Microsoft Ignite – Monday

Alright, we have landed in Atlanta on Saturday and made the Airbnb house our home. We used our first two days to enjoy the house, the city and a first party on Sunday evening organized by the SPC Party Patrol, which was fun!

On Monday the Ignite conference started with the keynote, introduced by Julia White, she is the general manager of product marketing for Office and took care of the first part of the keynote. After that she handed over to Scott Guthrie who guided the audience through the rest of the keynote. There is not much to say about the content of this first keynote unfortunately. There was not much news to it.

I had the chance to visit a nice session about the new admin portal of Office 365, it has been completely restyled and uses smart search functionality to help you as an admin to do your job in a quick and proper way.

At the end of day 1 the second keynote was presented by Satya Nadella which was awesome. It had great vision about using AI to make life and work more productive and easy for everyone. To empower every person to achieve more!

They presented an amazing demo by showing what a FPGA processing power unit could do when it utilizes the full spectrum of all azure resources. It could translate all UK wiki pages to Spanish within a 10th of a second. Wauw!

wp_20160926_16_16_59_rich

It was a nice conference day with an inspiring keynote to close it off.

We took a Uber taxi to our house and watched the first debat between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which was entertaining! Oh, and Uber is great!

I am looking forward to tomorrow, with hopefully a few more in depth sessions. Cheers.

Ignite 2016 – Atlanta coming up!

This Saturday, september 24th, me and three other colleagues of mine are flying over to the states to visit the worlds largest tech conference available. Microsoft Ignite 2016!

When decided who of all colleagues could attend the first thing to do is arrange the basics. A place to stay and get the tickets! For our stay we had a look at the hotel availability and we found all affordable hotels already booked. So we decided to have a go with AirBnB and my colleageau found a very nice residence for us all to sleep and to get rid of the party gizz that will be flowing during this week. The tickets were bought and now we find ourselves three days before we travel and start the crazy week that will bring high energy spikes with it 🙂

I will write down my notes on this blog so keep an eye out for new posts during next week!

Cheers and if your also attending and would like to meet, let me know!

microsoft_ignite_2016_356labs

 

“GOVERNAGE” – The mix between Governance and end user Usage – Blog 3 follow up

a vision paper written by Rick Hilferink – SharePoint Consultant @ Portiva.

This vision paper will be written in a series of three blogs. In each of these series I hope to provide you with more insight in my understanding of today’s Microsoft SharePoint technology and how governance can be applied best.

Table of contents

  1. Blog 1 – A new Era
  2. Blog 2 – The rising
  3. Blog 3 – The future

Blog 3 – The future

Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated

Microsoft has come a long way with the Microsoft Office Product Suite. This also applies for SharePoint as a product which was first born and launched back in 2001 and is still very much alive 14 years later, in 2015.

Microsoft has stated that mainstream support for the latest current SharePoint version, currently SharePoint 2013, will last at least until 2018. This means that when 2018 is reached, customers either need to move on to the new world of SaaS/PaaS in combination with Office 365, or upgrade to the new on-premisess version of SharePoint, the 2016 edition. After that one, most likely one last new version on-premisess version will be released.

To create the movement towards the cloud, Microsoft is not using their typical strategy to of brutally forcing the enterprises from a technology perspective. Instead they use the old, “carrot on a stick”, trick!

carrotonastick

The idea is simple, computing power in the cloud is humongous and extreme flexible. This allows not only Microsoft but everyone with a subscription to create very powerful, user friendly solutions that can use the vast computing power that Microsoft possesses. And the subscriptions are rather cheap.

The main strategy is and will be, cloud first, mobile first. This means that the new versions of Microsoft Products such as SharePoint and Exchange will be more powerful and will have more functionality within the cloud, than it will have on-premises.

To stimulate the move towards Office 365 for existing customer, and influence greenfield companies to choose for Office 365, they currently offer an extravagant set of solutions:

  • One drive for business (Large amount of storage, enabled document management functionality for the masses, away are the personal file shares)
  • Delve
  • Yammer integration
  • Video portal
  • Clutter (Outlook online)
  • Office for iPad/iPhone

Even better, Microsoft has not released all these functionalities at a random pace or in a random order. They make use of continuous delivery. Every month you get new features. Additionally they have chosen to be transparent in the development process, to be open in what companies can expect from Microsoft and what will be the next functionality that will be released. An extra carrot on the stick, so to say. This is called the Office 365 roadmap. Which can be found here: http://roadmap.office.com/en-us

Positioned as a leader

According to the magic quadrant of Gartner, Microsoft has pushed through as top leader with the most complete vision on Social Software in the Workplace. This is the cloud first strategy that paid off for Microsoft and for sticking to it. With buying Yammer and dropping the native SharePoint social features.

topleadersocialworkplace

The report of Gartner in September of 2014 stated that one of the major strengths is the integration of components such as Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer, Lync and Office. The publically available roadmap adds to the vision factor that enhances the leadership position as seen in the quadrant in the top right corner above.

The major interest in the product and wide adoption of Office 365 and related Microsoft products make Microsoft a reliable company with billions of dollars in revenue. It is very unlikely that Microsoft will lose this leadership position in the near future.

Microsoft has also stepped up to the plate with helping companies getting familiar with new products and the cloud movement. For Office 365 a free trial can be set up within minutes and companies can take part in so called, customer emersion sessions. In such a session the customer will be emerged with the functionality and benefits of moving towards Office 365.

Once the customer is convinced of the product suite and online scenario, they can take part in the FastTrack program. This is the Office 365 onboarding service that Microsoft provides to help the customer to setup the basics and to start using the online product suite. User adoption is one of the key buzz words that is being used to promote the online suite.

These are all extra carrots on the stick. The trick is the same and consistent throughout the vision and strategy of Microsoft: not using force but attracting companies to take part in the cloud first strategy.

The other part of the carrot is marketing and the promotion of all of these products, features and assistance options.

Hybrid SharePoint scenarios?

When business asks for functionality that cannot be met with the ootb Office 365 platform an alternative solution needs to be offered. This often means using an on-premises environment for these specific business requirements. This is what we call a hybrid SharePoint environment.

A hybrid SharePoint environment means that SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-premises are connected in some ways, mostly architectural.

  • A search architecture that combines search results from online and on-premises resources.
  • Combined service application usage.
  • Choose to store high sensitive content on-premises and not in the cloud. For example the creation of project sites with high sensitive data inside.

These hybrid scenarios have the advantage that for end users it does not matter where content is stored. However these scenarios can also have some disadvantages.

  • Customizations not suitable for SharePoint Online.
  • Unique features only available in Office 365 such as, Delve, Yammer, Video Portal etc.
  • No global navigation experience
  • Deployment of functionality towards multiple (hybrid) platforms

Some of the advantages

  • A combined enterprise social network
  • A combined search experience
  • Gradually move old content from on-premises towards SharePoint Online
  • Flexible architecture to provide for business requirements

Social Software in the Workplace?

The current SharePoint 2013 on-premises version still has the native social features inside such as the newsfeed with liking abilities and discussion boards. Follow people and follow sites from your MySite/Profile environment in order to fill your personal newsfeed with updates from these items. And last but not least, the communities sites feature that allows to create communities around specific topic related content and discussions.

Since Microsoft bought Yammer it started to adjust their vision and strategy statements concerning social networking. First, all social activities needed to be facilitated by the SharePoint on-premises platform. Now, a few years later the Yammer platform is the far most successful enterprise social networking tool ever, which now can be integrated within SharePoint.

If you are now at the point in time to start with enterprise social networking, this is the time to look at Yammer and how to integrate that within your SharePoint environment. The strategy and advice at this moment is, if you do anything social or start to facilitate discussions in the SharePoint platform, use Yammer and not the native social features if possible. The native social features will not be improved or extended in new versions of SharePoint on-premises, these will remain as they are within SharePoint 2013.

This will all be much more obvious in the month of May, after the Microsoft Ignite Conference were the new and latest SharePoint on-premises version will be released. That version will probably not have any ‘new’ native social features. Instead, the Yammer integration will be there, finally J This is what enterprises have been waiting for.

Another thing to expect is that more social features will be available only within SharePoint online, in order to promote and leverage the enterprises to start using SharePoint online.

Governance

The hyped buzz word Governance will have a lot of attention again the next few years. SharePoint online brings new guidelines and new policies. The same applies to the use of Yammer as the social enterprise networking platform. Think of the moderation of posts within the all company feed, specific groups, open / closed groups for SharePoint sites etc. SharePoint online brings updates every month, that cycle of release management has a great impact on Governance guidelines. Perhaps your steering committee was used to plan a quarterly meeting to adjust the governance guidelines, that rate will probably go up, to a monthly meeting. Changes happen quicker, guidelines have to adjust accordingly. Microsoft keeps on moving, and so do you.

These next few years will be very exciting but it will take a lot of effort for companies to keep up with all these new technologies. Microsoft is in the strategic leader position because of their innovation and future proof solutions, but the most important challenge will be not to distance themselves too much and evolve too quick for companies to keep up with.

Microsoft uses this very appropriate quote in their promotion of “Work like a network”.

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

– Jack Welch

For companies struggling with on-premises and online scenario’s the message can only be:

Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated … Soon everything will come from the cloud, start preparing now, so you don’t have to regret it later. In May, at the Microsoft Ignite Conference, the evolution of the Office 365 and the SharePoint on-premises product suites will be announced, keep an eye out on mine and Portiva’s blog for a lot of content coming your way about these topics.

“GOVERNAGE” – Thé mix between Governance and end user Usage – Blog 2 follow up

a vision paper written by Rick Hilferink – SharePoint Consultant @ Portiva.

This vision paper will be written in a series of three blogs. In each of these series I hope to provide you with more insight in my understanding of today’s Microsoft SharePoint technology and how governance can be applied best.

Table of contents

  1. Blog 1 – A new Era
    1. Introduction
    2. SharePoint puberty
  2. Blog 2 – The rising
    1. SharePoint grown up
    2. Governance explained, what is it?
    3. End users (Business Roles)
  3. Blog 3 – The future
    1. Vision and Strategy – Ownership and dedication
    2. “Governage” and SharePoint as a platform – Find the right mix
    3. A look into the future (Maturity?)

Blog 2 – The rising

SharePoint grown up

SharePoint has evolved as a product, containing lots of modern technology and features suitable for a wide variety of businesses both small, medium and enterprise. Not less important it has also evolved into a strategic platform for large enterprises which are very much depended on this platform, day in day out. Microsoft is a strategic choice, so is SharePoint.

Some numbers…

Microsoft SharePoint is a grown up product these days. According to an article that was published on ZDNet.com three years ago, SharePoint had been adding 20.000 users per day for the previous five years. Between 2006 and 2011 that means, 36,500,000 users began using SharePoint.

In an article on caldiatech.com these massive numbers were revealed.
(Ref: http://www.caldiatech.com/blog/3-surprising-facts-regarding-the-worldwide-use-of-microsoft-sharepoint.html)

80 percent of the fortune 500 companies are using Microsoft SharePoint with approximately 100,000,000 user accounts. These numbers were updated after the SharePoint 2013 release, which proved very successful.

As we can see, the influence and dependency grows, and it grows fast. More and more companies choose Microsoft strategically; the decision for SharePoint is a no-brainer.

Off course these are just (awesome) numbers. Installing SharePoint, adding users and use it as a document management system does not solve all your issues or business challenges and far more important is not a guarantee to success.

This is the reason that governance is a hot topic the last few years, people and businesses start to understand that SharePoint is more than just a tool or application that is evident when Microsoft becomes a strategic choice.

It requires high priority and attention from upper management.

Governance:

“… The collection of guidelines, roles, responsibilities and processes, which is defined to control and to supervise the deployment of SharePoint, so that the pre-defined objectives can be achieved within the organization.”

The reason for establishing and implementing a governance plan is to control the platform and how it is used. It ensures that resources can be used to its full potential. Agreements are clearly defined within the framework by a strategy group that determines to what extent and at what level governance is applied and secured.

Governance explained

Introducing the SharePoint 2013 platform can be compared to building a house. The client has a specific design in mind. When constructing a house, all kinds of rules (procedures) should be followed. There is a zoning plan (vision), there are regulations (company policy), there is a design (functional design) and a drawing (technical design). When construction is completed, the building must be maintained and perhaps rebuilt again after several years to improve the structure or the use of it.

This is the same for the SharePoint platform. It requires designs, plans, regulations and maintenance.

A governance plan.

To start determining a governance plan for your company, you have to setup a strategy group. In that group people from multiple layers of the organization should be represented, preferably from multiple departments. This mix ensures a broad perspective on your governance plan thus providing a more qualitative governance plan.

The strategy group needs to determine and agree upon a lot of subjects which describe how the platform will function, to which rules people should obey and all procedures and guidelines to make the platform work the most effective as possible. These subjects are divided into two different areas: Functional and Technical.

  • Vision and Purpose of SharePoint Implementation
  • Roles and responsibilities
    • Support Roles
    • Who is owner?
  • Information policy
    • Document retention and lifecycle
    • management of data
    • Taxonomy
    • Agreements about metadata
    • External and mobile access.
    • Name conventions
    • Work agreements
  • Branding
    • Theming / MasterPage / Document templates
  • Education plan
  • Authorization structure
    • Define a matrix
  • Quota’s
    • Per Site Collection
    • Per Site
    • Per document library
    • My Site storage
  • Management organization and management tooling
    • Define strategy group
  • Auditing
  • Search

Functional

Example of an image that describes the user support within SharePoint. This way users know where to go and how support is being delivered. Part of the “Roles and Responsibilities” subject.

Technical

  • Updates
    • When and how often installed?
  • Service packs
    • Always the second most recent version available?
  • WSP deployment
    • Time windows, who can and who can’t?
  • Performance testing
    • Monthly or quarterly scheduled?
  • Backup
  • Recovery time
  • Allowed loss of data
  • Disaster recovery
  • Technical guidelines
    • Development via .wsp’s allowed or apps only?
    • Development guide
    • Testplan acceptance procedure
  • Service accounts

An important thing to discuss, besides these functional and technical subjects, are the things you, as an organization, do not wish to accomplish when implementing the SharePoint platform. These could be very practical things like: SharePoint should not only replace the fileshare and SharePoint should not cause employees to receive an information overload.

How to get the business involved?

Business users determine the success of a SharePoint implementation. Therefore the users should get involved with setting up the platform right from the beginning. This would mean that they, as a group, should be represented within the strategy group to begin with.

Within all organizations there are multiple types of end users, we call these the business roles. These business roles that make use of the SharePoint platform should be represented within the strategy group, this is best thinkable although not always possible.

The size of the strategy group and how many people are representing the business is dependent on a lot of things but should be thought of very well. This is an early mistake easily made, not inviting the right people for these discussions could cause them to loose direct interest.

Get the business involved, talk to the end users, set up a communication plan and communicate! And be aware, that when you communicate towards the business, your governance should be in place to provide the business with all guidelines and procedures in order to help them create added value for the company.

Write down all requirements that the business provides in a roadmap. Discuss about these requirements and roadmap in the strategy group and attach dates to them. Then again, communicate with your business and enjoy the controlled added value of the SharePoint platform.

In the next blog part I will talk about how governance has evolved along with SharePoint and provide a quick look into the future. One thing that will be more and more important these next few years is Office 365 and SharePoint online. Off course governance applies for these platforms as well, but is it the same? If not, what is different and how does that effect your business?

“GOVERNAGE” – Thé mix between Governance and end user Usage

A vision paper written by Rick Hilferink – SharePoint Enthusiast @ Portiva.

This vision paper will be written in a series of three blogs. In each of these series I hope to provide you with more insight in my understanding of today’s Microsoft SharePoint technology and how governance can be applied best.

Table of contents

Blog 1 – A new Era

  • Introduction
  • SharePoint puberty

Blog 2 – The rising

  • SharePoint grown up
  • Governance explained, what is it?
  • End users (Business Roles)

Blog 3 – The future

  • Vision and Strategy – Ownership and dedication
  • “Governage” and SharePoint as a platform – Find the right mix
  • A look into the future (Maturity?)


Blog 1 – A new Era

Introduction

Hi there, my name is Rick Hilferink. A SharePoint enthusiast working for Portiva, a top SharePoint company with its roots in the Netherlands.

In the past 9 years that I’ve been working in this business I have had the luck to see Microsoft SharePoint evolve from a document management solution into a strategic portal technology.

Back in 2001 when Microsoft introduced SharePoint, the product had three features, 1) Document management, 2) Intranet, 3) Content management. In those first few years that the product was released, companies started to use the technology with projects often started by the IT department itself. After it has proven successful other departments would try to hook on to this new technology. This was the classic grow model, mostly starting within the IT department.

Now, in 2014, SharePoint has become a lot more than just a document management solution. Today it provides an office-like interface for adding and editing content, lowering the threshold towards from site admins to end users. There is a wide variety of usage options, such as integration with ERP systems, social features, intranet portals, extranet portals, websites, business intelligence and enterprise search.

Implementing a new SharePoint platform is complex. It requires architects to plan hardware and infrastructure. Business consultants talking to the business, often in workshops, to gather functional requirements and startup an implementation project. One of the implementation steps is called ‘governance’. Creating a Governance Plan means that time should be spend on setting up rules and policies for using the application, for maintaining it, and also for creating new functionality on this platform.

Every single time that governance is set up and thought off, it is unique. For each and every organization the set of rules and agreements are tailored to fit and serve the business as best as possible. Governance should not be about creating barriers, it should be about long-term stability and quality.

I have come to this point, realizing that the next couple of years will be about finding the right mix in using modern technology and providing the best governance model possible for your organization. Keep it simple but organized. Don’t overdo!

That is what I call “Governage”. In a practical way, fitting the exact needs off the business to the complex enterprise platform SharePoint has become.


SharePoint puberty

SharePoint was designed from the need to have documents centralized available for sharing and collaboration, easily findable, without the folder jungle, that file shares did provide. On the network, outside the regular file shares that went 10 levels deep.

In 2001 two versions of SharePoint were released. SharePoint Team Services (STS) and SharePoint Portal Server (SPS). In STS users could create websites and fill content – a bottom up technology. SPS however was meant for administrators, the IT guys, for indexing files and other databases. There was no or very little connectivity between the two.

SharePoint 2003 was the first integrated application version that provided a solution for document/information sharing and applications/websites within the company network. STS and SPS were connected. A dashboard for creating sites, adding/uploading and removing files was added so that end users could contribute easily to SharePoint sites. Old school administrators, the IT guys, were left with the management of the SharePoint application and most of the decisions.

Within three years, a small shift from managing technique into managing information became visible. Still, the classic administrators had a significant role in how information architecture would be set up and maintained. The end users only provided the content.

A SharePoint implementation project, if it was a project at all, would be started bottom up: Starting with IT, it would sometimes evolve into a business application that would be used by upper management. Unfortunately this created enough inconveniences because of never thought off challenges such as storage limits or confidential documents being available somewhere in the site hierarchy.

This is the period I call ‘SharePoint puberty’. A rather new product with great potential became a quick success because of the upcoming internet industry. People started to use internet in their personal daily routines, which lowered the threshold for people when first confronted with this new portal technology. It was cool to use SharePoint instead of those old dull file shares everyone used.

In retrospect, what was missing in those days, regarding governance?

  • No or very little requirement inventory with the business
  • No definition of roles and responsibilities
  • No policies
  • No training / instruction
  • No agreements on usage
  • No plan for growth
  • No plan for backup and recovery


In the following posts I will discuss the SharePoint evolution history, how companies started using SharePoint as a tool and how it evolved into an enterprise platform requiring extensive guidelines and policies. I will also provide detailed content of what I think a governance plan should contain.

Managed Metadata column in SharePoint 2013 causes Word 2013 to crash

This week I was working on a prototype environment in SharePoint 2013.

Created a few sites with document libraries, document sets, content types and configured some basic views. Nothing special so far.

To make it a bit more realistic a few documents had to be created in those libraries and document sets, here the trouble started…

When creating a document that has a managed metadata column in its content type, Word 2013 crashes immediately after starting up.

It seems to be a known bug and not tested functionality by the Microsoft team. Here’s a link to a technet article describing the same issue, unfortunately without a fix/answer:

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/sharepointgeneralprevious/thread/2d58139f-876c-434e-a02b-876fedb980a0/