Monthly Archives September 2011

“UK authorities are currently investigating Microsoft’s claims that its 99.9 percent cloud uptime is in fact true, after a series of outages left Office 365 users without email or communications.

The Advertising Standards Agency is investigating a complaint over “marketing communication on Microsoft’s website” specifically in regards to the uptime claims the company makes in its advertising material.” – ZDNET (http://lncn.eu/wxy6)

After only a few months of going live, Microsoft have already failed at meeting their 99.9% up-time guarantee, personally this comes as no surprise considering that BPOS was notorious for it’s downtime. Microsoft have already paid out refunds to all the companies that were affected by the outages, so they are keeping their promises concerning down time refunds but will Microsoft improve their actual up time or remove the advertisement?

RE

Let me start by just saying that Michael and I have been working together for about 4 months now, however our desks are half a room apart and yet we have still managed to work well together, I believe that this is because of Lync. Microsoft Lync is included in all Microsoft Office 365 packages and allows users to IM each other, however, it is so much more than that. Michael and I use it to work together all day every day, constantly discussing our findings, sharing program control, sending monitor views and links to each other, we don’t need to get up and go to each others computer each and every time we find something new, Lync saves us a lot of time and effort.

I believe that Microsoft Lync will be an extremely useful too for the university in the future allowing staff and students to communicate with one another making communication within the University much more fluid.

RE

Last week Windows 8 developer preview was released into the world, users were able to install Windows 8 as their new operating system or install it as a virtual machine. One of the biggest new features of Windows 8 was the Windows phone 7 style front page view, the applications and widget ’tiles’ are made mainly from HTML5 and java which is a new direction for Microsoft, but what does this mean for SharePoint?

So far there has been no word from Microsoft as to what Windows 8 might do for SharePoint, but there have been some theories thrown around the internet as to what the new OS could do for SharePoint. One blogger (http://lncn.eu/eghw)thinks that it could greatly improve the SharePoint experiance. “Making Windows 8 widgets from SharePoint lists will be ideal to show important information to the user: Sales forecasts, New team members, Team workloads, New documents published, Internal news and many more.” This could make SharePoint administration much easier to keep up with on large networks, this wouldn’t just benefit administrators but all users, having lists be updated in tiles, allowing them to read announcements and access new documents directly from the Windows 8 front page, this would greatly improve SharePoint’s userbility in my opinion.

RE

Here you will find descriptions of the majority of features mentioned in the previous post, some appeared to be rather useful and beneficial for the University, others probably wouldn’t be used in this environment.

The Developer Dashboard – This is a new feature for SharePoint 2010 but is not included in Microsoft SharePoint Online, the developer dashboard provides the user with additional performance and tracing information, that can be used to debug and troubleshoot issues with page rendering time. This isn’t available on SharePoint Online as the user does not manage SharePoint, the SharePoint servers are managed by Microsoft, removing the need for Developer Dashboard.

Records Centre – The Records Centre is intended to serve as a central repository in which an organization can store and manage all of its records. SharePoint 2010 also has an extremely useful feature called In-place records management; this allows the user to declare a document as a record without moving it to a Records Centre, records and documents live alongside each other in the site that they were originally created in.

Business Intelligence Centre – The Business Intelligence Centre is a site template, that is optimized to help manage the working elements of business intelligence reporting: scorecards, dashboards, data connections, status lists, status indicators, and so on.

Business Data Web Parts – Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes five default Business Data Web Parts: Business Data List, Business Data Item, Business Data Item Builder, Business Data Related List, and Business Data Actions. These Web Parts rely on the Business Data Catalogue, and offer three main benefits:

  • No required coding and reusability These Web Parts enable you to display business data on your portal site without writing any code. Also, these Web Parts are generic and reusable and can show any type of data (entity) registered in the Business Data catalogue.
  • Connectability These Web Parts support Web Part connections and make it easier to create Master-Detail applications without writing any code. For example, you can display customers and their details using the Business Data List and Business Data Item Web Parts by simply connecting them. These Web Parts can also be integrated in dashboards.
  • Customization These Web Parts support WYSIWYG editing in Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 and can be customized using XSLT transformations.

Web AnalyticsThis feature helps the user to collect, report, and analyse the usage and effectiveness of your SharePoint 2010 deployment – whether it’s used as an internal or external web portal, a collaboration tool or a document and records management repository.

Word Automation Services – There are some tasks that are difficult when using the Welcome to the Open XML SDK 2.0 for Microsoft Office, such as repagination, conversion to other document formats such as PDF, or updating of the table of contents, fields, and other dynamic content in documents. Word Automation Services is a new feature of SharePoint 2010 that can help in these scenarios. It is a shared service that provides unattended, server-side conversion of documents into other formats, and some other important pieces of functionality. It was designed from the outset to work on servers and can process many documents in a reliable and predictable manner.

Chart Web Parts – One of the new additions to Microsoft’s SharePoint Server 2010 platform is the Chart Web Part (CWP), which allows you to create static and dynamic charts for your site without a line a code. One of the complaints from MOSS 2007 was that users wanted to be able to drop a chart onto their site to create dashboard or display information from Excel documents, or provide metrics to other users in a graphical way.

Timer Jobs – This article describes the default timer jobs for SharePoint Server 2010. A timer job runs in a specific Windows service for SharePoint Server. Timer jobs also perform infrastructure tasks for the Timer service, such as clearing the timer job history and recycling the Timer service; and tasks for Web applications, such as sending e-mail alerts. A timer job contains a definition of the service to run and specifies how frequently the service is started. The SharePoint 2010 Timer service (SPTimerv4) runs timer jobs. Many features in SharePoint Server rely on timer jobs to run services according to a schedule.

External Data Column – Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 provides a field type called External Data that is available to all regular SharePoint lists (except External lists). The External Data field type enables users to add data from external content types registered in the Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service metadata store to SharePoint lists.

Secure Store Service – In Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, the Secure Store Service replaces the single sign-on (SSO) feature of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. The Secure Store Service is a claims-aware authorization service that includes a secure database for storing credentials.

Decomposition tree – This is a new feature for SharePoint 2010 and again is not included in SharePoint Online, for reasons unknown. The decomposition tree is a performance analytics tool; this displays how individual members in a group contribute. This appears to be a feature mainly for retailers, analysing the user’s sales abilities.

Data Connection Library – A Data Connection Library in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is a library that can contain two kinds of data connections: an Office Data Connection (ODC) file or a Universal Data Connection (UDC) file. Microsoft InfoPath 2010 uses data connections that comply with the Universal Data Connection (UDC) file schema and typically have either a *.udcx or *.xml file name extension. Data sources described by these data connections are stored on the server and can be used in standard form templates and browser-enabled form templates.

PerformancePoint Services – PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is a performance management service that you can use to monitor and analyze your business. By providing flexible, easy-to-use tools for building dashboards, scorecards, reports, and key performance indicators (KPIs), PerformancePoint Services can help everyone across an organization make informed business decisions that align with companywide objectives and strategy. Scorecards, dashboards, and KPIs help drive accountability. Integrated analytics help employees move quickly from monitoring information to analyzing it and, when appropriate, sharing it throughout the organization.

Search Functions – There are many search function features that SharePoint 2010 has that SharePoint online does not, some of these features greatly improve the search functionality and even enable the search function to be tailored for certain sites. An Office 365 representative had this to say about it: “Due to the limitations of a multi-tenant hosted environment, FAST is currently not planned to be available in SharePoint Online.  (Enterprise search is really only feasible for dedicated or on-prem SharePoint environments).” So it looks like ShaerPoint Online will not be recieveing this features any time soon.

Chart Web Parts – Chart Web Parts enable you to display some data on your SharePoint page in a graphical form. It can also be integrated with Excel Services.
Business Data Connectivity Services – Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service is the new version of the Business Data Catalogue that was provided in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. It is now provided in Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010. BDC is implemented as a shared service in Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 and it still relies on the Metadata Store. The BDC Service enables you to declaratively model external systems so that you can expose external data in SharePoint Server 2010 (and, with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 with Enterprise Client Access License, in Microsoft Office 2010 applications also). BDC bridges the gap between SharePoint sites and your business applications, and enables you to bring in key data from various external systems to SharePoint lists (via the new external lists feature and external data columns), Web Parts, search, user profiles, and custom applications.
Excel Services and PowerPivot – Excel Services and PowerPivot for SharePoint – Excel Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is a Microsoft SharePoint Server shared service that you can use to publish Microsoft Excel 2010 workbooks on SharePoint Server. The published workbooks are available throughout your organization for knowledge workers to use. Any published workbook can be managed and secured according to your organizational needs and then shared throughout. PowerPivot for SharePoint supports Excel 2010 workbooks that contain PowerPivot data and that are published to a SharePoint site. As a result, other users who do not have the PowerPivot add-in installed can view and interact with the workbook. In addition, PowerPivot for SharePoint has unique features to extend the capabilities of Excel workbooks that contain PowerPivot data.

RE & MB

We are still aware that a migration to Microsoft Office 365 is not definite, we have been hired to research the best migration options for the university. However, it appears that we have not touched on SharePoint 2010 at all in the last few months so we thought we might write a little about it today.

Today we have started to compare Microsoft SharePoint On Premises with SharePoint Online to see which has the most features. I will post the features that one system has but the other might lack, in a table here.

Feature SharePoint 2010 Enterprise SharePoint Online
SharePoint Time Jobs YES NO
Business Data Connectivity Service YES NO
External Data Column YES NO
Business Data Web Parts YES NO
External Lists YES NO
Business Data Integration with Office Client YES NO
Business Connectivity Services Profile Page YES NO
Records Center YES NO
Word Automation Services YES NO
Business Intelligence Center YES NO
Chart Web Parts YES NO
Data Connection Library YES NO
Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Services YES NO
Calculated KPIs YES NO
Dashboards YES NO
Decomposition Tree YES NO
Excel Services and PowerPivot for SharePoint YES NO
Many Search features (about 16) YES (FAST) NO
Single Site Collection Search NO YES
Secure Store Service YES NO
Web Analytics YES NO
Lightweight Public Facing Site NO YES
External Sharing NO YES
Office Web Apps NO YES

So there appear to be a fair amount of features SharePoint 2010 is capable of that SharePoint Online isn’t. However, do keep in mind that the list was extremely long and there are many features the the both of them share, this is just a minority really. Many of the features may not even be needed in the University environment, we will be looking into some of these features so we can better measure the difference between the two SharePoint options.

RE