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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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:

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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

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:

Order is everything when setting up SharePoint on Azure IaaS

Order is everything when setting up SharePoint on Azure IaaS

I spent a bunch of time with my buddy Kirk Evans while at DevConnections in Las Vegas last month, some drinking and watching football, but mostly learning about running SharePoint on Azure. Azure IaaS has come a long way, but is still confusing & troublesome at times. I have written a few PowerShell tools that help me and I will share them in some future posts.

I started playing with SharePoint on Azure IaaS on my own without doing much reading. My goal in this was to see how intuitive it was to get things setup and going for the average person. Once in the console creating a VM was very quick and simple. I was up and running on a pre-built Windows Server image in no time. This was great.

Then I decided that I wanted to build a SharePoint farm. I deployed out 2 addtional VMs. I built an Active Directory and attempted to join the other 2 servers to the domain. This is where I ran into problems.

There are some building blocks that need to first be put in place before you start building servers if you want them to be able to communicate with one another.

The first is the Affinity Group (AG). An AG is required before you can create a Virtual Network. The way that Kirk explained it, the AG is a container to keep your Virtual Network in a single data center. To create an AG you will either use PowerShell or go to Settings at the bottom of the Management Portal and find Affinity Groups as the fourth of five options.

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Next create the Virtual Network and assign it ot the AG.

2

After the Virtual Network is created you will be able to setup a Cloud Service. The Cloud Service is going to be the container for your VMs.

3

This process sounds uber simple, but the order of things matters here. Now you can create your VMs. Once you have your VMs and your DNS server built you can go in and specify the Domain Controller as a DNS server.

This is where you will hit a snag. In the normal course of events you would be running a domain controller on a static IP address. Unfortunately this is not something that you can do on Azure IaaS. Every time you deprovision a VM, which you have to do unless you want to get charged, your IP address reservation can get taken by another machine.

My solutions to this problem was fairly simple:

1.) Create a virtual network for each of my environments
2.) Always start the VMs in the same order so that they pick up the same IP address each time

The first part was easy, however the second part is difficult when you get beyond one or two people using the same Azure subscription. I needed an easier way to ensure that my VMs would start in a specific order. After a late night with one of my favorite single malts I came up with a fairly simple PowerShell solution.

set-AzureVMs.ps1
As a result of my conversations with Kirk, and some annoyance at the inconsistent nature of shutting down VMs using the Management Portal, I decided to look into how I could shutdown my VMs using PowerShell. There is a nice cmdlet for doing this called stop-AzureVM.

Since I want to do this for a set of VMs I needed to be able to run a for-each loop, so I wrote a start and stop function into the script.

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I started to use a CSV or text file method for loading the VMs that I wanted to start and stop together when I realized that I didn’t want to have to maintain a series of files on every environment that I create and then distribute that to my team. Not to mention that I have multiple Azure subscriptions that I am using for clients and personal use. The management of that would get cumbersome quickly.

Then I remembered that all of the VMs that I will want to use together are going to be a part of the same Azure Cloud Service (ACS) and that each farm or group of servers that I want to use will have their own unique ACS. There is a cmdlet to get all of the ACS in an Azure Subscription called get-AzureService. I have opted to get the Service Name, Affinity Group, and status of the ACS in my script.

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The status field is not overly useful, but if something other than “Created” is returned it is worth investigating since that is the expected value.

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Once you have the correct ACS the script will list the VMs that exist within and ask if you want to start or stop them.

The obvious question at this point is “How does this solve the IP address problem that you set out to solve?”

The answer is that the script will always start and stop the VMs in a specific order. Starting the VMs using this script will ensure that the same IP addresses are obtained every time.

The script was originally designed to solve this problem however I have been using it to ensure that my VMs get shutdown cleanly rather than using the Management Portal which, as I mentioned earlier, is inconsiestent at best.

I hope that you find this as useful as I do. I have been using this script since I wrote it Thanksgiving weekend and I stopped tweaking about a week ago. You can find the script here: http://www.jasonhimmelstein.com/scripts/Azure/set-AzureVMs/set-AzureVMs.ps1

Enjoy!

PowerShell Script: SharePoint Farm Creation

PowerShell Script: SharePoint Farm Creation

For a long time I have been meaning to rewrite the PowerShell script that I have been using to do my SharePoint farm creation and just haven’t gotten around to completing the necessary effort to make it all that I want it to be. I have leveraged the work of others, borrowing a piece here and a snippet there but to honest I haven’t been satisfied.

What I really wanted was a script that I can use in my consulting practice as a normalized practice of how a farm should be deployed as well as a script that I could use in the highly repetitive process of doing ITPro dev work. I wanted something that was flexible enough to use for client installs, but repeatable enough that I could use it in my dozens of farm builds that I do in my spare time for troubleshooting and fun.

Here are the key points of what I did differently with this script:

  1. use temporary variables that can be accepted or overridden at the PowerShell command-line when the script is called
    SNAGHTML37d3721b
  2. validate if the pieces have been implemented correctly & gives information about what piece failed, not just throwing the ugly PowerShell errors that we are used to seeing
    SNAGHTML37d4db9e
  3. validate that you are using PowerShell running as Administrator to ensure that you won’t fail for that silly reason
    SNAGHTML37d64475
  4. pulls the system & domain variables rather than having to set those parameters manually
    SNAGHTML37d7b73f

I am happy to report that I was able to accomplish all of these things in my script and am happy to offer it up for others to use if you see fit. I highly recommend that you consider using the PowerShell profile that I laid out in my previous article “How to: Automatically log your PowerShell session everytime” so that you can, among other things, capture the output of building your farm.

There are very few people who can honestly say that they created their PowerShell scripts completely from scratch, and I am certainly not among them. Credit is due for snippets & reference to Shannon Bray, Gary LaPointe, Brian Lalancette, Todd Klindt, & I’m sure others. Special appreciation to Evan Riser for helping me QA this script. 

One last thing to note about this script… it does just what it says it does. It creates a SharePoint farm.  This is not an all inclusive build your farm & configure every setting script. If you are looking for the all inclusive, über build & configure script please go visit Brian’s codeplex project: AutoSPInstaller. There is no need for anyone to recreate the amazing work that he has done. 

The reason I create this scripts like this is that I prefer to break my scripts down into pieces and keep them highly modular. This is partly because I consult on such a wide variety of projects that it makes my life easier to be able to deploy pieces at a time using different scripts. It also could be that I am a neurotic, lunatic control freak who is a bit over obsessed with developing in PowerShell for fun.  Hopefully it’s more the first thing than the second thing… 🙂

I will continue to publish the scripts that I find useful here in the hopes that it helps someone else along the way. You can find my SharePoint Farm Creation PowerShell script here on my SkyDrive.