Partner Technical Services Blog

A worldwide group of consultants who focus on helping Microsoft Partners succeed throughout the business cycle.

November, 2013

  • Office 365 New Features for October 2013

    As Microsoft has transitioned from a company that releases products every three years to a Devices and Services company that releases features and updates on a regular basis, it is becoming more important for Partners to stay on top of what is available in the current release of Office 365.  

    To help stay on top of the latest releases, the Partner Technical Services team will be releasing a monthly recap of the features that were released in the previous month.  The first video is embedded below, and a link to the announcements follows.

    “But Sean!” (I hear you thinking)… “you are releasing the “New Features for October” video at the end of November!”.  You are correct… it took longer than planned to connect the dots and make this happen.  Future updates will be more timely.

    Note: If you want to skip the introduction where we discuss the release history and cadence, the feature update starts at 5:50 in the video below.

    To stay completely up-to-date on the latest announcements, make sure to visit the Office 365 Message Center. This is where tenant-specific announcements or items requiring administrative action will be posted.  The following blogs are where the product teams will release announcements about new features:

    Technology-Specific Blogs

    October Announcement Recap

    Go-Daddy Integration

    While signing-up for Office 365, customers now have an option to either sign-up & purchase new domain via Go-Daddy from within Office 365 or change their MX records in Go Daddy - all from within the Office 365 admin page. While customers require login credentials of Go Daddy they can use a much simpler interface from within Office 365 to sign-in and purchase/change their domain information.

    OneNote for Android 2.2

    The update for OneNote for Android is now available as of October 2013.

    Exchange Online Mailbox Size Increase

    The size of user mailboxes Exchange Online and Office 365 multi-tenant service plans are doubling. This means that the current standard 25 GB user mailbox will now include 50 GB of mailbox storage. Shared Mailboxes and Resources Mailboxes are both more than doubling those to 10 GB each. Kiosk user mailboxes will increase from 1 GB to 2 GB. Site Mailboxes remain unchanged, as do all Office 365 dedicated mailboxes.

    Folder Permissions and Calendar Delegation in Outlook Web App

    You can now configure folder and calendar permissions in Outlook Web App to give delegates access to your inbox, calendar, and other folders.  This is particularly useful if you need someone like an admin to manage your inbox or calendar while you’re out of the office.

    Members Can Share

    Members of a site can share documents and the site itself without having to approve them through the site collection owner. When the site owner allows members to share on the site, anyone with at least Editor permissions on a document will be able to share the document, and any user in the default Members Group for the site will be able to share the site. (Office.com video)

    SkyDrive Pro for iOS v1.1

    Microsoft is adding two new capabilities to the existing SkyDrive Pro for iOS app:

    1. Integration with the Office Mobile for iPhone app (on iPhone) and Office Web Apps (on iPad) for editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents while maintaining file integrity in-place in SharePoint Online.
    2. Integration with the OneNote app for viewing and editing notebooks. OneNote apps, as of this month, support Office 365. This new feature enables mobile editing of OneNote files stored in SkyDrive Pro

    Content Search Web Part

    It is now possible to enable a core web part previously only available on-premises - for dynamic publishing to showcase specific content based on a predefined search query.

    The Content Search Web Part (CSWP) uses SharePoint enterprise search technology to display dynamic results on a page. When you browse to a page that contains a CSWP, you're actually issuing a query. What’s different with CSWPs is that instead of you entering query terms in a search box, the query is contained within the web part itself. This means that when you browse to a page that contains a CSWP, a query is automatically issued.

    Lync Mobile Updates for Windows Phone and iOS

    The Lync team has released some new exciting features for Windows Phone and iOS Lync Mobile clients:

    • Join a meeting even if you don’t have a Lync account – Anonymous Join
    • Support for certification and passive authentication
    • View more information about meeting participants
    • Pin a contact to your home screen for quick communication (only for WP)
    • Easily start a conversation with a group (IM and Video)

    SharePoint & Yammer Integration: POST & Search

    • Ability to start a document conversation from any SP document library in Yammer (new "POST" button next to EDIT & SHARE)
    • New "Search on Yammer" link in the SP search center will pass the query string in Yammer

    Power BI PREVIEW for Office 365

    At WPC we publically disclosed a new offering - Power BI for Office 365. Power BI provides users with a complete Self Service BI solution for all users through the familiar and intuitive BI capabilities in Excel and ease of deployment through Office 365. This new BI offering will enable users to:

    Discover, Analyze, and Visualize with Excel

    Collaborate and Stay Connected – share insights, find answers, and stay connected from anywhere and on any device. Power BI for Office 365 enables users to quickly create Power BI Sites, BI workspaces for users to share and view larger workbooks of up to 250MB, refresh report data, maintain data views for others and track who is accessing them, and easily find the answers they need with natural language query. Users can also stay connected to their reports in Office 365 from any device with HTML5 support for Power View reports and through a new Power BI mobile app for Windows.

    In the Cloud, on Your Terms – extend your existing systems with a turn-key BI solution running in Microsoft’s cloud, enterprise grade and secure. Power BI for Office 365 enables new capabilities for IT to help enable users and ensuring a smooth running system. First, through the Data Management Gateway, IT can enable on-premises data access for all reports published into Power BI so that users have the latest data. IT can also enable enterprise data search across their organization, making it easier for users to discover the data they need. The system also monitors data usage across the organization, providing IT with the information they need to understand manage the system overall.

    Power BI Mobile App

    A new visualization app for Office that will help visualize graphs and data residing in an Excel workbook is now available in the Windows Store. The user will be able to navigate through the data with multiple views and ability to zoom in and out at different levels. This app will be first available for Windows 8, Windows RT, and Surface devices through the Windows Store and specifically for those customers using the Power BI for Office 365 Preview. It will provide touch optimized access to BI reports and models stored in Office 365.

    Apps for Office - Seller Dashboard Enhancements

    Enhancements to Apps for Office Seller Dashboard - enabling subscription pricing for Apps for Office & SharePoint.

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    Whew! That’s a lot!  The links above will take you to the blog post announcing the future.  If you’d like to see a short 5-10 minute video on how to plan for and configure any of the above features, let me know at firstname.lastname@microsoft.com (substitute my actual first and last name) and I’ll add that topic to our queue of videos to release.

    As always, if you are a Microsoft Partner and need technical assistance in planning for, selling, or deploying Microsoft technologies, visit us at https://mspartner.microsoft.com/en/us/Pages/Support/technical-presales-and-advisory-services.aspx

  • Troubleshoot Lync Online Sign-in Issues

    Another day, another awesome support troubleshooter from our experts on the Office 365 Support team.  If your users are having trouble signing into Lync Online, head over to the: Lync Online Sign-in Guided Walkthrough at http://aka.ms/LyncSignIn.

    On December 3rd, we will also be hosting an Office 365 Support Webcast to discuss how the troubleshooter works.  Come prepared to ask questions of Darrin Hanson, the presenter for the session.

    Office 365 Support Webcast - Lync Sign-in

    To sign up for this support webcast please download and save the attached calendar invite below where you will find the Webcast Meeting information.

    Office 365 Support Webcasts are a critical program for relieving support issues and encouraging foundation technical readiness. The Support Webcasts are online sessions led by Microsoft Office 365 Support staff. The series is support focused and engineers should try to highlight the top issues and their resolution around the topic they pick. Sessions will consist of a mix of demos, live Q&A and slides. View the Ignite Site for more information about Ignite programs and webcasts. Be sure to see upcoming Office 365 Support Webcasts on the Ignite Events Page.

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    We are excited to announce our upcoming Office 365 support webcast. In this session we will cover Lync Sign-in. The Lync Online Sign-in Guided walkthrough (http://aka.ms/LyncSignIn) offers admins a customized approach to solving Lync Online sign-in issues. The walkthrough is based on a detailed analysis of Microsoft Support cases over the last nine months. The walkthrough will guide you through troubleshooting and configuration questions that are specific to your situation. Basic issues are covered including network setup and client versions, as well as more complex tasks such as DNS settings for a hybrid deployment setup.

    This webcast will be led by Darrin Hanson. Darrin is a Business Program Manager at Microsoft. This is a great opportunity to join a discussion with our Microsoft presenters. Bring your questions!

    Remember, to sign up for this webcast please download and save the attached calendar invite below. We are excited to see you there!

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Presenter: Darrin Hanson - Business Program Manager at Microsoft

    Date/Time: December 3rd at 9:00 AM Pacific Time. (1 Hour presentation)

    Live Meeting Information:
    .........................................................................................................................................
    Join online meeting
    https://join.microsoft.com/meet/v-joshto/F00T8BQY
    Join by Phone 
    +14257063500 
    +18883203585 
    Find a local number
    Conference ID: 27579341 
    Forgot your dial-in PIN? | First online meeting?

  • Windows Azure Storage Analytics

    Windows Azure Storage Analytics generates logs to trace requests, analyze usage trends. Storage Analytics logs contain detailed information for authenticated requests and successful anonymous requests to a storage service. Logs are stored in block blobs in a container named $logs which is automatically created when you enable analytics on a given storage account.

    It is very useful to enable Storage analytics to diagnose issues with storage accounts.  In this brief video we will show you how to get started with Storage Analytics:

    Links:

    Storage Analytics http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/hh343270.aspx

    Storage Analytics Billing: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/hh360997.aspx

    Storage Analytics Log Format: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/hh343259.aspx

    Azure Storage Explorer(Preview 5.1) http://azurestorageexplorer.codeplex.com/releases/view/89713

    Storage Analytics Logging - How to Enable and Where to Find the logs. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/cie/archive/2013/10/10/storage-analytics-logging-how-to-enable-and-where-to-find-the-logs.aspx This link has the attachment for the Analytics.xlsx file referenced in the demo.

  • Check out these Upcoming and On Demand Jump Starts!

    What better time to take in some training while things slow down over the holidays?

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    December 3: Mission Critical Performance with SQL Server 2014

    SQL Server pros, learn how, using your existing hardware, SQL Server 2014 can help you improve performance speed by 10-30 times.  And you’ll improve reliability at the same time. Get in on a technical preview of the new Mission Critical features of SQL Server 2014, led by the team of Microsoft experts who own the features. 

    December 4: Platform for Hybrid Cloud with SQL Server 2014

    IT Pros, register for this Jump Start to learn about the benefits of moving your organization to the cloud, and how that can provide cost benefits at the same time as increasing scale and flexibility. Microsoft experts will show you how you can make that move one step at a time, using SQL Server 2014 to create a hybrid environment.

    December 5: Introduction to C++ / DirectX Game Development

    Have you always wanted to develop a game? Here’s your chance to learn how to create games from the ground up, using C++ and DirectX. Learn about the game loop, input detection, applying basic shaders, state management, and more. With these skills you’ll be building the engine, not just the game!

    December 6: Porting Unity games to Windows 8.1 & Windows Phone

    Unity game developers, don’t miss this opportunity to learn to increase your income and your customer-base by bringing your existing Unity game to the Windows and Windows Phone platforms -- for free! Discover how to customize your app easily to take advantage of the built-in Windows 8.1 features. If you already have a Unity game in another store and you want to increase downloads/revenue by adding it to the Windows stores, this is where you’ll learn how to do it.

    December 9: Windows 8.1 UX Design

    App designers, here’s your chance to showcase your existing skills, express your brand, and make your app discoverable beyond the store—to millions of people. Create Windows Store apps for Windows 8.1, give Windows users a unique experience that still feels familiar, and explore customizable experiences with windowing.

    On-Demand: What’s New in Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals
    Is your organization using Windows XP or Windows 7? Learn how you can fast-track your organization to a more productive Windows 8.1 enterprise desktop environment by offering new possibilities for mobile productivity, secure IT, and easy-to-manage infrastructure.

    On-Demand: Windows Server 2012 Courses

    New courses from MVA will help you understand the capabilities of Windows Server 2012 R2 and how you can put them to use in your data center. See all of the Windows Server 2012 courses on MVA and sort to find the Most Recent.

    As always, you can go to the main Microsoft Virtual Academy to take a look at the entire list of training here: http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/

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  • Office 365 Mail Flow Guided Troubleshooter

    Several of the top Office 365 support issues that we see coming through support relate to mail flow.  As we discussed in this previous post, there are a number of factors (on both the sending and receiving end) that could contribute to slow e-mail delivery, e-mails that are not received, e-mails that remain in the Outbox, etc.

    Our support team has made it easy to allow Exchange Online and on-premises administrators diagnose mail flow issues for their users.

    To start troubleshooting mail flow issues in Office 365, go to the Office 365 mail flow guided walkthrough:

    http://support.microsoft.com/common/survey.aspx?scid=sw;en;3568&showpage=1

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  • Capturing Snapshot in Windows 8.1 Store App

    One of our Partner Solution Consultants, Jazzen Chen, put together a very nice posting on capturing snapshots in Windows 8.1 Store Apps.  Below is a snip from the blog as well as a link to the full posting:

    During development in Windows Store App, to capture a snapshot is one of the most common requests developers will face with. By the API restrictions in previous WinRT, there was no way for a Windows Store App to capture screenshots, neither XAML nor JavaScript could do this. But in Window 8.1 Apps, we could take the advantage of the following new feature/ API to reverse the outdated situation:

    Rendering the XAML tree to a bitmap

    WebView for JavaScirpt

    I will go through these two updates with simplified code snippet in the following paragraphs…

    Link to full Post

  • UX Design Jump Start

    If you are building an app for Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, or a web browser, the design of your app will be critical to its success.  To help you get started the Microsoft Virtual Academy team is bringing you a Jump start on December 9th: Windows 8.1 UX Design Jump Start.

    App designers, here’s your chance to showcase your existing skills, express your brand, and make your app discoverable beyond the store—to millions of people. Create Windows Store apps for Windows 8.1, give Windows users a unique experience that still feels familiar, and explore customizable experiences with windowing.

    Course Outline

    • Designing User Experiences for Windows
    • Less Is More
    • UI Controls, Navigation, and Layout
    • Windowing, Search, and Share
    • Contacts and Appointments
    • Start, Tiles, Notifications, and Lock Screen
    • The Windows Store
    • Great Windows Store Apps

    When: December 9 & 10

    Time: 9:00am - 5:00pm PST

    Where: Online

    Cost: FREE

    Audience: Designers

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  • How to ignore Self Signed Certificate errors in Windows Store apps (8.1)

    For developers there is a rare occasion where ignoring Certificate errors is needed during the development of a new project.  One of our experts, Jeff Sanders, has put together a short video blog that shows how to do this in Windows 8.1 apps.

    There are some very limited times you need to ignore Server Certificate errors.  In fact the dangers of doing this are published here: The most dangerous code in the world: validating SSL certificates in non-browser software.  Up until Windows 8.1 you could not do this in Windows Store apps with our HTTP classes.  Now you can do this in .NET, C++ and JavaScript Windows Store apps!

  • Windows Store Apps - Using Notifications

    If you’ve used Windows 8 for any amount of time, no doubt you’ve seen the Notifications that pop up.  Perhaps it is for a weather alert, a breaking news story, or an urgent message, we’ve all seen these:

    Have you wondered how to implement them quickly?  As a partner, maybe you want to add them into a demo or proof of concept for an app you are designing.  Whatever the reason, using and implementing notifications is easy.  One of our Partner Solution Consultants, Gaurav Sharma, has put together this short video that briefly explains the different kind of notifications and then gives a details demo on how to implement them in your Windows Store application by leveraging Azure Mobile Services.

    If you have 20 minutes, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

    http://youtu.be/wppITII3-Pw

  • Windows Phone for Enterprise Developers

    Our friends over at the Inside Windows Phone team posted a blog last week that we'd encourage partners to spend 12 minutes with.  it is a nice introduction into how Windows Phone (and Windows 8) apps can fit in Enterprise (and most all) customer scenarios.  If your customers are asking questions or you just want to know more, this is a great use of your time.

    Here are links to some resources that go more in depth on the topics discussed in the video.

    The Windows Phone for "Business" page

    From Tech Ed North America 2014

    From the official developer documentation

    Original Post: http://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Inside+Windows+Phone/IWP66-Windows-Phone-for-Enterprise-Developers

  • Windows Azure Sales Training

    We have two exciting training webcast opportunities coming up for our partners:

    Azure @ Your Doorstep – Partner Sales Training for Windows Azure

    The training will be two separate hours.  For full details, including signup information, head over to the Partner Yammer community:

    https://www.yammer.com/msuspartner/#/Threads/show?threadId=340666344

    or check out the Partner Support Community posting:

     http://partnersupport.microsoft.com/en-us/mpnonline/forum/mpnolazure-mpnolwinazure/windows-azure-sales-training/d2f67fc6-f3c9-4cdb-a61a-cd3f8701e475?tm=1384184425924

  • Plan Your Migration to Windows 8.1 with Ed Bott and the Windows Team (Full day online seminar at no cost to you)

    By Matthew Calder

    Join our next Jump Start free online training event on November 14, featuring well known author Ed Bott and members of the Microsoft Windows team, who will show you how to migrate your organization from Windows XP or Windows 7 to Windows 8.1.
    You’ll find out about the new possibilities for mobile productivity, secure IT,and easy-to-manage infrastructure.

    What’s New in Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals Jump Start

    Date: November 14, 2013

    Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm

    Where: Live, online
    virtual classroom


    Cost: Free!

    Register now

    You can download Ed Bott’s book Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals to start charting your upgrade path and get your questions ready to be answered by our experts live on November 14.

    View this post online.

  • Support Chalk Talk - Enterprise Mobile Device Management Implementation Common Issues

    Just a reminder that there is still space available in this talk that is happening next week. 

    We’re pleased to announce the opening of registration for another Support Chalk talk.  This month, Eric Fleck, from our Windows Store Developer Support team will spend some time giving you some tips and tricks around Enterprise Mobile Device Management.

    Description

    The Windows Phone 8 Enterprise device management protocol documentation defines the processes which a Windows Phone 8 device will use to enroll and communicate with a device management service.  In this talk we will be discussing diagnostic techniques to help developers identify common problems when writing a service which implements this protocol.  Some topics we will cover are options for capturing network traces, analyzing XML payloads, and extracting encoded data. The demonstrations will only cover a portion of the time so there should be plenty of time to ask questions.

    WHAT: Enterprise Mobile Device Management Implementation Common Issues

    WHEN: November 13, 2013 11am-1pm PST

    WHERE: Online Meeting

    REGISTRATION: email Wsdsctreg@microsoft.com with the subject “November 13th Chalk Talk”.  Meeting confirmation and logistics will be sent individually.

    COST: Free

    Hurry, space is limited to allow for interactive discussion!  Please come prepared with your questions.

  • Migrating File Shares to SharePoint Online

    (Post courtesy Partner Solution Consultant Andre Kieft)

    It has been a while since I created a blog post, but recently I received a lot of questions and requests for advice on how to migrate file shares to SharePoint and use SkyDrive Pro (SDP). So I figured to create a blog post with the things you need to consider as a Small and Medium Business (SMB) partner when you are planning to migrate file share content into SharePoint and want to make use of SDP for synchronizing the SharePoint content offline.

    Note: that these steps are both valid for SharePoint 2013 on-premises (on-prem) and SharePoint Online (SPO).

    Step 1 – Analyze your File Shares

    As a first step, try to understand the data that resides on the file shares. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What is the total size of the file share data that the customer wants to migrate?
    • How many files are there in total?
    • What are the largest file sizes?
    • How deep are the folder structures nested?
    • Is there any content that is not being used anymore?
    • What file types are there?

    Let me try to explain why you should ask yourself these questions.

    Total Size

    If the total size of the file shares are more that the storage capacity that you have on SharePoint, you need to buy additional storage (SPO) or increase your disk capacity (on-prem). To determine how much storage you will have in SPO, please check the Total available tenant storage in the tables in this article. Another issues that may arise is that in SharePoint is that you reach the capacity per site collection. For SPO that is 100 Gigabyte, for on-premises the recommended size per site collection is around 200 Gigabyte. This would automatically mean that the content database is around 200 Gigabyte, which is the recommended size. Thought you can stretch this number up in on-prem, it is not recommended.

    So, what should I do when my customer has more than 100 Gigabyte?

    • Try to divide the file share content over multiple site collections when it concerns content which needs to be shared with others.
    • If certain content is just for personal use, try to migrate that specific content into the personal site of the user.

    How Many Files

    The total amount of files on the file shares is important as there are some limits in both SharePoint as well as SDP that can result in an unusable state of the library or list within SharePoint but you also might end up with missing files when using the SDP client.

    First, in SPO we have a fixed limit of 5000 items per view, folder or query. Reasoning behind this 5000 limit boils all the way down to how SQL works under the hood. If you would like to know more about it, please read this article. In on-prem there is a way to boost this up, but it is not something we recommend as the performance can significantly decrease when you increase this limit.

    Secondly for SDP there is also a 5000 limit for synchronizing team sites and 20000 for synchronizing personal sites. This means that if you have a document library that contains more that 5000 items, the rest of the items will not be synchronized locally.

    There is also a limit of 5 million items within a document library, but I guess that most customer in SMB won’t reach that limit very easily.

    So, what should I do if my data that I want to migrate to a document library contains more than 5000 items in one folder?

    • Try to divide that amount over multiple subfolders or create additional views that will limit the amount of documents displayed.

    But wait! If I already have 5000 items in one folder, doesn’t that mean that the rest of the other document won’t get synchronized when I use SDP?

    Yes, that is correct. So if you would like to use SDP to synchronize document offline, make sure that the total amount of documents per library in a team site, does not exceed 5000 documents in total.

    So, how do I fix that?

    • Look at the folder structure of the file share content and see if you can divide that data across multiple sites and/or libraries. So if there is a folder marketing for example, it might make more sense to migrate that data into a separate site anyway, as this department probably wants to store additional information besides just documents (e.g. calendar, general info about the marketing team, site mailbox etc). An additional benefit of spreading the data over multiple sites/libraries is that it will give the SDP users more granularity about what data they can take offline using SDP. If you would migrate everything into one big document library (not recommended), it would mean that all users will need to synchronize everything which can have a severe impact on your network bandwidth.

    Largest File Sizes

    Another limit that exists in SPO and on-prem is the maximum file size. For both the maximum size per file is 2 Gigabyte. In on-prem the default is 250 MB, but can be increased to a maximum of 2 Gigabyte.

    So, what if I have files that exceed this size?

    • Well, it won’t fit in SharePoint, so you can’t migrate these. So, see what type of files they are and determine what they are used for in the organization. Examples could be software distribution images, large media files, training courses or other materials. If these are still being used and not highly confidential, it is not a bad thing to keep these on alternative storage like a SAN, NAS or DVDs. If it concerns data that just needs to be kept for legal reasons and don’t require to be retrieved instantly, you might just put these on DVD or an external hard drive and store them in a safe for example.

    Folder Structures

    Another important aspect to look at on your file shares is the depth of nested folders and file length. The recommended total length of a URL in SharePoint is around 260 characters. You would think that 260 characters is pretty lengthy, but remember that URLs in SharePoint often has encoding applied to it, which takes up additional space. E.g. a space is one character but in Unicode this a %20, which takes up three characters. The problem is that you can run into issues when the URL becomes to large. More details about the exact limits can be found here, but as a best practice try to keep the URL length of a document under 260 characters.

    So, what if I have files that will have more than 260 characters in total URL length?

    • Make sure you keep your site URLs short (the site title name can be long though). E.g. don’t call the URL Human Resources, but call it HR. If you land on the site, you would still see the full name Human Resources as Site Title and URL are separate things in SharePoint.
    • Shorten the document name (e.g. strip of …v.1.2, or …modified by Andre), as SharePoint has versioning build in. More information about versioning can be found here.

    Idle Content

    When migrating file shares into SharePoint is often also a good momentum to clean up some of the information that the organization has been collecting over the years. If you find there is a lot of content which is not been accessed for a couple of years, what would be the point of migrating that data it to SharePoint?

    So, what should I do when I come across such content?

    • Discuss this with the customer and determine if it is really necessary to keep this data.
    • If the data cannot be purged, you might consider storing it on a DVD or external hard drive and keep it in a safe.
    • If the content has multiple versions, such as proposal 1.0.docx, proposal 1.1.docx, proposal final.docx, proposal modified by Andre.docx, you might consider just moving the latest version instead of migrating them all. This manual process might be time consuming, but can safe you lots of storage space in SharePoint. Versioning is also something that is build into the SharePoint system and is optimized to store multiple versions of the same document. For example, SharePoint only stores the delta of the next version, saving more storage space that way. Note that this functionality is only available in SharePoint on-prem.

    Types of Files

    Determine what kind of files the customer is having. Are they mainly Office documents? If so, then SharePoint is the best place to store such content. However, if you come across developers code for example, it is not a good idea to move that into SharePoint. There are also other file extensions that are not allowed in SPO and/or on-prem. A complete list of blocked file types for both SPO and on-prem can be found here.

    So, what if I come across such file extensions?

    • Well, you can’t move them into SharePoint, so you should either ask yourself, do I still need these files? And if so, is there an alternative storage facility such as a NAS, I can store these files on? If it concerns developer code, you might want to store such code on a Team Foundation Service Server instead.

    Tools for analyzing and fixing file share data

    In order to determine if you have large files or exceed the 5000 limit for example, you need to have some kind of tooling. There are a couple of approaches here.

    • First off, there is a PowerShell script that has been pimped up by a German colleague Hans Brender, which checks for blocked file types, bad characters in files and folders and finally for the maximum URL length. The script will even allow you to fix invalid characters and file extensions for you. It is a great script, but requires you to have some knowledge about PowerShell. Another alternative I was pointed at is a tool called SharePrep. This tool does a scan for URL length and invalid characters.
    • Secondly there are other 3rd party tools that can do a scan of your file share content such as Treesize. However such tools do not necessarily check for the SharePoint limitations we talked about in the earlier paragraphs, but at least they will give you a lot more insight about the size of the file share content.
    • Finally there are actual 3rd party migration tools that will move the file share content into SharePoint, but will check for invalid characters, extensions and URL length upfront. We will dig into these tools in Step 2 – Migrating your data.

    Step 2 – Migrating your data

    So, now that we have analyzed our file share content, it is time to move them into SharePoint. There are a couple of approaches here.

    Open with Explorer

    If you are in a document library you can open up the library in the Windows Explorer. That way you can just do a copy and paste from the files into SharePoint.

    image

    But, there are some drawbacks using this scenario. First of all, I’ve seen lots of issues trying to open up the library in the Windows Explorer. Secondly, the technology that is used for copying the data into SharePoint is not very reliable, so keep that in mind when copying larger chunks of data. Finally there is also drag & drop you can use, but this is only limited to files (no folders) and only does a maximum of 100 files per drag. So this would mean if you have 1000 files, you need to drag them 10 times in 10 chunks. More information can be found in this article. Checking for invalid characters, extensions and URL length upfront are also not addressed when using the Open with Explorer method.

    Pros: Free, easy to use, works fine for smaller amounts of data

    Cons: Not always reliable, no metadata preservations, no detection upfront for things like invalid characters, file type restrictions, path lengths etc.

    SkyDrive Pro

    You could also use SDP to upload the data into a library. This is fine as long as you don’t sync more than 5000 items per library. Remember though that SDP is not a migration tool, but a sync tool, so it is not optimized for large chunks of data to be copied into SharePoint. Things like character and file type restrictions, path length etc. is on the list of the SDP team to address, but they are currently not there.

    The main drawbacks of using either the Open in Explorer option or using SDP is that when you use these tools, they don’t preserve the metadata of the files and folder that are on the file shares. By this I mean, things like the modified date or owner field are not migrated into SharePoint. The owner will become the user that is copying the data and the modified date will be the timestamp of the when the copy operation was executed. So if this metadata on the files shares is important, don’t use any of the methods mentioned earlier, but use one of the third party tools below.

    Pros: Free, easy to use, works fine for smaller amounts of data (max 5000 per team site library or 20000 per personal site)

    Cons: No metadata preservations, no detection upfront for things like invalid characters, file type restrictions, path lengths etc.

    3rd party tools

    Here are some of the 3rd party tools that will provide additional detection, fixing and migration capabilities that we mentioned earlier:

    (Thx to Raoul for pointing me to additional tools)

    The list above is in random order, where some have a focus on SMB, while other more focused on the enterprise segment. We can’t speak out any preference for one tool or the other, but most of the tools will have a free trial version available, so you can try them out yourself.

    Summary

    So, when should I use what approach?

    Here is a short summary of capabilities:

      Open in Explorer SkyDrive Pro 3rd party
    Amount of data Relatively small No more than 5000 items per library Larger data sets
    Invalid character detection No No Mostly yes1
    URL length detection No No Mostly yes1
    Metadata preservation No No Mostly yes1
    Blocked file types detection No No Mostly yes1

    1This depends on the capabilities of the 3rd party tool.

    Troubleshooting

    SDP gives me issues when synchronizing data
    Please check if you have the latest version of SDP installed. There have been stability issues in earlier released builds of the tool, but most of the issues should be fixed by now. You can check if you are running the latest version, by opening up Word-> File-> Account and click on Update Options-> View Updates. If your current version number is lower than the one you have, click on the Disable Updates button (click yes if prompted), then click Enable updates (click yes if prompted). This will force downloading the latest version of Office and thus the latest version of the SDP tool.

    image

    If you are running the stand-alone version of SDP, make sure you have downloaded the latest version from here.

    Why is the upload taking so long?
    This really depends on a lot of things. It can depend on:

    • The method or tool that is used to upload the data
    • The available bandwidth for uploading the data. Tips:
      • Check your upload speed at http://www.speedtest.net and do a test for your nearest Office 365 data center. This will give you an indication of the maximum upload speed.
      • Often companies have less available upload bandwidth then people at home. If you have the chance, uploading from a home location might be faster.
      • Schedule the upload at times when there is much more bandwidth for uploading the data (usually at night)
      • Test your upload speed upfront by uploading maybe 1% of the data. Multiply it by 100 and you have a rough estimate of the total upload time.
    • The computers used for uploading the data. A slow laptop can become a bottle neck while uploading the data.

    If you feel that there are things missing here, please let me know and I’ll try to add them to this blog post.

  • Real World Windows Azure Guidance

    This week I had a fascinating conversation with a team of people at Microsoft that are dedicated to bringing you some really useful Windows Azure information.  Mostly the kind that is based in reality, not theory.  If you haven’t been over to this page before, check it out. 

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh127475.aspx

    Also, if there is something you’d like to learn more about in a real-world context, please let us know in the comments below or email us: PartnerDevFeedback@microsoft.com.