Tag: Office 365

Microsoft Cloud Services Datcenter Tour

Take a Microsoft Azure Virtual Datacenter Tour

Microsoft delivers cloud services on an infrastructure that includes a global portfolio of datacenters, servers, content distribution networks, edge computing nodes, and fiber optic networks. Microsoft experts work 24x7x365 to design, build, manage, and support Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure, which operates 200 services for more than one billion customers and 20 million businesses in more than 90 countries worldwide.

If you never had the chance to visit a Microsoft Azure datacenter you have the chance to do this virtually. On the Microsoft Cloud Platform website you can checkout the Cloud Services Datacenter Tour. This gives an view of how Microsoft operates his datacenters and how they secure your hosted data.

 



OneDrive 1TB

How to get over 1TB of OneDrive storage

Well today Microsoft finally changed the storage you get on OneDrive. Since I get a lot of questions from people on Twitter, here is how you get over 1TB of storage available on your OneDrive account. Some weeks ago Microsoft announced some changes to OneDrive and Office 365. So you now get more free default storage from 7GB up to 15GB which is great but does not make 1TB. To get 1TB of extra storage is very simple, just buy Office 365 Home, Personal or University and you will get 1TB of extra storage on your OneDrive account. (The Office 365 website is not yet updated and show 20GB right now).

ConsumerSubscription_Table

Even if you have to buy this it is pretty cheap, you not only get 1TB of OneDrive storage you also get the latest Office programs and apps to install on your devices and you also get 60 minutes world on Skype.

I think this is a pretty cool deal, and you can finally store basically everything on your OneDrive.



Import MSOnline PowerShell Module

Change Office 365 password expiration policy

Well if you are using Office 365 and you may have the need to change the password expiration policy for some accounts. (Important: This is not recommended, in my opinion password changes are even more important when using cloud services.)

To change the password expiration policy for an user on Office 365 you have to to this with Windows PowerShell.

To manage Windows Azure Active Directory with PowerShell, where also your Office 365 users are stored, you have to do some simple steps.

First make sure you have installed the .NET Framework 3.5 on your management machine.

Install Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant: Install the appropriate version of the Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant for your operating system from the Microsoft Download Center. Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant for IT Professionals RTW.

Install Windows Azure AD Module for Windows PowerShell: Install the appropriate version of the Windows Azure AD Module for Windows PowerShell for your operating system from the Microsoft Download Center:

Import the MSOnline Windows PowerShell module

Import MSOnline PowerShell Module

Connect to your Windows Azure Active Directory Tenant or your Office 365 Tenant:

This will open a popup windows where you have to enter your credentials.

Now now you can start working with your Windows Azure Active Directory.

Connect Windows Azure AD via PowerShell

And you can now finally change the password expiration policy to never.



The Definition of Cloud Computing

Windows Server 2012 R2

The reason for this blog post was a lecture I had at university where lecturer talked about ERP systems (enterprise resource planning) and a question came up from one of the other students about ERP in the cloud and how Cloud Computing is defined. I am not really happy with the answer he gave, because the answer was totally focused on Software as a Service hosted from a service provider and accessible over the internet. Well this is a part of cloud computing but doesn’t not really cover the real definition.

I know I will maybe get a lot of comments on this post, because there is no official definition of “Cloud Computing” and every company maybe thinks different about it, depending on their product range

As someone who has worked in the hosting business and now is working as a consultant for mostly building private or hosted private clouds the definition looks really different. One important statement first. Virtualization is not Cloud Computing, virtualization is a great enhancement for Cloud Computing and is also a important enabler of Cloud computing because without virtualization Cloud Computing could be really hard to do.

I my opinion Cloud Computing is not a technology, Cloud Computing is a concept you can use to provide access to resources. There are three different scenarios in cloud computing.

IaaS PaaS SaaS

Image Source: blogs.technet.com

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service – IaaS basically allows customers to use compute, storage and networking resources and deploy for example virtual machines with full access to the operating system. (Example: Windows Azure, Amazon,…)
  • Platform-as-a-Service – PaaS provides customers with a platform for their application, for example Windows Server with IIS where customers can deploy their application but don’t have to think about the server itself. (Example: Windows Azure, Webhosting Providers,…)
  • Software-as-a-Service – SaaS allows customer to use just a software without caring about the installation or platform itself. For example hosted mailservers or CRMs (Example: Office365, Microsoft Dynamics Online, Xbox Live, Outlook.com,…)

Well another common mistake is to think cloud is always hosted in the internet. Since Cloud Computing is a concept to deliver services, companies can do this also internally which is mostly known as Private Cloud. The Private Cloud can of course also be IaaS, PaaS or SaaS and could be accessible from the internet, but it could also only be available company internal.

  • Public Cloud – The Public Cloud is maybe the Cloud people think of mostly when they are talking about Cloud Computing. This is mostly shared services hosted from a services provider which is accessible from the internet.
  • Private Cloud – The Private Cloud is a Cloud made for a just one customer or company for example this could be an on premise Cloud hosted in my own datacenter. In some cases the Private Cloud could also be hosted from a services provider.
  • Hybrid Cloud – The Hybrid Cloud model will be the model a lot of companies will go for, or already did even without knowing about it. The Hybrid Cloud is a scenario where I have a Private Cloud hosted on premise in my datacenter but I also extend my Cloud to the Public Cloud by connecting cloud services such as Windows Azure or Office 365 to my Private Cloud.

I already wrote about 500 words, but I still didn’t not really answers the question what Cloud Computing is, so we going to have a look at Wikipedia:

Cloud computing – correctly: a Computing Cloud – is a colloquial expression used to describe a variety of different computing concepts that involve a large number of computers that are connected through a real-time communication network (typically the Internet). Cloud Computing is a jargon term without a commonly accepted non-ambiguous scientific or technical definition. In science Cloud computing is a synonym for distributed computing over a network and means the ability to run a program on many connected computers at the same time. The popularity of the term Cloud computing can be attributed to its use in marketing to sell hosted services in the sense of Application Service Provisioning that run Client server software on a remote location.

So with this definition there are five common properties every Cloud has, doesn’t matter if it’s IaaS, PaaS or SaaS based or hosted in the Private or Public Cloud.

  • Elastic and Scalable – I think this is one of the overall parts of a cloud. It’s important to be very flexible to get new resources if your business grows over time or has some special peaks where you need more resources. Resources could be more compute power, more virtual machines, more users, or more mailboxes.
  • Pooled Compute Resources – From a cloud provider perspective I want to pool my compute, storage and network resources and share them for different customers or services.
  • Provides Self-Service Provisioning – To request new resources (virtual machines, Mailboxes or whatever) over a self-service portal which automatically kicks of the specific tasks.
  • Highly Automated Management – Because we want to use Self-Services provisioning and doing this in large scales, it’s important that the environment is highly automated. If you think about a simple example: A new employee starts at your company and you want to create a new mailbox for him, you can create a it over a self-services portal. The creation of the mailbox has to me automated in the background because you don’t want to wait for someone to create the mailbox manually maybe two days later.
  • Usage-Based Chargeback – Trough the pooled resource you want to be able to do chargeback based on consumed resources. Even if you do another billing system you still want to know how much resources customers have used. This could be how many mailboxes did I use last month, how many minutes my virtual machines was running this month, or much disk space did I use.

I think this 5 things do cover the properties of Cloud Computing in basically all the common scenarios. This there are a lot of things I did not cover in my blog post but it should help people which are new to cloud computing help to understand the different scenarios.



Swiss Microsoft Surface Event

Two months with the Surface Pro and how it replaced my notebook

 

At the Microsoft MVP Summit back in February I had the chance to get a brand new Microsoft Surface Pro, after I already used a Surface RT which a had since November 2012. I already wrote a very small review a few days after I got it in the Microsoft Store in Bellevue WA and used it during the MVP Summit.

Since I am back from Redmond I am using my Surface Pro for work when I am on the road, at customers, working at the office, at university, at hotels or at home when I am working in the living room. Basically the Surface is my daily companion. At home and for long flights I still use the Surface RT because it’s lighter, has better battery life and it because of it size and weight it feels more like a tablet.

And here are my impressions after I used it now for two months.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Hardware quality – The build quality of the hardware is just amazing. As the Surface RT the Surface Pro is just high quality hardware. Even after 2 months this piece of hardware still looks great and elegant. There is nothing broken or anything else which I am unhappy about. I really like to work with great devices that’s was one of the reasons I used Apple products some years ago and I still think Microsoft is maybe the only one who can keep up with the quality of Apple hardware, because most of the other OEM’s do not get it right.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Amazing display – The screen of the Surface Pro is great with a good contrast and great colors like the Surface RT but with a Full HD resolution. I am really happy with the Full HD resolution, especially when I am working with System Center products or I am taking notes with OneNote.
I am using my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 for lab installations and testing, and the screen is terrible if you compare it to the Surface Screen. The only problem I had with the Surface Pro is that it’s hard to sit in front of a 10.6” screen for like 8-10 hours. At the office I don’t have this problem because I can use a external monitor and most of the customers I work for are doing the same, so this isn’t a big issue.

Surface Pro

Digital Ink – The Surface Pro comes with a digitizer pen which is perfect to take notes with OneNote and other stuff. As I mentioned I am using the Surface Pro at work and at university. At university I am using the pen mostly to take notes and mark some important stuff in documents. At work I am not only using it to take notes, it’s also great during workshops or presentation, where you quickly want to draw something instead of using a whiteboard or a flipchart.

Surface

Performance – The Surface Pro is equipped with a Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM which brings really good performance. Well I cannot really talk about performance because normally you only talk about performance when you don’t have enough, but I never had any performance issues with the Surface Pro and I even think the performance is better than the notebooks I used before.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Features – Well many people already know about features like the kickstand or the Touch and the Typecover, which is by the way pretty good to write on and I am used to use a ThinkPad which has an amazing keyboard. Another cool and useful feature is the build in USB charging port in the power adapter, which lets you charge another phone even if the Surface USB port is already used by another device.

surfacespecsheet

Size and weight – The Surface Pro is not much thicker and heavier than the Surface RT but if you compare them site by site it’s a big difference. Even my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 was a very light and small business ultrabook, the Surface Pro feels a lot lighter and needs a lot less space and is much easier to carry it around.

Battery life – Same as the size the battery life is not like it would be on a normal tablet. I got in my tests 4-5 hours of battery life, when I am working 100% on my Surface Pro. During time at university I get around 6 hours which is enough for one day. During long flights it does not really make sense to use the Surface Pro because the only thing I need there is Office 2013, to work on presentations and documents, a video player to watch movies and of course a lot of battery life to do all this things. The Surface RT is much more suitable for this scenario.

Surface Typecover Touchcover

Accessories – If you want to replace your notebook with the Surface Pro you may need three things, except the Type- or Touchcover. First you need a adapter for VGA or HDMI output so you can connect a projector or external monitor. The Surface Pro has a Mini-DisplayPort output and offers two adapters, one for HDMI and one for VGA, but you can also use adapters from other vendors.

The second thing you need is a USB to Ethernet adapter, because most of the enterprise customers do not offer Wifi access to their network and business users basically need a Ethernet port. The downside of using such a adapter is that you loose the only USB port and this can be a problem if you want to use a USB drive or a external disk at the same time. Microsoft offers also a USB to Ethernet adapter but like for the display adapter you can also use other adapters.

The last thing you need is a mouse, even you have a touchscreen and a trackpad, there are a lot of thing which are much more efficient with a mouse. I use the Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse Surface Edition which is small and perfect if you travel.

Software – Windows 8 is the perfect mix from desktop and tablet OS. For a lot of people the mix of two different UIs is something bad, for me its just the best solution because the OS offers me the best from both worlds. I am also a huge fan of the Microsoft Account integration which syncs settings from all your devices.

SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro make my life a lot easier, I don’t really have to copy files between different devices because they are available everywhere and get synced automatically. And Office 2013 or Office 365 Home Premium integrated perfectly in this scenarios and you get 20GB of extra SkyDrive storage.

The Xbox integration with the Xbox Smart Glass technology is just perfect, if you are sharing media in the living room or watch movies or listen to music it’s the a great Xbox companion.

Conclusion – Well after two months I don’t carry my notebook anymore, the Surface Pro totally replaced it not only because it is much smaller and lighter, not it only because of the additional features I get with the Surface, for example the Touchscreen, the tablet form factor and the digitizer pen.

My wish list for the next Pro version would be:

  • Make it thinner and lighter like the Surface RT would be great
  • Longer battery life – I know it’s hard to get performance and battery life at the same time, but 8-10 hours of battery life would be just awesome.
  • Different sizes – This is maybe not just about the Pro version, but maybe for the whole Surface series. A smaller Surface around 7” would be great for doing some small tasks. The other thing I thought about would be a 11” or 12” Surface which would be even better, if you use it as a notebook replacement.
  • USB ports – A second USB port or a passive USB hub, which would not need extra power but fix my problems.
  • More cool accessories – In todays tablet world it’s hard to be different. One thing is the OS and the other one are the accessories. Microsoft did a great thing with the kickstand and the Touchcover but I pretty sure that there is more in the Microsoft labs.
  • Availability – Well make them available outside of the US 😉

What would you be on your wish list?

Update:

Microsoft announced yester day that they will expand the Surface Pro and Surface RT availability. Surface Pro will launch before the end of May in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Surface Pro will launch in Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, and Thailand before the end of June. Surface Pro is currently available in the U.S., Canada, and China. Thanks to Bjorn for the link.



A Day in the Life of a Student – Office 365 vs. Google Apps

office365

Besides my job as Private Cloud Architect I am also a part-time tech student. Now I just found a cool blog post from Tony Tai about how Office 365 compares with Google Apps if you use them as a student.

I use the Windows Live services like Hotmail and SkyDrive for my private stuff and Office 365 at work and also for my school work which is a perfect match for me.

Download the infographic.

A Day In The Life Student



Microsoft Cloud for SMB

MicrosoftCloudforSMB

Last year I did a little research project about Microsoft’s public cloud and how it cloud affect Small and Medium sized businesses. So I created a paper which should help Microsoft partners to decide how they can improve their services and solutions by using the Microsoft public cloud. I the paper I focused on Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Intune. This should be for the partner which do infrastructure solutions like Active Directory, Exchange and PC Management.

MicrosoftCloudforSMBdoc

You can download this paper from my Windows Live SkyDrive.
The paper includes a lot of text copied from Microsoft documents and websites, and research I did by myself. All the sources should be marked, but if you find anything which is not marked please feel free to contact me.