Category Archives: Office 365

SharePoint 2013 and Office 2013 Consumer Preview resources

Yesterday Microsoft unveiled Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Visio and Project client), SharePoint Foundation 2013 and SharePoint Server 2013 consumer previews. Internally these are called Beta 2-level releases, so consider before installing them in production machines.

There seems to be so much to choose from so I’ve decided to compile a list of all the goodness that was released:

Office 2013 clients:

  • Office 2013 (x86 and x64) from MSDN Subscriber downloads
  • Visio 2013 (x86 and x64) from MSDN Subscriber downloads
  • Project 2013 (x86 and x64) from MSDN Subscriber downloads

Product keys are in their usual places for the clients.

SharePoint 2013 bits:

  • SharePoint Foundation 2013 (x64 only)
  • SharePoint Server 2013 (x64 only)
  • SharePoint Designer 2013 (x86 and x64)
  • Office Web Apps Server (x64)
  • Audit and Control Management Server
  • Office 365 ProPlus Preview

Tutorials and support material:

  • Overview of the support material
  • SharePoint 2013 IT Pro Training
  • SharePoint 2013 Developer Training
  • SharePoint for Developers
  • SharePoint 2013 Technical Library (compiled help-file)
  • eBook: Deployment Guide for SharePoint 2013
  • Design sample: Corporate Portal with Path-based sites for SP 2013
  • Search architectures for SharePoint Server 2013
  • Enterprise search architectures for SharePoint Server 2013
  • Back up and restore: SharePoint Server 2013
  • Services on server mapping worksheet for SharePoint Server 2013
  • Design sample: Corporate Portal with Host-named sites for SP 2013
  • Databases that support SharePoint 2013
  • Topologies for SharePoint 2013
  • Language Packs for SharePoint Foundation 2013
  • SharePoint Server 2013 Client Components SDK
  • How to test upgrade
  • SharePoint 2013 Upgrade Process
  • Language Packs for SharePoint Server 2013
  • Configure a SharePoint 2013 in Three-Tier farm
  • Demonstrate SAML-based claims authentication with SP 2013
  • Test Lab Guide: Demonstrate intranet collaboration with SP 2013

Other interesting stuff:

  • Lync Server 2013 (x64)
  • Exchange Server 2013 (x64)
  • Project Server 2013 (x64)

Top 3 tips for anyone using Microsoft Lync to attend online meetings

I’m using Microsoft’s Lync Online (from Office 365) daily. Hourly, even. I have all my colleagues as contacts as well as most of my customers, partner companies and people I know – if they’ve decided to use Lync and if they are happy to federate openly with other companies. Not everyone is doing this but most Finnish companies I work with, it’s not a problem.

Here are my top 3 tips for anyone using Lync to attend online meetings:

1. Use mute liberally

imageThere’s a mute-button for a reason. If you are not the one presenting or attending a heated argument over Lync, just stay on mute. It takes you a second to unmute, and nobody needs to hear you type emails, which you evidently will be doing if you are not talking.

2. If you invite others, tell them why

It’s so easy to invite others to your important meeting. Is it important to everyone else? Possibly but not necessarily. Take the courtesy to tell why you need others to spend 90 minutes in your online meeting. Some people might decide that the meeting is not for them – they don’t want to spend 1,5 hours doing something is not worth their time. And that’s fine.

For some reason, especially with Lync and Outlook, most people just send the invitation URL and nothing else. I often reply with a “What’s the agenda for this meeting, and the desired outcome?” to see if there’s a reason for me to attend.

3. Set up your stuff before the meeting

I might be a bit impatient here but it will grow in you when you witness – for the fifth time during the same week – someone wondering about a missing password or a missing slide deck they were supposed to present for an audience of 15 people. It’s impolite for others, but besides that it’s a huge waste of time.

Take the two minutes to set up your demo gear and other stuff before the meeting.

I think this is the equivalent of connecting your laptop to a projector before your talk. Make sure it works before your audience arrives!

It’s 2012–ditch the PST!

Where's my mail?This article on the Exchange Team blog introduces the PST Capture tool, that was designed to help you get rid of PST files. It’s an interesting read, since apparently lots of people are still using PST files for archiving and sorting email. It’s 2012 – ditch the PST!

I took a moment to reflect back to a time when I had to use PST-files. That was years ago. I feel old now. Perhaps my mailbox was capped to 500 MB and after careful optimization I was able to live my chained-to-email life just barely under the limit. The obvious solution was to create additional PST-files on your local drive and shuffle emails back and forth between different repositories when necessary.

Backups were always painful. Copying 10 PST files, each 2 GB in size, took ages. Or that’s how it seems when you are forced to reorganize email for artificial reasons. Thank you, 500 MB quota.

With the advent of practically unlimited email storage from Google (Gmail), Microsoft (Hotmail) and others, it’s amazing how many companies are still offering email services with subpar storage and archival options for their employees. Who, in a way, are kind of paying for those services in exchange for their time and skills.

Microsoft Exchange 2010 has supported personal archives for quite some time now. Even the TechNet article states the reason for personal archives: “[..] eliminating the need for personal store (.pst) files”. Sadly it’s a premium feature requiring an Exchange enterprise Client Access License (CAL). The alternative for this would be to employ unlimited archive from the cloud with Office 365 by using Exchange Online Archiving.

I, for one, feel that archiving and indexing old emails is worth the effort. I find myself performing advanced search queries against my pre-2000 era emails several times a month. Searching emails from Sent Items is a daily occurrence, and every too often the email I thought I sent just yesterday was actually sent 2 months ago. This is also a painful reminder on how reliant we seem to be on email. Especially for archiving purposes: stuff is sent over the wire and then forgotten – but I’ve got a copy in my archive.

So, really – ditch the PST. Give your people unlimited email archive, today. There’s no reason not to.

Office 365 update scheduled for October 20, 2011

I’m currently using Office 365 in a hybrid environment with federation enabled on my Office 365 E3-plan. Being the technical contact for the service, I just received an email outlining the future Office 365 update.

The update is scheduled to begin from October 20, and it will continue through the end of November. We are also promised to receive a notification email 24 to 48 hours prior to our specific update window, which is really great.

The email also outlines the updates we’ll be receiving – simply said, this is exciting. Not only do we finally get Business Connectivity Services for integrating LOB-data to SharePoint Online, but we also get Windows Live ID-support for “external sharing” and official support for Windows Phone 7 Mango! External sharing, to my understanding, allows partial extranet-scenarios for company project sites and similar needs.

Also, as a long time Google Chrome user it’s nice to get official support.

Full list from the email:

  • Business Connectivity Services (BCS) (E-plans only)
  • External Sharing: Windows LiveID support
  • Windows Phone 7 "Mango" (official support and http:// –support)
  • Recycle Bin: deleted site self-recovery
  • Browser support: Internet Explorer 9
  • Browser support: Chrome

I’ll post details on using BCS when the update has deployed.

Thoughts on SharePoint Conference 2011 (day 1)

The first day of breakout sessions, hands-on labs and Ask The Experts of Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011 has just concluded here in Anaheim, California. It’s been a day of some insights into the future of SharePoint, a lot of enthusiasm on SharePoint ecosystems and partners and a few deep dives on more advanced SharePoint topics. Here’s my recap on things I felt are important and interesting enough to share.

Keynote: Nothing much new but it wasn’t that boring

Keynote this year was actually quite good. It was short at around 90 minutes, so not too many demos or speakers. Pacing was good and I didn’t get the feeling of hyperventilation like I did while watching Build 2011 keynote in September. That was awful. Also, compared to TechEd North America (2011) keynote, the speakers didn’t try to talk about everything but kept the focus to a few chosen main topics.

Jared Spataro, Director of Product Management for SharePoint announced the first major update to Office 365 would be released before end of year. I’m thinking November, since December is often too packed with other activities (think: Christmas) and would leave us IT Pro’s not enough time to divulge all the new features and functionality. No timeframe for other releases or a feature list of what might be included with the update.

Finally: BCS for the cloud

Only one new technical feature was mentioned as being part of the upcoming Office 365 update: Business Connectivity Services (BCS) from Office 365 to On-Premises and Azure. Later it was confirmed during Andrew Connell’s SPC410 session, that developers will get real access to the BCS object model. What that means based on my understanding, is that we can and should use Visual Studio to package BCS models, rather than point-n-click stuff live on production with SharePoint Designer.

I’ve often felt that SharePoint Online should have a native server-side interface for interacting LOB data from on-premises data sources and applications. Building client-side Silverlight applications and Javascript-based hacks didn’t seem like a long-lasting solution. Thus I’ve often resorted to either replicating data to avoid the cumbersome plumbing work or simply decided to run SharePoint locally from the same datacenter my data is already stored on.

With the addition of BCS to SharePoint Online, we’ll finally – and hopefully – get a solid approach to integrating content from WCF, SQL Server and custom .NET-assemblies to and from the cloud. I’ll make sure to try out the new features when they become available. It will be interesting to see how BCS can be used in terms of performance, scalability and most importantly, how securely with my on-premises data.

Microsoft Certified Architect for SharePoint

It was also announced that MCA, or Microsoft Certified Architect certification would be more closely aligned with SharePoint. I have mixed thoughts on this: due to our smaller economy in Finland the recognition of MCM (Microsoft Certified Master) and MCA is next to zero. It also seems challenging to balance the costs of attending either of these premium-level certification programs while trying to testify the added value to your existing customers.

As was known before, MCM is required for MCA. In order to become an MCA, one would first have to pass all four SharePoint 2010 certification exams (2 for IT Pro’s, 2 for developers), then attend the 3 week MCM training, pass the MCM exam and finally apply and prepare for the MCA program.

The cost of attending the MCM training program is $18,500 + $125 for the application fee. I happened to notice that starting in January, 2012 MCM for SharePoint is only one week of required training in Redmond (on-site), followed by 10 weeks of training remotely with scheduled classes (off-site). 

MCA has a list price of $7,500 + $125 for the application fee. It’s a lot of money for something most customers don’t yet have awareness for. For more details on MCA and what it requires, see here.

SPC 2012 in Las Vegas

I don’t think anyone had even a glimmer of hope to learn anything about SharePoint vNext during SPC 2011. It came as no surprise that the next SharePoint Conference will be held in 2012, from November 12th to 16th. I reckon this is close enough for a public beta of SharePoint vNext to be available near the end of 2012. Once again I’m simply extrapolating from the information floating around online and don’t have any hard facts to back this.

Why SPC 11 then?

I’ve been wondering why Microsoft decided to organize SharePoint Conference this time of the year, and why not simply wait until 2012 to announce something new and fresh. Sometimes I can’t escape the feeling that SharePoint 2010, as we know it by now, has been around for almost two years if you include all the beta bits and SPC 09. For us IT Pro’s and developers this is a long time and secretly I was hoping to hear or see something more solid on the future roadmap of Office 365, Azure or SharePoint in general. I guess the next opportunity to see new and shiny things is around November for the Office 365 service update, and then during Visual Studio vNext launch later in 2012.

It seems Office 365 doesn’t play that big of a part during the conference. The lack of deep dive technical Office 365 sessions is also a bit of a mystery, since one would think that moving to the cloud and have everyone deploy solutions based on SharePoint Online and Azure would be a priority by now.

All in all, reflecting day 1 of SPC 11 it’s been better than TechEd North America this year, and definitely better than TechEd Europe in late 2010. Looking at the upcoming sessions for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I’m confident I’m leaving with a lot of new ideas and stuff to work on.

Back from holidays–things worth reading

In Finland, regular folks like myself are often granted with 30 days of holiday time between winter and summer. Being a small business owner I’m often hesitant to stay disconnected and out of the loop for 5 weeks in a row. To me, personally, it feels like losing your grip and becoming a mindless drone. This year I was able to do two weeks, and I’m still planning to do a quick one week getaway later in August.

So, to get back on track with the SharePoint scene here’s a collection of articles and interesting reads you should have look, if you missed any of these during the hot and sunny beach days.


  • SharePoint 2010 and Windows Phone 7 Training Kit
  • SharePoint and Windows Azure Development Kit
  • Office 365 Developer Training Kit – June 2011 Update
  • Developing for performance by Tobias Zimmergren
  • Continuous Integration (part 1)
  • WebTemplate training material

IT Pro

    • Profile Synchronization Guide for SharePoint 2010
    • Database Maintenance for SharePoint
    • Debug Diagnostic Tool v1.2
    • SharePoint 2010 Governance and Life Cycle Management
    • Office 365 Guides for professionals and small businesses
    • Best practices for publishing sites
    • Best practices for SQL Server 2008 in SharePoint 2010
    • Scale out collaboration sites (beyond 200 GB with BLOB)
    • Best practices for My Sites
    • Office 365 jumpstart videos

    That should keep me busy for the next few days!

    Moving from on-premises Exchange 2010 to cross-premises Exchange with Office 365 (Part 1)

    Office 365 is finally out of beta and ready for primetime! The question we think is one of the more important ones is this:

    How do we, as a company, move from 100% on-premises Exchange to a cross-premises (hybrid) Exchange setup with Office 365? Not necessarily “all-in” but rather through a pilot (over time) or a permanent hybrid setup without disrupting the status quo.

    In this post we’ll explore the preliminary steps you need to take in order to smoothly transition Exchange services from a full on-premises deployment to a cross-premises model.

    Note: Hybrid deployment requires an Office 365 Plan E – it does not work with the P (Professional) plan. See plans here.

    Assess current infrastructure

    Most IT organizations know fairly well what they have running in their networks at the moment. They are also painfully aware of the pain points. There might be legacy servers and services, homebrew workstations acting as servers and lost or forgotten file shares.

    The assessment is not about fixing everything – it’s about realizing if you are even ready to move beyond on-premises. Assess first, fix what you can and move forward.

    The Office 365 Deployment Readiness Tool is an assessment tool you can run on a Windows 7 workstation joined to your Active Directory domain. You need to run the tool once per AD forest.

    During initial run, C:office365reskit –folder is were the results are saved.


    The Deployment Readiness Tool tries to determine and extract the following information about your environment:

    • AD structure (forests, trusts, domains, schema etc)
    • Exchange setup (email domains, public folders, delegates etc)
    • Networks (gateways, IP configuration)

    In addition several checks for prerequisites in case you are planning a hybrid/coexistence setup with Office 365:

    • Directory Synchronization (AD <> MS Online)
    • Single sign-on (SSO)
    • Lync Online, SharePoint Online and Exchange Online statistics

    The generated report is somewhat conclusive. In our (single forest, small environment) infrastructure the following information was gathered:

    • Email domains: 21 (I know, we love UPN suffixes)
    • Primary email domains: 13 (what? who owns the other 12?)
    • Total number of users: 115 (a lot of service accounts)
    • Total number of groups: 71 (and we love groups!)
    • Estimated objects for AD synchronization: 187
    • No AD trusts
    • Forest schema level: Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Exchange schema level: Exchange Server 2010 SP1
    • Domain functionality: Windows Server 2003
    • Forest functionality: Windows Server 2003
    • Domain Controller functionality: Windows Server 2008 R2

    The verdict based on these findings is good: Our domain and infrastructure is prepared for Exchange Rich Coexistence. Still a bit miffed about that domain functionality level though.

    A lot of additional checks are also captured in the report. Here’s a few:

    • Estimate of computer operating systems ready for Office 365: 8
    • Current SIP domains: 1
    • Exchange servers: 1

    In a nutshell this means we can deploy a hybrid environment, where we employ whatever services from Exchange Online (via Office 365) while we still retain our existing Exchange 2010. Why keep both? Several reasons spring to mind:

    • We can test upcoming service packs faster than Office 365 would probably roll them out
    • We still ‘own’ the mailboxes, even if we decide to move away Office 365 in the future
    • We can control and manage Outlook Web Access, if needed
    • We can decide how mail is routed – for example, by enforcing our custom rules for any outgoing email, even for mailboxes residing in the cloud

    Design your model

    Armed with this information you can now design your future Exchange deployment model with the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant:


    You can choose between three models:

    1. On-Premises only
    2. Coexistence (On-Prem + Cloud)
    3. Cloud only

    I’ll skip #1 (On-Premises only), since that’s what majority of companies already have. 

    When you choose #2 (Coexistence), you can now design your model:

    • Current Exchange version: 2003, 2007 or 2010
      • For illustrative purposes I’ll select Exchange 2010
    • Next, several options to choose from:
      • Do you want the ability to use on-premises credentials everywhere?
      • Do you want a shared email address base ( for everyone, both on-prem and cloud)?
      • Do you want to route email from the cloud through your on-premises Exchange?
      • Do you want to share free/busy and calendars between on-prem and cloud?
      • Do you want to use a single URL for all email needs (OWA and Outlook Anywhere)?

    If you answer yes to all, you’ll get a list of action points to complete:


    In essence, this scenario and deployment model requires your organization to set up the following:

    • Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 (ADFS) for identity federation
    • Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 Proxy (ADFS Proxy) for added security
    • Directory Synchronization (DirSync)  for synchronizing AD user accounts to the cloud
    • Connect current Exchange 2010 management tools to Office 365
    • Additional items such as:
      • Outlook Web Access configuration
      • DNS changes
      • Mail flow

    Also, verify that your current infrastructure can meet the prerequisites:

    • 1 or more ADFS servers
    • 1 or more ADFS proxy servers
    • 1 DirSync server (has to be 32-bit for now)
    • Exchange Coexistence requirements

    For piloting purposes you can virtualize most, if not all of these services.

    You are now ready to start building your pilot implementation for a rich coexistence scenario. More on that in part 2.