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Here’s another great video from Steve ‘Planky’ Plank about how a company is benefiting massively from the implementation of Windows Azure. It’s quite a different story to the one from Retail Manager Solutions we brought you earlier in the week, focusing on a public-facing system.
At The Races were running a high-volume website in the UK that was characterized by very peaky predictable bursts. They knew when the peaks would occur (specific horse-races in the calendar) and they had a good idea of the numbers of additional users they’d have to handle. What an excellent candidate system for Windows Azure’s PaaS architecture.
In this video, the whole technical team are brought together and talk about how they moved the application, what went well, what didn’t go so well. It’s a great warts-and-all story of a fairly early Windows Azure implementation.
It still runs on Windows Azure today; in fact more Windows Azure facilities are added and planned to be added as time progresses.
If you work in one of the many marvellous charities spread throughout the UK, you might be looking into ways of communicating effectively. Great communication with the public is something so essential for charities but how is your communication within your organisation? Is there room for improvement?
It's surprising how many people would probably say 'yes' in answer to that question. Sometimes it's a case of the bigger the organisation, the bigger the internal communication problem.
Without trying to sound too much like a door-to-door salesman, Office 365 could be that essential (and inexpensive) ingredient that you might be looking for!
Microsoft and CTT are joining forces to host a helpful online 'live meeting' and demo to inform charitable organisations about Office 365's benefits.
Best of all, you don't have to wait weeks for this to come around - it's this Thursday, 3rd May, at 2pm. To register and to find out more, see here: http://office365livemeeting.eventbrite.co.uk/
After much deliberation and over 20 entries, the judges have reached their decision in our ‘Convince your boss to send you to TechEd’ competition. You offered countless brilliant suggestions that would undoubtedly have resulted in a ticket to Amsterdam, as well as some beer-focused ones that we’re not sure would quite wash! But in the end there can only be one winner of our ticket to TechEd Europe in June, and that winner is…
Many congratulations to Patrick who will soon be joining us at TechEd in Amsterdam for a packed week of sessions and hopefully taking lots back to his business as a result. The judges particularly liked that his entry was very current, taking into account the financial pressure that we’re all seeing at the moment. Not only that, we loved his plan to use the trip away as a proof of concept for implementing DirectAccess, here’s hoping it works like a dream! Check out Patrick’s full entry below.
“My boss always wants us to do more for less, including less training budget >:/
Well I say to him that, same as in previous years, attending TechEd means I can do lots more for much less as a week spent at TechEd is worth at least two weeks spent in more traditional classroom environments. The event format enables me to pick & choose the content relevant to my/our business needs and interests, as well as providing access to a unique combination of Microsoft & industry experts, interactive sessions and hands-on labs.
On top of this, the location means it makes economic sense as well (MMS being in Vegas does stretch credibility a bit ;)
Besides, I can still be productive while I'm there as it'll be a perfect opportunity to prove our upcoming DirectAccess implementation!”
Of course Patrick wasn’t the only person that impressed us, oh no. In fact we were so impressed that we picked out an additional runner up because it was just too close to call! Second place goes to Samuel Roach, who will be receiving a shiny new Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phone. The judges were impressed with his enthusiasm for cloud computing and that he was actively promoting Office 365 to customers, as well as the fact that he was already taking part in our IT Camp events.
“As we're a small IT solution provider whose customers are mostly on the various versions of SBS, it's easy to become complacent and think we don't need to take a serious look at Hyper-V & the cloud in general. Unfortunately, sometimes it's easy to think cloud solutions like Office 365 aren't relevant for our small clients. However, my boss' interest in persuing cloud solutions began to change not only when one of our clients (though one we didn't mind losing) switched providers in favour of a cloud solution but also when he received an unexpected cheque in the mail for being the Partner on record for an Office 365 client I set up! Surprise!
Today, I'm at a Microsoft IT Pro Camp showcasing Hyper-V, SCVMM and other virtualisation solutions and realising just how many tools Microsoft has out there to make creating and managing VMs so much easier, efficient and flexible. Tools such as the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target and other remote management tools either built into Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7, or readily available and free from Microsoft online.
When I get back to the office tomorrow and show the boss some of the things we can do with Microsoft tools to make our jobs easier and cut down on time spent on the phone with client issues, he'll have to send me to Microsoft Tech Ed. Maybe this would be a good time to get another client up and running on Office 365 so he gets another [surprise] cheque in the mail! :-)”
Third place and the lucky recipient of a bag of Microsoft Swag is Martin Milne! We were thrilled to see that he’s pushing full adoption of Microsoft technologies in his business and actively updating their legacy applications. His willingness to use underhand tactics also made us laugh, and would definitely convince his boss to send him to TechEd!
“My employer has just moved from Lotus Notes to the Microsoft Platform. I would use the sense of unease with the technology and simply advise them of the benefits of TechEd. Complete immersion in MS technologies that would provide the starting point for building fantastic solutions with the product suite.
Failing that the Christmas office party photo's may be used as leverage. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.…”
Our runner up was Randy Perkins, who will be receiving a mini swag bag for his entry. He highlights what a great networking opportunity TechEd is and how there is so much you can learn not only in the sessions but also through talking to others who may have been in the same position as yourself.
“Being a contractor means I am my own boss. When justifying training I have to not only think of the cost of the course but the lost income if I attend one. So I would convince myself by saying it is one of the best IT related networking and training events in the world. One that will enable me not only to learn about a wide range of products but understand the vendor space that helps fill the gaps. Also I will able to discuss challenges with likeminded people who may have been in my position.”
Thanks a lot to everyone who entered, we really enjoyed reading through all of your very persuasive arguments, if we had our way we’d send you all to TechEd! Unfortunately we can’t do that, but at least you can now pinch our winners’ ideas for the next time you pitch a trip to your boss. Good luck!
Learn What’s Hot and New in Windows Server 2012!
A Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Community Road show event will show you how to:
The primary audience for this event is IT Professionals and partners who are excited about the upcoming release of the Windows Server 2012 technology.
This event will showcase presentations and demos from Microsoft MVPs on the following topics
Storage and Availability
If you’re interested in attending or you would like to share this information with your user group or add it to your blog or Twitter, please use this link https://ws2012rocks.msregistration.com/
London, Thursday 14th June 2012 – 17:30 – 21:15 with Damian Flynn , Aidan Finn , Alex Juschin – Click To Register
Edinburgh, Friday 15th June 2012 – 13:00 – 17:10 with Damian Flynn , Aidan Finn , Alex Juschin – Click To Register
Are you interested in learning first hand exactly how a Microsoft private cloud can help your business, our new guided labs will show you how a Microsoft private cloud, built on System Center 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, dramatically changes the way business consumes IT services.
These 14 user-friendly labs take users on a step-by-step guided tour of a Microsoft private cloud without the time investment required by a typical lab to configure the environment.
Demo the Microsoft private cloud yourself with 14 free self-guided labs
Here is the list of labs so you can browse and learn at your convenience:
1. Provide resources through self-service requests
2. Drive consistent service delivery
3. Provision additional cloud infrastructure
4. Delegate cloud resources
5. Create consistency through service templates
6. Perform a standardized application deployment to test
7. Stage application resources
8. Self-service deployment of an application to a production environment
9. Gain insight and visibility through reporting
10. Monitor infrastructure
11. Taking corrective actions in the infrastructure
12. Reduce time to resolution with application performance monitoring
13. Deploy an update to service instance
14. Explore creating dashboards
For the full evaluation experience, download System Center 2012 (RTM) with the optional Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 package.
Ian Woodgate is Managing Director of PointBeyond Limited, the UK’s leading SharePoint Business Application specialists. Ian has a background in financial services and and IT. He has worked with SharePoint since its first release as a developer and subsequently as a solution architect. Ian regularly speaks at events around the country, focusing on the subject of delivering business applications using SharePoint, and recently wrote PointBeyond’s white paper ‘Delivering Maximum Business Value With A SharePoint Based Application Strategy’. He also runs the SharePoint UK user group meetings in Southampton. You can contact Ian at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @IanWoodgate.
This is the first of a series of articles in which we discuss how you can use InfoPath 2010 to quickly create and deploy business applications in the cloud with SharePoint Online, part of the Microsoft Office 365 platform. We’ll show how to publish a simple InfoPath form to SharePoint Online, and future articles will build upon this example.
For those not familiar, InfoPath is a Microsoft application that allows users to easily create and publish forms for collecting structured information. The InfoPath application ships with Microsoft Office Professional 2010, and is also available for separate purchase.
InfoPath solutions can be created by both developers and IT professionals, as well as tech-savvy business users such as analysts and information workers. Users can take advantage of the powerful combination of InfoPath and SharePoint 2010 to quickly create complete browser based applications without the need for custom code.
InfoPath ships with templates for common business forms such as Absence Request, Change Order, and Status Report. You can extend the sample forms or create new forms from a blank canvas.
InfoPath allows you to add business rules to validate data being entered (e.g. data must be a number) or to allow data entry on certain conditions (e.g. only an approver can view the approvals section). Rules are added using menus and configuration, so no coding is required, though InfoPath does support custom coding to enable more advanced customisations. Information that is collected when forms are filled out is saved as XML.
You can add your own custom branding and formatting so that your forms reflect your overall corporate style. And you can interact with data located on premise or in the cloud by creating connections to SQL Server, Access, web services, or SharePoint lists.
When forms are published to SharePoint, InfoPath Forms Services, a component of SharePoint 2010, renders them as HTML web forms, so end users do not require any extra software in order to access forms and submit data. Browsers supported by InfoPath Forms Services includes Internet Explorer 7 and upwards, as well as other modern browsers such as Google Chrome and Apple Safari.
It’s no secret that with InfoPath and SharePoint, you can quickly create and deploy business applications without the need for custom code and long, costly development cycles. Perhaps less known is that you can get the same benefits with Office 365 and SharePoint Online. You do need Office 365 plan E3 or E4, or SharePoint Online (Plan 2) if you want your forms to be browser enabled though, since only these plans include InfoPath Forms Services.
InfoPath forms provide more than enough power for creating data-focused applications such as absence reporting, expense approvals, and IT help desk requests. You wouldn’t want to use InfoPath and SharePoint to replace your current ERP system, but the combination is more than acceptable for a wide range of basic applications that are on most organisations’ development backlogs.
Let’s have a quick look at how to create, publish, fill, and submit a simple InfoPath form. In this demo, we’ll use a basic purchase order request form with a simple approval process. For the purposes of this article we have kept the form self-contained and it is therefore very simple. There are many ways in which it could be extended, some of which will be mentioned later.
The form used in this demo can be downloaded from here, along with instructions on the changes that are needed for deployment to your environment or SharePoint online site.
Using the InfoPath Office client we have placed controls on the form to enable the capture of the following information:
The form allows the application of sophisticated rule-based validation and formatting options. These can all be seen on the downloadable form. For example, the Request Approval section is configured to only be displayed when the form has been submitted for approval and is only shown to the specified approver.
The form is shown open in InfoPath below. The data structure and the rules applied to the ‘Submit for Approval’ button can be seen:
Before attempting to publish the form go to site settings in SharePoint and ensure you have the ‘SharePoint Server Enterprise Site Collection features’ feature activated under Site collection features. Also be sure to make the changes in the instructions that accompany the download.
Once the form is ready you can publish directly from InfoPath to your Office 365 SharePoint site. This will create a new form library in your chosen site. From the File menu in InfoPath, select the Publish tab. Click on ‘Publish form to a SharePoint Library’:
In the publishing wizard, enter the URL to your Office 365 SharePoint site and click ‘Next’:
Enter your Office365 credentials:
In the next screen ensure the ‘Enable this form to be filled out by using a browser’ checkbox is selected and select the Form Library radio button, then click ‘Next’:
In the next screen, choose to ‘Create a new form library’ to host your form or update the form if you have an existing Form Library:
Enter a suitable name and description and click ‘Next’:
Click ‘Next’ on the following screen leaving values as default:
Click ‘Publish’ on the summary screen:
The form is now available at the SharePoint Online address specified. InfoPath Forms Services will render the form as HTML, so that users can fill it in from their browser. When viewing the Form Library, clicking on the ‘Add document’ link will open the form in the browser. A user can now fill this in and submit it:
Once submitted the approver can open and review the form in a read-only view and approve/reject as appropriate:
If a form has been submitted and a non-approver attempts to open the form, the rules result in the following view being displayed:
This example demonstrates the power that InfoPath and SharePoint Online provide to quickly create form-based business applications in the cloud. This example, while quite basic, could easily be extended to accommodate more real-world scenarios. For example, you could:
We hope that this simple example demonstrates how you to quickly build and publish powerful business applications on the SharePoint Online platform using InfoPath and without needing custom code.
In a future article, we will present more advanced features such as additional workflow capabilities and integration with web services and SQL Azure data.
The next wave of SQL Server investments will offer organizations the agility to quickly create and scale solutions that solve challenges and fuel new business opportunity from server to private or public cloud linked together with common tools for optimized productivity and cutting-edge developer technologies—build once, deploy and manage wherever.
Learn how SQL Server can help you achieve consolidation, standardisation, elasticity, greater uptime, self-service provisioning and usage metering
Download the Solution Guide for Private Cloud Poster
Learn how to easily synchronize SQL Azure databases between SQL Azure and On-Premises SQL Server Databases using SQL Azure DataSync
Find out more about the SQL Server Hybrid Solutions here: http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/en/us/solutions-technologies/hybrid-It.aspx
Determine Windows 8 readiness with MAP 7.0 Beta
Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 7.0 Beta is now available! MAP 7.0 helps you to assess the readiness of your environment for deploying Windows 8 in your machines. The Windows adoption feature performs a hardware assessment against the recommended system requirements for Windows 8 and provides recommendations about which machines meet Win 8 system requirements and which machines require upgrades. Key benefits include a migration assessment report and proposal to help you understand the scope of migration opportunity for Windows 8, along with an inventory of desktop computers, deployed operating systems, and applications.
· Join the MAP 7.0 Beta.
· Learn more about the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit.
Ensure a secure Windows Server 2012 Beta deployment with MDT 2012!
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2012 is now available for download! MDT 2012 provides support for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 Beta, and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager releases. MDT 2012 fully leverages the capabilities provided by Configuration Manager 2012 for OS deployment. The latest version of MDT offers new User-Driven Installation components and extensibility for Configuration Manager 2007 and 2012. You now also have the ability to migrate MDT 2012 task sequences from Configuration Manager 2007 to Configuration Manager 2012.
Secure cloud deployment from the start with new baselines from SCM 2.5!
Microsoft Security Compliance Manager 2.5 (SCM 2.5) is now available for download! Windows Server baselines include a Hyper-V baseline which addresses secure cloud deployment. SCM 2.5 provides ready-to-deploy policies and DCM configuration packs that are tested and fully supported. Our product baselines are based on Microsoft Security Guide recommendations and industry best practices, allowing users to manage configuration drift, address compliance requirements, and reduce security threats.
For some time I’ve been trying to work out with colleagues how to articulate what I see as a solid model for dealing with consumerisation of IT in the workplace or even allowing people to bring their own devices. It’s quite tough to find some mental model to help people to understand the kind of approaches that work. I’m looking for a way to help you manage more than the standard IT desktop, to make more sense of productivity at work and with a view of IT security risks.
The key is balancing the approach: do more with less, more permissive access to less secure stuff. Most of an organisations “stuff” tends to require less security than IT think. Be a guide not a gate keeper.
Good, Better, Best, seems to be the most applicable that I’ve found.
GOOD is most open, your users being able to access your network, get IP addresses, get to some apps / services / data. They probably have to keep entering credentials and they may be storing those credentials on their device.
BETTER is having some modicum of remediation over the device – the ability to remote wipe it for example.
BEST is having an authenticated connection with general purpose security (you could say domain joined PC)
N+1 is having the ability to ensure end to end security, encrypted device, encrypted communications, rights managed documents, remote wipe, policy based management, policy based enforcement.
Not all devices will fit into all categories, in-fact probably only Domain joined Windows PCs will be able to enter the N+1 category (that’s because all the things mentioned are built in from the ground up). That said most people probably don’t need everything in the N+1 category. Most organisations will also see their users adding GOOD and BETTER devices to their mobile worker armoury along with a BEST or N+1 devices.
A further note on N+1 is that this is where I see private cloud hosted apps and desktops and there is no reason that a GOOD, BETTER or BEST device can’t be used to access an N+1 hosted app or desktop.
*caveat: this is a simple model, there will be many exceptions, the key is mixture.
For those of you who couldn’t make it to Vegas for the MMS conference don’t worry! You can still find out what happened there and see the keynotes and sessions at your own pace. We’ve recorded them and made the recordings available on the digital MMS site.
All you need to do is log in with either Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Windows Live ID or just a simple username and password and the doors to MMS are open to you! There’s quite a community feel to the site as you can connect with others who have watched the sessions and discuss aspects of it with one another using the Social Wall.
Sessions available are as follows:
Browse at your leisure and share it with your colleagues!