Office 2013 support in Office 365 … The end is nigh…

Being a Microsoft Office 365 Partner am keen to follow any news concerning feature changes and updates to Office365. Microsoft announced via this blog, that Office 2013 clients’ connections to commercial Office 365 services will not be supported after October 13, 2020. After this date, ongoing investments in the Office 365 cloud services – including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business – will proceed based on post-Office 2013 requirements.

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Coming Soon! GEBestBetAdder GUI for SharePoint 2013, 2016 and SharePoint Online

Things have been very busy at the Geoff front. Work on the GUI version of GEBestBetAdder is being finalised. This tool will help you migrate and manage Best Bets from SharePoint 2010 enabling you to migrate to Promoted Results in SharePoint 2013 and beyond, including just some of the following features:

  • Create Query Rules and Promoted Results into SharePoint 2013 and beyond from SharePoint 2010 Best Bets and Keywords
  • Add, Edit and Delete custom Query Rules and Promoted Results without having to access SharePoint
  • Export Query Rules, Promoted Results to Excel and XML formats
  • Manage existing Query Rules on a site by site basis

The tool has been long in the making and has been great fun to build – its absolutely crammed with features. The tool will be made available on a trial basis very soon, am aiming for release by end of August 2019. It will even include the ability to migrate Query Rules to/from on-premise to Office 365. If you are interested please contact me and I’ll add you on the trial list.

Content Management Systems – Principles and Concepts of Information Assurance

Content Management Systems – Principles and Concepts of Information Assurance

A major challenge in businesses is a misconception, that data is 100% secure concerning any part of its data processing within that business. This data processing concerns the content management lifecycle; from creation, to storage, to distribution, to workflow and eventually archive of that data. The misconception? “Security Breach? Its not going to happen to us” mentality. It is vital that there is an understanding of Information security and Information Assurance in content management security. As an information security professional (or Architect covering security), you should be prepared for any aspect of secure breach can happen that can affect the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of the data. Any service delivery disruption caused by a security breach is harmful to the profitability, and has far reach consequences which could include liability, status and much more.

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SharePoint and the Internet of Things

SharePoint and the Internet of Things

Bold statement time. The Internet is a collection of machines – and there is more data generated by machines than humans. IOT (Internet Of Things) is connected devices providing data which will simplify, enhance, and enrich our lives. Already connected devices are beginning to revolutionise our lives; but to understand the nature, challenges and opportunities we need to understand how we can take informed decisions concerning this technology and trends.

Things like how the data our devices upload and download is shared, used, managed, controlled with clear data integrity. What should be our focus, what and who can help us understand this technology. IOT has implications for those working within the SharePoint sphere. As SharePoint workers, we will need to roadmap and further refine data provided  (from internally or externally provided systems harvesting sensor data) to define an IOT strategy.

We will need to learn how to promote use of devices used within organisations, so they become smarter devices thus turning our companies, and ourselves, into smarter people. The article I have written for TechNet, aims to describe, simplistically, the nature of IOT, some of the key opportunities realised by Microsoft and others, the challenges we may face in control, management, security, privacy. The article suggests some take-aways in what we may need to address to support the infrastructure and manage the data.

Sometime ago, I also wrote about the skill-sets coming into the fold of data analysis (the Data Scientist). We are already seeing the emergence of the CDO (Chief Data Officer) whose skillset will become more and more entrenched in helping people make decisions on data coming from sensor feeds and the management of IOT in organisations.

Even my kids know about IOT and sensor technology. My eldest daughter, an ardent follower of fashion, running her own shop, mentioned to me that she was really into reading up and working on opportunities concerning nano-technology in clothes, as she thought it definitely the future. I thought that nano-technology in clothes was a myth; that it simply didn’t exist (showing my age I suspect) – but I was astonished to find on IET an article talking about just that, even to the point where engineers were busy creating clothes and being designers! Imagine, nano-technology in clothes; that would be able to determine the colour and provide better waterproofing in clothes – wow…. Surely then, we can’t be far away from having our clothes change colour based on the time of year, or maybe even inform how many washing cycles clothes can take before needing repair / replacement? So that means sensor technology in clothes must be a reality…

Anyway, I just had to do more digging. I am sure there are implications from a systems analysis, and service delivery perspective, particularly for data management.  I found myself absolutely fascinated by the impact of IOT. From discussing with other techies in this field and more, I was able to put together an article which I’ve had posted to TechNet. Please go read the article here.

Embarking on Third Party Tool Articles – oh Gosh…

Hi Folks, As promised in last weeks’ article, a quick warn that I will be drawing attention to a number of third party products which I have used with SharePoint in particular articles going forward. Before embarking on what can only be described as a wonderful adventure, I’d like to clarify why I am doing this, given that this site is devoted to SharePoint service delivery. This clarification is important, because, for a long time, I have been “externally SharePoint technology agnostic”, and instead, user focused in terms of the actual process of service delivery (implementation, support, capability etc). That will not end of course!

So why the third party tool mentions Geoff? Well, as a SharePoint solutions architect, I have always maintained that whilst a lot of things can be achieved using SharePoint in-built features and components, that there will be times where a third party tool, used to augment SharePoint, or to meet a specific requirement, carries more value add. There will be instances when it is either bringing in the third party tool, or instead, having to either (a) redesign the wheel (b) attempt to hack around SharePoint (c) bring in developers to code (d) inform the customer in a Star Trek Scottie style ‘It cannae be doon, capn’, or a combination of those.

Indeed, I can think of many instances where a third party product, sanctioned by the SharePoint sponsor, meets key requirements much quicker, smoother and can bring long term enhanced user adoption and therefore a greater ROI.

Note however, that in adopting third party tools is not without its pitfalls, for example, having to ensure that there is a strong relationship with the third party development team. Support must be manageable, that the third party tool must be scalable (or its limitations understood fully), and that the tool sits within the organizational SharePoint strategy. This is the essence of commoditization of course, the ability for SharePoint to evolve and morph into exactly what the customer requires (if the process of doing so is defined and managed). And, given that as a SharePoint community the app model of the cloud (Office 365) brings a lightning bolt of third party components means SharePoint becomes even more commoditized. Already, Microsoft Office is fully tuned into SharePoint – with the news that the Access App is now available in SharePoint online it is now even more important that we, as SharePoint workers are aware of third party tools also. This is particularly since, as these tools gather pace, they will increase their own customer base to the point that new skillsets evolve in the marketplace that become commoditized. For example, a number of third party tool providers produce their own training courses, which become a commodity due to the size of the customer base for that tool.

Anyway, I will for now list the tools (in alphabetical order) which I will give special mentions to as they relate to areas of SharePoint service delivery. There are many others I have absolutely no doubt, but these are the ones which I particularly have experience in and therefore can write about with a little more authority:

Tool Provider Purpose
Cardiolog Intlock Web Analytics
Cosign ARX Digital Signatures
ControlPoint Metalogix (was Axceler) Administration (governance)
Nintex Workflow Nintex Workflow Process automation
PDFShareForms PDF Share Forms LLC PDF Forms Design
Quick Apps for SharePoint Quest Rapid application development

A gentle reminder that where the tools are discussed that I will not describe what is good or what is bad about the tool. I am not a sales person for any of the tools. Do not expect me to go into details of installation or configuration either. The key is to identify where I have used the tool, why, and how – including the process of how I went about provisioning the tool from a business perspective……

Analysing Site Activity in SharePoint 2013

Analysing Site Activity in SharePoint 2013

Tracking site usage is a very important method of identifying and helping sustain user adoption of a SharePoint 2013 site. Using site usage statistics can help prove the take up of a new SharePoint site, identify shortfalls in the design, and indicates how searches are being used and whether they are effective and optimised. There is a usage report available in SharePoint 2013, which shows historical usage information about the site, such as the number of views and unique users.

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