Profile: Steve Smith

Owner of Combined Knowledge, Instructor, SharePoint MVP and Microsoft Regional Director

 

 

Steve Smith

Hi, my name is Steve Smith based out of the UK and I am the founder of Combined Knowledge in the UK and CEO of Mindsharp in the US and I have been a collaboration and infrastructure specialist for the last 30 years.

My company's primary goal since 2003 has been to focus on creating and building customized courseware, solutions and products that work together to enable companies to have a complete education and adoption methodology when deploying Microsoft collaboration products be it on premises, Cloud or Hybrid.

Our current development focus is building productivity, training, support and helpdesk apps that integrate with SharePoint online and on premises as well as Office 365 Apps using Azure AD applications and Office Add-ins. we already have several apps in the market with over 750,000 subscribers.

I am also the founder and organizer of the SharePoint Evolution Conference as well the UK SharePoint User Group since 2006 and have been a Microsoft MCT since 1998 and a SharePoint MVP since 2006, speaking and keynoted at many Microsoft and community events over the last 10 years.

 

 

Steve Smith

What is a Regional Director?

The regional Director program consists of 150 of the world's top technology visionaries chosen specifically for their proven cross-platformexpertise, community leadership, and commitment to business results. You will typically find Regional Directors keynoting at top industry events, leading community groups and local initiatives, running technology-focused companies, or consulting on and implementing the latest breakthrough within a multinational corporation.

Steve is currently one of 5 featured Regional Directors on the Microsoft RD website here >

 

Videos

As well as organising and hosting the SharePoint Evolution conference, Steve speaks at a wide range of technology events around the world. Below are 2 sample sessions from 2015 & 2016

 

 

Seminar: Skills for Today's & Tomorrow's IT Implementers
Session Title: Is On-Premises dead? Should I just be learning cloud?  

JUNE 22nd 2016 | MICROSOFT PADDINGTON | LONDON | UK

 

 

 

The SharePoint Evolution Conference 2015
Keynote Presentation

APRIL 20th 2015 | THE QEII CENTRE | LONDON | UK

 

 

Published Articles

Steve has authored a range of articles and posts that are published worldwide through channels such as Technet and MSDN. Below are a few sample articles from 2015 & 2016

 

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online

You can also read this article on MSDN

13 Jan 2016

Hi Everyone,

In this article I am going to introduce you to the latest updates in the compliancy space around data loss prevention (DLP) in the new SharePoint 2016 public beta 2 release http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49961 which is now available to download. The information from this article is also part of my SharePoint 2016 clinic designed to get people up to speed with SharePoint 2016 Beta 2 and will also form part of my upcoming 5 day 2016 Administrators classes in the UK and US. UK classes – http://www.combined-knowledge.com/Courses/Classroom/SharePoint_2016_clinic/index.html , US classes – https://mindsharp.com/course/sharepoint-2016-clinic/

 

I am also going to discuss DLP from a SharePoint Online perspective as well as on Prem, SharePoint Online being part of Office365 and also has DLP features for SharePoint online rolling out to tenants now. It is important to note however that DLP is not new in itself, the DLP features have been part of Exchange Server 2013 and Exchange online to allow you to build message driven policies for email. Having DLP in policies in SharePoint now allows a business to build a DLP structure across both email and data which is great news for all regardless if you are On Prem or in Office365.

 

I have been working with the document and records management features of SharePoint for many years and the first clarification I want to make is that DLP is not a replacement for those existing processes. In fact DLP is very much a compliment to your business’s overall strategy with how to handle compliant and sensitive data within your SharePoint environment. DLP is not replacing your document lifecycle management process but it is allowing your business to build a policy model to discover and protect data in a way previously not possible out of the box.

 

So what is DLP then I hear you ask, In a nutshell it is a method to discover (find) and restrict sensitive data being put into SharePoint that matches specific criteria through defined industry templates and thus avoid breaches of corporate data leaving the company. Such data could include credit card details or employee national insurance or social security information and they are specific to regional requirements. These 80 templates are the same ones being used by Exchange and the full list of templates can be found here https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj150541(v=exchg.160).aspx although the SharePoint Beta 2 bits do not yet include the full set of templates I am sure by RTM there will be the full selection.

 

Although the examples I am using in this article are built in SharePoint 2016 Beta 2 on Prem you can follow along in exactly the same way in SharePoint online. The only difference is that in SharePoint online you cannot force content crawls so you may have to wait longer in order for the search results to show up.

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Figure 1 – DLP Policy templates

If you expand these policies shown on the website linked before you will notice that each policy has a defined criteria that uses patterns and confidence levels to match data in the document in order to trigger the DLP policy to take action against the document. You will also notice that each template has specific keywords that form part of the detection criteria. The aim here is to flag items that clearly breach the rules of a policy and not flag items that may include certain keywords but have no legal implication. For example a sales person has a document in SharePoint that outlines to a client that they can pay via credit card. The keywords of credit card in this scenario do not warrant it being locked down by a DLP policy, but someone storing 50 custom credit card details in SharePoint clearly would. As you can see by the credit card template you have both keyword verification and keyword name to include card numbers as well as card type so in order for these templates to be triggered there must be clear matches against the template criteria.

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Figure 2- DLP template criteria for credit cards

Before we start creating some DLP policies I first want to break down the two main options that you have in SharePoint around DLP and that we are going to look at later in this article. The two main elements are:

  • Discovery

  • Policy

An important point to mention here is that both of these options do apply to both items stored in SharePoint and Items stored in OneDrive.

 

Discovery

As a company you may not actually know how many items are currently in your organisation’s SharePoint data that are actually in breach of your own compliancy regulations. Having the ability to do a DLP query based on specific DLP templates across all your SharePoint data will allow you to quickly identity areas that are in need of managed policies and fixing the existing breaches. This discovery process relies 100% on search having crawled the items in SharePoint. In SharePoint 2016 In SharePoint 2016 Beta 2 there is a new addition to the eDiscovery site template called a DLP query that allows a user to launch queries against DLP templates against all your content or specific content in your SharePoint environment. One important aspect to this however is that the person who is running the query in the eDiscovery Center must have read access to all data in SharePoint. This can be achieved either via a Web Application Policy on Prem, or by adding them as site collection administrators in SharePoint Online or On Prem.

 

Policy

The obvious way to avoid sensitive data being available to others is to put in place a policy that restricts the document itself when it is put into SharePoint. A DLP policy enables the compliancy managers to create these policies and apply them to site collections in your SharePoint environment which can include policy tips, email notifications and blocking of the content once it matches a specific DLP policy template.

 

That is the terminology dealt with let’s now get started by testing the Discovery process and using the new DLP Query in the eDiscovery Center. In this example I have built my SharePoint Farm with 3 servers, one Server is the domain controller on Windows Server 2012R2, 1 is the SQL server using SQL 2014 and the third server is a SharePoint 2016 Server beta 2 in custom role. I have also tested DLP full in a Min Role farm with 9 SharePoint Servers so the same method applies regardless of your SharePoint deployment method. I have also created the User Profile Application Service for creating user my sites and personal OneDrives as well as a Search Service Application for crawling data.

 

The first thing you want to do is get a document ready to test that the DLP Query is working correctly. For this example I am going to use a generic credit card list which you can obtain from here http://www.paypalobjects.com/en_US/vhelp/paypalmanager_help/credit_card_numbers.htm and copy the table into your own word document and save. You now need to upload the document into a document library, in my test I am going to upload one into a team site and one into my personal OneDrive.

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Figure 3 – Document added to team site library

 

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Figure 4 – Document added to OneDrive

 

Now that you have added your documents with the credit card data into SharePoint you now need to do an update crawl of the data so that the new documents are now in the SharePoint Index that a user runs a query against. This is achieved in the search service application for your SharePoint content source. An incremental crawl is fine.

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Figure 5 – Running an incremental crawl to update the Index

 

Part of the crawl process is to analyse the content through the content processing component and part of this process includes a new component in SharePoint 2016 called the Classification Operator. Along with other processing components such as word breakers and document parser. Once processed the classification results are stored in the Index ready for a query to be used against it.

Capture 6

Once the crawl has finished you can proceed to create a new site collection that uses the eDiscovery site template. This is done via Central Administration or PowerShell or if you are in Office 365 you can create a new site collection via the SharePoint Admin site in your tenant Admin page. When creating your new site collection ensure that you select eDiscovery Center which can be found in the Enterprise tab.

 

**Note** There is no limit to the amount of eDiscovery sites that you create in you organisation you simply control access to each one via the site permissions.

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Figure 6 – Select the eDiscovery template

 

Ensure that the users who will be managing the eDiscovery sites and are going to be running queries against SharePoint data have got read permissions to the site collections that they will be searching for content. Once your site is created go ahead and launch the site logging in as your chosen user.

On the home page for the site you have the option of creating a new discovery case or just a DLP query. The scope of covering eDiscovery cases is too much for this article but a good starting point is here if you want to know more https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/fp161516.aspx . For this demo I am going to select ‘Create DLP Query’

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Figure 7 – The eDiscovery home page

 

In the ‘Search and Export’ page you need to create a ‘New Item’. In the new item page you will now see the DLP templates that we mentioned earlier. For this test we are going to select U.K. Financial Data as that is the data we copied earlier for the credit cards.

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Figure 8 – New DLP Query

 

You will also notice on this template selection page that you now have the choice to choose how many instances of the particular sensitive data type you need to capture in the document before it is captured in the query. For example if you want to be shown all documents in SharePoint that have 2 or more credit card numbers you need to change this box to 2. Obviously the lower the number the more potential false positives you could capture. It all depends on what the level of identification is needed for your company. For this example I will leave it at 2.

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Figure 9 – Choose the query match trigger amount

 

Clicking next takes you to the actual DLP query page. On this page you will need to define a name for the query which will be saved for later use and also the source of where you want to run the query against. The Source can be specific SharePoint site collections or simply all of SharePoint. So give your query a title and then in the sources section click on ‘Modify Query Scope’

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Figure 10 – Modify the search scope

 

**Note** It is possible to amend the query at any time, so if for example you wish to change the query string to be 5 or more hits instead of the 2 we previously defined then you can edit the query in this page at any time, for example: SensitiveType=”Credit Card Number|5..” also notice in the query string that we have added standard query language to include other options in this case EU Debit Card and SWIFT Code.

 

On the modify Query Scope page select ‘Search Everything in SharePoint’ because at this stage we don’t actually know if we have any breaches in the business so we would like to first find data anywhere that matches our query type.

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Figure 11 – Choose Everything in SharePoint

 

Click OK to and now you can click on the Search button to run the query.

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Figure 12 – Searching for content

 

Once the query has finished you should now get a return of the documents that you uploaded earlier into your sites or in my case my project site and my personal OneDrive.

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Figure 13 – Seeing the results

 

So now I have been able to discover exactly where data is being stored that is clearly in breach of my corporate policy. The next step is to start applying a DLP policy to the site collections I want to control. In order to create a policy we first need to create another new site collection that allows me to create and manage policies plus assign them to user site collections.

Again we do this in Central Administration or PowerShell on Prem or via the SharePoint admin page in Office 365 Admin. This time we selecting a template in the Enterprise tab you need to select ‘Compliance Policy Center’. You will notice there is also another new template here for In-Place Hold, which is something for another article J

Just like the eDiscovery site you can have as many Compliance Policy Center’s as you need just control access via the site permissions.

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Figure 14 – Create a Compliancy Policy Center

 

Once the Site Collection has been created you can now browse to it and you will see there is two distinct sections. Delete Policies and Data Loss Prevention Policies. Both play a different role in data management, one obviously deleting content already in SharePoint based on a defined policy and the other managing content via a policy that is being put into SharePoint. The one that we care about is obviously the DLP Policy.

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Figure 15 – The Compliancy Policy Center Home Page

 

There are two sides to a DLP policy:

 

  • Policy Management

    • Create and define the policy logic

  • Policy Assignments for Site Collections

    • Assign a policy to specific Site Collections to enforce the policy.

 

Let’s first look at Policy management and creating our first policy. Click on DLP policy Management to open the management list. From here you need to click on ‘new item’

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Figure 16 – New DLP Policy Management Item

 

Let’s use our UK credit card scenario again, so I will call this policy UKCCFraud for example and select the same U.K. Financial Data template that we used in the previous eDiscovery query.

Change the number of instances that you want to define in order to trigger the policy. I will use 2 again in this instance as I know that works based on my previous query. You also need to define a user who will receive incident reports, this could be an email address that is seen by several high ranking legal people in your organisation for example or a compliancy officer.

There is now two additional options, neither are mandatory but definitely useful. The first option is to add policy tips. This updates the count with additional information when a user goes to edit an item that is not compliant stating for example that it is in breach of a policy. This policy tip can be shown in Office, in Item preview or through Office Online applications. We will look at this in more detail shortly. The second option requires policy tips to be on but also blocks content for normal users to view the content in the SharePoint library. Only the content owner and site owners can now see the item that is in breach of the policy and it will not be viewable for all users until the content in question is edited or changed. For the purpose of this exercise I will be selecting both.

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Figure 17 – Defining Policy options

 

Just click Save to now store the policy.

Now that the policy has been created the second part of the configuration is to align it to any site collections where we need the policy enforcing for SharePoint data. In my example that is a site collection called projects. Obviously choose one of your own to test this against.

As usual I do need to emphasise that you should be testing this first in a test environment, not in production whilst you get familiar with the technology J

 

In the Data Loss Prevention home you now need to go to DLP Policy Assignments for Site Collections. On this page you now need to create a ‘new item’.

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Figure 18 – select Site Collections

 

On the Site Collection Assignment page you first need to choose a site collection that you want to assign a policy to. Click on ‘First choose a site collection’ and then in the site collection field enter the full URL to your chosen site collection. In my example this is https://intranet.combined.com/projects and then click on the search icon to resolve the site collection URL. Just like the DLP Query you must have crawled your site collections in order to find them.

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Figure 19 – Enter a site collection URL and search for it

 

Once the search has resolved your site collection you should simply tick the box for the locations you want to apply the policy. If you have selected a root site collection all site collections below that path will be shown. For example: If you select a root site collection of https://intranet.combined.com and other site collections from the managed paths will be shown, such as https://intranet.combined.com/sites/alpha and https://intranet.combined.com/sites/beta

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Figure 20 – Choosing from multiple site collections if using a root

 

Now that you have selected your site collection you now need to assign it a policy. In the same Site Collection Assignment page click on Manage Assigned Policies. This now allows you to choose from one of your DLP management policies. In our case we created the credit card fraud one earlier so I will select that. Select it and click save to apply the policy.

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Figure 21 – Assign a managed policy to a site collection

Finally click on save to apply the site collection policy. At this point you can rinse and repeat for as many site collections as you wish. You will notice below that I also choose my users my site host which allows me select any of my users personal sites which would also include OneDrive data on a per user basis.

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Figure 22 – Assigning DLP Policies to users personal sites

 

Now that you have applied your policies to your site collections we should be able to see the effect by browsing back to our team site and refreshing the data. In my case I went back to my projects site and you clearly see a new icon over the document that failed the policy test and has been marked blocked due to being in conflict with a policy.

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Figure 23 – DLP Policy applying to a document

 

You can also follow the link to see the policy tip to get more information on the policy breach and then open the item to resolve it.

Remember that the only people who can see these options are the site owners and the document owner, other user don’t even see the document in question.

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Figure 24 – DLP Policy Tip

If you select ‘Resolve’ then an additional box appears that allows you to either override the Policy which could have legal ramifications on you personally or you can report the issue to a higher administrator and continue.

 

So there you have it, a comprehensive look at some of the new features of DLP in SharePoint 2016 Beta 2 and for those of you with the DLP feature available in your Office 365 tenant you can follow the same steps. Combine DLP with SharePoint along with DLP in Exchange and you have a very solid base for managing your corporate DLP strategy. I hope you have enjoyed following this article and I would love to hear from you and how you are getting on.

Steve

 

 

 

An Overview of SharePoint 2016 and What’s New for the IT Pro’s

You can also download a PDF of this article or read it on TechNet

 

27 Oct 2015

As I write this article it occurs to me that this is the 6th iteration of the SharePoint server family that I have worked with. When I consider how few companies used SharePoint server 2001 to the millions that now use SharePoint on premises and SharePoint Online as part of Office365 it really is quite impressive how this product has changed the way we collaborate over the last 15 years, laying the foundation not just for Microsoft’s collaboration story but also for many ISV’s and Services companies around the world.

To set the scene an interesting point about this latest version of SharePoint is the fact that it came from a cloud first approach in its design. Unlike all previous versions of SharePoint that were designed first for on premises this version was being used first in the cloud and then ported to an on premises version. This means that there is much more alignment with SharePoint Online and the collaboration services in Office 365 than any previous version.

With the public preview launch of the latest version aptly named SharePoint 2016 Preview you now get a chance to see what is new in this latest release. You can download the preview bits here https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=48712 , it is important to note that this is a preview and is aimed squarely at the IT Pro’s to get to grips with the new deployment and configuration options and also feedback their experiences / questions to the 2016 TechNet forum https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-us/home?forum=SP2016. Before you get started make sure you are aware of some important changes to the requirements and options for installation. Some highlights are Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 minimum but what will make many of you happy is that on the hardware side there is little difference from SharePoint 2013 in terms of disk, memory and processor needs. In fact the overall experience for installing the new version is very similar to that of SharePoint 2016 for Pre-requisites and Binary files.
A great starting point for planning and installing can be found here https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc303422%28v=office.16%29.aspx

If you are looking for more hands on technical training for the latest version I am running 2016 first look Clinics in the UK - http://www.combined-knowledge.com/Courses/Classroom/sp2016_clinic/index.html and for those in the US I am doing an online class all with full hands on labs using 8 virtual machines per student http://www.combined-knowledge.com/Courses/Online/sp2016_clinico/index.html

Before we kick off with one of the main changes for IT Pro’s in the new version however let’s mention what is not in this version. First there is no Foundation version, this was Microsoft’s free version of the SharePoint collaboration platform and could be installed on SQL Express as well. This may confuse people as to why it is not there but the reason is straight forward, remember this version ported from SharePoint online which does not use Foundation, therefore for those currently on foundation you have two options going forward, migrate to SharePoint Server or look at migrating to Office 365. As there is no SQL express support that means there is also no option for a Stand Alone Installation which used SQL Express only a single server role that uses SQL Server.

Obviously in a single article I cannot cover every single new feature but let’s first look at one of the new options from a deployment perspective Min Role. When building a new SharePoint farm you now get the choice to select what type of server role you want this server to be as shown in the below screen capture from the farm configuration wizard.

Figure 1

What you see here is the ability to choose from either a pre-defined role template or build your own custom role. For those of you coming from SharePoint 2013 ‘Custom Role’ is the same as ‘complete’ as it allows you to configure the server with whichever services you choose. And this is where the role templates change everything. If you select ‘Front-end’ role for example then that is all that server can do, it cannot be a ‘Distributed Cache’ role as well.

This is because behind each role is a set of monitored compliancy and performance management tools. This allows the server to remain protected from rogue services being started up on the server and have telemetry reporting. The obvious downside to this approach is that you will now need a minimum amount of servers if you plan to use all of the roles. If you don’t build any form of resilience then you need a minimum of 4 servers but if you want to ensure resilience of each role then a minimum of 9 servers is needed (Distributed cache requires 3 servers to be fully resilient) And this obviously does not account for any further performance optimization such as search being scaled out further. So what does this mean in the real world you ask, the bottom line is that if you are currently a SharePoint farm that has 4 – 6 servers and you cannot justify any more then you will look at configuring your 2016 farm using ‘custom’ role and treating it in exactly the same way you did for SharePoint 2013 / 2010, however for companies that have more Enterprise scale then using the various ‘Min Roles’ will be a very welcome deployment option for your new farm design.

Another Infrastructure change that is actually very important in the security of SharePoint is that Web Applications are now created with TLS 1.2 enabled by default. What this means in reality is that when building Web Applications with an SSL binding SharePoint will attempt to first communicate with clients using TLS 1.2 first which is much more secure than say SSL 3. In order to force TLS however for all communication there are additional registry changes to be made, refer to this article for how to do this https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/187498 . Be aware however that only newer browser clients support TLS 1.2 and if you also have communication with other products / servers ensure you test TLS 1.2 works for all before forcing it.

 

For anyone who is allowing SharePoint as an extranet solution however should consider ensuring TLS 1.2 is the only option for connections. TLS can also be used for all SMTP traffic communication from SharePoint 2016, again this must be enabled in SharePoint and supported by the SMTP mail server and if you enable it in SharePoint and the mail server is not configured no mail will flow out of SharePoint.

This is a good reference article for this and other new feature options https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt346121%28v=office.16%29.aspx

One ask from IT Pro’s over the years has been the ability to patch servers without needing to take servers out of the production farm or reboot. Zero downtime patching is something that SharePoint 2016 will bring with it. Allowing Microsoft to release patches more frequently but also smaller patches that has no impact on the production farm functioning. Most IT Pro’s who manage SharePoint farms will be very happy with this news.

 

Also for the IT Pro’s one of the areas that you will increasingly become involved with going forward is building hybrid solutions. As companies start to leverage cloud services like Office 365 we will want to support both our on premises and cloud users. SharePoint 2016 has Hybrid tools built in out of the box such as OneDrive for business and MySite redirect to Office365 however as Microsoft release more services into the Cloud feature updates to SharePoint 2016 will allow you to consume those services into SharePoint 2016 on Prem. It is important to remember that many services that Microsoft develop going forward will not work on premises so if as a company we want to leverage some of those new services connectivity from on premises to cloud will be key.

One more area that has been significantly improved in SharePoint 2016 is compliancy features. Data Loss Prevention has always been a key part of any Enterprise Content Management Solution (ECM) alongside item lifecycle management. SharePoint 2016 continues where 2013 left off and then adds even more features such as new On Hold policy Site Collection templates and document delete policy templates. The most noticeable change here is that SharePoint 2016 now matches exactly what is available in Office 365 when it comes to SharePoint DLP support including sensitive data type discovery such as documents containing credit cards or national insurance numbers which should not be stored potentially in SharePoint.
As you can see from the following two screen shots what you get in SharePoint 2016 is exactly the same as what you get in Office 365. This alignment of feature sets is really beneficial for both On Premises only customers and those in a Hybrid world.

Figure 2 - Document Delete Policy Template Office 365

Figure 3 - Document Delete Policy Template SharePoint 2016

A final thought on DLP and Hybrid, consider the new Hybrid crawl appliance which allows you to create a single Index of both On Premises and Office 365 content then in Office 365 you will be able to discover data from a single EDiscovery query.  To get more information on the new Hybrid Crawl Appliance check this article out http://blogs.msdn.com/b/spses/archive/2015/09/15/cloud-hybrid-search-service-application.aspx

And although this is an IT Pro article you will also notice when testing the new product that the general user UI is a lot more aligned to the look and feel of SharePoint site templates from Office 365 which again for those companies that have both environments makes users more at home regardless of which site they are logged in to.
There are obviously a lot of smaller feature changes in the product especially around the user side however to finish of this article here are six of my other useful points listed. As for a call to action, download the latest bits, have a play and post on the forums with your questions and between now and the release of RTM stated currently as Quarter 2 2016 there will be newer versions being released of the product for you to test.

  • New Larger File upload  beyond 2GB – You set the new size on a per Web application basis
  • EDiscovery works with One Drive
  • Upgrading from SharePoint 2013 to SharePoint 2016 requires no site collection upgrade process, all sites are automatically put into 2016 mode.
  • Upgrading works in the same way as you did from 2010 to 2013 but you cannot upgrade from 2010 to 2016 it can only be from 2013 to 2016. Therefore when upgrading from 2010 to 2013 you must convert your site collections to 2013 mode before upgrading your content databases to 2016.
  • Shared Service model still supported when upgrading from SharePoint 2013
  • Many of your existing scripts for 2013 will work in 2016 and only a few minor tweaks will be needed to support the new features and installation options.

 

Thanks for reading and I hope you found this article useful.

Steve

 

 

 

A Brave new SharePoint Hybrid World

You can also read this article on TechNet

24th Feb 2015

Hi everyone, I have been a Microsoft Infrastructure person since the mid 90’s and in today’s world you hear a lot about ‘moving to the cloud’, Using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and using software as a service (SaaS) such as Microsoft’s Office 365. However for many companies the reality for now is that many of their platforms and infrastructure will need to remain On Premises but they would like to start using some of the available services from Microsoft Azure or 365. This world is known as Hybrid and is all about enabling your various platform locations to work together. So where do you get started I hear you asking.

There are several key factors to consider for IT Pro’s looking at implementing Hybrid.

  1. Getting up to speed and keeping current with new features and options

  2. Getting your skills up to date.

The first option sounds obvious and we have always had newer versions of products, However Microsoft is continually updating their Azure and Office 365 service offerings and these updates get released throughout the year sometimes many updates are released in the same week let alone the same month. Following the various product blogs is a good way of keeping up to date with this announcements.

And if like me you are a SharePoint person a great technical resource to follow is the Escalation Services Team Blog.

There is also a good Office 365 IT Pro Yammer Network which you can find here.

A good example of recent announcements that open the door for further improvements in a Hybrid world is the latest article on using Azure to act as DR site for SharePoint On Premises using SQL Log Shipping and Windows Distributed File System Replication. This is a great resource for those looking at using Azure as a disaster recovery location for SharePoint On Premises.

Configure Log Shipping to Azure

For more information on working with SharePoint and Hybrid this is a great starting point for exploring options and topologies. 

At the upcoming SharePoint Evolutions Conference in London on April 20th-23rd many of these hybrid scenario’s including DR with log shipping to Azure will be demoed with many Microsoft field engineers and product team managers on the Azure, Office 365 and On Premises tracks

There will also be further announcements and information on the next Hybrid wave at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago in May including the new SharePoint 2016 roadmap and exciting new developments such as the new Hybrid Search Crawl Appliance.

For Training and getting your skills up to date there are plenty of resources out there based on the skills you need. I will list a few of them here but for me the best Training when learning a new technology is still instructor led training but combining online content to get up to speed and then attending an instructor led is still the best combination for getting the skills you need to do it right. On demand content such as that from Channel 9 and the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) are then create ways to keep your skills topped up with new developments.

For example if you look at the Microsoft Roadmap for the SharePoint MCSE with Office 365 you will notice the classes include SharePoint 2013 On Premises and also learning about identity management and building the hybrid connectivity and management between an On Premises and Office 365 environment. For those of you in the infrastructure space who have been managing Active Directory for many years you will be right at home with a lot of the concepts and configuration in these courses.

In fact I run Training classes throughout the year on all these courses which also includes my own training material that I use on top of the Microsoft material to enable me to deliver the full spectrum of content needed not just to pass the qualification but also gain valuable real world insight and experiences. These are the three classes I run each one being 5 days in length.

Core SharePoint 

Advanced SharePoint 

Identity Management and services 

Channel 9 for learning more about Azure for IT Pro’s, a great resource in my opinion.

Microsoft Virtual Academy which has some great free training ideal for getting some basic skills before going on to instructor led training.

One thing is for sure there is now a wealth of training resources on Hybrid implementation and any company considering this move should ensure their IT Pro’s are properly brought up to speed in order to deliver a successful hybrid project.

 

 

 

 

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