Podcasts and Flights at Ignite 2017


Podcast at Ignite

Ignite Wind-down

After a busy week in Orlando, I am in full wind-down mode and recovering from the Ignite 2017 conference. The event itself was excellent, but there were many complaints about how far attendees had to walk between the West and South halls of the Orange County Conference Center. Some reported Fitbit step counts of over 40,000 for a day, which is a lot. Moving from the West hall, where many of the Office 365 sessions were located, to the expo area in the South hall, was a humid and hot trek, especially when the moving walkways and escalators broke (regretfully, a common occurrence).

The expo area was what you’d expect. Lots of ISV stands (Figure 1) and a massive Microsoft area, which was a good place to catch up with program managers and engineers.

Quadrotech booth Ignite 2017

Figure 1: Quadrotech booth at Ignite 2017

My Ignite Sessions

In any case, my week was busy as I spoke at one breakout session (75 minutes – a recording is available online), two theater sessions in the expo hall (20 minutes each), and moderated a panel of Exchange MVPs for a question and answer session (here’s the recording). Moderate is possibly a bad word. Control might be better. In any case, it was fun.

Microsoft posts recordings of many sessions online to allow attendees who miss sessions and those who don’t attend Ignite to catch up with events (hint: use Michel de Rooij’s Ignite download PowerShell script to copy the sessions you want to review).

Making Connections

As always with conferences like Ignite, the best part of the event was the opportunity to meet people, including many of my MVP colleagues. Microsoft erected a wall listing the names of all the current MVPs and obviously this was a natural photo opportunity (Figure 1).  Alan Byrne looks happier here than he did when interviewed by Brad Sams for the “Petri Dish.”

DSC_0300

Figure 1: Standing in front of the MVP wall with Vasil Michev and Alan Byrne

News from Ignite

However good a conference agenda is, there is no substitution for real-life conversations with industry contacts to get the pulse of what’s happening and what might happen. For those who are interested, I published 7 articles based on what I learned at Ignite on Petri.com.

From a news perspective, the most interesting are possibly the ones about Microsoft dropping plans to charge for inactive mailboxes and the transition of Skype for Business Online to Microsoft Teams. However, the news about how hybrid deployments of Exchange will soon be easier and the release of multi-geo support are strategic steps forward in the move to the cloud. And for those who want to stay on-premises, the news that Exchange 2019, SharePoint 2019, and Skype for Business 2019 are coming is welcome.

Podcasting at Ignite

Moving to the main topic of this post, Ignite features a really nicely-kitted out podcast center, overseen by Ally Reckerman with Julius Evans leading the production team. Paul Robichaux and I managed to book a slot for our “Office 365 Exposed” podcast and recorded the episode on Wednesday evening.

Christophe Fiessinger, a program manager for Office 365 Groups, came along to join the debate (Figure 2). He was a good sport, even if some of his answers marked him as having high potential for political office. I think the information that we shared was valuable and the in-studio audience seemed to appreciate it. The highlight for me was Paul’s analogy comparing mailboxes to children. You’ll have to listen to the recording to understand what I mean.

Podcast Ignite 2017

Figure 2: A heated debate during the podcast (image credit: Nicolas Blank)

Video and audio recordings of the podcast are now available for your viewing and listening pleasure. The video is here and the audio is available through Paul’s “Down Home Page” or from iTunes, where you can find previous episodes. You’ll notice that the quality of this episode is much better , which is what happens when recording is in the hands of experts.

Flying with Paul

After finishing the “Ask the Exchange MVPs” session late on Thursday afternoon, I headed to Kissimmee Airport to fly with Paul Robichaux. We have wanted to fly together ever since Paul bought his plane and never quite managed to be together in the same place at the same time with the plane in easy reach. Paul took a number of other guests for a quick flight in the Orlando area before I got there.

Unfortunately, I arrived close to sunset (Figure 3). This wasn’t a problem for flying because Paul’s license allows him to fly for an hour past sunset, but it meant that photos from the plane were impossible, even with a Nikon D5 (think of 1/40 second exposure at f3.5 at ASA 8000 from a moving object). Despite flying over Walt Disney World, all I have are some memories and blurred photos.

Paul Robichaux plane

Figure 3: Standing in front of Paul’s plane at KISM

Ignite 2018

Ignite 2018 will be in Orlando from September 24-28, 2018. If you are interested in attending the event, you might want to book hotel rooms or Airbnb now. You can also pre-register for the event now. There were 23,000 attendees at this year’s event and probably more will be in Orlando next September.

Home to Ireland

After the hectic week, it’s a pleasure to anticipate a leisurely return home to Ireland on the direct Aer Lingus flight to Dublin tonight. Next week will be hectic too because the Office 365 for IT Pros team will be working hard to generate an updated book including the news from Ignite.

Like after every conference, we have to be careful to separate information about features that will (or might) appear in a few months from the practical tips about what you can do today with Exchange Online, Teams, Groups, SharePoint Online, and the rest of the Office 365 ecosystem. The joy of working on an always-evolving eBook is that we can deal with change in a way that printed publications cannot. It’s a good place to be in.

Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna.

Want to know more about how to manage Office 365? Find what you need to know in “Office 365 for IT Pros”, the most comprehensive eBook covering all aspects of Office 365. Available in PDF and EPUB formats (suitable for iBooks) or for Amazon Kindle.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Cloud, Travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcing Office 365 for IT Pros Fourth Edition


The writing team is thrilled to announce that the fourth edition of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook is now available. We have been working on this book for the last three months and it is great to see everything come together.

You can’t simply announce a new edition without a reason to create it. We set out with four goals:

  • Restructure, rationalize, and improve flow. When we started out on this project, the focus was on Exchange Online. Now we cover all of Office 365. We took a hard look at the structure and flow of the book and made changes that we think produce a better book.
  • Introduce new material. Office 365 keeps on changing, so we have much better coverage in this edition of topics such as InTune, Skype for Business, and the new Office 365 Data Governance framework. We are very happy that Ståle Hansen joined the team to write the chapter on Skype for Business.
  • Expand coverage of key areas. We think that the third edition offers good coverage of many parts of Office 365, but we wanted to do better. We have worked over the coverage of Office 365 Groups, Teams, and many other points to make the text clearer and more content-rich.
  • Remove obsolete content. After two years of writing about Office 365, we could lose some pages that were not as relevant as they once were. We removed coverage of Exchange Online and SharePoint Online eDiscovery as all the focus is now on Office 365 eDiscovery.

The fourth edition of Office 365 for IT Pros breaks the 1,000-page barrier. We added roughly 120 pages of new material and removed about 70 of old. It’s a big book, just like Office 365 is a big cloud suite.

The fourth edition is not complete. This is a living book and the June 1 release is the starting point for updates that we will apply over the next year. We already know of some important features that are coming soon and the Ignite conference next September will bring a flush of announcements that deserve coverage, once the related code appears.

You can expect to see us release weekly updates for the fourth edition of Office 365 for IT Pros over the next few weeks, although we might take a break for a couple of weeks in summer.

At the same time as we have been working on the fourth edition of Office 365 for IT Pros, we have been pushing out weekly updates for the third edition. The last update for the third edition appeared on May 25. You can check all the updates issued for the third edition on the change log.

We strongly believe that the issuing of updated books is only way to document an ever-changing cloud service like Office 365 is through frequent updates, which is why we release these updates. During its time, the third edition grew from 800 to 950 pages, so although we corrected errors, typos, and the like, we also added a lot of new material over the year.

Upgrades

If you subscribed to the third edition through Practical365.com (previously ExchangeServerPro.com), you will receive an email with details of how to upgrade to the fourth edition for $12.50. This entitles you to receive all future updates for the fourth edition until it is replaced.

New Purchases

New purchasers can buy the EPUB/PDF version of the eBook from Practical365.com. Again, once you buy a copy, you have access to all future updates for the fourth edition until it is replaced.

Kindle

The Kindle version of the fourth edition is in the process of publishing on Amazon.com and its global network of country-level sites. Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow us to offer upgrade rights to readers. If you want a copy of the fourth edition, you must buy it.

The third edition of the book will stay available on Amazon until the end of June to allow people who bought a copy to refresh with the last update. After that, we will retire the Kindle version of the third edition.

Our Sponsor

We could not afford to dedicate the number of hours put into Office 365 for IT Pros without the support of QUADROtech, our sponsor. QUADROtech makes some great software for PST, archive, and mailbox migrations. Check them out if you’re considering moving any data to Office 365.

Posted in Cloud, Office 365, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Office 365 for IT Pros 4th Edition – Change Log


Office 365 for IT Pros, 4th Edition, was published on 1 June 2017.  Copies of the book are available in EPUB/PDF format at practical365.com or Kindle at Amazon.com and local subsidiaries.

This document describes the changes made to the book since its original release. The document is up-to-date as of the version released on October 20, 2017. We try and release an updated version weekly, usually on a Friday unless we are disrupted by something like a major conference. For example, we did not produce an update during the Microsoft Ignite conference.

We have released 19 updates for the 4th edition since its publication: 9 June, 16 June, 23 June, 30 June, 7 July, 14 July, 21 July, 28 July, 4 August, 11 August, 18 August, 25 August, 1 September, 8 September, 15 September, 22 September, 6 October, 13 October, 20 October.

Amazon notified purchasers that an updated file for the Kindle version exists on: 9 August and 18 September (after 9th update – 4 August, and 14th update – 15 September). We can only ask Amazon to update monthly and even so, sometimes they do not accept that we make enough changes to justify them sending a notification to customers that they can download the updated file.

Updates for Office 365 for IT Pros, 4th ed.

Date Chapter Change
20 Oct 6 Add note about RPC over HTTP support ceasing on Oct 31, 2017.
20 Oct 8 New information about user role assignment policies. In addition, some comments about RPC over HTTP. Also, add coverage about the OWA mailbox cleanup feature.
20 Oct 10 Rewritten section about user thumbnail photos.
20 Oct 14 Latest version of Outlook for iOS (Android soon) can create new Office 365 Groups.
20 Oct 16 Guest users cannot update their user photos. Many other changes in the text about how to use Teams. Also, you can now have 2,500 members in a team.
20 Oct 22 Completed the rewrite of the chapter to describe using the new Azure portal to add and use IRM templates, etc. (MAJOR UPDATE)
20 Oct 23 Section on Delve Search refreshed.
13 Oct 15 Added detail about group naming policy.
13 Oct 16 Various updates about guest access to Teams. Also, a new way is available to view channel activity.
13 Oct 1 Microsoft prediction that 70% of Exchange users will be in the cloud by FY19. Also, Microsoft is renaming First Release to “Targeted Release.”
13 Oct 3 Connect existing team sites to Office 365 Groups.
13 Oct 15 Updated comments about when to use a dynamic Office 365 group.
13 Oct 16 Minor clarifications about emailing to team channels. Also, clarifications and expansion of content covering the deletion of a team.
13 Oct 22 Exchange Online now supports BYOK. Because of the underlying architectural changes, Microsoft updated Office 365 Message Encryption and the way that it uses IRM protection. (MAJOR UPDATE). This update focuses on OME and is part of a major refresh for Chapter 22. We will update the sections covering creating IRM templates via the Azure portal before the old portal is deprecated on 30 November.
6 Oct 1 Include Microsoft 365 as a way of licensing Office 365. Include coverage of Office 365 multi-geo capabilities.
6 Oct 4 Pass Through Authentication is now out of preview. Also, add note about low use of MFA to protect Office 365 admin accounts.
6 Oct 5 New Reports Reader admin role.
6 Oct 6 Added section on Client Access Rules for Exchange Online.
6 Oct 8 Added information about the Set-CASMailboxPlan cmdlet and how it can be used to control protocol settings for mailbox plans.
6 Oct 12 News from Ignite about some changes that might be coming for hybrid environments.
6 Oct 14 Rewrote the section covering creation of a new Office 365 Group. Clarification about the licensing requirements for premium features of Office 365 Groups. (MAJOR UPDATE)
6 Oct 15 Rewrote sections covering settings in the AAD policy for groups. Added some more detail about using Add-UnifiedGroupLinks and the group naming policy. Rewrote some parts of section on dynamic Office 365 Groups (MAJOR UPDATE).
6 Oct 16 Lots of new information about Teams architecture (MAJOR UPDATE).
6 Oct 19 Minor clarification that content searches always search archive mailboxes if enabled.
6 Oct 20 Minor clarification about how audit searches work. Add emphasis on enabling new mailboxes for auditing. Mention new Report Reader role and that the Power BI content pack is now “Office 365 Usage Analytics.”
6 Oct 21 Minor corrections from Ignite 2017.
22 Sept 3 Some updated comments about controlling external sharing for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.
22 Sept 14 DL naming policy no longer applies to Office 365 Groups.
22 Sept 15 Rewritten section about the Groups AD policy. New content about the groups naming policy. New information about how to scan for and remove guest user accounts for domains you don’t want to host. Expanded the information in section on Azure B2B Collaboration. The Organization-wide block for connector creation now works for Teams. (MAJOR UPDATE)
22 Sept 16 Added many new details and insights about external access, channel deletion and creation, audit records, and so on. (MAJOR UPDATE)
22 Sept 19 Extra information about content search filters.
15 Sept 3 Added information about how to control the sync client options available for SharePoint and OneDrive libraries. Also, added link to page comparing functionality available in Office 365 Video and Stream.
15 Sept 5 External access for Microsoft Teams is configured in the Office 365 Admin Center
15 Sept 6 Add note about the new “my workspace” program for Mac Office.
15 Sept 7 Current limit for migration of public folders to Exchange Online is 100K.
15 Sept 11 Fix annoying figure numbering issue.
15 Sept 13 Added detail about limitations that exist when a mailbox is on-premises and its archive is in the cloud.
15 Sept 14 Teams external access caused some text updates.
15 Sept 15 Add section on Azure B2B collaboration to cover some of the technical details about external access to Groups and Teams. Fix missing curly bracket in example PowerShell command. (MAJOR UPDATE)
15 Sept 16 Major rewrite and lots of new content due to the advent of external access for Teams. (MAJOR UPDATE)
15 Sept 18 Auto-label policies based on DLP sensitive data types now support Exchange Online.
8 Sept 1 Fixed an annoying problem that sometimes happens when Word inserts a complete paragraph instead of a simple cross-reference to a figure (1-2 in this case).
8 Sept 2 Added factors to consider when choosing a partner to help with an Office 365 deployment.
8 Sept 6 Insert note about the Office 365 plans that have licenses for the Outlook mobile clients. Also fixed a bad reference (chapter ref to 17 instead of 16 for information about Teams).
8 Sept 7 Section on public folder migration rewritten because Microsoft will soon make tools available to move PFs to Office 365 Groups.
8 Sept 9 Rewrite section to clarify several points about shared mailboxes and to add a note about using mailbox and Office 365 audit records to figure out who sent email from a shared mailbox.
8 Sept 16 Included information about how to generate diagnostic logs for Teams.
1 Sept 2 Included Office 365 SLA for Q2 2017.
1 Sep 5 Secure Score is now available from the Security and Compliance Center.
1 Sep 8 Rewrite for “Securing the data of ex-employees” section.
1 Sept 16 Various clarifications about small points in the content covering Teams, including one error in a PowerShell example. Also, added coverage for some of the formatting options that exist in Teams conversations.
25 Aug 2 Note that application changes on user workstations can increase demand for network bandwidth (Office AutoSave is an example).
25 Aug 3 Update text about the sharing of SharePoint site collections to reflect the change described in Chapter 15. Updated graphics and text for the OneDrive for Business Admin Center.
25 Aug 8 Updated text to clarify some points about removing mailboxes.
25 Aug 14 Rewritten description and figures covering the creation of distribution groups. Also, clarify that the sites used by Groups cannot have sub-sites.
25 Aug 15 Changes to the default sharing setting for the SharePoint site collections used by Office 365 Groups. Also, while Office 365 Groups check that the alias assigned to a new group is unique, Groups do not check for other mail recipients with the same alias, which could cause a problem with directory synchronization.
18 Aug 1 Added section on Azure Active Directory licensing and fixed bad chapter reference in Table 1-5.
18 Aug 2 New definition for when Microsoft generates a post incident report (PIR) following an outage.
18 Aug 3 Amended text in introduction about SharePoint Online.
18 Aug 15 Change in relationship between Azure AD settings for the tenant and the policy controlling Office 365 Group creation.
18 Aug 20 Emphasize that not all Azure AD audit events end up in the Office 365 audit data mart.
11 Aug 5 Include PowerShell example to report on accounts holding Office 365 administrative roles. In addition, Microsoft has refreshed the way that they handle support requests, so we have rewritten that section.
11 Aug 7 PST Capture tool is now the PST Collection tool
11 Aug 15 The Groups expiration policy is now available in preview. Classifications now appear more generally in Groups clients.
11 Aug 16 New app controls for Microsoft Teams.
11 Aug 17 Refreshed text about Intune.
11 Aug 18 How to block the Managed Folder Assistant from processing a mailbox.
4 Aug 1 Added information about “sovereign clouds.”
4 Aug 15 Add PowerShell example showing how to find groups owned by a certain user. Also, Microsoft released the ability to set a policy to block or allow external access from certain domains.
4 Aug 16 Microsoft released an Outlook add-in to schedule Teams meetings. Also, the latest versions of the Teams app for IOS and Android support video and voice meetings. Finally, Planner has a new UI so some screen shots and text are refreshed.
4 Aug 20 Updated information and a new PowerShell example about auditing of group creation.
4 Aug 24 MyAnalytics Outlook add-in generates reminders about commitments made by users using machine leaning.
28 July 8 Updated “Finding mailboxes” section.
28 July 12 Clarification about correct value for a registry setting for the HCW. Also, error fixed in cmdlet name.
28 July 14 Windows desktop app now available for Yammer.
28 July 16 Information added about controlling the ability of Team members to edit or remove messages in conversations. Several other minor updates.
28 July 18 Manual disposition now captures items that have their retention date extended in an ExtendedRetention audit record.
28 July 19 You cannot exclude public folders from contents searches with a filter.
28 July 21 Minor updates and added information about the audit records captured when users override a DLP policy tip in SharePoint or OneDrive.
21 July 1 Microsoft has changed Office 365 kiosk plans to “first-line worker” (F1). Also, included update for Microsoft Q4 FY17 results for commercial cloud products.
21 July 5 Rewritten section about programming Office 365.
21 July 14 Office 365 Groups can now have up to 100 owners.
21 July 15 Distribution groups with more than 10 owners are now eligible for conversion.
21 July 18 Some added detail inserted covering how manual dispositions work.
21 July 20 Revised text for Office 365 auditing.
21 July 21 Office 365 DLP policies now support and/or checking against groups of sensitive data types or classification labels.
21 July 22 Some added detail about AIP.
21 July 25 Reference to K1 plan replaced by F1.
14 July 1 Office 365 E3 and E5 plans are in Microsoft 365 enterprise plans.
14 July 14 Clarification about how Groups functions as a membership service.
14 July 16 Added tip about starting Teams conversations with subject.
14 July 18 New manual disposition action available for classification labels. Added clarification about what GDPR might mean for Office 365 tenants.
14 July 19 Microsoft has postponed the block on creating new eDiscovery cases in Exchange.
14 July 24 Rewrite description of MyAnalytics to reflect updated UI and the introduction of Workplace Analytics on July 5.
7 July 3 Use the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet to increase the number of days a OneDrive personal site is kept after its owner’s account is deleted.
7 July 5 Emphasize that it might take up to 24 hours before switching an account from First Release to Standard Release is effective.
7 July 14 Moved information about the Power BI integration with Office 365 Groups to chapter 16.
7 July 15 Inserted note about lack of granular control in group creation policy.
7 July 16 Inserted text about how Stream creates Groups. Also, inserted the Power BI text previously in 14.
7 July 23 Delve only supports adding an item to a board if its card displays a board icon.
30 June 3 Default sharing setting for site collections connected to Office 365 Groups is changing to allow sharing with authenticated external users.
30 June 5 Updated list of features available in the Security and Compliance Center. Also, note that the Secure Score service can recommend actions that need you to buy E5 licenses.
30 June 8 The Remove-CalendarEvents allows administrators to cancel meetings organized by someone who leaves the company. Also, note added about hidden items that exist inside user mailboxes.
30 June 13 Removed text about synchronizing mail contacts to Office 365 Groups.
30 June 14 Minor rewording to be more specific about some of the details and limits of the SharePoint site used by an Office 365 Group.
30 June 15 EAC now supports the bulk conversion of distribution lists to Office 365 Groups.
30 June 16 Some corrections about Planner, including missing the fact that an Android client is available! Teams now supports Cloud Storage (access to Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, etc.)
30 June 18 You cannot assign a label that is a formal record as the default for a SharePoint site.
30 June 19 Text covering supervision policies moved to Chapter 20 as it is more appropriately covered under auditing.
30 June 20 Note about the reports available in the Security and Compliance Center. Also, OneDrive sync clients can generate many activity alerts and how to scope ASM policies to specific groups to ease licensing requirements.
30 June 22 AIP now has a “Do not track” document feature in preview.
30 June 24 MyAnalytics now sends a weekly summary email to users. Also, a new version of the Outlook add-in delivers a range of personalized insights instead of focusing on the progress of sent emails.
23 June 2 Updated text to emphasize the need for good internal networks when moving to Office 365.
23 June 3 Microsoft Stream is now GA.
23 June 12 Inclusion of content on SharePoint Hybrid and changes in the Hybrid Configuration Wizard.
23 June 13 Updated coverage of AAD Connect features and functionality.
23 June 14 People can use the Follow in Inbox slider in the group card to decide whether to become a subscriber to a group. Microsoft Stream can create new groups to control access to video content.
23 June 15 If the same address exists for Office 365 and Microsoft consumer services, you cannot use it for a guest user.
23 June 16 Mention that you can drag and drop teams to rearrange their order within the list shown in the client.
23 June 18 Applying labels in SPO and OD4B sites logs the ComplianceSettingChanged audit record. Also, clarification about using labels with SPO.
23 June 19 How to speed up downloads of exported data found in content searches.
23 June 20 The search for user option in the Security and Compliance Center shows their compliance status and recent audit records.
16 June 3 Discussion about using the Request-SPOPersonalSite cmdlet to force creation of OneDrive sites for users.
16 June 4 Updated AD FS information for Windows server 2016 and information on Conditional Access,
16 June 7 Clarification that Office 365 E5 licenses are needed to filter PST data ingested by the Import Service.
16 June 11 Updated section on DBEB due to recent Azure AD Connect changes. Added information about advanced mail flow scenarios.
16 June 14 Recommendation not to create Office 365 Groups through the Azure Portal (and explanation why). Clarification if what happens when an item is deleted in a group subject to a retention hold.
16 June 18 Introduction of LAPFID allows OWA to recover deleted items to the original folder.
16 June 19 Several minor additions and updates about content searches. Added note that eDiscovery activities are recorded in the Office 365 audit log.
9 June 1 Availability of Microsoft guides to help customers move from G Suite to Office 365.
9 June 3 Reminder to select the setting to force usage of the new sync client for OneDrive in the SharePoint Admin Center.
9 June 15 Clarification about blocking the creation of connectors for Office 365 Groups (a knock-on change also made in Chapter 16).
9 June 16 Updated coverage on Teams and compliance.
9 June 18 Clarification about the retention action applied by Office 365 retention policies to Exchange mailboxes.
9 June 19 Added description of how to perform a content search against a specific mailbox folder or site folder (targeted collection).
9 June 20 Expanded section on Alert Policies (require E5 licenses). Addition of note on reporting cmdlets that Microsoft will deprecate in October 2017. Also, included note about how to integrate third-party SIEM servers with Office 365 Advanced Security Management.
9 June 21 Clarify the time expected for DLP policies to be published and effective within workloads.

 

Posted in Office 365 | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Why You Should Come to Office 365 Engage…


As some of you know, I am the conference chair for Office 365 Engage, a new conference that emphasizes the need to treat Office 365 as a whole rather than a loose collection of mildy-cloudified on-premises applications. The event takes place in Haarlem, a rather nice town in the Netherlands, on June 19-22 2017.

Apart from the many attractions of Haarlem (good restaurants and nice places to visit), we have a serious intent behind the conference. Instead of viewing Office 365 through the prism of Exchange or SharePoint, which is often the approach taken by conferences that purport to cover Office 365, we have asked our speakers to take a more all-encompassing view and emphasize the value that tenants can gain from Office 365 as a whole, rather than just thinking about moving email or documents or whatever to the cloud.

The conference speakers include 31 MVPs, all skilled in their field and good speakers to boot. They have been selected not because they appear at this conference or that conference, but because they have a really important perspective to communicate. I admire and respect all of our speakers, but I have challenged them to help conference attendees understand and appreciate how to take advantage of the true breadth of Office 365. I think they will rise to the occasion.

I’ll be speaking too. I plan to discuss how Office 365 has changed since its release six years ago in June 2011 and look at some of the challenges that face Office 365 in the future. Thinking about the complexity of this topic makes my mind squirm, but I have a definite perspective that I want to share with attendees.

I also have the great fortune and challenge to quiz industry watchers Mary-Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott about their views on Office 365 and where Microsoft is heading with cloud services. All I can promise you is honesty and insight on Wednesday morning as I struggle to keep up with two of the most important commentators on Microsoft in general. It should be good fun. Here’s an interview that I did with Mary-Jo Foley to talk about the conference…

Interview with Mary-Jo Foley

We cannot promise that we will answer every question that attendees have. No conference can do that. What we can do is promise that we will make experts available to describe their passion, insight, and knowledge about what makes Office 365 tick. Isn’t that enough for you to consider coming to Haarlem in June?

Oh, and by the way, if you use code SPRTR486, you’ll get a nice discount on the normal price. Don’t tell anyone that I said that…

Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna.

 

 

Posted in Cloud, Office 365 | Tagged | 1 Comment

Progress Report: Fourth Edition of Office 365 for IT Pros


June 1 is the New Date

The writing team for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook is working hard to complete the fourth edition. We originally planned for a May 1 launch, but realistically I do not think we are going to be done until the middle of the month. With that in mind, we are now heading for a June 1 date. Slippages happen in the software business!

Given that we published the third edition on June 1, 2016, releasing the fourth edition on June 1, 2017 seems appropriate. A year is a good interval for an edition of a constantly-refreshed book. It is an eon in Internet time, especially given the development cadence of cloud services like Office 365. This is the only book of its type available on the market today. Others have tried to do something similar, but we have seen nothing appear.

More Skype for Business Content

Part of the delay is due to the sheer effort involved in writing, part because Microsoft has not released some features that we want to cover, and part because of the need for new material to be reviewed by our fearless technical editor. Another exciting factor is a decision that we took to include a new chapter devoted to Skype for Business. The author for that chapter is well-known Skype MVP Ståle Hansen, a very welcome addition to the team.

Why a New Edition

I have received some questions from readers to ask why we feel the need to replace the third edition. After all, it is popular in the market and has received great reviews on Amazon (Figure 1), all of which makes us happy.

BookReviews

Figure 1: The Kindle page for the Third Edition

Although we have been updating the third edition on a weekly basis since its release in June 2016 (see the change log for details), there is a limit to what you can do to keep a book refreshed within the structure laid down by the chapters. Given the number of changes we have made to incorporate new information, including the release of major new applications in Teams and StaffHub, we think we have explored the limits of what we can do in the current structure.

Fourth Edition Changes

Our plans are to:

  • Remove a pile of obsolete material, chiefly around the compliance and search area where Microsoft will no longer allow tenants to create workload-specific searches from July 1, 2017. There is obsolete material elsewhere too and we will remove it as we go through the content.
  • Include new content covering the Office 365 data governance framework, Skype for Business, and other topics.
  • Expand coverage of existing topics. We have always offered extremely good coverage of Exchange Online and we know that we need to do better in SharePoint, OneDrive, and other apps.
  • Lay the foundation for other changes. For instance, we know that we have to move from V1 of the Azure Active Directory PowerShell module (the Msol cmdlets) to V2 (the AzureAD cmdlets). This is not a straightforward process. We have over 200 example commands in various chapters of the book and the V2 module does not yet offer full feature equivalence with the V1 module. In other words, you cannot simply swap out a V1 command for a V2 command.
  • Restructure the chapters to create a more natural flow for the content. We are also taking the chance to split up some of the mega-chapters (like Office 365 Groups) and to bring material together where topics are spread across multiple chapters today.

Remember that we are dealing with a 950-page, 450,000-word book and that all the material must be edited and reviewed after it is written (or moved). In short, it is a big task, but we will deliver, even if we delay the release a little.

In the interim, we will continue to update the third edition. Some of the updates are not as detailed as we want, but we will tell you in the text where we are holding content for the fourth edition. We hope that you find the updates keep the usefulness of the book. Once we publish the fourth edition, we will cease updating the third and begin the process of applying weekly updates to the fourth.

Competition

Competition is good because it usually drives an increase in quality. We look forward to seeing what Microsoft Press delivers in its much-delayed second edition of the Inside Out title, now apparently relaunched with a new writing team and a publication goal of September 25, 2017 (according to Amazon.com). Microsoft Press aims to deliver a “current book service.” According to their FAQ, this means that:

Microsoft Press will update the content periodically, depending on the frequency of significant updates to the software. Changes will be made for 12 to 18 months following first publication date.”

However, the updates are online only and cannot be downloaded to eReaders. In comparison, our approach is to:

  • Offer frequent updates for the duration of the book. With the change to a June 1 publication, we are now on an annual release cycle. Normally, we update weekly.
  • Always publish fully-built books. We want people to use our content, so we integrate new material and changes to build complete PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions that we make available to subscribers. We do not offer online (web-only) copies.
  • Offer updates to new editions. We appreciate the support of our subscribers. To acknowledge their support, we allow subscribers of the EPUB/PDF versions to upgrade to new editions at a very low cost. We cannot offer the same facility to Kindle readers because Amazon does not support this kind of offer.

Let’s hope that the Office 365 developers do not make the book instantly obsolete through the announcements they will make at the Ignite conference in Orlando that same week. It will be interesting to observe how they cope with the number of changes that happen inside Office 365, especially when Microsoft makes announcements about new apps, features, and developments thick and fast, which is what usually happens at Ignite.

Updates

Those who want to continue with us on this journey of documenting Office 365 will soon receive the chance to upgrade to the fourth edition and so continue to receive updates. We quite understand if others wish to stay with the third edition, but we hope that you will consider our offer to upgrade is reasonable for the value you get from the book.

Now back to work to complete the book…

Tony, Paul, Michael, and Ståle (and Vasil, our TE)

Posted in Cloud, Office 365, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Preparing for the Fourth Edition of Office 365 for IT Pros


Mastering Change

The Office 365 for IT Pros eBook team published the third edition of the book on June 1, 2016. Since then, we have updated the content multiple times to track updates and new developments in Office 365, to expand the breadth and depth of coverage in many areas, and even to correct some bugs.

Microsoft makes hundreds of changes to Office 365 annually and the maintenance of the book requires considerable effort. Since June, the size of the book has grown by 100 pages. This is a net growth as we prune obsolete or unneeded content over time.

Our vision for this project has always been to keep the book alive by updating it on an ongoing basis. For the last six months, we have issued weekly updates in the form of refreshed book files where the new content is integrated with the old. We believe that our commitment to providing readers with updated material is unique for technical books. Quite honestly, we think that regular and consistent updates is the only practical method to deal with a topic like Office 365. It is hard work, which might be why other titles do not use this approach, including the promised Microsoft Press Office 365 Inside Out (with “current book service”) title that has not yet appeared.

How to get Updated Content

If you bought the third edition of Office 365 for IT Pros through ExchangeServerPro.com (now Practical365.com), you can download updated content as we make it available. The same is true for those who received copies of the book from our sponsor, QUADROtech. We also make updates available for the Kindle format of the book and have persuaded Amazon to inform readers about those updates so that readers can refresh their Kindle library. We do not provide updates for books bought in bulk and distributed at conferences and other events.

The Fourth Edition

Because Office 365 for IT Pros is now so large (946 pages and 440,000 words) and we have made so many changes since its original release, we think it is time to begin work on a new edition. The fourth edition of Office 365 for IT Pros will restructure some chapters (for example, split the 80-page chapter on Office 365 Groups), remove material that we now consider obsolete, and provide additional coverage in areas that we consider weak today.

We also need to deal with changes that Microsoft is pushing through, such as the introduction of V2 of the Azure Active Directory PowerShell module. Although an updated PowerShell module does not sound like a big deal, we have 192 references to cmdlets from the module in the current book, each of which we must check to ensure that the examples work after the code is upgraded to the new module. Finally, we need to conduct an end-to-end technical review to ensure that everything that we should cover is in the book and that the coverage makes sense.

The plan is to have the work done by May 1, 2017, which is the second anniversary of the publication of the first edition (then called “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals”). Our ability to meet that date depends on the availability of several new features on the Office 365 roadmap. We cannot write about features and functionality until we have had the chance to use the code in action. We will slip the date if necessary to ensure that we cover material at the right level.

Fewer Updates for the Third Edition

With plans for the fourth edition in place, beginning March 1, 2017 we will generate updates less often for the third edition and will stop adding significant new content to that edition. We will fix errors and clarify information where needed, but we will not provide updates to cover new applications released by Microsoft as when Teams appeared in November 2016 or StaffHub in January 2017. After all, there are only so many hours available in a day.

After the Fourth Edition Appears

When we release the fourth edition, we will retire the third edition. We will also follow our usual practice and make the new edition available to those who bought the third edition at a large discount to the regular price. Purchasers of the fourth edition will receive updates from the release date for at least nine months.

To be explicit, we use a form of subscriber model to fund the ongoing development of content. Without our ability to sell upgrades to each edition and the sponsorship of QUADROtech, there is no way we could afford to dedicate the number of hours that we give to tracking, understanding, and documenting change within Office 365.

A Journey

When we started to write the first edition of the book, we had no real idea of how things might work out. We knew that the traditional publishing model could not cope with the number and variety of changes that occur within a cloud service. That realization led us to opt for electronic formats and avoid paper copies.

Since May 2015, we have learned an enormous amount about ePublishing and the workload and workflow necessary to maintain a book that is updated weekly. We think that we have created an interesting and useful resource for those responsible for managing Office 365 tenants and hope that you agree.

If you have ideas for what we should cover in the fourth edition, please send them to bookcomments@office365itpros.com.

Tony, Paul, and Michael

Posted in Cloud, Email, Exchange, Office 365 | Tagged , , | 3 Comments