Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Get early access to new features in Office 365 and provide feedback with Uservoice

Microsoft is offering a new First Release program. If you opt-in to join this new First Release program, you get to test the new features for Office 365, SharePoint Online, and Exchange Online a couple weeks before they roll out to everyone else. To activate it go to Office 365 Admin Center > Service Settings > Updates. You will get a warning stating that activation of new features might take up to 24 hours to complete – so be patient.

The last couple of months a couple interesting new functional modules such as Delve, Yammer Groups and the new App launcher have been pre-released on Office 365 for which some might only become visible after you have activated first release. Remember that there also is an Office 365 for business public roadmap available (at office.com/roadmap) where you can see which functionality is being rolled out and which is under development. For more information check out the links below.

Also remember that you can always use the Office Developer Platform Uservoice (http://officespdev.uservoice.com/) to give feedback and request changes. You can submit your feedback for a specific change and encourage others who you know to support these changes by voting for them. If you want to give feedback with regards to InfoPath – there is a Microsoft Office Forms vNext User Voice (http://officeforms.uservoice.com/) as well.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Understanding Azure Event Hubs–ingesting data at scale

Azure Event Hubs are an extension on the existing Azure Service Bus which provides hyper-scalable stream ingestion capabilities. It allows different producers (devices & sensors – possibly in the 10 thousands) to send continuous streams of data without interruption. There are a number of different scenario in which you typically see this kind of streaming data from different sensors such as future oriented scenarios such as connected cars, smart cities but also more common scenarios such as application telemetry or industrial automation.

Event hubs scaling is defined by Throughput Units (TUs) which is kind of like a pre-allocation of resources. A single TU is able to handle up to 2 MB/s for writes or 1000 events per second and 2MB/s for read operations. Load in the Event Hub is determined by creation of partitions, these partitions allow for parallel processing both from the consumer and producer side. Next to support for common messaging scenarios, competing consumers, it allows provide data retention policies up to 84 GB of event storage per day. The current release supports up to 32 partitions but you can log a call to increase this up to a 1000 partitions. Since a partition is allocated at most 1 TU, this would allow for 1GB/s data ingest per Event Hub. Messages can be send to an Event Hub publisher endpoint via HTTPS or AMQP 1.0, consumers can retrieve messages using AMQP 1.0

Building such an application architecture is quite challenging and Event Hubs allows you to leverage the elasticity of the cloud and a pay per use model to get started quite rapidly. Whereas current scaling of this type of systems is oriented at 10s of thousands of units, expectations are that this number will increase quite rapidly. Gartner expects the number of installed IoT units to increase up to 26 billion by 2020, other estimates are event pointing at 40 billion IoT units (Internet of Things by the Numbers: estimates and forecasts)


Monday, November 17, 2014

Webinar: What’s new on the Microsoft Azure Data Platform

On Thursday 20th of November I will be delivering a webinar on the new capabilities in the Microsoft Azure Data Platform.  With the recent addition of three new services - Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Data Factory and Azure Event Hubs - Microsoft is making progress in building the best cloud platform for both big data solutions as well as enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). These additions will allow you to process, manage and orchestrate data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors and turn this data into valuable insights for your business.

The above mentioned new services extend Microsoft's existing big data offering based on HDInsight and Azure Machine Learning. HDInsight is Microsoft's offering of Hadoop functionality on Microsoft Azure. It simplifies the setup and configuration of Hadoop cluster by offering it as an elastic service. Azure Machine Learning is a new Microsoft Azure-based tool that helps organization build predictive models using built in machine learning algorithms all from a web console.

In this webinar I will show what are the key capabilities of these different components, how they fit together and how you can leverage them in your own solutions.

Register for this free webinar “What’s new on the Microsoft Azure Data Platform” and get up to speed in less than one hour.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

BIWUG on apps for SharePoint Server 2010 and data driven collaboration


On the 26th of November BIWUG is organizing our next session – don’t forget to register for BIWUG2611 because there are some great sessions planned.

Writing apps on SharePoint Server 2010 (Speaker: Akshay Koul, SharePoint CoOrdinator at Self, http://www.akshaykoul.com )

The session is geared towards developers/advanced users and explains how you can write enterprise level applications on SharePoint 2010 without any server side code.  We will go through real life applications and discuss the mechanisms used, the provisioning process, debugging techniques as well as best practices. The application written are fully compatible with Office 365/SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server 2013.

Preparing for the upcoming (r)evolution from User Adoption to Data-Driven Collaboration (Speaker: Peter Van Hees, MVP Office 365/Collaboration architect, http://petervanhees.com )

As Consultants we (try to) listen to our customer, (try to) address the requirements ... and finally (try to) deploy the solution. This seems like an easy job, but in reality Collaboration projects - and especially SharePoint or Yammer implementations - are a little more challenging. The fast adoption of cloud computing has introduced a new currency for license-based software: User Engagement. If you can’t engage your users, your revenue stream will start to spiral downwards. It should be obvious that Office 365 (and all of its individual components) are not exempt. We all need to focus on the post deployment!

This story bears its roots in my hands-on experience while trying to launch Yammer initiatives. It seems that everyone agrees that Yammer is a wonderful and viral service ... yet, the conversations seems to flat line in most organizations. We will review how you should (already) be addressing User Adoption now; but, more importantly, we will spend more time to look into the stars … a future where Data-Driven Collaboration will take User Engagement to the next level. This isn't a story about Delve. It's about ensuring you integrate data in all your projects to prepare for the future. The age of smart software …

18:00 - 18:30 ... Welcome and snack

18:30 - 19:30 ... Writing apps on SharePoint Server 2010 (Speaker: Askhay Koul)

19:30 - 19:45 ... Break

19:45 - 20:45 ... Preparing for the upcoming (r)evolution from User Adoption to Data-Driven Collaboration( Speaker: Peter Van Hees )

20:45 - …      ... SharePint!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Getting Virtualbox to work on Windows 8.1

Quick tip for those of you who want to try install Virtualbox on Windows 8.1 – use one of the older versions  -  VirtualBox-4.3.12-93733-Win.exe  worked for me (download locationDownload Virtualbox Old builds). More recent versions seem to crash when you try to start a virtual image – see screenshot below.

If you are already using Hyper-V you will also need to create a dual boot since Virtualbox is not compatible with Hyper-V. You can do this using the commands listed below from an administrative command prompt (As outlined in this blog post from Scot Hanselman – Switch easily between VirtualBox and Hyper_V with a BCDEdit boot entry in Windows  8.1 )
C:\>bcdedit /copy {current} /d "No Hyper-V" 
The entry was successfully copied to {ff-23-113-824e-5c5144ea}. 

C:\>bcdedit /set {ff-23-113-824e-5c5144ea} hypervisorlaunchtype off 
The operation completed successfully.

When booting you will be provided with an option to boot with Hyper-V support or without Hyper-V support.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SharePoint deep dive exploration: looking into the SharePoint UserInfo table

A couple of months ago we encountered some issues after upgrading a SharePoint 2007 environment to SharePoint 2013 using a migration tool. One of the symptoms was that information about users was incorrectly displayed. This led us into the looking into how SharePoint stores user information inside its databases.

The user information which is being displayed in a created by or a modified by field in SharePoint it is not being directly retrieved from Active Directory but it is retrieved from an internal SharePoint table called the UserInfo table.

All users in Active Directory are not immediately added to this table. When a user is explicitly added to a site collection using security settings, it is added to the UserInfo table. Another way that user info is created in this table, is when a user  is granted access through an Active Directory group and the user visits the site for the first time.

Users which are deleted from  a site collection, will still be found in the UserInfo table but with a flag bDeleted set to True (1).  When the people picker queries the UserInfo table, it will not include user with bDeleted set to 1. The All people page ( /_layouts/people.aspx?Membershipgroupid=0) will also only list users where bDeleted equals 0. This also means that even when people leave your organization and their Active Directory account is disabled (or removed), the Created By and Modified By columns will still display the name of the user. The general recommendation is to leave this mechanism as it was designed but there are border case scenarios in which you want to delete users – if so you can take a look at Delete users and clean up user information list in SharePoint

There also are two different timer jobs which synchronize information from the User Profile Service Application to all site collections:
  • User Profile to SharePoint Quick Synchronization – runs default every 5 minutes – synchronizes information for users recently added to a site collection
  • User Profile to SharePoint Full Synchronization – runs default every hour -
(For a full list of all out of the box timer jobs in SharePoint Server 2013 check out SharePoint Server 2013 – Timer Job reference) These job will only synchronize users where the tp_IsActive Flag is true(1) in the UserInfo table. The reasons for this is performance since synchronizing all users would be quite resource intensive. tp_IsActive is set to true when a user first visits a site collection or when he is granted Contribute permissions explicitly on a site.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

SharePoint Server 2013–Error on manage user properties page–your search encountered an error

Last week when I wanted to modify some user properties in a SharePoint Server 2013  - I got a very strange error “Your search encountered an error. If the problem persists, contact the portal site administrator”

I first checked search but I saw no errors in there – it seems that the error description is not really guiding you in the correct direction. The solution was starting the ForeFront Identity Manager Service (Run command>Services.msc) as outlined in this blogpost UserProfile Service, Managed properties are not available