Contents tagged with Business

  • PDC 2008: Reflections

    Tags: Business, Internet and the Web, WinFX, PDC 08, Windows Azure, Live Mesh, Oslo

    Now sitting here at LAX and reflecting over what we have experienced during the PDC 2008 the last few days. We learned a lot about technical stuff and what’s growing up in Redmond, but I think the most important stuff is what’s happening to the software business in large. With Windows Azure as the first large scale service host and with the number of online services that Microsoft will release in the upcoming years we have a real challenge to adapt to these new business models. Not only Microsoft is running this way, just look at Amazon and others, but Microsoft have such an effect on a large number of users.

    We are going to see how our business models will be changed in a few years, and it is time to start thinking about this now. Ok, now you say; I know SOA, I can make web services…but it’s not all about that it’s just the technology that will be used. But it’s fine as long as you know the technology you’re right on track. Several of the PDC sessions was about how to architect solutions for the cloud, which is somewhat different than having your services on premise. If you haven’t watched them I urge you to do so.

    Another thing that was really evident at the PDC was that the imperative programming paradigm will and can be replaced with more declarative programming and functional programming. This will be painful for a lot of developers, including me. Same here, you better get to start adapting to this. You have no-code XAML workflows, F# and last but not least Oslo to start with. Of course we will have standard old imperative languages for a long time to come, but you should know when to use other approaches, and knowing about this will be a competitive advantage for you.

    This is what I have been thinking about since PDC ended and i know I don’t cover it all here, but it’s just to give you a hint of where the winds are blowing…

    Now I have to kill a few hours here at LAX before a long flight home to my beloved family. See ya around.

  • How to say goodbye to your file server

    Tags: Business, SharePoint

    Files Everyone, every company, small or large has some kind of file server for storage of documents and other files. The file server are in many cases the heart of the operations. Some have several file servers and some have even more. Almost every file server looks the same; some kind of shared folder with subfolders (in absurdum). Most of these file servers uses file/directory permissions to have control over who are allowed to view or edit the files. Most often this is configured through groups, but far to often permissions are set on user accounts directly.

    This way of having the files “organized” is so stone-age, you will only run into trouble and these are some of the common problems with using a traditional file server:

    • Overview of the permissions is hard
    • Restoring a deleted file requires you to pull out a backup tape
    • Finding a file is time consuming and most often impossible
    • …and so on

    I will try to show you how you can solve most of these problems and move in to a whole new world and experience in document/file management.

    First we start with how you can help your users find the files easier.

    Search

    Information Workers spend about 20-30% of their time searching for documents or recreating missing information. Wow, that’s an awful amount of time. What if I could find my documents easier!

    Improving the search possibilities for your file servers is by far the easiest and fastest way to improve your current file servers. By allowing your users to search for files, you will save them (and your company) time, you will make them happier and you will get one step closer to a more efficient document/file management system.

    Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, MSSX, is a great piece of software that will allow you to index you file servers in just a few hours, without any cost! All you need to do is to download it, install it and configure it to crawl your file servers.

    MSSX is based on Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and is free of charge (but limited to one index server). It has a simple user interface and an incredible search engine (same as in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007). As soon as you have had it to crawl your files you can create a link from or frame it in your current Intranet or portal and show your co-workers how to use it. They will immediately be able to search for the files they need (with ranking and everything) and you will be the Hero of the day.

    When I have suggested this solution to our clients the first question I have received is – we have tried it and it didn’t work for us since they could find all documents, including the ones they do not have permissions on. This is not true with Microsoft Search Server 2008. Companies who tried this most often used an application built on the Microsoft Index Server which did not have a security control in the search results – but MSS(X) has, so they will only see documents they are allowed to see.

    Once you’re setup you should install filters for PDF files and others so all of your files gets crawled by content.

    All this just takes a couple of hours and does not require and advanced skills and have a huge impact on your file management experience.

    Search Server 2008 has, of course, numerous of optimization options for which you should consult your consultant. Trimming MSSX allows you to even more enhance the search results and gives you the opportunity to help your users find the correct information. But beware, trimming it the wrong way can severely impact the results in a negative way.

    If you do this, you have a really good search application which uses your current file structure and your users does not have to change their behavior and you have not made any changes to your infrastructure. But that’s what I’m going to talk about next time – really trying to help you say goodbye to your file servers.

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  • Microsoft licensing explained in full detail

    Tags: Microsoft, Business, SharePoint

    Working and developing with Microsoft products is a great, but when it all comes down to deliver a full solution to your clients you must know how the different products from Microsoft are licensed – and this is a mess (SharePoint?). Hopefully you have some in your organization that has some knowledge of the Microsoft licensing or you have a nice licensing partner that can help you out.

    But once in a while you end up with a client that wants to know how much it costs – and right now! Therefore I think it is essential if you, as a developer or architect, has (at least) some knowledge of how the different products are licensed.

    To get some nice details and samples how the Microsoft licensing works I really would like to recommend these two blogs written by Emma Healey, a Microsoft Licensing Escalation Manager.

    Emma Explains Microsoft Licensing in Depth This blogs contains excellent samples on how you should interpret the Microsoft licenses for various products and scenarios.  For all of you SharePoint developers this post on MOSS licensing is a must read.

    InDepth Licensing Blog This blog, only available to Microsoft employees, partners and customers (Windows Live Id required) covers the same topics but not aimed for the general public(?).

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  • SharePoint and Facebook!?

    Tags: Business, SharePoint, Internet and the Web

    Microsoft SharePoint is a great Enterprise Portal framework and contains a lot of collaboration and management features out of the box. SharePoint also has the abilities to find users and their knowledge using a social distance algorithm, but it has lacked some of the social features that applications such as Facebook successfully has implemented and been recognized for. Microsoft even owns a smaller part of the Facebook company.

    The enterprise equivalent of Web 2.0 – Enterprise 2.0 is steadily increasing and to make it work for the knowledge worker of today you have to include the social features. There are now numerous third party applications you can use to leverage your SharePoint installation to an Enterprise 2.0 portal, I previously blogged about some of them.

    Microsoft is currently sponsoring the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston and in their Virtual Pressroom for this conference there are one interesting screenshot together with some SharePoint images.

    Townsquare

    The screenshot is from something called Townsquare:

    …a prototype enterprise news feed developed by Microsoft Office Labs, allows users to receive news about managers, friends and colleagues all in one place

    This really looks interesting! Facebook-like social features in a SharePoint-like environment – this can really be something!?

    Do you know anything more about this? If I find out some news I’ll post it here.

    Update: According to this InfoWorld article Chris Pratley from Office Labs will reveal more about Townsquare on Thursday.

  • Planning Capacity for SharePoint and Exchange

    Tags: Business, SharePoint, SQL Server, Windows Server 2003, Network

    SCCP If you are about to plan capacity for your Microsoft SharePoint 2007 topology you can get great assistance from the Microsoft System Center Capacity Planner 2007 and the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Model.

    What is Microsoft System Center Capacity Planner 2007?

    The Microsoft System Center Capacity Planner (SCCP) 2007 is a pre-deployment capacity planning tool for Microsoft Server products when creating distributed application deployments.

    The SCCP allows you to create a model of your hardware, network and applications/servers using a Model Editor. The model can then be run through a simulator which warns you of eventual bottlenecks and allows you to analyze all kinds of different data.

    SCCP also contains a hardware editor (CPU and hard disk configurations) so you can customize your model and adapt it to your existing hardware or hardware that you intend to use.

    The SCCP can be loaded with different Capacity Models and wizards, which helps you to create your topology.

    Create a model...

    Some Screenshots

    The Model Editor

    The image above shows a SharePoint intranet site with three branch offices and the image below shows how the topology looks like when you zoom in to the Intranet Site.

    Intranet Site topology

    Using this Model editor you can change everything from the networks used to the number of users to the roles of the servers and then run a simulation to identify your bottlenecks.

    Bottlneck analysis 

    This is how the hardware editor looks like and you can see how detailed you can configure the CPUs.

    The Hardware Editor

    Capacity Models

    There are only one Capacity Model out of the box; Exchange Server 2007.

    The SharePoint models can be downloaded here and should appear soon on the TechNet System Center Pack Catalog and an Operations Manager model is in beta and should be shipped before summer.

    Summary

    This is a great tool for IT-professionals as well as architects and developers to identify possible problems before start wiring and plugging in. I can really recommend SCCP; especially when making proposals to clients, so you can test the recommended setup. I have been running the beta and RC for a while and are very satisfied with it.

    The tool can of course not replace good knowledge of the products and hardware and should be used with caution.

    The only drawback I found is that it should be possible to combine your models. For example making a content deployment (with staging, authoring and publishing sites) scenario with MOSS 2007 is not possible, you have to make several models and then make your own analysis

    Where can I get this?

    SCCP can be downloaded from the Microsoft Downloads site (4.7 Mb) as of today and the SharePoint models here (3.2 Mb).

  • Microsoft acquires Norwegian Enterprise Search company

    Tags: Microsoft, Business, SharePoint

    image Microsoft continues to strengthen their position in the Enterprise Search segment by acquiring the Norwegian Enterprise Search company Fast Search & Transfer (FAST). FAST is, according to Gartner, leader in the enterprise search segment together with Autonomy, where Microsoft was considered Tier 2 players.

    After releasing the Microsoft Search Server (MSS) and the MSS Express version, I'm glad Microsoft continues to emphasize on this interesting and "hot" area. Forrester stated after the Microsoft Search Server release that:

    MSS is not a top-tier enterprise class search solution, though. The top-tier vendorsAutonomy, Endeca, and FAST offer much more scalability, performance, capability, andcustomization.

    and

    Microsoft’s aggressive entry into the search market will have a significant impact on competitivedynamics in the industry.

    It will be really interesting to see what this leads to and see how it affects SharePoint Search and the MSS(X) products.

  • Summing up the year of 2007 and embracing 2008

    Tags: Personal, Business, SharePoint, Microsoft Office, Windows Vista, XPS, Office Open XML

    The year of 2007 is about to come to an end, and it has been a really exciting year.

    First of all I've had a great year with my family; my daughters turned four and one years old during 2007 and it's so wonderful having them around giving me energy. My wife has been home with them the whole year and next year I will take a few months of parental leave and give them my full attention.

    During 2007 we sold our company, iBizkit, which we started in 2000 to a larger company, Pdb DataSystem. This is something we wanted to do for some time. iBizkit forms a new team focusing on portals and SharePoint within Pdb which I think will be great. I can now focus more on doing stuff that I'm good on rather than spending time on administration. After just a few months we have seen a great increase in business opportunities and I hope I can share some of them during next year.

    I have been spending a lot of time this year with the new Microsoft Office System 2007 releases; SharePoint Server,  Office desktop applications and the standardization of Office Open XML. During the last few months this market has exploded here in Sweden, I'm not sure if we are late or early up here? I have heard through Microsoft channels that the product sales of the Office desktop applications have experienced increased sales numbers during the same period. I look forward to continuing with this during 2008.

    The heavily discussed OOXML standardization has of course affected me and I look forward to see what will happen during the BRM in the beginning of 2008. I really hope it will get an approval, which will hopefully result in that ECMA International will submit the XPS (XML Paper Specification), which I think is one really interesting standard.

    Summing up 2007 and not mentioning Windows Vista, would feel very odd for me, so here it comes. I had great expectations for Windows Vista during the beta phase and when it was released. Beta testing is nothing compared to working with it eight hours a day. I currently uses Vista as my primary OS for my business laptop and as a Media Center at home. As a Media Center machine, and occasionally playing some games on, is great - except for the d**n lack of graphic driver support from Nvidia. As a primary workstation, I would like to say that it really sucks, if you are doing anything else but using Office 2007! I have been struggling with it for a year now, far to long I think. My rescue has been Virtual PC with a couple of different machines. But I'm positive and have big hopes for Vista Service Pack 1.

    And I'm still wondering what will happen to the Ultimate Extras - will it ever be worth the money!

    Blogging has been fun, I have not had the time I wished for it but I think I have had some interesting post during the last year. Here are the top five posts of 2007 (written during 2007):

    1. NVIDIA drivers for Windows Vista with overscan available in march - that did not happen!
    2. Dissecting XPS, part 1 - The basics - first part of the Dissecting XPS series.
    3. Customize the Favorite Links in Windows Vista common dialogs
    4. Using Windows Vista ReadyBoost on an SD-card
    5. Windows DreamScene Content Pack available - I was not the only one looking forward to this...and got disappointed!

    All time favorite post is Watch DVDs in VIDEO_TS folders on Vista Media Center - wonder why :-)

    2008

    I'm really looking forward to 2008 and this is my whish list for the next year:

    • A working version of Windows Vista with Service Pack 1
    • That OOXML gets approval from the national bodies
    • That XPS is submitted to ISO
    • Getting at least a few of our customers to upgrade to Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008
    • Having a nice parental leave
    • Getting some time over so I can finish msfeedicon version 3
    • Testing out the new Media Center for Vista, codename Fiji
    • Internet Explorer 8

    What are your whishes for 2008?

    The list can grow longer, but these are the ones currently on my mind. I will keep blogging about them and other stuff that I find interesting for the moment.

    I hope that this blog will continue to grow in number of subscribers, and I would be glad if you give me some feedback on my posts and recommend it to friends and colleagues.

    A Happy New Year to all of you!

    Hoarfrost

    This shot was taken the day before Christmas eve at our weekend cottage. It was a great scenery with one centimeters of hoarfrost.

  • SharePoint is powered up with more Web 2.0 features

    Tags: Microsoft, Business, SharePoint, Internet and the Web, Software

    Today Microsoft announced that it will be extending Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 with new enterprise social computing capabilities, by adding features from the partners NewsGator (Press release) and Atlassian.

    SharePoint Connector for Confluence

    This connector will integrate the Atlassian product called Confluence which is an enterprise wiki that makes it easy for your team to collaborate and share knowledge. The connector is allowing you to create more advanced wikis and blogs than the standard features of SharePoint or you can include SharePoint lists into Confluence, it even allows you to search both SharePoint content and documents as well as the Confluence content in one location.

    Every SharePoint user will get their own personal blog and wiki, which will enhance the possibility of making a great Enterprise 2.0 site.

    This connector is currently available as beta at no cost.

    Newsgator Social Sites

    NewsGator Social Sites is a set of site templates, Web parts and middleware to enhance the social computing for Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Here you will find even better feed/blog management, tag clouds, feed statistics and more.

    Screenshot of Newsgator Social Sites

    These are great additions to SharePoint, I have not yet tried them out, but it's on my agenda for sure! I have for a long time talked warmly about the enterprise version of Web 2.0 called Enterprise 2.0. At least here in Sweden it is difficult to get this concept going but this tool will surely get us in the right direction.

  • The new communicating DELL - DELL 2.0

    Tags: Microsoft, Business, Internet and the Web

    DELL, one of the largest PC computer-hardware companies , has really understood how important it is to communicate and interact with customers.

    First of all I am a very satisfied DELL user, except for some problems with my Inspiron 9100, and I think that the DELL support has been great. But having good stuff to sell an providing satisfactory support is not everything. To be able to stay on top you have to evolve and get with the trends and listen to your customers/community.

    DELL has lost marketshare, to HP, and revenues and the management has changed. To get back on track DELL has launched DELL 2.0.

    The DELL corporate blog - Direct2Dell - is one great way to start communicating with their customers, and DELL has taken this communication even one step further with DELL IdeaStorm.

    IdeaStorm is a, web 2.0 stylish, community where you can post your ideas on how DELL should evolve and be better, about 3.000 ideas has been posted so far. You can promote and comment on ideas you think are great and hope for DELL to notice them and hopefully implement them. DELL has already taken some ideas into consideration which can be found here - Ideas in Action.

    I hope other companies will take after this. I remember Microsoft had something similar for the Windows Server program (https://www.windowsserverfeedback.com/), but that's offline now.

    Do you know of any other similar community approaches?

  • The Green Intranet - how to make your Intranet design ecological

    Tags: Business, Internet and the Web, Hardware

    Thinking about the environment is a high-priority nowadays and I stumbled across an interesting article on how we could save money and possible preserve the environment - Black Google Would Save 3,000 Megawatts a Year.

    The point in this article is that a CRT monitor uses up to 15 watts less power with a black screen instead of white, and as you know power costs money and affects the environment, mostly, in a negative way.

    Just to find out I used the information in the article and tried to convert it to an Intranet scenario, in which the company I work for focuses, and calculated out how much a company could save on applying these facts on the Intranet design. Intranets is often used so that it occupies the screen of the user most of the day.

    The chart below shows how much companies of different sizes (the series, 100 up to 10.000 ,in the chart) that have an intranet that the users use about 4 hours a day, 260 days a year.

    The x-axis represents the power usage of the monitors when using the Intranet (74 watts is pure white and 59 is all black) and the y-axis is the actual savings ($0.10 per kWh).

    Green Intranet Savings

    As you can see it's not that much for a single company in savings, as in the Google case, but if we all try to think about it we might save a tree or two in the rain forests :-).

    Anyway it might be of interest or fun someday to use the numbers when discussing design with a company that have an environmental friendly mindset.

About Wictor...

Wictor Wilén is a Director and SharePoint Architect working at Connecta AB. Wictor has achieved the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) - SharePoint  and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) - SharePoint 2010 certifications. He has also been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for four consecutive years.

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