Browsed by
Author: jhimmel

Rackspace and the Microsoft ProServe Partner Network

Rackspace and the Microsoft ProServe Partner Network

I have been a Racker for more than 2 years now and during this time I have found that Rackspace has always strived to maintain an amazing group of Microsoft Partners that do Professional Services (ProServe) work. We have phenomenal partners that we send work to today, however we want to broaden our knowledge base of who is out there doing great things in the Microsoft ProServe space. We no longer have teams that do ProServe work, save some migration efforts, but as their trusted advisors our customers ask us for recommendations of who they turn to in order to get their ProServe work done. This is where my ask of you comes in.

Are you interested in Rackers mentioning your company as a potential ProServe provider to our customers? If the answer is yes, then we need to know about you. My ask is that you fill out our 2 minute survey to let us know who you are and what is in your sweet spot.

A couple of caveats:
1.) This is the first of 2 surveys that we will ask you to fill out. The second will come after you have self identified and we have a reasonable number of responses. Additionally, we will reach out at least annually to validate that you are still pursing the same work as that which you have identified in the survey(s).
2.) Filling out the survey(s) does not guarantee that you will be referred business. It simply gives us an opportunity to do so and possibly reach out for additional partner conversations.
3.) We are not selling this list or doing anything nefarious with it. We just want to know who we can send our customers to when they ask for referrals and this is the best way I can think of doing that.
4.) PLEASE do not reach out to me asking (yelling at me about) why we haven’t done anything with your company yet. I will have no control over who our customers choose to reach out to. Think of this as a Rackspace ProServe Yellow Pages effort.
5.) Rackspace has a very well defined Partner Network Program which can be found at https://partners.rackspace.com/.  We will be providing some inputs from this effort to the team that runs that program, but this effort is independent of that. We are looking to identify (and keep fresh) a list of referral partners that we can tell our customers about when they ask. Plus the Partner Network is more focused on you help to sell our stuff than us sending you business, so feel free to go do that too! We would love for you to make money for referring us to your customers…

Closing thoughts, Rackspace loves Community. We went into hibernation for a while but are stirring back it life. Keep an eye out for us… in the meantime, please fill out this form: http://bit.ly/rackspace-msftpartners

May 16th is the new May 4th in SharePoint land

May 16th is the new May 4th in SharePoint land

Seth Patton started the event today by saying that today we are here to celebrate customers who are using using Office 365 to accelerate their digital transformations. He highlighted the Microsoft mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. I was lucky enough to be invited, along with my fellow Racker & Microsoft MVP Randy Drisgill and several other community friends, to take part in the filming of this event. In addition to the excitement around all of the announcements I was especially thrilled that Microsoft had chosen to highlight Rackspace as a customer taking part in the aforementioned digital transformation.

As a part of the big announcement blog post that Jeff Teper put out today Rackspace was listed as one of the 9 customer success stories. This has been a labor of love here at Rackspace for me and I see our transformation daily in the way that we work together. From the migration to OneDrive, to our limited use of Microsoft Teams, and including our latest efforts to migrate to Exchange Online there is so much benefit to the people using the new functionality being brought to them via Office 365. You can read our Customer Story here: https://customers.microsoft.com/en-us/story/rackspace-professional-services-office-365

As for all of the amazing new things that Seth, Jeff and the Microsoft team share with us today, here is my recap:

OneDrive for Business

There were 3 big areas of highlight today:

  1. OneDrive Admin Center
  2. New Sharing Experience
  3. OneDrive Files OnDemand

OneDrive Admin Center

admin center

There are several really cool things that they showed today about the new OneDrive Admin Center, specifically the ability to set the default sharing policy for links. This will make it so that users do not have the ability to share a link that has no governance around it. The Admin Center controls override for all users and allow Admins to better control what is happening with their data.

The other great new feature that was demoed was the ability to limit sharing by domain. You now have the ability to either whitelist or blacklist domains. This will allow Admins to ensure that sharing can be done, however it gives them the ability to keep their users from accidentally opening access to the wrong element.

New Sharing Experience

sharing

I have written quite a bit on this for Microsoft, so I am going to limit my prose here and simply say that the new sharing experience is elegant, clean, and easy to use. I am a big fan. Once my article gets published and is out of embargo from being posted to my blog I will be sure to update this section and link it.

OneDrive Files OnDemand

files ondemand

My previous statement about embargoed content goes for this section too. My screenshot here shows a bit of the user experience we are expecting to see in the coming months once the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10 hits.

7 things to think about when attending Microsoft Ignite 2016

7 things to think about when attending Microsoft Ignite 2016

Ignite top banner - 03-17-16

Hard to believe that yesterday was the first day of Fall. It was 93degrees for the high here in San Antonio and there is no appearance of a season other than HOT anywhere.

Tomorrow I fly out to Atlanta for the Microsoft Ignite 2016 Conference and I couldn’t be more stoked. We are all primed to hear TONS of awesome new announcements from Microsoft this week and learn all about them from the folks responsible for bringing them to market. From Windows Server to Office 365, this week promises to be chock full of excellent stuff.

In addition all of the live breaking news, there are more than official 1400 sessions taking place throughout the week, including the 6 sessions that I am presenting,  PLUS hundreds of in booth sessions that companies like Rackspace are doing on their own.

For those of you who are lucky enough to have gotten a ticket before it sold out here are a few pointers that hopefully will help you make the most of your experience at this year’s event. Since my co-workers in Corporate Marketing tell me that its best to have a click-baity title with an odd numbered list, here are my “7 things to think about for Microsoft Ignite 2016”:

1.) Keep an eye on the weather before you go

Atlanta is not nicknamed HOTlanta for nothin’. While much of the US is starting to see cooler temperatures, the South is still pretty toasty. That said, at this time of year evenings can get cooler PLUS conference rooms are either boiling hot or iceberg cold, so bringing a light jacket is not a terrible idea.

2.) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Whether you are a wild child going out to every party that the week offers you or you are a hard studying, attend every session event goer this truth is universal. We never drink enough water. There is a reason that Microsoft is going to give you a water bottle. Yes, there are sodas EVERYWHERE but H20 is still critical to you surviving the week. This is a normal thing that we all think about at home, but when we get to big conferences our brains sometimes get left in our checked luggage.

3.) Have session backups

Pick multiple sessions for each time slot. Find that you are not enjoying a session that you have stumbled into? Make your exit and find your way into another session that might suit you better. As a presenter the last thing I want is for you to sit through an entire session of mine FUMING because I am not covering something the way you need to hear it. We all learn different ways and my if my style of teaching is like nails on a chalk board to you, PLEASE find a session that is going to be a better fit. Neither of us benefit from you being overly polite to a complete stranger. Our ego will recover from losing you in the room. Ok, maybe Todd Klindt’s, won’t but most presenters will survive. He is kinda needy, which is why he needs so many hugs.

…and oh by the way, if you end up not going to those other sessions in your list, they are a perfect play list for you to start with when the videos come online for watching after the event, thus making this a good practice no matter what.

4.) Get out there and meet people

The Microsoft Technology community is a fun one. We have some unique characters, especially in the SharePoint & SQL Communities. Don’t be shy, get out there and make some connections. For the most part people are open and looking to share & learn from each other. There are lots of opportunities, you just have to step up and take advantage of them.

5.) Visit the vendors

This is not just for the SWAG that you will inevitably fill your suitcase with, but more importantly to learn about what is going on in the ecosystem that you might not be aware of. Down every aisle there are gems of information, not just sales pitches (although there are plenty of those too), just waiting for you to discover. Worried that you are going to get Spammed? Stop worrying… it is GOING TO HAPPEN. That’s why there is Clutter & Junk mail filtering. There is also the “unsubscribe button”.

6.) PAR-TAY

There are events, cocktail hours, shindigs, parties, and merriment happening every night during Microsoft Ignite. See #5 to find out how to get on the invite list to most of them. If you aren’t being invited to things, you aren’t talking to enough vendors!

7.) Hassle the Microsofties!

Spend time in the Microsoft area of the Expo Hall. Microsoft spends a TON of money on this event with the intention of simply breaking even financially (which they don’t always do). They fly in experts from around the world to staff their dozens of booths with experience in everything that they sell. Bring your questions and find your expert. There will be an “Ask the Experts” session where all of the speakers are required to be on the floor and we are always happy to answer your questions, especially when there is free booze Smile

…a bonus #8:

There are going to be TONS of Microsoft MVPs of all backgrounds in attendance. In general we MVPs are a friendly bunch… its kinda required with the whole community award thing. As a breed we are about engaging with & helping people. When you see us stop & say hi. From Hillbillies to CatPainters, BinaryBrewers to DiveDowners, Wonder Women to podcasting *ick* Florida Gators*ick* there will be plenty of us kicking around this week.

Hopefully while you are there you can stop by the Rackspace booth (#521) and say hi. If you don’t find me there you can always come to one of my sessions during the week. Find all of those details here on the Microsoft Ignite site.

Last thing to remember, when you fly home at the end of the week with your brain all filled with awesome new knowledge and you don’t think you can take any more, the sessions (and decks) are all being recorded and posted to Channel 9 for consumption later.

Enjoy!

The Future of SharePoint event: a recap

The Future of SharePoint event: a recap

It is 1130p on May 4th, 2016 and I have just returned to my hotel room in San Francisco from an amazing day. Today was the Microsoft “Future of SharePoint” launch event. Here is my recap of the day:

pre-event

Before the event we all gathered excitedly to get into the venue and check out what was in store for the day. A gaggle of MVPs and Microsoft customers loitered on the sidewalk outside the Village at 969 Market anxiously awaiting “go time”.

IMG_3796cb bb and me

Once inside the unique, but cozy venue, we all found our seats, mingled with customers, chattered about what we were excited about hearing today, and Christian started taking selfies.

Dan

Getting to see Dan Holme kick off the event as a part of his new role at Microsoft was a pretty huge thrill. Dan has been a friend & mentor for many years and to see him in this position is hugely exciting, not only for what it means for him personally as my friend, but also for what it means for the SharePoint community. Dan has been a force in this community long before I found it, and his voice on the inside at Microsoft really highlights the changes that have been happened over the past few years.

IMG_3798

Satya was heard from, but not seen in person. This was a bummer, but ultimately it lead to more of other great folks, so we will happily take it.

IMG_3800

Jeff Teper came out strong explaining some of the new changes that are coming and sharing his excitement with the live audience. It was infectious.

All of the demos landed well. The ones that I thought were most impactful were:

Roadmaps

IMG_3807

This is the first time I can recall that Microsoft has given us a roadmap of features that are coming. There was a roadmap slide for each of the 4 areas that were discussed. The key to notice is that Microsoft is telling you what they are working on today, and what they think they are going to plan to work on for the rest of the year. Lots of things can happen to change, but Microsoft is finally showing us what to expect and roughly when. Dates may slip based upon a number of factors, however we now have a real roadmap from Microsoft.

Intranet in your pocket

IMG_3808

IMG_3810

One of the core themes of the day was “Your Intranet in your Pocket”. Microsoft is due to release (in the next few weeks ) its SharePoint Mobile app to iOS. Welcome to the new Microsoft! Adam Harmetz demo’ed the mobile app. I have had a chance over the past few weeks and am encouraged by what I have seen.

It is worth noting that the mobile app will support multiple SPO and commercial OneDrives.

spmobile

SharePoint Home

IMG_3811

SharePoint Home is the replacement for the half cared about (if that) Sites page in SharePoint Online. This experience is getting a completely new look and feel, backed against the Office Graph to show users sites that they are members of and following.

Fast site provisioning

IMG_3812

With a completely overhauled site provisioning process, Team Sites can be created in 5 seconds or less in the new UI. The ability to set the restriction polices during the site creation time is a huge win for Governance.

FastTrack

IMG_3834

Microsoft has recognized one of its key barriers to adoption and is now offering free migration services to SharePoint Online and OneDrive from not only Google Drive but from Box too. Previously it required massive dev or a third party tool. Customers over 150 seats are eligible for a free engineer lead migration from Microsoft. Until now I have steered somewhat clear of FastTrack, but now I am going to have to go revisit it.

Feature Packs

It was stated that Feature Packs will be coming to SharePoint onPrem starting in 2017. This was the only real mention of this MASSIVE new feature that I will cover off in a future post.

Here is an excerpt from the “SharePoint Server 2016 – your foundation for the future” post from Microsoft:

While our innovation will be delivered to Office 365 first, we will provide many of the new experiences and frameworks to SharePoint Server 2016 customers with Software Assurance through Feature Packs. This means you won’t have to wait for the next version of SharePoint Server to take advantage of our cloud-born innovation in your datacenter.

I am going to cover Feature Packs in a future article that I will link here when I am done. This to me was the biggest piece of news at the event. This opens doors for Rackpace.use SPLA licensing as our users are going to be able to update using a Public Update since SPLA inclues Software Assurance.

Analytics fun

John, Dave & I kept up with the events of the day, however we were also playing with our dashboards and scheming for how to improve the overall experience.

Here is a snapshot of the event:

IMG_3835

After the event and lunch, John & I pulled out our laptop and get to playing with all of our new data in the SQL Azure Database. It was such a hit that even Jeff Teper couldn’t resist the pull of data about this event. That is pretty hot wouldn’t yall say?

analytics for all

 

Resources

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to go watch all of the demo videos. Here is a central list of articles and blog post:

Here are the links:

Satya Nadella welcomes the future of SharePoint

Vision & Overview Blog: The Future of SharePoint
https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/the-future-of-sharepoint

SharePoint Server GA & Feature Packs: SharePoint Server 2016—your foundation for the future
https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/sharepoint-server-2016-your-foundation-for-the-future/
VIDEO
: Foundation for the Future: SharePoint Server 2016 https://youtu.be/6ADQpn3xl2U
VIDEO
: Accelerating Innovation with Hybrid: SharePoint Server 2016 and Office 365 https://youtu.be/ACsSv6CNHY8

Simple & powerful file sharing and collaboration from any device: Announcing simple and powerful file sharing and collaboration for Office 365
https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/announcing-simple-and-powerful-file-sharing-and-collaboration-for-office-365/
VIDEO
: Effortless File Sharing on Any Device: OneDrive for Business and SharePoint https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRFe38WxCjU

SharePoint mobile app, SharePoint home, team sites, Microsoft Flow & PowerApps integration: SharePoint—the mobile and intelligent intranet
https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/sharepoint-the-mobile-and-intelligent-intranet/

VIDEO: The Mobile and Intelligent Intranet: SharePoint sites and PowerApps
https://youtu.be/x8tgKBXmmPg

VIDEO: Your Intranet in Your Pocket: The SharePoint mobile app
https://youtu.be/L4OmRsiXbVw

SharePoint Framework: The SharePoint Framework—an open and connected platform
https://blogs.office.com/2016/05/04/the-sharepoint-framework-an-open-and-connected-platform/
VIDEO
: Open and Connected Platform: The SharePoint Framework https://youtu.be/T_bGyqKwT4g

Security, Privacy and Compliance for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business
VIDEO ONLY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mvZr_Gc36U

Happy learning!
-jase

The Future of SharePoint is almost here!

The Future of SharePoint is almost here!

 

FoSEvent banner

Good morning from 34k feet somewhere over New Mexico! I am currently flying out to San Francisco to take part in the Future of SharePoint event tomorrow. I have been lucky enough to have spent time out in Redmond over the past few weeks and have had a chance to see some of what Jeff Teper and the SharePoint Team are going to share with us tomorrow and I can tell you that it is some game changing, super exciting stuff

If you haven’t already registered for the Live Stream you should stop reading and do it right now…  I will wait… http://aka.ms/FutureOfSharePoint

Now that you’ve done that we can continue Smile

If you aren’t able to stream the feed for some reason or just want to an up to the second view into what I am thinking about the event, my colleagues Todd Klindt, Randy Drisgill, and John Ross will also be Live Blogging the event on the Rackspace SharePoint site at http://sharepoint.rackspace.com/live-event. You can download a calendar reminder for this here.

Want to keep up with what is trending on Twitter around the event? Check out the Twitter Analytics Power BI dashboard that Dave Feldman, John White & I put together below.

Last night as we were playing with our Twitter Analytics I saw someone tweet the question: “Can the future of SharePoint really live up to all the hype?”. I am hopeful & optimistic for the first time in quite a while that it can, however only time will tell. I for one am betting heavily that it will as I have chosen to tie my career to SharePoint & Office 365. From everything that I have seen from Microsoft recently they are doing 3 things very right in my opinion:

1.) They are listening. Whether it is via User Voice, direct interactions with them, or the telemetry that they are using coming from the service they are listening to what we are telling them with our words and our actions.

2.) They are getting fresh blood into the right seats on the bus and keeping the world moving forward.

3.) They are investing in innovation. This is something that they had stopped for a while, but they are back with a vengeance.  There is nothing more exciting in the tech world to me than innovation.

I am excited to see what they have to say tomorrow and I hope you are too. May the 4th be with you!
-jase

Microsoft Flow and Power BI make awesome bedfellows

Microsoft Flow and Power BI make awesome bedfellows

On Friday April 29th Microsoft release the preview of its latest toy, Microsoft Flow. Flow is similar to Zapier & IFTTT in that it connects to online services and takes actions based upon trigger events. During the demo to a group of Microsoft MVPs we saw some interesting ways to utilize Flows, but I couldn’t wait to get my hands into it to build some fun Power BI visualizations against more easily accessible data. Saturday morning I built out a simple Flow that took data from Twitter and added it to a SharePoint Online list.

From this I was able to create a Power BI report that visualized Tweets by count of Tweet and demonstrated individual tweets vs re-tweets. The data was drillable to the text level. I gave John White a call because I thought I had finally created something that we could geek out on before he got to it! Amazingly enough I had and within minutes we were adding refinements and enhancements, giddy as school girls.

The core issue that I was facing with my Report and methodology was that SharePoint lists are not best suited for contain the amount of data that we are likely to see this week with the Future of SharePoint event on Wednesday, let alone a month or year’s worth of twitter data. After we talked my Report had become a very slick visualization (embedded below).

John & I agreed that we needed more geek out time and decided to meet back up later in the evening. I started getting texts an hour before our meet up time with links to what John had built in the previous hour. An Azure SQL Database to house the twitter information, 5 new flows to capture specific Twitter data, and a Dashboard backed report that is slicker than Canadian Goose poo.

We knew that we had to share this new cool stuff with the community, but didn’t think we had the cycles to write the hundreds of pages of content we needed to get the point across. Then we remembered that we have Camtasia licenses thanks to TechSmith‘s generous Microsoft MVP offer.

John & I spent the next hour recording a 3 part series that you can find on the BIFocal YouTube Channel or simply click on the links below. We take you through creating an Azure SQL Database, building Flows, and finally using Power BI to create awesome Reports and Dashboards.

Our final product in the web series can be found below. Keep in mind that it the anonymous report is only refreshed 8 times a day.

We hope that you enjoy the content!

-jase

Announcing the new ITUnity web show: BIFocal

Announcing the new ITUnity web show: BIFocal

BIFocal LogoI was sitting in the speaker room at SharePoint Fest Seattle having a Skype chat with John White. We were collaborating on some Business Intelligence content that we could deliver at conferences either together or independently, but still ensure that we were providing a consistent message. At some point during this chat one of us suggested that this amusing & informational back and forth that we were having would make for a pretty decent podcast. Dan Holme, CEO of ITUnity, overheard the comment and said “It would make an even better web show on ITUnity!” Thus an idea was born.

I am excited to announce that a mere 5 months later we are ready to go live with our new monthly web show, BI Focal. We are going to keep you up to date on all of the latest news in the BI space, provide Tips & Tricks, have interesting guests, take viewer questions, and even do some cool demos.

We hope that you will join us for our inaugural show “Select * from Hosts” on January 28th, 2016 at 1:30PM Eastern Time on ITUnity. Check out our promo below:

An update to the OneDrive storage plan changes

An update to the OneDrive storage plan changes

On November 2nd, 2015 Microsoft announced that it was going to change it’s storage plans for OneDrive. Previously Microsoft had given unlimited storage for Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers in OneDrive. These subscribers now have 1 terabyte of storage.

At the same time they announced that they were going to change the free offer from 15GB to 5GB & that they were eliminating the 100GB and 200GB plans and replacing them with a 50GB plan.

This met with some frustration from users… to the tune of 72.4k votes on the User Voice suggestion. This morning Douglas Pearce closed the suggestion with the following message:

SNAGHTMLf503e0

It very encouraging to see Microsoft listening and rectifying the situation to the benefit of those who enjoy the service.

The process for keeping your 15GB+15GB situation is very straightforward. Simply visit http://aka.ms/onedrivestorage and log in with the account that you use for OneDrive.

image

To keep your storage you are going to need to grant OneDrive Preview permissions to Add or remove bonus storage & some additional permissions may be required depending upon your account. I saw two different lists when I did this for my accounts, perhaps because I had already granted the permissions before as a part of the Next-Gen Sync Client Preview.

imageimage

Once access is granted the process completes and you get the happy message that your account will remain intact as it was before.

image

The one piece of the puzzle that is going to be interesting to me to see how they handle is the offer of 1 year free of Office 365 Personal to users who have more than 5GB in OneDrive. Office 365 Personal retails for $7 per seat per month and comes with installation of Office 2016 on one machine, 1 TB of OneDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype calling per month.

The feature benefits of Office 365 Personal at $84 per year out weigh those of the Dropbox Pro which simply gives 1 TB of storage for $99. If the Next-Gen Sync Client for OneDrive is as good as advertised, this could tip the scales for some users.

In addition to my use of OneDrive & OneDrive for business I pay for a Dropbox Pro subscription as well. what can I say… I like to have backups of my backups Smile I don’t see that changing anytime soon as I like being able to test the services against each other so that I can give people the real world advice about what each one does well vs the others.

My fun finding this week was that free Dropbox users are penalized for the amount of storage that is shared with them. This means that If I share 2GB with a user who is on the free plan and they accept the sharing request, they only have .5GB left to use or be shared with, even if they have never stored a file themselves. If I add 1GB to that shared folder the free user is now out of space and cannot accept sharing requests from other Dropbox users. They have to go delete their membership to the share and remove the files from their Dropbox completely before being able to accept another request.

Office 365 E5: the plan, the promise, the process & the pain

Office 365 E5: the plan, the promise, the process & the pain

I have been a long time Office 365 subscriber. In addition to using Office 365 for work at the companies I have worked for over the past 5 years, I have maintained a personal subscription for my own personal brand stuff. Being a Business Intelligence fan boy the subscription that fit me best has always been the E3 at $20 per seat per month (PSPM).

That was until WPC this year when Microsoft announced the E5 SKU and I heard about all of the great news stuff that was coming in this new SKU. I’ve been paying $10 per month for PowerBI for Office 365, and when it was announced that E5 was going to include PowerBI Pro AND PSTN Conferencing I figured that it was going to be a winner from a price perspective.

On December 2nd the E5 SKU became available to me in the Office 365 Admin cart. The price point was $35 PSPM. After a moment of consideration the price point seemed, while not terrific, reasonable. Here is what tipped the scales for me:

1. Included in the price is all that E3 includes = $20 PSPM

a. Office Online & Office Pro Plus

b. SharePoint Online

c. Exchange Online

d. Yammer

e. Azure Rights Management

2. PowerBI Pro = $10 PSPM

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing for details on the data refresh & collaboration features that do not come with the free version

3. Skype for Business PSTN Conferencing = $4 PSPM & the rough equivalent to GoToMeeting which starts at $24 PSPM

Allows for attendees to join the meeting by dialing in using a landline or mobile phone as well as using PC & Phone based apps to connect & share screens

4. Delve Analytics = $4 PSPM

Insights to show you communicate using Office 365. Set own goals & measure your progress

5. Customer Lockbox = $2 PSPM

Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery, Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection, Skype for Business Cloud PBX, & Office 365 Planner Preview = not features I know that I need yet for my small implementation, but are certainly of interest for larger enterprises

I figured that with all of the new features rolling out it would be worth the extra money to get E5. I went into the Admin Center to switch my plan from E3 to E5 and when I did I found this:

The link takes you to articles that refer to not being able to switch due to Add-Ons & suggests that removing the them will remedy the situation allowing you to switch plans. Sounded good in theory, however when I attempted to set the Add-On quantity to zero since there was no remove button I got the following:

I decided to leverage support at this point since it didn’t appear as though I could do anything more to help myself. I used the Admin Center support mechanism and within a few minutes a very helpful fellow named Ian called me back. We walked through everything that I had already done, as per protocol, and then he reached out to the next level support teams.

Turns out that the only way to “switch” from an E3 plan with Add-Ons to the new E5 plan is to purchase an E5 licenses, remove the E3 license & Add-Ons from the user and apply the new E5 license to that user before saving.

The issue with this is that now I have an E3 subscription that I am still being charged for that I no longer need. When attempting to cancel this subscription you encounter a cancellation fee. This is something that I am still working on with Microsoft at this point, however I am up and running with my E5 license… or so it seems. When I close out and reopen my Office 365 browser session I now get the following message in the App Launcher:

My email is still flowing properly into Outlook 2016 & to my phone, however I can no longer access any of the Exchange Online features through the App Launcher. Testing revealed that I could still access Outlook on the Web by visiting the https://outlook.office365.com URL directly when logged into Office 365, so I knew that my mailbox was intact & healthy. Knowing that things can take some time to provision I decided that I should give it a bit and come back later. After all, I had just made the change… I shouldn’t expect things to provision and be ready that quickly, right? WRONG! Within 5 minutes of me applying the E5 license to my user I got my Skype for Business Dial-in Conferencing info:

Blazingly fast setup experience! I was thrilled & impressed. Sadly the App Launcher issue was not as quick to resolve…

After 4 days of the App Launcher still showing “Setting Up” I decided it was time to open another support case. I looked at the user account in the Admin Center and found that it claimed to still be preparing the mailbox:

This time the response was not quite as quick and I got bounced around to 5 different departments over the course of 7 hours, each looking for the next team to pass me off to. When I got the following email I had finally had enough and insisted on escalation:

After I sent a scathing email to the listed manager & underlying chain of command the communication got much friendlier & faster.

The Exchange Online Support Team member, Amit, did his full load of troubleshooting & finally determined that the issue appeared to be Customer Lockbox. We went into the license & removed just the Customer Lockbox feature and applied the change.

Once this change was made the mailbox “completed” it’s setup & all appeared right with the world again.


While Customer Lockbox is not a feature that I am dying for yet, it is a part of what I am now paying for so I wanted to get it working. Amit & I went back into my user, added the feature back in, and then I logged back out and in again. My user returned to its previous state of “preparation” however my access to the Exchange Online features through the App Launcher remained.

At this point we have closed out the App Launcher case & there is an open case for the Customer Lockbox issue, which according to the case notes below will be resolved on 12/13/2015:

With Customer Lockbox not being able to be provisioned at this time and the apparent lack of the Voice Features. no sign of Delve Analytics, or Planner… I am starting to feel a bit like I am eating the cookie dough before it’s put in the oven. I know it’s too early… but it sure can be tasty… and what’s life without a little risk right? While I know the ultimate end game is going to be great, it is just a bit hard to swallow the high a price for something that isn’t fully baked yet…

A new chapter: You can go home again

A new chapter: You can go home again

8 years ago Jill and I moved from Austin, TX to New England as newlyweds to start our new life together. I had just accepted a new job with Raytheon to work on a technology that was completely foreign to me. I had spent the previous 10 years of my career focused on relatively known commodities, but when I jumped into SharePoint it was a total unknown to me. Little did we know then the amazing road that was ahead of us. Every year has been another milestone:

2007: married & moved to Massachusetts
2008: Max was born
2009: bought our home and moved to New Hampshire
2010: Sam was born
2011: Left Raytheon for Sentri
2012: Sentri acquired KMA
2013: Polycom acquired Sentri and I left Polycom for Atrion
2014: Awarded SharePoint MVP
2015: …

heading to Texas

This week I accepted an offer to be the Office 365 Advisory Services Manager for Rackspace , a position that is moving us back home to Texas. I am thrilled to take on a new challenge that is focused completely on Office 365 and couldn’t be happier to be joining the amazing team at Rackspace and get to partner with the ever amazing Jennifer Mason Roth on our Office 365 offering.

For our family this change is semi-sweet as we truly love our life in New Hampshire, our friends, and the family that we have built over the past 8 years. We have built & strengthened bonds here that will last our lifetime and we will be back regularly to visit. I cannot imagine a morning during baseball season that Sam won’t be waking up and asking “Did the Red Sox win last night?” before he even says good morning to us. He has told me that he is excited that we are moving to where the Texas Longhorns play though. Max is excited to learn to play “Deep in the Heart of Texas” now in addition to “Yankee Doodle”.

I will miss the amazing people that I have been lucky enough to work with for the past 2 years at Atrion . The team there continues to be strong & growing. I know that they are going to keep doing amazing things for our customers. The opportunities that I have had during my time at Atrion have allowed me to grow both personally & professionally. I look forward to continuing the relationships that I have developed over the past 2 years.

I will also miss the New England family of SharePoint communities that have embraced me so thoroughly over these past 5 years. I am excited that part of my world at Rackspace includes getting to continue my dedication to the community and I will be back for SPSBoston, helping to run the 5th annual SPSNH, and speaking at SPTechCon during the rest of the year and hopefully for many years to come.

The next few months are going to be crazy as I dive head first into my new world at Rackspace and we relocate the family to Texas. I will be at Ignite working the Office 365 Developer booth for Microsoft during my first official week at Rackspace. Be sure to stop by and visit me to hear about all of the great stuff that Microsoft is doing to enable Devs in the Office 365 world.