want it to do within most business scenarios. It can be your intrAnet (or heck, mulitple intrAnet) site/s, it can be your external Internet site/s, it can be your timesheeting system, your meeting/conference room booking system, it can be your KPI dashboard for personnel performance, it can be your end to end business process for starters through to leavers. It can be your whole HR and Payroll process if you want it that way, basically your imagination (well not really, more like your budget) is your limit.

With the flexibility of a database at the backend, a website at the front end and a whole host of technologies in the middle you can do a LOT with SharePoint. Here’s my SharePoint technology diagram (feel free to steal it, i’m sure you want to!).

SharePoint bits

So, that bit in between is the important bit. That’s where you can make a difference and create what you want. Depending on your budget and what you want to do, you can create something as simple as an online calendar to track your teams holiday leave to a fully formed Frakensteins Monster to take over southern Spain!

Reach for the Sky. Enjoy SharePoint. Love SharePoint.

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