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Are You Ready? Guest Access in Microsoft Teams is Coming !!

Microsoft Teams is fantastic! It is the ultimate collaboration tool for your business without all the heavyweight of SharePoint.

If your team have Office 365 and use Skype for Business you will love Microsoft Teams! I love Teams, my team love Teams, my customers love Teams…there is only a problem: my customers and my team cannot use Teams in the same project. Sad face! Sad smile 

Microsoft actually promised this when they launched Teams…you know… that you could invite external folks to your conversation. That promise never eventuated…Until now. Happy Face! Smile 

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Guest Access for Microsoft Teams

In June 2017, a few lucky folks started to use guest access in Teams, but then somehow Microsoft went silent on it. Maybe they are doing a closed POC, I thought. So I asked around and actually that’s the case, they have a group of people testing this feature.


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If only I had this for my projects I would be a happy chap ….

Microsoft Teams, please I want to be loved!!


Public Access, Anytime, Anywhere, Everywhere, for All Your Team Mates!!

And the best part I noticed: This test is not only internal. The people testing guest access are actual Office 365 people in the wild! It means, yeah you too can soon give it a try.

Anyone keen to invite me to pilot-test it this feature Smile


Why Guest Access Matters?

This is an massive step forward for Teams as many people often work with 3rd parties. I lost count of how many times I went to my customers and thought about it: “oh man, if only I could bring you guys to our common Teams umbrella…oh well, we’ll have to use Groups with External Access”

Guest access matters because without it Teams is a cut-down version of Slack…and we want Teams to be ABOVE Slack…To make it AWESOME!!

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Are you part of this Microsoft Teams Guest Access trial? Let me know! I want to have a chat with you!!

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The Case for Privileged Access Control


Another day, another big data leak. Do you have a minute? Let's talk a bit about basic security and how even the “big guys” can have it wrong.

Since you're a young IT professional you hear the mantra that login credentials (username, password etc) should never be shared nor written in plain-text (Hello, TickeTek!!). So, why do we keep seeing these things in workplaces? Passwords for network shared on stick notes, handwritten in walls, displayed in big monitors for the sake of convenience…

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The answer is: Unfortunately, this is quite a common practice and worst coming from bad decision making.

The Weakness Stand

According to a report from Centrify: State of Corporate Perimeter about 50% of the USA and 1/3 of UK leaders believe it is easy for someone with old passwords to login into company systems.

Even considering that most of the companies have an off-boarding process for contractors, it can take up to a week to completely sanitize access rights and passwords to all the sensitive data once handled by those individuals. One week is enough time for anyone with ill intentions to go back and hack into systems. And that isn't a rare incident.

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Privileged Accounts: Free as in Free Beer

It gets worse. The report revealed that privileged accounts for systems, and network devices are being shared without any policies to protect them. 40% of U.K. IT leaders working for big companies (over 500 employees) said more than 10% of their staff have privileged access to data in some form.

This number jumps to 50% for small and mid-sized companies (less than 500 employees). Too many people with too much, unnecessary, power in their hands. We are talking about confidential and highly sensitive information kind of access. Rightly so, 62% of U.S. IT leaders believe their companies have too many privileged users. Look at this: Security Auditors guess Australian government database passwords on first attempt! That’s shocking!

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Cultural Differences?

Now one thing to consider. This report was done with 200 companies in the USA and 200 in the UK. One might think that a more liberal economy would pose a bigger risk to IT security systems. Truth is, it does not. The overall pattern is consistent across all groups in both countries. For example, around 50% percent of all companies involved in the study confirmed that their companies had a data breach. And the bad guys are there for the taking like sharks.

A Backup Always Work, The Restore Is What Fails

Almost all companies have some sort of identity keys in place but nearly half of them have monitoring, auditing or privileged identity management in place. Quite surprising, 1/3 of these companies don't have trained employees to respond to a data breach or how the accounts are used. They are simply given to folks and trusted they will do good with them. No wonder so many breaches happens.

The Disaster is a Decision

Often times we hear that a disaster is a series of small events that lead to a big event. It is very surprising that experienced senior managers and leaders on this day and age are still following bad decision making frameworks, yet admitting they do need to do a better job with their data. The quote "When a data leak happens, it is probably your fault" is becoming more alive than ever.

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How To: SQL to Calculate Average of non-Zeroes from a List of Values

I don’t do much coding these days but here’s one I’ve done recently and thought about keeping it for future reference Smile

For a list of values, how to calculate the average only using the ones which are non-zeros?


CREATE FUNCTION dbo.fn_AverageNonZeroes 
(@para int, @parb int, @parc int, @pard int, @pare int)
RETURNS DECIMAL(4,2)
AS
BEGIN
    DECLARE @average DECIMAL(4,2)

    DECLARE @a DECIMAL(4,2)
    DECLARE @b DECIMAL(4,2)
    DECLARE @c DECIMAL(4,2)
    DECLARE @d DECIMAL(4,2)
    DECLARE @e DECIMAL(4,2)

    SET @a=CONVERT(DECIMAL(4,2),@para)
    SET @b=CONVERT(DECIMAL(4,2),@parb)
    SET @c=CONVERT(DECIMAL(4,2),@parc)
    SET @d=CONVERT(DECIMAL(4,2),@pard)
    SET @e=CONVERT(DECIMAL(4,2),@pare)

    IF @a>0 OR @b>0 or @c>0 or @d>0 or @e>0
     SELECT @average=(@a + @b + @c +@d + @e)
             /
             (0+
             CASE WHEN @a=0 THEN 0 ELSE 1 END +
             CASE WHEN @b=0 THEN 0 ELSE 1 END +
             CASE WHEN @c=0 THEN 0 ELSE 1 END +
             CASE WHEN @d=0 THEN 0 ELSE 1 END +
             CASE WHEN @e=0 THEN 0 ELSE 1 END
             )
     ELSE
         SELECT @average=0.0
    
     RETURN @average
END 

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I am Speaking at the Collab365 2016 Event

Once again I got confirmed as a speaker for the Collab365 Conference. This is one of the coolest conferences around from the people organizing it to the folks participating online. A single session can easily reach thousands of people, so you can imagine my excitement. And as a plus, it is always great being at Microsoft HQ in Redmond. Also a good time to reconnect with folks from the Office 365 team in their offices. (*cough*also visit the Microsoft store*cough*)

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My session is as usual around Office 365 Compliance and Data Protection and it is called: "Office 365 eDiscovery: DLP for your Business and Your Data".

Join the Collab365 Summit and watch the sessions, there is an incredible amount of brilliant minds and souls behind this event, doing this for the community at large.

Where Can You Get More Information and Watch the Sessions?

Go to http://collab365.events/collab365-summit-2016/ . You can also follow the twitter @Colla365 and the hashtag #Collab365

Also, who doesn’t love an opportunity to visit Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond Smile

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Microsoft vs Apple vs Facebook vs Google vs Amazon (in 2017)

Here some interesting stats collated by Visual Capitalist. I thought of creating this post just so I can reference it later. In short:

  • Microsoft is the leader in portfolio diversification.
  • Apple and Alphabet have a good portfolio but little diversity.
  • Amazon has good market cap and some diversity.
  • Facebook is a one-trick pony Smile

Apple

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Microsoft

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Alphabet

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Facebook

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Amazon

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Source: companies annual reports, May/2017 – visualisation by www.visualcapitalist.com

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My Project Online Administrator is Locked! How to Fix?

Today I've got a call from a very worried customer: "Help, our Project Online Administrator got locked out! What do we do???"

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First, let's bring calm into the conversation. You know people will live after that. If your Project Administrator got locked don't panic, the site collection administrator automatically has administrative privileges. So to fix it quickly, ask the tenant or SharePoint online admin to fix this for you and assign you or someone as site collection admin and then you can go and fix the Project Admin. Done!

Now let’s talk about the B-side.

First, How Did you Get Into this Situation?

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I know, soul searching is not easy. If you know what caused the issue, great otherwise you should start asking questions. That's a very important first step to understand what happened. Generally think about the last steps performed in the site. Look for things like:

  • Any changes happened to the Administrators in Project Server or in the Administrators from Active Directory
  • Any synchronization happened to the AD group in the Resource Center. Maybe this happened and your Admin became inactive.
  • Any bulk password changes happened in your organization
  • Any user migration recently happened in your organization

You know, things like this to give you a sense of what caused the issue.

So well done! You fixed the problem and you understood what happened.

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Let's Learn from this Event…

Let's lay the basics out here. Your company's Office 365 tenant have:

  • A global administrator,
  • A SharePoint administrator,
  • A site collection administrator,
  • A Project Online administrator.

Experience tells us that 90% of the time, there is someone which is incorporate ALL of these roles. Pick the person that is the Global Administrator and let's have a chat with this person and find out if anything special has been done to the Project Administration role. If this is the person that helped you reverting the situation as we talked before, even better. Discuss the situation with him/her. Share with him what  you think caused the lock.

What About Licencing?

Often times Active Directory changes alone can fix lockout situations, in these cases a site collection admin does not require a dedicated Project Online license. The challenge here is sometimes to fix the issue, the person needs to log into Project Online and in this circumstance the site collection administrator needs a Project Online license. It’s possible that he or she already has one.

I Don't Have Licences Left. What Do I Do?

You can temporarily remove licences from an user and assign to other for this. The licences are not named licences, so that's a perfectly legal manoeuvre. Better yet, remove the license assigned to the locked out user since he/she is not able to use it anyway while you fix this.

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Free Stock Photos Woman in IT, #STEM

Do you love to support the efforts to attract more women to #STEM ? Do you support a more diverse workplace, outside of your typical blue eyed, white man, in glasses and fancy suits?

Do yourself a favour and start using this great catalogue of stock photos representing women in technology, from diverse backgrounds and biotypes. I know some of these photos are full of Microsoft logos but a lot of them aren’t, so go ahead they are royalty FREE by WOCinTechChat! Bring new life to your presentations, support a more diverse culture in technology Smile

For the full album of free stock photos of women in IT, STEM click here…

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Managing Thousands of Projects in Project Online

If you work with Microsoft Project Online you know how great this product is at streamlining project, resource and portfolio management activities. All this is for a single purpose, to allow you to deliver better projects, on time, on budget.

And now a few changes were released this month. Let have a look at 2 very special ones that I would like you to know:

Create and Manage Up to 30,000 Projects

Traditionally, Project Online  allowed for up 5,000 projects. Starting April/2017 this limit will have a significant jump. 6x to be more precise. Now project managers will be able to create and manage up to 30,000 projects in the cloud using Project Online. What was already a fantastic number, now has just increased to great lengths.

Why This is Good?

It offers a better scale, 30,000 projects allows for a much bigger room to move and improve and at the same time offer more flexibility to get more things done.

 

Pick and Choose the Site URL for your Project Site Configuration

Another great improvement on the way things are done in Project Online is on how information is organized in SharePoint sites. Now project managers can create more project sites and every project now can have a 1-1 relationship with their project site.

Why This is Good?

Again, traditionally this number was limited to 2,000. Often times more sites were needed but this limit was reached, then what people used to do was to split your landscape into several PWA sites, which then extended to another batch of 2,000 sites but the trade-off was that it impacted in the team productivity with a fragmented environment.

…One More Great News Before You Go…

In addition to these great improvements, there is one more fantastic improvement done in Project Online this month: Now users can set the destination URL of the project sites in the Enterprise Project Type template. This not only helps with the meta-hierarchical structure of the organization but also streamlines the process of project creation allocating sites based on similarities and functional equivalences.

How It Works?

For example, if you company has a site collection dedicated to a specific department and all sites are located on it (Sales, Marketing, IT etc), let’s call it https://superedge.sharepoint.com/sites/demo for demonstration purposes, now you can configure your all your departmental projects EPT to provision sites directly into this site collection

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You do this by going into each EPT, then in the Project Site section, select Allow users to choose:

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What if You Can’t See these Things in Your Environment…

This is a Question that many times people ask me when they see these cool announcements and all the new features and yet they don’t seem to get them. Don’t worry, that’s the nature of Office 365 Releases. Releases are done by zones and via multiple channels. Very often these changes are done slowly and according to geographic zones, so if you don’t see them yet, don’t worry. They are coming!

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The Test of the Machine

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The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test.
 
If the machine produces tranquillity it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.​​​
 
One day, the machine will break and you will be in charge of fixing it.
 
- "Is it hard?" people will ask you
 
- "Not if you have the right attitudes!! " You will say. "Its having the right attitudes that's hard.”​​​

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The Importance of Continuous Development and Training

 

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‘’Sensei is the Japanese word generally associated with 'teacher'. In the Samurai culture, a sensei aim to be a samurai, and through continuous improvement a samurai is always a Sensei. Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the greatest Samurai in history was not only an expert swordsmen but also a Zen practitioner. He believed that through Zen a state of no-mindedness was reached. Once in combat, he believed, an empty mind is free and has no need for doubt, fear, calculation. The actions are done automatically by the technique and pure focus. Keep that intro in mind, we will come back to it in a minute.

Looking at the project challenges as battles, it is important to have an empty mind in the Zen sense. We should let our pure focus and technique (developed and filtered by successful project experiences) should drive the outcomes.

Thus the importance of constant training, to sharpen the PMO skillset for battle, so then when we’re in the midst of a challenging project task we let all thinking go and let the purity of action to take over and move forward. A focused mind is the formidable tool against scope creep.

Now, back to the intro, Tokugawa Ieyasu practiced cutting bamboos hundreds of times a day, every day, to demonstrate to us, modern day warriors, that not only we are learning everyday but also that it requires a life-time of dedicated practice to achieve great swordsmanship. Become the Samurai warrior in your project you too as well.

What do you think? How has continuous training (of the lack of) shaped your professional role?

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Why Cloud Projects Fail?

Businesses are moving to the cloud faster than ever with the premise that, in the cloud, project challenges can be tackled faster and efficiently. Yet, new research reports staggering cloud project failure rates. In this session we will discuss the 6 not-so-obvious reasons cloud projects fail and fool proof strategies to make sure project managers are prepared for them.

Thank you everyone who took the time to join the webinar and discuss this very interesting topic. Fee free to reach out to continue the conversation!

Presentation slides can be downloaded here: The 6-not-so-obvious Reasons Why Cloud Projects Fail

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How Secure is my Data in the Cloud?

This is by far the most common question I get when talking to people about cloud migrations. And rightly so, information security (together with data privacy) is amongst the top concerns for businesses looking to go to the cloud computing.

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To be quite frank:

  1. Generally the data stored in the cloud is very secure and
  2. Most likely it is safer then it currently is in your company.

 

A New Model Brings New Threats

Now let’s not make a mistake here, cloud computing does raises security issues that are not typically found when your data is stored on-premises in your own building. So much so that industry standards are still adapting to cloud specific challenges. For example, not many people realises that your company data might be stored in a common datacenter where data from other companies are stored as well. The concept of multi-tenancy scares a hell of a lot of people.

 

Who is Ultimately Responsible for Securing my Information?

This is an important question and before we answer that, let’s take a step back and discuss the matrix of responsibility here. To answer that question, first we need to assert the nature of the information stored because it is the data sensitivity who will dictate the level of infrastructure security necessary.

OK, so now that we have that in mind, the second part is about addressing the responsibility. The cloud provider is most likely to be responsible for the security and privacy controls which will be available to you.

Then now you have it:

  1. The cloud provider is responsible for the infrastructure lockdown, and
  2. the customer is the one who drives the data protection requirements.

It does not matter that you store your data in the cloud but still uses weak password controls or poorly governed processes around your business and data access, right? That’s why a proper cloud security assessment is so important because most likely, when a data breach happens it is because of you. Don’t be ashamed to assume if you have, weak security controls is something very pervasive in our industry as you can see here.

 

What Are my Responsibilities as a Cloud Customer?

You need to understand what security controls your business need, what data breach controls you want, what regulatory needs your industry requires etc. Cloud companies like Microsoft or Amazon won’t know that. It is your job to know that and bring it to the discussion table. Like I said before, these cloud companies are extremely capable and secure so normally it is up to the customer to up their game.

In short you as a customer have to:

  • Understand your data sensitivity
  • Ensure your chosen cloud provider offers the controls your business need

So there you have it. Generally the conversation here evolves to So nothing ever goes wrong in the cloud? Are you telling me that data breaches never happen?”…no, but this is a talk for another day.

See ya later!

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From #AshleyMadison to #PanamaPapers : Office 365 is Bringing Sexy Back to Cloud Compliance and #eDiscovery

When a data leak happens and people are affected judicially, specially suing and being sued, this starts a very long, tiring and expensive process. eDiscovery is one of the most complex parts of the whole game.

In this session we will talk about what’s eDiscovery, how big companies do it, how expensive it is and how can Office 365 help you. So if you are around Brisbane, Australia on April 14th come and join us. Bring your laptops, tablets, iPads, mobile and we will do some demos and play some roles. It will be fun Smile

Where Can I Get the Presentation Slides?

 You can get the slides here.

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Microsoft EMS Usergroup Presentation: EMS - Everybody Together Now!

I love talking to the local cloud community. These guys are a good bunch of folks that put their own time and resources to bring innovative and up-to-date content for everyone to see for free! Big shout of to Aaron, from Microsoft for the support.

This week I presented to the Microsoft Cloud User Group in Brisbane, Australia. We talked about EMS in a demo-heavy session!

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For this session we set vert ambitious targets in terms of demos. My opinion is that EMS is a fantastic but only through hands-on experience is how people realise the value proposition of this product. We ended up doing 40 minutes of demos with Q&A as needed. Great engagement!

BYOD Device Management and ATA Advanced Threat Analytics 

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Where Can I Get the Presentation Slides ?

If you’re interested in the slides, they are here: EMS Everybody Together now! – Microsoft Brisbane Cloud Usergroup

As always, feel free to reach out if you would like to know more.