Tag Archives | Microsoft

Microsoft Cloud Services – We were just having a bad day. Oops, days.

Despite the fact that Microsoft has multiple datacenters located worldwide, with globally redundant, enterprise grade reliability with automatic failover and a strict privacy policy and a 99.9% financially backed Service Level Agreement (SLA), accidents do occur.

Moving to cloud based services is still considered risky, but the benefits seem to be outweighing the cons. But the cons can’t be ignored. Let’s first look at hackers. The increase in hacking is on the rise with nefarious gangs of hackers springing up globally and targeting the largest organizations. Major breaches at Google, Salesforce.com, Twitter, and Amazon have all proven that there are hidden costs and repercussions from compromised data.

But some outages and problems can be directly attributed to carelessness within the organization. Not to pick on Microsoft, February 23, 2013 was not a good day inside the walls of Redmond. First the world wide Azure cloud service went offline due to an expired security certificate. If that wasn’t bad enough, they discovered a malware infection on internal computers (already discovered and fixed by Twitter, Facebook, and Apple) had crept into Microsoft in-house systems. Add to that the continuing woes of security holes in Java. Although Java 7 was supposed to address these holes it appears that they continue.

A week or so later, Microsoft users went through a similar ordeal which mostly affected Hotmail, Outlook.com and SkyDrive — three of Microsoft’s more essential cloud services. The service interruption was caused primarily to Hotmail.com and Outlook.com when they “suffered from a service interruption caused by a firmware update which failed “in an unexpected way”, according to Microsoft’s Vice President Arthur de Haan. The failed firmware update occurred in one of Microsoft’s datacenters, in a “core part” of its physical plant, subsequently leading to a “substantial temperature spike in the datacenter”. The heat was “significant enough” causing the “safeguards to come in to place for a large number of servers in this part of the datacenter”. In that area of the datacenter Microsoft houses “parts of the Hotmail.com, Outlook.com, and SkyDrive infrastructure”.

In a just released update, Office 365/Outlook users and administrators are experiencing transition problems. The ‘fix’ for this supposedly non-disruptive transition is to verify the configuration on every device, which could be extremely cumbersome. Microsoft’s guidelines to Partners state: “In an effort to keep your service upgrade experience as seamless as possible, we suggest that you take a few minutes to validate that your current environment is configured properly. Prior to upgrade it is important that you verify your Autodiscover and MX records in DNS, as well as ensuring that your clients are up-to-date with the versions listed below. Failure to do so could result in your Outlook clients being unable to connect to their mailboxes after the Service Upgrade occurs.”

This isn’t necessarily indicative of Microsoft cloud services, as they are in the same boat as others. Should we just chalk it up to the organization having a few bad days? Or is oversight somewhat lax? Do these types of potential issues impact your decision when selecting a cloud application vendor?

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Successful SharePoint Stories or Tales of Woe?

Recently I read an article, ‘SharePoint Faces a Challenging Future’, posted on InfoWorld that references a new report from Forrester where SharePoint has come under fire as not all it’s cracked up to be. Interesting food for thought. This made me start thinking about ‘real live’ organizations many of which have their own SharePoint success stories to tell (or tales of woe). Just thought the points mentioned were worth thinking about. The article above references a new research report issued in February from Forrester. This report uses data from Forrester’s August 2012 Global SharePoint Usage Online Survey to analyze the current and likely future state of SharePoint adoption in enterprises.

Some of the observations concluded that SharePoint has a long way to go and is at a cross road. I must also emphatically state that it wasn’t all gloom and doom for SharePoint. But we are going to concentrate on the gloom and doom just for the sake of conversation. See if you agree with some of the points made by the authors.

“The gap in satisfaction between IT pros and business managers — SharePoint met the expectations of 73 percent of the former, and of 62 percent of the latter — is of concern, according to the authors.” (I actually don’t think these are necessarily negative stats. One point not made was the maturity level of the SharePoint installations – have they been up and running for years or still in some stage of deployment?)

“Dissatisfaction is centered on several areas, including adoption challenges, a dislike for the SharePoint user experience, a preference for other tools like email and skepticism over its business value.”

“At this juncture, CIOs and other IT executives should rethink the role of SharePoint in their organizations. For example, if SharePoint is used only for document collaboration, it is an expensive proposition for which more affordable options exist, according to the authors. It’s also a good idea to monitor how Yammer is integrated with SharePoint, and assess how comfortable the organization is with providing enterprise social collaboration via a cloud model. In addition, CIOs must keep a close eye on SharePoint’s mobile capabilities.”

“Dangerous competitors include IBM, Google, Jive Software, and Box. Despite its rousing success in enterprises, circumstances have changed, and SharePoint must prove its value all over again.”

So all you SharePoint aficionado’s – WDYT?

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The Public Beta of SharePoint 2013 and Records Management

This blog posting is authored by Mike Alsup, Senior Vice-President at Gimmal. Mr. Alsup has been a leader in Enterprise Content Management and Records Management for more than 30 years. He spent his early career with Accenture and Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He was a co-founder of two successful Content Management companies, BSG Consulting, and Align Solutions, which went public as Luminant Worldwide. At both of these companies, Mr. Alsup led Content Management teams in the development of solutions for a wide variety of clients. (This blog posting has been repurposed from the AIIM Communities which are visible at AIIM.org)

Like many others in the ECM and RM ecosystem who write and speak and consult and build solutions, I have been trying to figure out how to think about the Public Beta of SharePoint 2013. We have had our consultants and architects and product guys crawling through it. I get that it’s a big deal, but what is it? (Note – Some of the SharePoint 2013 strategies and features are still under wraps from an NDA perspective, but others have been described publically in selected forums.) So, a month after the announcement, what and how are we thinking about SharePoint 2013?

It’s gorgeous

The first time I saw a set SharePoint 2013 sites demonstrated, my first impression was how much I liked them, like the first time I held an iPhone. There is a cleanness and freshness to the visual presentation that is remarkable. The integration with other new Office applications, like Outlook and Word and Excel incorporates a new set of features that actually seem new. This sounds like fanboy talk, but I haven’t seen new features this compelling for years. Microsoft makes the point that users are better off not extensively customizing the UI from a support and upgrade perspective. But, this is the first user interface (UI) I’ve seen lately that merits less customizing. Simple is powerful.

It’s really all about the cloud

Microsoft is putting most of SharePoint 2010’s on premises (On Prem) capabilities into the cloud version of SharePoint 2013 (Office 365 (2013)). Not all, but most. It is clear that Office 365 (2013) has precedence going forward. Microsoft is moving down a path to replicate the success that Exchange has had in the cloud in Office 365. I think this also means that we won’t be waiting 36 months for the next generation of SharePoint features because they can be added more incrementally in Office 365.

Some of the fundamental changes in SharePoint 2013 reflect the requirements and complexity of managing a multi-tenant platform. Microsoft is addressing the complexity of current SharePoint applications so that they can more easily scale Office 365 with multi-tenancy. This may require extensive re-architecting for SharePoint applications to adopt the new capabilities of Office 365 (2013). This is because the design approaches that were used to customize business logic in On Prem SharePoint 2010 applications may require alternative design approaches in Office 365 (2013). The web is now the target platform for SharePoint 2013.

It’s a major change for many of the SharePoint ecosystem product providers

There are a lot of infrastructure changes to move applications to SharePoint 2013, especially Office 365 (2013). For example, there was no access to SharePoint Farm-level features in Office 365 (2010) and there probably won’t be in Office 365 (2013) due to the multi-tenancy requirements, among other things. Deploying applications to Office 365 changes many of the core assumptions and approaches that we have been recommending and building in our On Prem SharePoint 2010 solutions. For the ecosystem providers with a significant product history, this will be a bigger change because it may force diverging product lines to be maintained. One product version for Office 365 and another version for On Prem. Also, the new app model is a significant change from how organizations previously deployed and managed applications. Elegant and simple from a user perspective, but very different nonetheless.

It’s an incremental change for users but a major infrastructure change for their organizations

The new features in SharePoint 2013, in both On Prem and in Office 365, are easy to use and intuitive from a user perspective. A user will have an easy transition between sites in the cloud and on-premise, between 2010 and 2013. The challenge in moving users from 2007 or 2010 to 2013 is not in the user experience. This migration will be about as difficult as teaching ducks to swim. The issue will be planning the implementation, figuring out all the infrastructure changes, and migrating SharePoint 2007 and 2010 applications and data to a very different architecture in Office 365. Because of the rich features of Office 365 (2013), organizations will need to consider what their On Prem, cloud and hybrid strategy is really going to be. The information architecture and purpose of each platform needs to be fundamentally evaluated in ways that weren’t relevant before.

It’s a big deal for Records Management

There was essentially no records management in Office 365 (2010). Now, there will be a true Records Center and In Place Records Management in Office 365 (2013). Many of the types of records-centric customizations that were enabled On Prem will probably not allowed in Office 365 (2013). Many SharePoint ecosystem product providers built tools that enabled clients to manage file plans and records disposition and vital records in a scalable way in SharePoint 2010 that will need to be very different in Office 365 (2013). For example, sites in Office 365 (2010) will not be able to “send to” an On Prem Records Center. This is an entirely new area for “Best Practices”!

What does it all mean?

For me, the Public Beta of SharePoint 2013 still begs as many questions as it answers. First, will large organizations adopt Office 365 for records management? Even if the platform is proven and wonderful, the concept of moving business records to the cloud is just foreign to many of our customers. This may change with references and case studies, but this will take time.

Second, the holy grail of records management is unified policy, retention, holds, search and disposition for physical and electronic content and email. SharePoint 2013 adds the new dimension of “in the cloud” and “on premise”. SharePoint 2013 is a significant opportunity for consultants and integrators and migration service providers because it is very powerful and will be widely adopted. Integrating with it will be complex from many legacy platforms and will require a significant investment.

We are searching for and evaluating and architecting solutions that we hope to have completed before SharePoint 2013 is generally available. I will expand on the changes we see from the perspective of a SharePoint ecosystem product provider as we further evaluate the impact on our solutions and as we can share information on some of the remarkable new features and capabilities of SharePoint 2013.


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Concept Searching Selected as Microsoft US Federal Managed Partner

Chosen as One of 20 Partners out of 17,896 for the US Microsoft Federal Partner Group

Concept Searching has been selected as a Microsoft US Federal Managed Partner. Concept Searching is a Microsoft Gold Certified ISV and this status illustrates our joint commitment. Concept Searching has also attained Microsoft Silver ISV Competency in Search, Portals and Collaboration, and Content Management under the revised and stringent Microsoft Partner Network.

This managed program identifies Microsoft partners who have achieved certain goals, and is designed to help partners expand their business and their relationship with Microsoft. Organizations that are accepted as managed partners are provided with dedicated Partner Account Managers, who are committed to helping the partners achieve their objectives. The qualifications for program selection are based on having partners who provide unique software solutions, have an established reputation in the Federal space, and have a flagship product on the Microsoft platform.

To read the press release, click here.

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conceptClassifier for SharePoint – The Optimal Solution for Leveraging SharePoint to Manage Unstructured Content Whitepaper

Concept Searching has published a new white paper on Microsoft SharePoint. The purpose of this white paper is to provide a broad overview of conceptClassifier for SharePoint and the key functionality available in the product that is still unique in the industry, and to explain why it is the optimal choice for managing unstructured content in SharePoint 2010. This paper explores the uses of conceptClassifier for SharePoint and how it is being used by Concept Searching clients as an information governance solution in SharePoint, which addresses search, records management, compliance, data privacy, intelligent migration, and Enterprise 2.0.

Read conceptClassifier for SharePoint – The Optimal Solution for Leveraging SharePoint to Manage Unstructured Content

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De-mystifying Content Types Four Key Content Types to Leverage

Learn more about content types, what they can do and how to implement them across your SharePoint environment. Project Performance Corporation (PPC) covered four key content types and Concept Searching discusses automatic tagging and workflow using content types. Click here to view the webinar and here to review the slide deck.

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Microsoft Snackbite on Academy Live

Concept Searching’s is  Microsoft’s only managed partner in the taxonomy and auto-classification space. CTO, John Challis joins Microsoft to discuss Concept Searching’s conceptTaxonomyWorkflow and its applicability to SharePoint in this Snackbite on Academy Live. The Snackbite can be accessed here.

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DocPoint Solutions Enters in Partnership Agreement with Concept Searching

DocPoint Solutions, Inc., a subsidiary of Quality Associates, Inc. that specializes in implementing, training and supporting Microsoft® SharePoint® and its integrated suite of products, today announced that it has entered into a partnership agreement with Concept Searching, a software provider specializing in metadata generation, search, classification and taxonomy management. The arrangement brings together DocPoint Solutions’ expertise in designing content and information management solutions using the SharePoint platform and the only Microsoft Managed Partner within the SharePoint environment delivering taxonomy management and auto-classification. Both firms anticipate significant business opportunities arising from their joint capabilities, especially in the federal sector.

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