When I saw SkyDrive Pro work with Windows 8 for the first time.
via Tumblr http://spwookiee.tumblr.com/post/46856148486
We got back from Convergence on Friday. I had a good time overall; good food, good times, crazy things to see. Never did make it to Acme Oyster House (sorry dad!).
Meanwhile, we've migrated a public SharePoint site to Azure. I should say we've migrated a SharePoint 2010 internet site to SharePoint 2013 running in the 14-hive. Many of my colleagues throughout the SharePoint community I've spoke to have this to say about that:
In the last few weeks we've learned some valuable lessons. Here they are (in no particular order):
- Search scopes - I chose to not migrate the Search databases because migrating the content db was hard enough. Plus, when we complete the upgrade to 2013 I would just have 1 DB to focus on. In doing so, I don't have scopes anymore since they've been deprecated in SharePoint 2013. You can't even use PowerShell to add them. The fix was to revert back to the All Sites scope. It isn't the end of the world though because the Search Service App is smart enough to see the variation you're searching from and serve up that site's content. For example, if you search for bikes on the German site, you'll get German site content back to you, rather than UK or US content.
- SharePoint Designer - Someone wanted a quick change to a page layout. Good news here is that only 1 page in the overall site uses that page layout. SharePoint Designer 2010 works but I was unable to add another web part zone the page layout. As a workaround I added the HTML directly to the page layout. Again, not the end of the world here, but it definitely isn't what I would want to do. Adding a web part zone would have allowed me to drop additional content in the future or replace it altogether from the Edit Page rather than editing the Page layout.
- compat.Browser config - We never bothered with mobile sites in SharePoint 2010 with this site. All we did was turn off the mobile browsers in the compat.browser config. I did the same for SharePoint 2013 (set all ismobiledevice to false) then reset IIS. However, this did not result in success. Got hit with a vague SharePoint error. I started looking on the interwebs for help and ran across this: LINK. Followed Option 2 and hit pay dirt. It does seem out there to have to drop a statement in to the overall web.config but I had to get things working. Once we migrate to SharePoint 2013 we'll remove the statement and make use of device channels but since we're still running in the 14-hive I don't get that functionality quite yet.
- Azure IaaS growing pains - IaaS is still in preview, and thus you're subject to wonkiness and issues beyond your control. A few days ago we experienced an outage on the site. SharePoint couldn't talk to SQL for some reason. Logged on the SQL box and couldn't even connect to the SQL instance. The service was running but still no dice. Well, time for a restart and Yahtzee! everything was better. I went through the logs as best I could but had no idea what I was looking for. Come to find out Azure pushed down restarts. In doing so, SQL came back before the AD instance did so nothing was authenticating properly. HUGE lesson learned there. Best way to overcome this is to start using Availability Sets: link to documentation.
- Calculated Column issues - had a user come to me with this one. The user noticed that a calculated column was throwing a string of characters into the column. I went and checked the column settings and miraculously the issue was gone. I edited another item and got the exact same string again. So it would appear that it wasn't the formula but rather something was going on in the DB. Luckily I was at Convergence and there were a handful of SharePoint support folks in the Expo hall. Ran by their booth and showed them the issue. Thankfully this is a known issue and installing the March PU will fix everything: link to PU. One other note, according to the KB, you MUST install this PU if you ever hope to install a future CU.
That's about it for now.
The blog has been quite for a little too long. So much for that blog challenge (point 3 in this blog post)…
This week I’ll be in New Orleans for #CONV13 (aka Convergence 2013); the conference for the Dynamics side of Microsoft. I’m here specifically trolling for CRM content and learning all I can so I can take it back to Trek.
Today’s events so far: Steve and I left MKE at around 1:30 PM and arrived in MSY about 2 hours and change later. Baggage claim took a little while longer than expected. Hopped in a cab and 25 minutes later we’re in our hotel. Figured I’d throw the laptop up and put a blog post together before we head out for dinner.
I’m thinking Acme Oyster house tonight.
Adam Richman from Man vs. Food put down 15 dozen. I don’t think I’ll be taking on that challenge tonight. What I do know is that when Steve and I come to town you’re usually guaranteed a good time.
Overall, I’m pretty stoked for this conference. Should give me a good chance to connect with folks in this space and hopefully learn a thing or two. Might have a libation or two as well
If you’re in town give me a shout out on Twitter @spwookiee or shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com. I’m always game for a bite and/or a beer.
I know I’ve been slacking on this whole blog challenge thing. CRM has been taking up more and more of my time along with SharePoint going gang busters. Not to mention it takes real effort to put blog posts (even 300 word posts) together. I have several fellow tech bloggers that I’m amazed at who can put together several stellar posts a week when I have trouble just getting one together.
Rob Collie – www.powerpivotpro.com – is one of those bloggers in particular. He puts out 2-3 blogs A WEEK and they each are all excellent as far as I’m concerned. I had the opportunity to meet Rob at #SPC13 and he is as engaging and smart in person as he is on his blog. I even got the opportunity to have drinks with him and a whole host of Microsoft Program Managers. So the story goes like this . . .
On Monday morning of the SharePoint conference I get an e-mail from Steve: “Go have dinner with this guy,” along with a link to a blog post (LINK). I’d heard Rob’s name mentioned but never really followed his blog much or considered myself a PowerPivot expert by any stretch. I had spoken on PowerPivot in SharePoint and how to set it up, but as far as using it I felt I was still a relative n00b. But Steve is a smart guy and has never steered me wrong when it came to tech or drinking so I figured what the hey. Shot Rob an e-mail and heard back within an hour or two. Instructions for Wednesday night was to stroll on down to the Experts Exchange and then go with a group of Microsoft BI folks to dinner. Sounded pretty cool.
Monday and Tuesday flew by. On Wednesday I was starting to get pretty excited and anxious all at the same time. I may work on a BI team, but I was far from a BI expert. My advice to myself was “stick to what you know lest you sound like an idiot in front of people smarter than you.”
After the conference wrapped for the day I headed down to the Experts Exchange. This is a pretty cool event at the conference where Microsoft Program Managers, MVPs, and MCMs meet with conference attendees and answer their biggest questions. It was pretty sad that Microsoft BI only had 2 tables while other Products/Topics had far more. At the BI table was Rob and several other program managers: Diego and Kay (rhymes with Hi).
We started talking about PowerPivot and SharePoint and service architecture. It was immediately apparent to me that all 3 of the guys were beyond experts at this material: THEY DESIGNED IT. Diego was a Program Manager for the Excel team and Kai was a Program Manager for the SSAS team. Very smart, very cool dudes. They broke down the architecture of PowerPivot and SharePoint to its most basic level and even took time to answer my pitiful questions.
After Experts Exchange it was time for dinner. I figured the place would be PACKED. Went over to Red Square in Mandalay Bay and sat down with a small group of about 10 or so. Not what I was expecting. I figured the place would be full of people clamoring over each other to talk with Microsoft’s BI brain trust, but sadly it looked like I was the only Microsoft customer that took Rob up on his offer. I felt like Wayne and Garth at the Aerosmith concert. Rob sat next to me, across from me was Jen Underwood, and to my right was a Senior Program Manager on the Excel team. Holy sh^t! I was a simpleton among geniuses. I – sadly - did not catch everyone’s names and nor could I keep up with all the genius talk. It was just nice to sit there and be a fly on the wall while BI experts solved the world problems. Only here these folks did have the ability to solve the world’s problems. Pretty surreal if you ask me.
After a few hours the party’s attendees started to trickle out one by one. I was determined to be the last guy there. The folks at the other end of the table meandered down to me. Come to find out they figured it was only Microsoft employees and Rob at this thing. Astonishing how they didn’t think anyone would be interested in attending. Boy were they dead wrong.
As the newly minted Dynamics CRM admin at Trek, I feel I’ve got just enough experience to be a danger to myself and others. Therefore, it’s time for a blog post.
We’re using the Microsoft hosted, Online version of CRM and it’s been interesting to find many Microsoft Partners have shied away from that choice. As opposed to SharePoint consultants pushing the Microsoft O365 kool-aid, it seems that many partners are pushing their own hosted versions over Microsoft’s. Very much a departure from what I’m used to.
What’s also interesting is that Microsoft CRM plays second fiddle to Salesforce.com right now. I haven’t done enough research to know who has the larger install base, but it’s definitely clear from a Marketing standpoint that Salesforce is where it’s at right now. In my native world, SharePoint is – hands-down – the king of Enterprise Content Mgmt systems, but with Microsoft CRM it feels like the product is playing catch-up.
Strategy-wise, 3 things have struck me about ensuring success for your CRM deployment:
- Know your processes – you have to know how your users are going to use this; “build it and they will come” does not work here
- Don’t make CRM a fancy front end to your ERP system – this blog post sums it up for me
- Social (just like in SharePoint) is king
Know your processes
I’ve read a lot of blog posts lately about failed CRM deployments that were supposed to “replace Outlook.” Replacing Outlook – while a noble pursuit – is a lackluster strategy if you don’t know how your people actually use Outlook to begin with when it comes to managing customers. It means you have to ask the hard questions and get your hands dirty with your users. Document as much as you can when it comes to process. That way expectations can be set and everyone understands how things should work.
CRM cannot be a fancy front end to ERP
The blog post I linked above did more for me than almost all the others combined. If you want to guarantee an almost certain death to your deployment, make it a front end to your ERP system. While surfacing data from your ERP system is not entirely bad, recreating ALL the data is bad. Why would I go to CRM to do some of the things I can do in my ERP system when I can just go to my ERP system and do everything.
Social is king
If you’re not collaborating in your CRM system, then you’re doing it wrong. Same can be said for SharePoint. Social is only going to get more and more important as time goes on and more people join social networks in their personal life. Obviously Microsoft sees value in Social since they dropped 2 Bil on Yammer, meaning that product is going to be ingrained in all other Microsoft products. Therefore, there are now 3 truths in life: Death, Taxes, & Social in the workplace. Get used to it.
So that’s what I’ve learned so far. I have more opinions on the subject of CRM, but they may/may not be right based on my experience thus far. I’ll post more as I get more “in-the-know.”
#SPSSTL (SharePoint Saturday St. Louis) was this past weekend. Very much a success. The more I go to these free events I realize just how important they are to the IT community. Both SharePoint and SQL offer these and they are absolutely worth their weight in gold. I hear the Windows Server folks are trying to start them too.
The benefits? Where do I start? First of all, they’re free. Doesn’t cost you more than your time and attention. Secondly, they feed you breakfast AND lunch. I guess there really is a free lunch in this life after all. Thirdly, you get to meet not only local talent, but you also get free access to many Microsoft MVP’s and taste-makers. Often times we look at some of these folks as absolute rock stars and we get to talk to them . . . for free! When was the last time you got to talk to Justin Bieber . . . for free? Wait, what?
My session was entitled: Case Study: How SharePoint and Yammer shine together at Trek Bikes. I recapped all the things we’re doing at Trek to make SharePoint and Yammer work for folks. Really got down to some specific use cases and described the steps involved to go from point A to point B with each department. You can find my slides HERE. Overall, I had great attendance and the audience seemed to get in to what I was talking about. Got some awesome feedback and kudos so thank you all for that.
Several folks brought up an interesting point throughout Saturday. They don’t use Yammer at their workplace because it creates another place to save documents. Folks, odds are better than good that your workplace employs e-mail, public folders, shared drives, SharePoint, and individual workstations. That means people already have a number of places to save content. Adding Yammer will not add an exponential amount of complexity for information workers when it comes to saving things. Odds are they’re already complaining about the amount of places to save things. You can easily replace public folders with Yammer, and you may even be lucky enough to replace shared drives with SharePoint (I’m not that lucky…yet). Choosing not to deploy Yammer because it creates too many places to save documents is near-sighted and ignorant. Definitely a “throwing the baby out with the bath water” scenario. You’re dismissing all the social benefits that the tool provides just so you can make document management easier. IMHO, social takes precedence over document management. And since Yammer integrates so well with SharePoint’s search I highly recommend you rethink your approach on Yammer if you’ve avoided it up until now.
Some of the other sessions I attended were JWillie’s Rich vs. Reach presentation. Very interesting approach and very interesting topic. Felt much more conversation-ary and collegial. Would like to try that approach in the future. Jeff talked about how mobile is becoming more and more common and he shared some of the things Rightpoint is doing. Always cool to see how other companies are approaching this impending tidal wave.
Caught Bill Feldker and Benjamin Niaulin’s presentations on SharePoint 2013’s Search capabilities. You’ll need to completely change your way of thinking about SharePoint Search in 2013. An entirely new subset of SharePoint careers will be developed around Search in 2013. Just way too many good things to mention when it comes to Search. Both gentlemen did an outstanding job on their presentations. I seriously thought Tamara Bredemus’ head was going to explode during Benjamin’s talk.
And finally, I caught Andy Milsark’s 2013 upgrade talk. Pretty amazing how far we’ve come in such a short time. The upgrade path from WSS 3.0 to MOSS was long, daunting, and scary, and that was just 5 years ago when people started doing that upgrade en masse. The SP2010 to SP2013 upgrade can be covered in an hour and realistically be accomplished in one day on small farms. Unbelievable.
I know I promised you the “greatest test environment since sliced bread,” but I’ve been busy with other things. I’ll try to get the first installment written this weekend.
I’m finding more and more that I’m late to the party for some things in SharePoint.
Apparently, SharePoint 2010 isn’t compatible with PowerShell v3.
Basically, when you try to use the SharePoint 2010 Management Shell you’ll be greeted with this:
Once you encounter this lovely error you’ll think you’ve done something horribly wrong. Is something up with your account? Did you break something? Are you losing it?
Nope to all of the above.
To get around this, type: powershell –v 2
Then hit enter. You now have regular ole PowerShell loaded. You’ll have to load the SharePoint snap-in if you want to do anything with SharePoint though. For anyone who may need it, the snap-in is:
You can check out all the details here in this Connect article:
Hopefully this gets fixed in the next CU.
I know I promised you the "Mother of all test environments.” But I’ve been busy. Let me tell you what I’ve been up to:
- Taking on new responsibilities at work:
- Taking over Dynamics CRM – Our CRM resource decided to leave Trek a few weeks ago. Our team will be taking over the administration of our deployment and I’ll be one of the main points of contact. Hopefully I’ll have some good blog posts coming out around the topic. Does that make me the Dynamics Wookiee too? (har har har)
- Working more with Active Directory – cool stuff going on here
- SSRS Integration with SharePoint – I could write an entire blog around this subject alone, especially my experiences around making SSRS talk with DB2
- More and more training, especially around Excel Services
- Learning more about SQL and the inter-workings with SharePoint
- More developer type experiences
- Yammer integrations
On a completely unrelated side note (and because I need to get to 300 words in for this post due to point 3) I did all my holiday shopping through Amazon. Muuuuuuuch better way to go when it comes to getting everyone’s Xmas gifts. Amazon Prime was money too. Highly suggest you give it a try.
So a few weeks ago I set out to create the mother of all Test environments at work running the latest Microsoft tech. We’re talking SharePoint 2013, Lync 2013, and Exchange 2013 all running on Windows Server 2012. In addition, my SQL backend is SQL 2012 SP1, and my workstations are running Windows 8 with Office 2013. All brand new tech that I won’t be able to put into production for months (if not 201 4).
It’s all set up now and let me tell you…it is a thing of beauty.
I’m going to putting together a series of articles outlining all the lessons learned and the pitfalls I ran into. The series WILL NOT be regurgitating MSDN and Technet articles; 1) because Microsoft pays their writers handsomely to write that stuff; and, 2) I’m a lazy blog writer.
My first post will be around setting up my VMs and the Domain (complete with AD Certificate Services). Who’s excited!? I know this kid is: