Analyzing the Office Servers and Services MVP community 2017

The MVP program (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) is designed to recognize “technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community.” People are always curious about the make-up of the MVP group (including MVPs themselves), so I decided to take a closer look at the section to which I belong.

Information about MVPs is publicly available on the MVP web site. Microsoft lists 505 Office Servers and Services MVPs, which is the group that deals with technologies such as SharePoint, Exchange, and Office 365. Microsoft employs one of those listed and some MVPs wish to be anonymous and do not allow the publication of their personal details on the MVP site. However, I managed to find details for 486 MVPs, or 96.43% of the total adjusted population (504). The figures presented below are based on that data.

The data used omits some MVPs who credibly might be included. For example, Andy Malone’s award is for cloud and datacenter management, yet Andy spends a lot of his time teaching people to use Office 365 effectively. Another example is Brian Desmond, an expert in Active Directory and Identity Management, both of which are essential underpinnings for the Office Servers and Services family.

However, we must have a baseline and that baseline comes from the way Microsoft categorizes MVPs. Here are some data points to consider.

Top Ten Countries

Unsurprisingly, given that it is both Microsoft’s largest and home market, the U.S. tops the list with 108 MVPs with a spill-over into Canada. The U.K. is Microsoft’s second largest and second oldest subsidiary and has always played a strong role in the Office community, so has a large group. The same is true for Australia, which was a strong participant in early Exchange and SharePoint deployments.

  1. United States: 108
  2. Canada: 46
  3. United Kingdom: 25
  4. Australia: 23
  5. Japan: 20
  6. China: 18
  7. Germany: 16
  8. France: 15
  9. Italy: 13
  10. India/Korea: 12

The number for China is likely higher by 5-6 as experience indicates that many of the anonymous MVPs are based in China.

In other figures, we see that Sri Lanka (8) has more MVPs than mature European markets like Belgium and Spain (both 7) or Norway (5). Given the relative market sizes and the fact that Microsoft has Office 365 datacenters in India, it also seems strange that Sri Lanka is so close to the count of Indian MVPs (13).

Sometimes it happens that a Microsoft MVP local lead is successful in recruiting several MVPs over a short period to swell the representation of a country. Given that four of the eight Sri Lankan MVPs have just one or two awards, this might be the case here. Another sign of recent activity is that the Sri Lankan MVPs have an average tenure of 3.38 years while Swedish MVPs (9) have an average tenure of 6.56 years.

Some recent discussions in the MVP Facebook group considered the issue of how many MVPs are female, spurred on by a very interesting article that explained how to use the Microsoft Cognitive API to analyze the sex and age of people based on their photos. In this instance, MVP Jamie Dixon examined the make-up of the U.S.-based MVPs, again using publicly-available data from the MVP web site. That analysis established that 12% of the U.S. MVP community is female.

The Office 365 MVP data indicates that 41 or 8.44% is female (it is sometimes hard to know, even with photos). I do not believe that including the anonymous MVPs into this analysis will change matters in any significant way. As I noted in the Facebook group, this is in line with my experience of managing large technical communities, where the number of female employees ranged from 13% to 6% depending on the grade. I suspect that the amount of contribution required from an individual before they get through the MVP nomination process tends to favor more senior individuals. In this light, the 8.44% result is understandable but “could do better”.

The Focus Areas

Each MVP focuses on a certain area of technology. It’s quite difficult to decide the technology areas in which some MVPs specialize, so some inspired guesswork and data retrieved from MVP profiles (from the MVP site and LinkedIn) plus individual blogs contributed to the distribution.

Office 365 includes both MVPs who specialize in more than a single workload (i.e. they do not focus on Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, or Yammer) and MVPs where insufficient evidence exists to put them into one of the other categories. It could be that this group is smaller (perhaps around 70) and that the other categories need to be adjusted upwards. For now, here’s my best guess:

  • SharePoint: 234
  • Office 365: 118
  • Exchange: 66
  • Skype: 60
  • Yammer: 8

The size of an individual grouping changes over time. For example, two years ago, there were 103 Exchange MVPs, now there are 66. The change marks the transition of work from on-premises Exchange to Office 365 and the attendant refocusing of individuals on that transition.

What can be surprising is the clustering of people within a specialty inside one country. The best example of this is Canada, where 28 of the 46 MVPs (54%) focus on SharePoint. The U.S. has a slightly higher percentage of SharePoint MVPs (58% – 63 from 108), so the percentage isn’t the surprise. It’s rather that Canada boasts 11.97% of the total worldwide SharePoint MVP population. France, for instance, has a substantially higher GDP than Canada, yet has only 7 SharePoint MVPs. Although you cannot translate a country’s GDP into any indication of how much SharePoint work goes on, it’s reasonable to assume that the higher the economic activity, the more technology is consumed. But it’s just one way of looking at a piece of data.

Another surprise is that the United States has only 20 Exchange MVPs. Although this is nearly a third of the worldwide population, the Exchange has always been a strong player in the U.S. market, yet there are relatively few MVPs supporting the activity. On the upside, the Exchange MVP community is very experienced, hence the name “Exchange grumpies” attributed to a certain set of these MVPs.

All of this proves that different reasons underpin why MVP populations exist in certain locations and disciplines. In the case of Canada, it’s likely that a strong local SharePoint community and encouragement from the Microsoft Canada subsidiary contributed to the growth in MVPs. It’s an experienced bunch too (15 of the 26 have five or more years in the program), which usually helps in terms of leadership. The people factor in terms of mentoring others and finding and then proposing suitable candidates to become MVPs cannot be discounted either.

Number of Awards

MVPs receive awards on an annual basis. Microsoft renews MVP status after a review by the local MVP program manager and the sponsoring product group. MVPs learn of their renewal through email, the arrival of which is often fraught with anticipation. The decision to renew is based on an individual’s participation in the MVP program and their contribution to the Microsoft technical community.

Measurement of contribution is an interesting debate. Some MVPs contribute by answering user questions in technical forums like the Microsoft Tech Community (Vasil Michev and Juan Carlos González Martin are notably proactive here). Others prefer to speak at conferences like Microsoft Ignite, others are prolific writers, while others serve as the leaders of country or regional-level user groups. In all cases, it is not the actual form of contribution that is important. Rather, it is the impact of that contribution, something that is not always obvious or easy to measure.

Here is a list of the most experienced MVPs based on the number of awards each has received. The achievement of Ed Crowley to be an Exchange MVP for essentially the entire lifetime of the Exchange product is extraordinary. Ed is well known for his catchphrase “There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems.”

Michael Greth has been an MVP for 19 years, but as SharePoint first shipped in 2001, he has not received awards in the same discipline for all those years.

  • Ed Crowley (Exchange): 20
  • Michael Greth (SharePoint): 19
  • Frank Carius (Exchange): 16
  • Thierry Deman (Exchange): 16
  • Andy David (Exchange): 14
  • Fabrice Romelard (SharePoint): 14
  • Glen Scales (Exchange): 14
  • Heejin Lee (Office 365): 14
  • John Timney (Office 365): 14
  • Norbert Fehlauer (Exchange): 14
  • Paul Robichaux (Exchange): 14
  • Robert L. Bogue (SharePoint): 14
  • Spencer J. Harbar (SharePoint): 14
  • Tony Redmond (Exchange): 14

The median number of awards across the 486 MVPs is five. In one way, you might consider five years to be how long someone might expect to still be in the program, if they continue to contribute at the required level. However, that assumption is invalid when awards track achievement in different areas of technology. For example, Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012, so MVPs who work with Yammer have less time in the program than those who work with Exchange or SharePoint.

Fifty-four (11.1%) of the MVPs are now in their first award cycle, 28 of which are SharePoint MVPs. Introducing new people to the program at the rate of over 10% is a reasonable refresh and reflects the normal turnover that you might see in any population working with technology.

It’s important to say that the MVP community does not always gain people. Some also leave, perhaps because they are no longer working in an area of technology that’s important to Microsoft or because they no longer have the time available to make the expected contribution.

The MVP community flexes and changes to reflect what’s happening in the real world, which means that Microsoft is always looking for great candidates to join. You can nominate yourself or someone else online. Before you do, read this piece by MVP Melanie Hohertz and make sure that you really want what you will take on!

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.


List of Office Servers and Services MVPs as at 1-Jan-2017

Here is the data I used for the analysis.

Name Country Focus Awards
Adam Gent United Kingdom Skype 6
Adam Jacobs United States Skype 7
Adam Levithan United States SharePoint 1
Adis Jugo Bosnia-Herzegovina SharePoint 6
Adnan Amin Pakistan SharePoint 2
Adnan Rafique United States Exchange 1
Agnes Molnar Hungary SharePoint 9
Ai Hirano (Yamasaki) Japan SharePoint 13
Ajay Kakkar India Skype 2
Akira Sakuma Japan Office 365 3
Akira Yamamoto Japan Skype 10
Alan Byrne United Kingdom Office 365 1
Alan Marshall New Zealand SharePoint 4
Alan Richards United Kingdom Office 365 6
Albert-Jan Schot Netherlands SharePoint 3
Alessandro Appiani Italy Skype 2
Alessandro Vannini Italy Office 365 4
Alex Lewis United States Skype 3
Alex Pearce United Kingdom SharePoint 9
Alexander Zhuravlev Russia Office 365 1
Alexey Sadomov Russia SharePoint 6
Alexis Conia France Skype 5
Alistair Pugin South Africa SharePoint 2
Amit Vasu Canada SharePoint 3
Amy Cane Dolzine United States Yammer 2
Anders Dissing Denmark SharePoint 4
Anderson Patricio Canada Exchange 12
Andre Vala Portugal SharePoint 2
Andres Felipe Rojas Parra Colombia SharePoint 5
Andrew Connell United States SharePoint 12
Andrew Higginbotham United States Exchange 3
Andrew Morpeth New Zealand Skype 3
Andrew Price United Kingdom Skype 2
Andy David United States Exchange 14
Andy Dawson United Kingdom SharePoint 2
Anthony Costeseque France SharePoint 5
Antonio Maio Italy SharePoint 5
Asami Kuniyoshi Japan Office 365 1
Ashutosh Singh India SharePoint 6
Asif Rehmani United States SharePoint 10
Atsuo Yamasaki Japan SharePoint 7
Ayako Uruno Japan SharePoint 2
Aye Myat Moe Japan Skype 3
Ayman Mohammed El-Hattab UAE SharePoint 7
Balu Ilag United States Skype 5
Becky Benishek United States Yammer 2
Becky Bertram United States SharePoint 8
Ben Curry United States SharePoint 10
Ben Robb United Kingdom SharePoint 10
Benjamin Niaulin Canada SharePoint 4
Benoit Hamet Australia Exchange 10
Benoît Jester France SharePoint 4
Bhargav Shukla United States Exchange 4
Bijaya Kumar Sahoo India SharePoint 3
Bin Wang China SharePoint 2
Bjoern H Rapp Norway SharePoint 4
Bob German United States SharePoint 1
Brennon Kwok Singapore Skype 5
Brian Alderman United States SharePoint 1
Brian Nøhr Denmark Office 365 4
Brian R Ricks United States Skype 11
Brian Reid United Kingdom Exchange 4
Bruce Jourdain de Coutance France Exchange 4
Bryan Marks Canada Office 365 1
Carlos Citrangulo Brazil SharePoint 3
Cathy Dew United States SharePoint 5
Cedric Perion Canada Office 365 1
Chad McGreanor United States Skype 3
Charles Anthony Caragol United States Skype 3
Chris Givens United States SharePoint 4
Chris Goosen United States Exchange 3
Christian Buckley United States SharePoint 6
Christian Glessner Germany SharePoint 7
Christophe Boucetta Canada Skype 5
Chuantao Duan China SharePoint 3
Claudio Brotto Italy SharePoint 9
Clint Boessen Australia Exchange 7
Colin Phillips Australia SharePoint 4
Corey Roth United States SharePoint 7
Curtis Johnstone Canada Skype 7
Dae Seon Lee Korea Office 365 2
Damian Scoles United States Exchange 4
Dan Usher United States SharePoint 3
Daniel Glenn United States SharePoint 1
Daniel Wessels Germany SharePoint 13
Danny Burlage Netherlands Office 365 6
D’arce Hess United States Office 365 1
Darko Milevski Macedonia F.Y.R.O SharePoint 6
Darrell C Webster New Zealand Office 365 4
Darwin Castro Spain Skype 1
Dave Stork Netherlands Exchange 3
David Amenda Brazil SharePoint 2
David Drever Canada SharePoint 1
David M Feldman United States SharePoint 1
David Mann United States SharePoint 10
David Petree United States Office 365 3
David Schneider Switzerland SharePoint 2
Davide Minieri Italy Office 365 1
Dejan Foro Switzerland Exchange 12
Desmond Lee Switzerland Skype 8
Devendra Velegandla India SharePoint 4
Dileepa Kariyawasam Sri Lanka Office 365 1
Dino Caputo Canada Skype 3
Dinusha Kumarasiri Sri Lanka SharePoint 3
Diogo Dias Heringer Brazil Office 365 3
Dmitri Plotnikov Russia SharePoint 6
Dokyun Kim Korea Office 365 5
Đồng Phương Nam Vietnam Office 365 4
Dongjie Wu China Skype 2
Doug Hemminger United States SharePoint 3
Doug Ware United States SharePoint 6
Dragan Panjkov Bosnia-Herzegovina SharePoint 3
Drew Madelung United States Office 365 1
Dustin Hannifin United States Skype 10
Dux Raymond Sy United States SharePoint 7
Ed Crowley United States Exchange 20
Ed Musters Canada SharePoint 12
Edin Kapić Spain SharePoint 4
Elaine van Bergen Australia SharePoint 7
Eli Z. Robillard Canada SharePoint 12
Elio Struyf Belgium SharePoint 2
Emre Aydin Turkey Office 365 10
Enrique Alberto Rhenals Bárcenas Colombia SharePoint 2
Erdem Avni Avni SELÇUK Turkey SharePoint 2
Eric Alan Shupps United States SharePoint 10
Eric Overfield United States SharePoint 2
Eric Riz Canada SharePoint 4
Erwin van Hunen Sweden SharePoint 3
Etienne Bailly France Office 365 1
Etienne Legendre France SharePoint 8
Eudes Olivier Robert France Skype 6
Eunjoo Lee Korea Office 365 4
EunJung Kwon Korea Office 365 7
Ezgi Can Turkey Office 365 2
Fabian G Williams United States SharePoint 3
Fabian Imaz Uruguay SharePoint 8
Fabio Franzini Italy SharePoint 4
Fabrice Romelard Italy SharePoint 14
Fabrizio Volpe United Kingdom Skype 7
Fernando Andreazi Brazil Office 365 6
Fernando Chiquiza Ramos Colombia SharePoint 2
Frank Carius Germany Exchange 16
Gareth Gudger United States Exchange 2
Gary Steere United States Exchange 2
Gavin Barron United States SharePoint 5
Genki Watanabe Japan Office 365 5
Geoff Evelyn United Kingdom SharePoint 6
Georg Thomas Australia Office 365 3
George Andritsos Greece Exchange 7
Geovany Acevedo Mexico Exchange 3
Gilles Pommier France SharePoint 4
Giuseppe Marchi Italy SharePoint 7
Glen Scales Australia Exchange 14
Gokan Ozcifci Belgium SharePoint 4
Greg Thomas Canada Skype 3
Greig Sheridan Australia Skype 4
Guillaume Meyer France SharePoint 5
Guomao Ding China Exchange 10
Gustavo Adolfo Velez Duque Spain SharePoint 9
Haaron Gonzalez United States SharePoint 12
Habib Mankal Canada Office 365 2
Hakan Uzuner Turkey Office 365 9
Haniel Croitoru Canada SharePoint 1
Hans Brender Germany Office 365 5
Hasan Köroğlu Turkey SharePoint 1
Haylee Fox Australia Office 365 2
Heber Lopes Brazil SharePoint 4
HeeJin Lee Korea Office 365 14
Hilton Giesenow South Africa SharePoint 11
Hirofumi Ota Japan SharePoint 4
Hotaka Amemiya Japan Office 365 2
Hrvoje Kusulja Croatia Office 365 2
HyungJin An Korea Office 365 10
Hyunjung Ko Korea Office 365 1
Iain Smith United Kingdom Skype 3
Ibrahim Benna Canada Exchange 8
Igor Macori Italy SharePoint 10
Igor Malyshev Russia Office 365 4
Ilya Sazonov Russia Exchange 10
Ingo Gegenwarth Germany Exchange 2
Isha Kapoor Canada SharePoint 5
J. Peter Bruzzese United States Office 365 7
Jaap Wesselius Netherlands Exchange 10
Jake Dan Attis United States SharePoint 10
James Cussen Australia Skype 3
James Milne Australia SharePoint 8
James Ooi Shyh Wei Malaysia Skype 5
Jamie McAllister Switzerland SharePoint 5
Jammy Lo Taiwan Office 365 8
Jan Vanek Czech Republic Office 365 3
Jared Matfess United States SharePoint 1
Jason Himmelstein United States SharePoint 4
Jason Kaczor Canada SharePoint 6
Jason Sherry United States Exchange 11
Jason Warren Canada SharePoint 4
Jasper Oosterveld Netherlands SharePoint 3
Jean-Philippe Breton Canada Skype 7
Jeff Guillet United States Exchange 8
Jeff Schertz United States Skype 9
Jeff Willinger United States SharePoint 1
Jennifer Ann Mason United States SharePoint 6
Jeremy Dahl Canada Office 365 4
Jevgenijus Vinochodovas Lithuania Office 365 5
Jianyu Yang China SharePoint 3
Jinfeng Liu China Office 365 5
Johan Dahlbom Sweden Office 365 2
Johan Delimon Belgium Skype 9
John D. Ross United States SharePoint 8
John Liu Australia SharePoint 4
John Naguib Egypt SharePoint 1
John P White Canada SharePoint 7
John Timney United Kingdom Office 365 14
John Weber United States Skype 7
Jonathan McKinney United States Skype 4
Jorge Castañeda Peru Office 365 4
Juan Andrés Valenzuela Chile SharePoint 9
Juan Carlos González Martin Spain SharePoint 9
Juan Manuel Herrera Guatemala SharePoint 9
Juan Pablo Pussacq Laborde Argentina SharePoint 6
Jude Perera Sri Lanka Office 365 2
Julian Bee New Zealand Office 365 3
Julien Chable Korea SharePoint 10
Junzhe Liu China Office 365 1
Jussi Roine Finland SharePoint 3
Justin Alexander Harris United States Exchange 3
Justin Liu China SharePoint 3
Justin Morris Australia Skype 5
Kamil Baczyk Poland Office 365 3
Kamil Jurik Czech Republic SharePoint 11
Kanwal Khipple Canada SharePoint 8
Kaviya Balasubramanian India SharePoint 1
Kazuaki Tauchi Japan Office 365 2
Keith Tuom Canada SharePoint 4
Kelsey Epps Canada Office 365 4
Ken Lasko Canada Skype 6
Kevin Crossman United States Yammer 2
Kevin Trelohan France SharePoint 5
Kim Jong Oh Korea Office 365 2
Kingson Jebaraj UAE Office 365 2
Knut Relbe-Moe Norway SharePoint 3
Konrad Sagala Poland Exchange 10
Kris Wagner United States SharePoint 7
Kumton Suttiraksiri Thailand Office 365 1
Lakshmanan Sethu United States SharePoint 2
Lasse Nordvik Wedø Norway Office 365 2
Lasse Pettersson Sweden Exchange 11
Laura Derbes Rogers United States SharePoint 6
Laurent Miltgen-Delinchamp France Office 365 10
Laurent Teruin France Skype 10
Lee Benjamin United States Exchange 12
Liam Cleary United States SharePoint 10
Liang Tang China Office 365 3
Liang Zhang China Office 365 2
Like Liu China Office 365 7
Lonya French United States Yammer 2
Loryan Strant Australia Office 365 6
Luca Vitali Italy Skype 1
Luis Esteban Valencia Muñoz Colombia SharePoint 1
Lusheng Cheng China Office 365 11
Maarten Eekels Netherlands SharePoint 1
Magnus Bjork Sweden Exchange 8
Mahmoud Magdy Soliman Egypt Exchange 7
Malin De Silva Sri Lanka SharePoint 1
Manoj Viduranga Karunarathne Brunei SharePoint 1
Manpreet Singh Argentina Office 365 1
Marc D Anderson United States SharePoint 7
Margriet Bruggeman Netherlands SharePoint 4
Mari Miyakawa Japan Office 365 2
Marianne van Wanrooij Netherlands SharePoint 7
Mario Cortes Flores Spain SharePoint 6
Marius Constantinescu Switzerland SharePoint 4
Mark Rackley United States SharePoint 2
Mark Stokes United Kingdom SharePoint 3
Mark Vale United Kingdom Skype 1
Martin Lidholm Sweden Skype 8
Martina Grom Austria Office 365 7
Martina Miskovic Sweden Exchange 4
Masaki Nishioka Japan SharePoint 5
Masayuki Mokudai Japan Office 365 4
Matt Landis United States Skype 6
Matthew McDermott United States SharePoint 11
Matthias Einig Germany SharePoint 4
Mauricio Cassemiro Brazil Office 365 4
Maxim Efremov Russia Office 365 8
Melanie Hohertz United States Yammer 2
Melick Rajee Baranasooriya Sri Lanka SharePoint 4
Michael B. Smith United States Exchange 13
Michael Blumenthal United States SharePoint 2
Michael Greenlee Canada Skype 5
Michael Greth Germany SharePoint 19
Michael Kirst-Neshva Germany Office 365 5
Michael LaMontagne Canada Skype 4
Michael Noel United States SharePoint 10
Michael Van Horenbeeck Belgium Exchange 5
Michael Washington United States SharePoint 10
Michal Pisarek Canada SharePoint 6
Michel de Rooij Netherlands Exchange 4
Michelle Caldwell United States SharePoint 3
Miguel Tabera Spain SharePoint 4
Mikael Svenson Norway SharePoint 6
Mike Crowley United States Exchange 7
Mike Maadarani Canada SharePoint 3
Mike Smith United States SharePoint 7
Minae Jung Korea Office 365 2
Mohamed Ahmed Abdul-Haleem Kuwait Skype 11
Mohamed Derhalli Canada SharePoint 2
Mohammed A. Saleh Jordan SharePoint 9
Muditha Jayath Chathuranga Sri Lanka Office 365 1
N Vinodh India SharePoint 1
Naoki Osada Japan Office 365 10
Naomi Moneypenny United States SharePoint 3
Narasima Perumal Chandramoha India SharePoint 1
Nathan O’Bryan United States Exchange 3
Nati Papirovitch Israel Office 365 1
Nguyen Hoang Nhut Vietnam SharePoint 4
Nicki Borell Germany SharePoint 4
Nicolas Blank South Africa Exchange 10
Nicolas Georgeault Canada SharePoint 8
Nitin Sadashiv Paranjape India Office 365 12
Noorez Khamis Canada SharePoint 6
Norbert Fehlauer Germany Exchange 14
Norbert Klenner Germany Exchange 11
Nuno Árias Silva Portugal Office 365 3
Nuno Mota Portugal Exchange 5
Oleg Krylov Russia Exchange 8
Oliver Moazzezi United Kingdom Exchange 10
Oliver Wirkus Canada SharePoint 1
Omar Kudovic Bosnia-Herzegovina Skype 4
Orin Thomas Australia Office 365 10
Oz Casey Dedeal United States Exchange 8
Paolo Pialorsi Italy SharePoint 3
Pat Richard United States Skype 11
Patrick Guimonet France SharePoint 7
Patrick Lamber Italy SharePoint 4
Paul Bloem New Zealand Skype 3
Paul Cunningham Australia Exchange 5
Paul Hunt United Kingdom SharePoint 2
Paul Olenick United States SharePoint 5
Paul Papanek Stork United States SharePoint 9
Paul Robichaux United States Exchange 14
Paul Schaeflein United States SharePoint 6
Paul Woods Australia Office 365 8
Pavel Nagaev Russia Exchange 11
Penelope Coventry United Kingdom SharePoint 10
Peter Belko Slovakia Office 365 11
Peter Carson Canada SharePoint 6
Peter Frank Diaz Rosales Spain Skype 5
Peter Holpar Hungary SharePoint 6
Peter Schmidt Denmark Exchange 9
Phuoc Hong Pham Vietnam Office 365 10
Poo Ching Loong Malaysia Exchange 9
Pradeep Kavinda Kotuwegedara Sri Lanka Office 365 8
Qiangsheng Yang China Skype 2
Radhakrishnan Govindan India Office 365 2
Radi Atanassov Bulgaria SharePoint 6
Randy Drisgill United States SharePoint 9
Randy Wintle United States Skype 7
Raphael Koellner Germany Office 365 4
Ratish Nair United States Exchange 7
Ravikumar Sathyamurthy India Office 365 3
Remco Ploeg Netherlands Office 365 2
Rene Dominik Modery Singapore SharePoint 5
Reza Alirezaei Canada SharePoint 10
Riaz Javed Butt Pakistan Exchange 1
Ricardo Jose Munoz Chile SharePoint 9
Richard Harbridge Canada Office 365 2
Richard J Brynteson United States Skype 4
Rie Okuda Japan Office 365 9
Riwut Libinuko Singapore SharePoint 9
Rob Foster United States SharePoint 10
Robert D. Crane Australia Office 365 6
Robert Dick Canada Office 365 3
Robert L. Bogue United States SharePoint 14
Robert Voncina Slovenia SharePoint 5
Robert Wille Germany Office 365 7
Roberto Ferazzi Italy Office 365 3
Rodolfo Castro Mexico Skype 3
Rodrigo Pinto Portugal SharePoint 6
Rodrigo Romano Brazil SharePoint 3
Roger Haueter Switzerland SharePoint 4
Romeo Donca Romania SharePoint 4
Russ Kaufmann United States Exchange 11
Ruven Gotz United States SharePoint 7
Ryosuke Kimura Japan Office 365 3
Sahil Malik United States Office 365 12
Samantha Villarreal Mexico Office 365 2
Samuel Levesque Canada SharePoint 1
Samuel Zuercher Switzerland SharePoint 6
Sangha Baek United States SharePoint 7
Sara Barbosa Brazil SharePoint 6
Saso Erdeljanov Slovenia Office 365 9
Satheshwaran Manoharan UAE Exchange 4
Sathish Nadarajan India SharePoint 1
Sathish Veerapandian UAE Exchange 3
Sean Patrick McDonough United States SharePoint 1
Sean Wallbridge Canada SharePoint 8
Seiji Noro Japan Office 365 4
Seokhee Han Korea SharePoint 5
Serge Luca Belgium SharePoint 9
Serge Tremblay Canada SharePoint 9
Sergii A Bielskyi Ukraine SharePoint 3
Serkan Varoglu Turkey Exchange 5
Seung-Jin Kim Korea SharePoint 5
Sezai Komur Australia SharePoint 6
Shai Petel Canada SharePoint 6
Shane Hoey Australia Skype 7
Shane Young United States SharePoint 12
Shuguang Tu China SharePoint 9
Siegfried Jagott Germany Exchange 5
Simon Butler United Kingdom Exchange 12
Simon Denton United Kingdom Yammer 1
Simon Terry Australia Yammer 2
Sohel Rana Australia SharePoint 5
Sonja Madsen Denmark SharePoint 4
Spencer J Harbar United Kingdom SharePoint 14
Srdjan Stevic Serbia Office 365 2
Stacy Strole United States SharePoint 1
Ståle Hansen Norway Skype 6
Stanislav Buldakov Russia Exchange 6
Stéphane Eyskens Belgium Office 365 9
Stephanie Donahue United States SharePoint 1
Steve Curran United States SharePoint 8
Steve Goodman United Kingdom Office 365 5
Steve Knutson New Zealand SharePoint 1
Steve Smith United Kingdom SharePoint 11
Steven van Houttum Netherlands Skype 12
Susan Hanley United States SharePoint 3
Susitha Prabath Fonseka Sri Lanka SharePoint 7
Thamara Thilanka Sibera Wijesinghe Australia Skype 3
Thierry Buisson France Office 365 1
Thierry Deman France Exchange 16
Thomas Poett Germany Skype 5
Thomas Vochten Belgium SharePoint 4
Thorsten Hans Germany SharePoint 6
Thuan Nguyen Vietnam SharePoint 6
Tiago Costa Portugal SharePoint 1
Tobias Zimmergren Sweden SharePoint 9
Todd Klindt United States SharePoint 11
Todd S Baginski United States SharePoint 11
Tom Arbuthnot United Kingdom Skype 6
Tom Kretzmer United States Yammer 2
Tom Morgan United Kingdom Skype 2
Tomislav Bronzin Croatia SharePoint 13
Tomislav Lulic Croatia Office 365 1
Tommy Clarke Sweden Office 365 7
Toni Frankola Croatia SharePoint 7
Tony Redmond Ireland Office 365 14
Tracy Van der Schyff South Africa SharePoint 1
Trevor Seward United States SharePoint 5
Tung Pham Vietnam Office 365 3
Ty Anderson United States SharePoint 8
Usama Wahab Khan UAE SharePoint 4
Vadim Gremyachev Finaldn Office 365 1
Valy Greavu Romania Office 365 9
Vasil Michev Bulgaria Office 365 3
Venkata Ramesh Raju India Skype 3
Veronique Palmer South Africa SharePoint 7
Victor Meirans Latvia Office 365 3
Vijai Anand Ramalingam United States SharePoint 5
Vincent Biret Canada SharePoint 3
Vincent Choy Malaysia Office 365 3
Vitaly Vedenev Russia Office 365 2
Vlad Catrinescu Canada SharePoint 4
Vladimir Medina Mexico SharePoint 1
Vladimir Meloski Macedonia F.Y.R.O Exchange 9
Waqas Sarwar United States SharePoint 1
Wellington Agápto Brazil Exchange 2
WenXing Liao China Office 365 5
Wes Preston United States SharePoint 9
Wesley Hackett United Kingdom SharePoint 4
Wictor Wilen Sweden SharePoint 7
Will Szymkowski Canada Exchange 3
Xing Wang China SharePoint 2
Yaniv Totiashvili Russia Exchange 5
Yaroslav Pentsarskyy Canada SharePoint 8
Yasir Attiq Saudi Arabia SharePoint 7
Yoan Topenot Switzerland SharePoint 3
Yong Yu China Office 365 12
Yoni Kirsh Australia Office 365 5
Yoshikazu Kobayashi Japan Office 365 10
Yosuke Adachi Japan SharePoint 3
Yvette Watson Philippines Office 365 2
Zeljka Knezovic Croatia Office 365 8
Zhangyi Li China Office 365 4
Ziyang Triston Wan Singapore Exchange 8
Zoltan Zombory Hungary Office 365 7


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Analyzing Updates for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook Since June 2016

The hot spots of change inside Office 365

One of the touted advantages of cloud services is the delivery of “evergreen” software. In other words, users don’t have to do anything to upgrade their software because it all happens in the cloud. Normally, this is a good thing because the updated software delivers new functionality and features. However, the constantly changing nature of the software can also be disruptive for administrators and users alike, especially when something is updated without warning.

In the case of Office 365, the author team for the “Office 365 for IT Pros” eBook keep a vigilant eye on what’s happening across all elements of the service plus associated technology like Azure Active Directory. We observe, learn, analyze, and then figure out whether any changes are required in the content of the eBook. Updates are then published weekly to incorporate changes and customers who have bought the current edition of the eBook can download fresh copies from (EPUB and PDF versions) or Amazon (Kindle). Well, we let Amazon know that a new version has been published. They make the decision whether to advise purchasers whether an update is available.

Given that we track changes made to the chapters in the eBook, I thought it would be interesting to analyze the change log for Office 365 for IT Pros to determine the “hot spots” or places where most change has occurred since the third edition was first published on June 1, 2016. Here’s the distribution of the 160 recorded updates over the 23 chapters in the eBook up to and including the version released on December 10, 2016.


Some of the changes Microsoft applied to Office 365 in that period don’t show up in our data if we didn’t cover them. We have to apply a certain amount of editorial control over what we cover as otherwise the book would be even larger than its current 430,000-word 900-plus page size. In addition, some of the changes that we’ve recorded are relatively small and insignificant whereas others (like the introduction of Microsoft Teams) are very large and important. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, the change log does identify the major hot spots pretty accurately.

The top 10 chapters in terms of updates since June are:

Chapter Title Updates
9 Office 365 Groups 27
23 Doing more with Office 365 14
19 Reporting and Auditing 13
22 Delve and MyAnalytics 11
1 Introduction to Office 365 9
5 Managing Office 365 9
18 Security and Compliance Center 9
7 Managing mailboxes 8
10 Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Teams 8
2 Making the move 7

It’s easy to explain why so many changes were made to some of these chapters. For example:

  • Chapter 9: Lots of change has occurred for Office 365 Groups, including the provision of guest user access, the new AAD-based policy for group settings, the introduction of Microsoft Teams, and lots of experience gained from managing groups in the field.
  • Chapter 23: The introduction of SharePoint modern team sites. The introduction of Microsoft Stream as a long-term replacement for Office 365 Video. The advent of Yammer Groups based on Office 365 Groups. The introduction of Microsoft Teams as yet another way to collaborate within Office 365.
  • Chapter 19: The addition of new audit event sources for the Office 365 Audit log. The introduction of Advanced Security Management (ASM). The addition of Activity Alerts.
  • Chapter 22; Subtle changes in the Delve user interface including a new way of displaying user profile information. Changes in the Delve cards. Renaming of Delve Analytics to be MyAnalytics. New information from real-life deployments about the effectiveness of MyAnalytics in the field.
  • Chapter 1: More information about Office 365 user numbers and revenues. Introduction of the U.K. datacenter region. Comparison between Office 365 and Google G-Suite. New mobile applications.

Apart from providing insight into where change is most frequent inside Office 365, the exercise gives us some guidance as to where we should focus coverage for the fourth edition, which we hope to publish in March 2017. It also tells us where we need some structural change (for instance, chapter 9 is now far too big and needs to be split) and where we can cut (chapter 17 covering eDiscovery for Exchange and SharePoint can probably be discarded now). The focus for eDiscovery inside Office 365 is now firmly on the functionality exposed through the Security and Compliance Center that applies to multiple workloads, so that’s what we will concentrate on in future.

A similar case could be made for chapter 16 as Microsoft is pressing forward with the development of data governance policies to replace retention policies for all workloads. However, the development of the new data governance policies is less advanced than the eDiscovery functionality, so chapter 16 might be retained (no pun intended) for another edition.

This data underlines the constant change that’s occurring inside Office 365. It would be impossible to cope with this degree of upheaval through a printed book. I’m glad we went down the eBook route…

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.

Posted in Cloud, Delve Analytics, Exchange Online, Office 365, Office 365 Groups, SharePoint Online | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Microsoft Office 365 Administration Inside Out – Lost in Updates?

It seems like some of the issues that might have been anticipated when Microsoft Press laid off its editorial staff in July 2016 are bearing fruit. At least, some of the promised titles that should have appeared by now have not shown up. And you’ve got to believe that the trauma and upheaval caused by last July’s transition of responsibilities for book production to Pearson (a perfectly capable company) have not been helpful.

One of the titles that was expected by now is the long-awaited update for “Microsoft Office 365 Administration Inside Out”. Originally released in October 2013, the current book is now very much out of date. That’s no fault of the authors because the world they wrote about in 2013 is not what we see today. The new book was scheduled for release in October 2016, but I can find no trace of it on Amazon or in any other bookstore, including Microsoft Press’s own online store.

The second edition of Microsoft Office 365 Administration Inside Out is supposed to be part of the “current book service“. Purchasers will receive periodic updates for the web (online) version for 12 to 18 months after the original publication. I believe that three updates are planned for the Office 365 book. Readers have to connect to to access the updated content, which cannot be downloaded to an eBook reader. Helpfully, Microsoft says that the “web edition can be used on tablets that use current web browsers.”

Of course, the “Office 365 for IT Pros” eBook team are well aware of the problems of keeping content refreshed and current when it covers a service that is in a state of constant flux. We always thought that the October 2016 date was going to be a stretch because of the fact that Microsoft would make so many announcements about new functionality around the Ignite conference in late September.

I guess the original book could have been published with the knowledge that some of the Ignite content would be omitted, the plan being to issue an update soon thereafter. But perhaps the author team decided to wait so that they could document features such as Microsoft Teams and guest user access for Office 365 Groups. If so, it would be nice to know when the book is coming rather than just seeing “unavailable” everywhere.


Microsoft Office 365 Administration Inside Out – Currently Unavailable

In any case, issuing updated content online and not providing refreshed copies of the PDF, EPUB, and MOBI format books seems like a bad plan. It’s hard for readers to cross-reference and match up new content against an old version of a book and much better when a completely new version is issued. I imagine that the reason why Microsoft Press plans to only issue updates online is to avoid the cost of layout for a new version – and perhaps re-indexing.

The Office 365 for IT Pros team is interested in seeing what the authors of “Office 365 Administration Inside Out” produce and how Microsoft Press updates the content as promised. By comparison, we update content for Office 365 for IT Pros weekly and we do so by issuing fully-updated PDFs, EPUB, and MOBI (Kindle) formats. We do not index the book anything because the search facilities in eReaders are pretty good at finding information as required. Our latest update is dated 3 December 2016 and is available to anyone who purchased a copy of the third edition.

It would be nice to only have to update a book three times in 18 months but I fear that this approach is impractical given the subject matter. Office 365 flexes and changes so quickly that if you don’t keep up, you’d be faced with a massive rewrite every six months. Anyone who looked through the change log for Office 365 for IT Pros will soon realize the volume of change that occurs within the service. It seems better to update weekly and keep pace that way. At least we can say that every update we issue reflects the current state of the art (in our eyes). That’s a nice position 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.

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

Heading to IT/DEV Connections in Las Vegas

The annual IT/DEV Connections conference takes place in the ARIA Hotel, Las Vegas next week. After the rush-and-bustle and massive scale of the Microsoft Ignite conference, Connections will be very different. Relaxed. Time to think. Time to chat. Time to ponder. At least, that’s the theory.

Last-minute speaker snafus aside, I’m looking forward to the event. The conference is a nice size and is focused on practical issues of implementing Microsoft technology rather than the (sometimes) colored view that emits from the folks who inhabit the Redmond campus. Because the Redmondites use the latest and greatest software and have access to internal resources that no one outside their closed community can use, it is logical that their view of the world is somewhat different to that of an administrator who struggles with “last season’s” technology, complete with bugs that have since been fixed or features that might no longer exist. In any case, we’ll have fun discussing all that needs to be discussed.

Among the (technical) heavyweights of the Exchange/Office 365 community who are speaking in the Enterprise Collaboration track this year are:

Andrew Higginbotham, co-author of the “Exchange Server Troubleshooting Companion“. Andrew is speaking about Exchange virtualization mistakes (that he’d like you to avid), Office 365 migration and administration for small businesses, and troubleshooting Exchange performance, disaster recovery, and migration.

Paul Cunningham, traveling over to join us from Brisbane, Australia. Paul is Mr. ExchangeServerPro and has contributed to many books, including the unique and (we believe) tremendously successful Office 365 for IT Pros ebook.

Paul Robichaux, who collaborated with me on the Exchange 2013 Inside Out series, will address the serious topic of monitoring Office 365 and explain what works and what doesn’t. Paul’s second session looks at how to go beyond Office 365 in the world of the Microsoft cloud.

Ståle Hansen, a well-known personality in the Skype for Business (and Lync) world, is speaking about how to design global voice solutions with Skype for Business and how to succed with Skype for Business Meeting Broadcast.

Jeff Guillet (Expta), who seems to get more energy as the years go by (perhaps he has shares in Duracell), is speaking about how to confirm a “proper”! SMTP relay for Exchange on-premises and Exchange Online. Jeff also has an interestingly named session called “Autodiscover is Hero of Exchange Motherland”. Make of that what you will…

Jaap Wesselius and Michel de Rooij, MVPs who know their way around PowerShell syntax and even understand it from time to time, will conduct a workshop on Monday morning that promises to tell people some advanced secrets of the dark art of scripting. Maybe they have been reading too many Harry Potter books…

That’s just a brief glance into the speaker line-up – there are many others who deserve mention but I can’t fit into this space.

Apart from running around to help make sure that things run smoothly, I’ll be speaking about “MyAnalytics and the rise of machine learning inside Office 365” on Tuesday. I also have the pleasure of introducing a fine panel from the Exchange development team on Wednesday when the challenge exists to “bamboozle the Exchange experts”. The members of this panel include Greg Taylor, David Espinoza, Brian Day, Ross Smith IV, and Jeff Mealiffe, all of whom are well-known within the Exchange community. It should be interesting – that is, if the folks at Connections come up with some difficult questions.

More details about the IT/DEV Connections sessions for 2016 can be found in the catalog.

No doubt some folks will find their way to the Scheduled Maintenance party in the Ghostbar of The Palms Hotel on Tuesday (9pm-midnight). Passes to this party are by invitation only. Request yours on this site. And if you attend the party, please be sure to turn up for Wednesday’s sessions with a smile on your face. You know it makes sense.

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.

Posted in Exchange, Office 365, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ignite done, now on to Connections!

Leaving the controlled bedlam that is Microsoft Ignite behind, I travel to Las Vegas next week for the more intimate and less stressful IT/DEV Connections event, where I’ll be chairing the Enterprise Collaboration track. If you want to catch up with what happened at Ignite, I published five articles on

Office 365 News from Ignite – Day 1: The keynotes, Exchange 2016 CU3 and the Outlook REST API, the Outlook apps have completed their move to the Microsoft Cloud – but not for everyone, and no change in the reported number for Office 365 monthly active users.

Yammer and Office 365 Groups ConnectThe Yammer community will have been relieved to have heard Monday’s announcement that the long-awaited and much-promised connection between Office 365 Groups and Yammer is coming (Figure 1). According to Microsoft, the new capabilities will be delivered in a series of phased updates. However, only new Yammer groups will be able to take advantage of the linkup with Office 365 Groups.

Office 365 at Ignite – Exchange, SharePoint, and more: There’s lots to hear and learn about relating to Office 365 at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta this week. All of the product groups are putting their best face forward to impress and amaze customers with what has happened or what will happen inside the service. Here’s some of what I have been hearing.

Office 365 Groups News from IgniteOffice 365 Groups occupy a special place in Microsoft’s collaboration strategy. The link-up between Yammer and Groups was the headline news for some people, but a lot of other facts were revealed at the Ignite conference, mostly around operational improvements to help tenants manage groups better. Here’s some of what I encountered.

Wrapping up Ignite – more Office 365 Snippets:  Some of the things I found out or explored during the week include a solid DLP roadmap for Office 365, how BMC Remedy creates incident tickets from DLP audit events, that Veeam now offers a backup for Exchange Online, how QUADROtech’s ADAM plans to drag public folders into the 21st century, the delights of recording a special version of the Office 365 Exposed podcast, why Office 365 will use classification policies in the future, and my continuing frustration with the old OneDrive for Business sync client. Maybe the new client will fix all known ailments.

I also participated in three sessions:

The Grand Exchange debate – why you would or would not want to move mailboxes to the cloud. This was a fun exercise with Greg Taylor and Steve Conn of Microsoft designed to surface the reasons why people want to stay on-premises and debate whether the reasons hold true. We didn’t want to come up with a definitive answer because no such answer exists. Instead, we wanted to provoke a discussion and I think that we succeeded in that respect.

The Ultimate Field Guide to Office 365 Groups. Microsoft gave a lot of information at Ignite about future developments for Office 365 Groups. This session provided a counterweight in that it focused on how groups are used in the field.

Meet twin sons of different mothers (MVPs and Exchange engineers). I chaired this panel session where most of the questions were about on-premises and hybrid configurations. Karim Battish and Jeff Mealiffe of Microsoft were busy answering, but Andrew Higginbotham and Jeff Guillet had some views to share too.

All-in-all, it was a busy time at Ignite. The value of the conference is not all in the breakout sessions, interesting as they are. I actually get a lot more from meeting people and companies to take the pulse of what’s happening in the technology spaces that I care about. After all, you can always watch the Ignite sessions online.

In any case, it’s time to get my head down and finish the sessions I have to deliver at IT/DEV Connections and at the UK UC Day a week or so afterwards…

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.

Posted in Cloud, Office 365, Office 365 Groups | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fun and Games (and $2220 to be won) at Microsoft Ignite


Anyone who has attended large technology conferences that include a vendor exhibition know the routine. Cramped booths, disinterested staff sneaking looks at their smartphones instead of engaging with conference attendees, and giveaways that range from the banal (the ubiquitous t-shirt emblazoned with the vendor logo) to the frankly weird (anything electronic that features flashing lights).

It’s easy to complain about how vendors attempt to be noticed at exhibitions but it’s a lot harder to come up with new ways of engaging with potential customers, especially if you want to do something different that’s a bit of fun. Sybari, the company that revolutionized anti-virus scanning for Exchange at the end of the 1990s, had the right attitude when they launched a series of impressive stands with great giveaways at TechEd events. I remember a Harley-Davidson motorcycle being given away one year and a Mini car on another occasion. Sybari were never less than interesting. That is, until they were acquired by Microsoft.

Which brings me to the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta next week. Ignite has a very large exhibition because vendors know that this is a once-in-the-year opportunity to strut their stuff in front of a huge number of potential customers and partners. The space for stands has been bought, stand designs commissioned, and vendors are honing demos, messages, and giveaways for next week. The Ignite exhibition area will be a bear garden of noise, signs of all shapes and sizes, and people.

Apart from Microsoft, it’s going to be hard for any other vendor to stand out and attract attention at Ignite. This is the challenge that faced the marketing team at QUADROtech, where I serve as an external director. A discussion over a couple of drinks brought an idea of leveraging the current Pokémon Go fad. Not that I know much about Pokémon, apart from the observation that having the app active on a smartphone makes people bump into others as they stroll the streets of Dublin. Even so, the idea of searching for and “capturing” special people to score points is one that can be applied in many different circumstances.

QUADROtech is offering conference attendees the chance of winning $2,220 by participating in a game to capture “QTmons”. Instead of being a “virtual creature”, A QTmon (pronounced “cutie-mon”) is a personality in the Office 365 world –  perhaps an MVP or a Microsoft engineer – who is at the conference. Each QTmon is assigned a points value. A full list of the QTmons is available online.

After registering with QUADROtech at booth #1948 (hint – registration is only possible when the Ignite exhibit hall is open, register as soon as the hall opens on Monday to get maximum game time), players score points by “capturing” a QTmon by taking a picture of the QTmon (and themselves) on their smartphone and tweeting the resulting photo. To score, the tweet has to contain the number of the QTmon and the special #QTmon hashtag. Something like:

“I captured #QTmon #50 at #MSIgnite.”

A QTmon is captured (image credit: Michel de Rooij)

A QTmon is captured (image credit: Michel de Rooij)

QUADROtech is providing players with t-shirts and extra points can be scored if the QTmon signs the shirt and the signature is visible in the tweeted photo (hint – use something like a black Sharpie for the signature). Extra points are also scored by taking pictures of QTmons at special events, such as the Scheduled Maintenance party on Monday night. An online leaderboard will help players track their progress.

The game is intended to provide some lighthearted fun during a serious conference – but the serious matter of $2,220 in hard cash is there to be won and I imagine that QTmons will be pursued with vigor during the week. Remember to be polite when you ask a QTmon for a signature and a photo!

Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna.

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A new sponsor for Office 365 for IT Pros

The Office 365 for IT Pros book has a new sponsor! The author team is delighted to announce that QUADROtech has agreed to support the project for the next year. An update to the book has been issued containing a new chapter authored by QUADROtech along with a set of regular updates to chapters. See the change log for details. PDF and EPUB formats of the updated books are available at now. An update for Amazon Kindle is making its way through the Amazon publication process and will be available shortly

All of the author team have day jobs. Mine is as an advisor to companies, Paul runs the site and writes books like the recently released Exam Ref 70-345 for deploying Exchange 2016, and Michael is a busy consultant in Belgium. Without sponsorship, it would be impossible to dedicate the time and energy required to keep the Office 365 for IT Pros project pushing ahead. We would lose the ability to keep the book as up-to-date as possible and we would not have the time to poke into the corners of Office 365 to understand what really happens.

As part of their sponsorship, QUADROtech is making some free copies of the book available to people who sign up on their site.

We’re very grateful to the support that Binary Tree provided over the last year. Without their help we would not have been able to issue the third edition. At least, not in the content-rich form that it is. We look forward to working with Binary Tree in the future.

Now that sponsorship is in place, we look forward to being able to improve the content in the third edition even more and to prepare for the publication of the fourth edition, probably in early 2017.

Thanks for all of your support.

Tony, Paul, and Michael

Posted in Cloud, Delve, Delve Analytics, Email, Exchange, Exchange Online, Office 365, Office 365 Groups | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Reasons not to move from on-premises Exchange to Office 365

As many readers will be aware, Microsoft’s Ignite conference starts in Atlanta on September 26, 2016. I am speaking at a number of sessions. Possibly my favorite is the opportunity to debate Greg Taylor from the Microsoft Exchange development group on the topic “The Top Ten reasons not to move your Exchange on-premises mailboxes to Exchange Online“. The debate will be chaired by Steve Conn, who might have quite a task on his hands as those who have seen Greg in action in the past understand how excited he can become. I’ll be the calm, logical one with the scintillating comments. Or not. We’ll just have to see.

In any case, we need to understand the reasons why people might choose to leave their mailboxes on-premises so that we can debate the rationale and reasoning. I’ve put together a list of the most common reasons I know of and would appreciate your help in recording others, if they exist. Please reply to this topic with your reason and we’ll add it to the mix.

I doubt that we will get to debate more than 10 topics during the 75-minute session… But you never know!

Thanks for your help

Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna.

Backup and recovery

  1. Microsoft uses Native Data Protection and doesn’t take backups of Exchange Online data. I like to have the security of backups, just in case an administrator or a user does something stupid – or we are hit by a ransomware attack and have to restore some mailboxes.

Stability and robustness

  1. Our Exchange 2013 infrastructure delivers better availability to our business than we believe is possible from Office 365, especially with all the horror stories we hear about multi-hour outages for essential components like AAD and EOP. The SLA results as reported by Microsoft are accurate for the entire service but don’t reflect the experience of individual tenants.
  2. Our server infrastructure is modern, we’re up to date with Windows Server, and we think we have a highly cost-effective platform for the next five years.
  3. Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2016 are feature-rich email servers already and Microsoft is doing a good job in transferring some excellent technology from the cloud, like Managed Availability, simplified DAGs, and automatic DAG activation. We don’t need anything else.
  4. Our Exchange admins are the best in the business and have our Windows servers humming beautifully. Why would we plunge into the unknown world of Office 365 and all its component parts?
  5. When a problem happens inside Office 365, it seems like no one knows what is really happening and you have to fall back on Twitter and Facebook to gain some insight into how widespread the problem is and when it might be resolved. That’s an unacceptable state of affairs for our business. In other words, monitoring and reporting for Office 365 to understand the current state of affairs on a minute-by-minute basis is poor when compared to what we can do inside an on-premises environment.
  6. We’ve heard that the Office 365 support is pretty poor at times and you have to wait before you can get to speak to someone who isn’t reading off a script and might actually be able to help. That’s a big concern when you consider moving from a tightly managed and well-supported on-premises environment.


  1. We want to use our own keys with Exchange and AAD RMS and Exchange Online doesn’t support BYOK. In other words, I don’t trust Microsoft to protect the privacy and security of my organization’s email and documents, if we let them own the encryption keys.
  2. The fact that the Office Graph records every interaction between Office 365 users is downright scary in a “big brother” kind of way. There’s no way that my users want or need to know the kind of information that Delve Analytics reports.


  1. My Microsoft sales person is selling Office 365 because they are compensated on that basis. They’re not interested in listening to our desire to remain on-premises and that makes us believe that the move to the cloud is great for Microsoft and probably less good for us.
  2. We don’t trust the costs cited by Microsoft for Office 365. You start off with a low monthly cost but then need to spend more to get the functionality that you really need, like AAD Premium or a high-end plan. We also think that you have to spend a lot of time managing licenses to make sure that you’re not overpaying for unused licenses.
  3. There’s no guarantee that Microsoft won’t increase the costs of all the bits we need to buy to create our Office 365 environment at a higher rate than inflation to achieve their goal of a $20 billion annual revenue run rate for commercial cloud products by mid-2018.
  4. Exchange is the fulcrum of an ecosystem we have constructed to serve business needs. To move to Office 365, we’d need to do a heap of redevelopment to make sure that Exchange Online delivers everything that we need. That work costs money.


  1. Giving users a standard 50 GB mailbox quota only encourages them to keep stuff that they should delete immediately. If we want to give 50 GB quotas, we can, especially now that storage costs are so low and Exchange 2016 does such a good job of supporting JBOD.
  2. We have users in some pretty remote places where Internet access is not great. The cloud’s not for us.
  3. Office 365 requires customers to keep software components at a far more recent level than we are accustomed to on-premises. It seems that we would be constantly updating Exchange 2016 to maintain support for a hybrid connection or Outlook to make sure that clients can connect to Exchange Online. That seems like a whole heap of effort for not a lot of return.
  4. The rate of change inside Office 365 is too rapid and challenging for our business users to cope with. No one wants to see a new client interface every three months. We like the stability and robustness we can assure through our own deployment.


  1. Public folders are all the collaboration tools that any reasonable person could want. It will take us forever to move the data out of public folders and to realign business processes around new types of collaboration tools. That’s a real hidden cost of migration both in terms of getting the work done and the business disruption. We just can’t take that cost on now.
  2. There seems to be a lot of SharePoint wrapped up in Office 365. Who wants to go near that stuff?

Out of the box thinking

  1. I do want to move to the cloud and am thinking about migrating from Exchange to
  2. We believe that Microsoft will fulfil their commitment to support Exchange 2016 until 2025. Why would we ever move until they stop supporting on-premises software?
  3. If we migrated to the cloud, Ross Smith IV and Greg Taylor would hate us very much and that would be no fun.
Posted in Cloud, Email, Exchange, Exchange Online, Office 365 | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

IT/DEV Connections 2016 – Enterprise Collaboration Track

As has been the case for a number of years now, I helped to select the sessions for the IT/DEV Connections conference, which takes place at the ARIA Hotel in Las Vegas on October 10-13. Given the content that will be covered, it might seem strange to run a conference so close to the Microsoft Ignite event. However, it’s easier to understand when you consider that:

  • Microsoft moved the date and location for Ignite from May in Chicago to September in Atlanta and forced Connections to adjust its mid-September date. The logistics and costs involved make it not an easy task to move large conferences and moving both resulted in the current dates.
  • Naturally, Ignite will be dominated by Microsoft news and updates about products and other marketing announcements. A great deal of product information will be presented also, but “in the best possible taste”. Don’t expect much critical analysis of the flaws of Microsoft products during Ignite sessions! On the other hand, IT/DEV Connections prides itself on the independent and knowledgeable perspective of its speakers. We certainly like Microsoft technology, but we want to expect the ifs, buts, and maybes of the technology as well so that people are fully-equipped to deploy. That’s why IT/DEV Connections is sometimes called the “Anti Kool-Aid” conference. I have never even seen Kool-Aid (to my knowledge) so this analogy fails on me, but there you are…
  • The flood of announcements and news from Ignite need some time to digest and make sense of in terms of what they mean for using different technologies. We hope to be able to help in that respect at IT/DEV Connections.
  • Ignite is on the East Coast; IT/DEV Connections is on the West. The ARIA is actually a very good conference hotel that is relatively well insulated from the madness of Las Vegas, if you want that to be the case. On the other hand, it’s also in the middle of the strip…

In any case, below you can find the full set of Enterprise Collaboration sessions planned for IT/DEV Connections. Some well known faces are on the schedule, including Mr. ExchangeServerPro (Paul Cunningham), Chris McNulty, J. Peter Bruzzese, Jeff Guillet (Expta), Benjamin Naulin, Michael Van Horenbeeck (Van Hybrid), Paul Robichaux, and Scot Hillier. The sessions cover everything from managing Exchange and SharePoint on-premises servers to Skype for Business. This year we made a deliberate decision to create a big set of sessions that address the question of how to effectively manage many aspects of Office 365.

I’m looking forward to the Wednesday “Bamboozle the Exchange Experts” session, which will feature the Exchange Server CXP (Customer Experience team),including such well-known speakers as Greg Taylor and Ross Smith IV. Please come along with the most obscure and horrible question you can think up between now and then.

We also have a number of new speakers this year. I wish them well. It’s hard to get up in front of an audience and explain your thoughts on technology (and hopefully make sense).

Join us in Vegas!

Tuesday Sessions

Tuesday, October 11, 8:00am-9:00am
Best Practices for Deploying and Managing On-Premises Exchange Server Paul Cunningham
Cloudbreaking – Business Intelligence Engineering for SharePoint 2016 and Office 365 Chris McNulty
Office Graph API & Delve, Unleash the Power Fabian Williams
Avoiding the Icarus effect: Office 365 Risk Mitigation J. Peter Bruzzese
Tuesday, October 11th, 9:15am-10:30am
Exchange Performance Disaster Recovery and Migration Troubleshooting Andrew Higginbotham
Migration (Exchange) to Office 365 Jaap Wesselius
Autodiscover is the Hero of the Exchange Motherland Jeff Guillet
Upgrade to SharePoint 2016 Matthew McDermott
Tuesday, October 11th, 11:00am-12:15pm
Automate Exchange deployment with PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) Ingo Gegenwarth
Configuring a proper SMTP relay for Exchange on-premises and Exchange Online Jeff Guillet
Solving modern day business problems using Power Apps Fabian Williams
Architecting SharePoint 2016 Liam Cleary
Configuring SharePoint Hybrid Search Matthew McDermott
Tuesday, October 11th, 1:15pm-2:30pm
Delve Analytics and the rise of machine learning inside Office 365 Tony Redmond
Building Solutions with the Office Graph Liam Cleary
Message hygiene with Exchange Jaap Wesselius
Deep Dive into Cloud Hybrid Search Jeff Fried
Tuesday, October 11th, 3:00pm-4:15pm
Troubleshooting Exchange Server: Clients, Transport and Security Paul Cunningham
Figuring out this new collaboration with OneDrive, Groups and Team Sites Benjamin Niaulin
The Magnificent Seven: The do’s and don’t about Office 365 Migration J. Peter Bruzesse
Scripting Tasks in SharePoint Online with PowerShell and the REST APIs Alan Byrne

Wednesday Sessions

Wednesday, October 12th, 9:15am-10:30am
Exchange Virtualization Mistakes to Avoid Andrew Higginbotham
A day in the life of an Office 365 consultant Michael Van Horenbeeck
How to Leverage Office 365 Groups in the Enterprise Justin Harris
Data Loss Protection in SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online Liam Cleary
Wednesday, October 12th, 11:00am-12:15pm
Monitoring Office 365: What Works and What Doesn’t Paul Robichaux
Demystify OneDrive for Business – The Good and the Bad Benjamin Niaulin
SharePoint In the Clouds – Migrating to Azure and Office 365 Chris McNulty
Office 365 Migration and Administration for Small Businesses Andrew Higginbotham
Wednesday, October 12th, 1:15pm-2:30pm
Bamboozle the Exchange Experts Tony Redmond
Office 365 Governance and Information Architecture Martina Grom
Building Applications for Office 365 and SharePoint with Angular 2, TypeScript, and ASP.NET Core 1.0 Scot Hillier
Office 365 Connectors Toni Pohl
Wednesday, October 12th, 3:00pm-4:15pm
Managing five million Office 365 accounts using PowerShell and some other APIs Alan Byrne
Troubleshooting Exchange client connectivity Ingo Geganwarth
Office in the Outback – Using Office 365 as a Service for Field Mobility Applications Veli-Matti Vanamo
PowerApps, Flow and Logic Apps – what’s in and behind? Toni Pohl

 Thursday Sessions

Thursday, October 13th, 8:30am-9:45am
While You Weren’t Looking: going beyond Office 365 Paul Robichaux
How I design global voice solutions with Skype for Business Stale Hansen
Solving real-world problems with Azure Active Directory Premium Justin Harris
Business Value of Office 365 Adoption Martina Grom
Style Your Web Apps and Office & SharePoint Add-ins with the Office UI Fabric Andrew Connell
Thursday, October 13th, 10:15am-11:30am
Succeeding with Skype for Business Meeting Broadcast Stale Hansen
How Office 365 impacts merger and acquisition activities Joe Palarchio
Securing your Office 365 deployment with acronyms: how to leverage EDP, EMS, RMS and AAD! Michael Van Horenbeeck
Learning Angular2 to Building Office Add-ins Andrew Connell
Development for SharePoint Online using JavaScript Injection and Remote Provisioning Ted Pattison
Thursday, October 13th, 12:30pm-1:45pm
How Office 365 will give your security team heartburn and the relief you can provide them Joe Palarcho
Developers Introduction to the Power BI Platform Ted Pattison
Lessons from the Field: Applying Records Management in the Cloud Veli-Matti Vanamo
Experience from the field – How to use a Team Site effectively for Collaboration Benjamin Niaulin
Thursday, October 13th, 2:15pm-3:30pm
Office 365: Deployment and Management – Ask the MVPs Tony Redmond
Office 365: Programming and APIs – Ask the MVPs Scot Hiller

See here for more information on IT/DEV Connections.


Posted in Cloud, Delve, Delve Analytics, Email, Exchange, Exchange Online, Office 365, Office 365 Groups, SharePoint Online, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

HTTP error 400 accessing Office 365


HTTP Error 400. Can’t access the Office 365 Portal

I recently hit a problem when attempting to access the Office 365 Portal with Chrome. Any attempt resulted in a HTTP Error 400 as shown above. The problem was confined to a single PC and a single browser on that PC as both IE and Edge were happy to connect to Office 365.

The wonders of Internet search quickly located some help and suggested that the issue was due to a corrupted cookie associated with the request.


Cookies used by

As obvious from the screen shot, connections to use a lot of cookies. There’s no way to say which of the 22 cookies might be corrupt, so the easiest and quickest fix is to delete the cookies and force the next connection to recreate whatever is needed. Do this by selecting the X opposite the set of cookies and then click Done.

Ten seconds later a connection was made and the problem resolved. Isn’t it great when things fall into place so easily!

Follow Tony @12Knocksinna

Posted in Office 365, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment