A New Resolution with Microsoft Business Solutions

There is an old saying: When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. For a long time that is how IT seemed to me. You have a had full of languages and platforms to chose from and you tried to chose the best tool and hammer out a solution. I have doing SharePoint for about 6 years now and it something I felt like I have been doing lately, trying to make solutions fit into SharePoint without really thinking about other options. Microsoft has rolled out a lot of great tools and platforms that allow business to build great business solutions such as: SharePoint Office 365 Dynamic CRM PowerBI SQL Server 2014 Delve Exchange Online Azure services Yammer Skype A lot of these products are new and still unfamiliar to a lot of business users.   One of my New Year’s is to take a closer at the different Microsoft product offerings, what they do, best practices, and how they can be used to build better business solutions.

Due to technical difficulties…

I recently tried to move my blog from a different hosting provider… Unfortunately I didn’t think about taking the pictures with me and just got the posts so now most of the posts leave a lot to be desired. Most our old now and they weren’t read to often anyways, so hopefully it won’t inconvenience too many people…

Slaying the Dragon

“You can’t see that red flag as a dragon you have to slay” – Bagger Vance I love golf and this is a great quote from the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance”. It has so much application in everyday life, but I work in the IT field and it resonates with me most there. I often work with companies who want to implement large enterprise systems with the intent of making their employees more collaborative and more efficient, thus saving the company money and increasing profits. They often see the systems they are implementing as a necessary evil to accomplish this, or the dragon they have to slay that they don’t take the time to enjoy the game. Yes, I said enjoy the game. Implementing systems can be fun if you let it.  It is such a huge opportunity to talk to your people, see what they are doing, get them involved in the business, and creating real process improvements that they buy into. You can’t just build it and assume they will come, nor can systems be mandated from on high and assume your employees will thankfully use them. You need to foster an environment of collaboration by asking for the users opinions, gathering their feedback, and implemented real change. If you involve your employees from the start and implement their ideas, you get real buy in, real change, and you can have fun doing it.

Getting Started with Office 365

Purchasing Last week I spun up an Office 365 account to do some demos and create an environment to deep dive into the product.   If you go to http://products.office.com/en-US/  you can get your own account.  Click on See plans & pricing to begin when you get there. You will  want a For Business version if you want to use any of the features besides the regular office products. You will then get taken to a screen that show you Microsoft’s 3 business plans.  You might think that is all Microsoft offered,  but if you look closely, you will notice  a link for more Enterprise Plans. If you click the link you will get more plans to chose from.  On the side menu, you will notice links to drill down farther into options and services. From here you would pick the plan you want and register for the service.  After you sign up, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to login to your new service.   Administration Once you login, you should see the below screen.  The first thing you will probably want to do is click on the Admin button to begin setting up your Office 365 environment   You will see a whole side bar menu of things you have access to.  There are help links and a getting started video you can watch to assist you configure Office 365.  I will explore these settings in future posts. If you want to get back the apps work directly with them, you can click on the Apps Tile in the upper left hand corner and all  your apps will pop out, similar to the initial screen you see when you logged in. If you scroll down to the bottom of the Admin Center menu, you will see links to the Admin section of the most robust features of Office 365 like Exchange, Lync and SharePoint. I will be diving into more detail on these aspects of Office 365 soon and posting some short tutorial videos about them.  For now, this is enough to start exploring and getting familiar with the admin interface.

Is Office 365 Secure?

One of the first questions I hear when companies start discussing the move to Office 365 is, “Is it Secure?”  The thought being if I keep everything on-premise, I have my eyes on everything I can keep it secure. It’s almost like putting money under your mattress is more secure than putting it in the bank because banks fail and are robbed. The answer is yes, it is secure. While no system is 100% fool-proof, it is about as secure as you can get. More and more companies are moving to the Cloud for that reason. Technology, especially criminal technology, is moving at a pace that is just too fast for the average company to keep pace with. Microsoft has spent a huge amount of time and resources to develop a secure platform and is constantly monitoring and improving there system, its a 24 hour 365 day a year job. They have the resources that most companies don’t have to identify issues with the system and then quickly fix them. One of the cool things I think Microsoft has done with Office 365, is understand security is top most in most clients minds.  They are trying to be as helpful and transparent about their processes as possible, so they created the Office 365 Trust Center. In the Trust Center, Microsoft outlines a 4 tenet approach to earning and keeping their customers trust as: Built-in security Service-level security through defense-in-depth Customer controls within the service Security hardening and operational best practices Privacy by design Your data is not used for advertising You have extensive privacy controls You can take your data with you when you want Continuous compliance Proactive processes to meet your compliance needs Customer controls for organizational compliance Independently verified to meet evolving standards Transparent operations You know where your data resides and who has access Visibility into availability and changes to the service Financially backed guarantee of 99.9% up-time There is a lot more detail, articles and videos around these tenets, so if you are hesitant about moving to Office 365, you should head to the Office 365 Trust Center  and check it out to help allay any fears  and concerns you might have.

ThunderBolt Analytics – PowerBI for Office 365

Last night I began setting up my new fictional company called ThunderBolt Analytics – http://www.thunderboltanalytics.com/ with my PowerBI for Office365 subscription.  I got tired of the preview expiring before the I could do anything with it, so I broke down and paid for it.  Actually Microsoft has made it so affordable now that I don’t mind paying for it.   It isn’t pretty yet, I just started using it.  I knew Microsoft was getting away from the SharePoint public website and recommending WIX, but didn’t know they were building it into the product: Just for fun, I spun up the SharePoint site. I will update it later. The main reason for the Thunderbolt Analytics is to be a sandbox for creating Office 365 apps and diving deeper into Power BI to build my expertise with the product, to use for demos and presentations, and create some cool dashboards and reports like below: Stay tuned for more posts on my experiences and lessons learned…

SharePoint Administration Permission Levels and Security Groups

One of the biggest and best features of SharePoint is the ability to separate and secure your content so that only the people that you want to have access to it, actually have access it to it. Also, you can control the level of access. Read, Contribute, Full, or custom. Here is a beginner’s guide to SharePoint Administration levels and groups that I did for a client and have given at user group meetings: SharePoint Administration & Permissions from Craig Jahnke

How to Create a Sub Site in SharePoint

For the purposes of separating content and controlling user permissions, it is advisable and necessary to set up a sub-site to the main SharePoint site. The Modernization SharePoint web application currently is: Instructions To set up the sub-site for a site, follow these steps: 1. Go to the SharePoint Site you want to have the sub-site reside in and go to site contents: 2. Scroll to the bottom of the Site Contents page and click new sub site 3. Fill out the form and click Create: 4. The site will be created and can be customized as needed:

How to set up SharePoint App Catalog And Add an App

An app catalog is a document library on SharePoint where as apps for SharePoint are published. When an administrator registers an app catalog as a trusted catalog (by setting group policy, or on the Trusted Apps Catalog page of the Options dialog box in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Project: choose File > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings > Trusted App Catalogs), users can insert the app from the insertion UI in an Office client application. There can be only one app catalog for apps for Office per SharePoint web application. To set up the app catalog for a web application, follow these steps: 1. Browse to the Central Administration Site (Start > All Programs > Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Products > SharePoint 2013 Central Administration) 2. In the left task pane, choose Apps. 3. On the Apps page, under App Management, choose Manage App Catalog. 4. On the Manage App Catalog page, make sure you have the right web application selected in the Web Application Selector. 5. Click Ok 6. Fill out Title and URL and set primary site collection administrator: 7. To change settings Choose View site settings. 8. On the Site Settings page, choose Site collection administrators to specify the site collection administrators, and then choose OK. 9. To grant site permissions to users, choose Site Permissions, and then choose Grant Permissions. 10. In the Share ‘App Catalog Site’ dialog box, specify one or more site users, set the appropriate permissions for them, optionally set other options, and then choose Share. 11. To add apps to the apps for SharePoint app catalog, choose Apps for SharePoint: 12. Click +new document to add a document. Browse to the .app file 13. Update the field in the form as appropriate and click to Enable and Feature:

How to add an App to a SharePoint 2013 site

Once a SharePoint App has been added to the App Catalog, it needs to be added to a SharePoint Site to be of use. We are using provider hosted apps. The app itself is actually its own web application and resides a remote web server. SharePoint is used as a portal to surface the application. An App can be added in 2 ways: 1. It as a link that launches to the web application into a new window. It can be an app part which is basically an IFrame the resides on an SharePoint page and displays the web application. To Add and app, follow these steps: 1. Go to the Settings drop down on the upper right corner and click Add an App 2. Click Add an App 3. Click the App you want to Add 4. You will be prompted to Trust it, click Trust It 5. The app will be added to the Site Contents: 6. If you click on it, it will launch the remote web application. It can also be added as a menu in the navigation to launch the app. 7.  Our standard is to have the app reside on a page inside the site and launch it in an app part inside the page. First we need to Add a Page: 8. Give the page a name, the url to the page will update as you type. 9. You will get a blank page that you can edit. Note: You will have to update the site navigation appropriately. 10. Click on Page –> Edit to be able to edit the page: 11. Once the page is editable, click the Insert tab à App Part à and select the app you want to display, then click add 12. While in edit mode, you can edit the App Part to change size or display: 13. Click Save to finish editing the page