SharePoint, where for art though?

Captain’s log… the vapor and mist of the cloud have formed and we see that things are starting to take shape in the realm of Office 365. Dan Holme and his cadre of excellence have continued to chart forward with making experiences usable by end users, providing capabilities that to build on-premises, while feasible in large chunks of time, come to life.

In the day of past with SharePoint before “v12” came out, developers seemed to hack away at the core of SharePoint, injecting and reflecting methods to bring to life the Frankenstein solutions that clients were seeking. Not that these solutions weren’t valuable, nor was it that they weren’t well put together, but the typical SharePoint developer had to know how develop using Object Oriented Languages… namely C# or VB.net. Both languages were not for the commoner, or the SharePoint Citizen as some may call it.

Then came SharePoint 2013 and the app model was brought forward. The Internet had solved identity for the Internet (no one really likes leaving port 88 open on the Internet for Kerberos tickets to be passed between realms mind you). Developers were now free to roam about and develop where they wanted, how they wanted. And it was good.

Then Microsoft took a page from it’s competitors and started offering experiences and building out a Framework that would allow developers to interact with the underlying components of SharePoint and Office 365 using REST API calls. Gone were the days of requiring developers to know C#… the day of the JavaScript developer (and really any other developer that knows how to make REST calls) was here.

Experiences like PowerApps and Flow though have also largely taken away the needs and desires to learn a “hard” language (actually, thinking about it, if you don’t know how to construct the logic of a program, JavaScript becomes all out hacking in some cases… not that people didn’t copy others C# code and wonder why it didn’t work).

So where do we find ourselves? Well, as a SharePoint admin, I must say that there’s less and less I find myself worrying about. Sure I still have my concerns about opening up Access Services on my 2013 farms that are still operating and having developers create app after app watching the SQL server backend topple over. And sure, in the 2016 environments I’ve embraced MinRoles with open arms.

But why should I continue to build on-premises when Microsoft has Office 365 / SharePoint Online available with SLAs that I can’t match on-premises? What’s a trusty admin to do? It’s time to take some time and REST… just kidding, it’s time to help organizations migrate to SharePoint Online where it makes sense and make use of Hybrid to help them make use of some of the tools (ala PowerApps and Flow) that make their end users lives a little bit easier.

And maybe also learn some REST… because you never know when some prototyping will come in handy.

The technology of the past…

Recently I decided that it was time to begin cleaning out my basement, also known as my office. I’ve got a few monitors, a couple of desks, a standing desk, an old desktop computer with a Core i7 processor that may as well have its own power line coming in from the Tennesee Valley Authority… I found anything from null modem cables to my original iPod Shuffle (remember that USB stick thingy with a plug for earphones?).  I also realized while rummaging amongst things and looking at my Canon printer / scanner / fax machine that it’s been forever and a day since I’ve sent a fax… wait, what’s a fax? You know, a facsimile… that technology that’s used as an accepted technology for signed contracts. If you’re seeking further education on the Fax machine, check out the Wikipedia article over here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fax

On some occasions, when necessary, I do find myself using GoDaddy’s eFax service to be able to send a copy of a document. But for the most part, it seems like this is a lost technology. So much that it made Scott Adams write a comic about it this morning… enjoy.

Also, if you happen to have an old iPod Shuffle, go ahead and do the Shuffle… cuz every day I’m shufflin’.

SharePoint Server 2019

Just upgrade to SharePoint 2013? That means you probably know the ins and outs of your information architecture and just transitioned all of your apps over to either Provider Hosted or SharePoint Hosted apps… what better time than to start thinking about setting up new kit to install SharePoint Server 2019? 🙂

Go ahead, click the download link. Give it a whirl on your Azure subscription to try it out and get your modern on.

New and Improved features in SharePoint Server 2019

Download Link for SharePoint Server 2019

Download Link for Language Packs for SharePoint Server 2019

Office 365 Home Device Limits…

In case you missed it, Jared Spataro recently announced that the Office 365 Home and Personal subscriptions will no longer have install limits on devices as of October 2, 2018.  A caveat to this is that you can only be logged into five devices at a time.  In the past it was 10 devices in total (across five users for the home plan, or two installs for the personal account).

Additionally, Office 365 Home is upping the number of seats from 5 to 6.  While that may seem pretty insignificant, that’s an additional license to software essentially as well as the services that come along with it and a terabyte of storage on OneDrive.

More about this can be read yonder on the Microsoft Technical Community here:

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Office-365-Blog/You-re-about-to-get-even-more-from-your-Office-365-Home-or/ba-p/234907

QNAP Friends… Update your firmware…

Unless you’re running your servers, devices and other items that connect to a network of some sort in a pile of concrete at the bottom of a lake (perhaps a Great Lake) disconnected from the world, it may be time to go and start checking your firmware. I know that it’s one of the most fun activities to do over a Memorial Day weekend – right?

In this case I noticed a post about something called VPNFilter over on Ars Technica – sounds nasty right? It makes mention of what software systems and devices are affected –  in a particular set of QNAP devices as well as the software platform that operates QNAP devices, QTS.

For me, I quickly checked my firmware and noticed that I was not in the impacted group, but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t check your QNAP device if you’ve got one. Obviously check to make certain that you’ve got a backup of your QNAP sitting somewhere that you’re able to roll back to if you need to (I’ve never had a problem with their firmware personally).

More details are available here:  https://www.qnap.com/en-us/security-advisory/nas-201805-24

 

Azure: Public Preview of Serial Console

I have to say that this is crazy that Microsoft Azure now supports a Serial Console for Virtual Machines (at least in Public Preview).  Check out the blog entry over here – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/updates/azure-serial-console/

I decided to give it a little try to see more and it works like a champ. Very cool to see this capability coming to light as it’s been something that I know I’ve been looking for some time to have available when a VM wasn’t coming back up slower than I would have assumed it would. Well done folks!

Check out the announcement yonder on the Azure blog – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/virtual-machine-serial-console-access/

Don’t lose your identity in the Cloud…

If you happen to log into your Office 365 Admin Portal on a regular basis good on you – though perhaps you can get most of your alerts through the Office 365 Admin app on your phone. If you do happen to log in though and you’re using Directory Synchronization by way of either Azure AD Connect or Microsoft Identity Manager, you hopefully don’t stumble upon a message like this on the Home page.

Screenshot 2018-03-24 23.31.07

If you do though, don’t worry, it’s not just a red highlighted bit of text, but it’s a link to your Directory Synchronization status (not DirSync is no longer around… AAD Connect is the way to go these days). What does it mean to your end users if Directory Synchronization is failing? Well, any change that they happen to make to their profile within your on-premises Active Directory won’t be synchronized with Azure Active Directory until the issue is resolved. Not a big deal – right? Well, just think if you changed your password on-premises, you’ll still be using your old password through Office 365.

If you happen to click the error message though you’ll come to a page with this displayed, you’ll note that you see something like this:

Screenshot 2018-03-24 23.28.11

If you’re not familiar with the above, it’s the Sync Status Health page. Typically if things are working good then you’ll see the last time that you sync’d successfully in addition to other pertinent information about your Office 365 tenant’s synchronization status as well as a less stormy picture of the cloud. 🙂

In this case though, the troubleshooting tips are fairly helpful and link to https://support.office.com/en-us/article/fixing-problems-with-directory-synchronization-for-office-365-79c43023-5a47-45ae-8068-d8a26eee6bc2?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

In this case, it just happens to be that I turned off the server that the Azure AD Connect tool was running on. Turning the server back and on and the error messages go away and identity changes begin to synchronize once more – life is good.