Interlink Cloud Blog


Mark Rackley

A New Commitment to Microsoft SharePoint

A New Commitment to Microsoft SharePoint

As I mentioned my last article The Future of SharePoint – My Verdict, I had the honor of attending the Future of SharePoint event in San Francisco. At the event, I was able to get a sneak peak of where Microsoft is headed with SharePoint. If you didn’t get a chance to read the article, I gave my insight on Microsoft’s renewed commitment to SharePoint, along with some great links to resources and what others in the community are saying about the future of SharePoint.

The below article further explains the direction of SharePoint based on what was shared at another SharePoint event - SharePoint Saturday Nashville on May 14, 2016.

Evidence of a new commitment to SharePoint came when Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President for OneDrive and SharePoint, stopped by SharePoint Saturday Nashville to very candidly answer questions about SharePoint. Here are some highlights of Microsoft’s very transparent commitment to the future of SharePoint.

The Future of SharePoint On-Premises

As stated in the “The Future of SharePoint” keynote, Microsoft has heard their users and are committed to on-premises. It was even stated there would be another release of SharePoint on-premises. Microsoft has also explained that on-premises SharePoint 2016 deployments will get online functionality in Feature Packs starting in 2017. Jeff stated that Microsoft hopes to be able to announce a more definitive timeline for those feature packs at Ignite this year.

The Future of Add-ins

There was a discussion about some of the angst ISV’s were experiencing with the announcement of the SharePoint Framework and Jeff noted that they could have done a better job at the Future of SharePoint event about pointing out that the Add-In model is not going anywhere. This is completely valid-- the whole point of the SharePoint Framework is that Microsoft was analyzing how we were developing functionality for SharePoint. The saw and heard how many of us were injecting script into pages using JS Link and Content Editor Web Parts. The SharePoint Framework is a direct result of Microsoft listening to us and making script development more manageable, controllable, and less likely to break the page. This is very positive news.

The Future of Yammer

Yammer is still alive and well, but that most of the changes lately have been behind the scenes integration, so there wasn’t really anything to “show” at the event. Jeff made mention of efforts to merge Yammer Groups and SharePoint Groups.

The Future of SharePoint Designer and InfoPath

When asked about the future of SharePoint Designer and InfoPath, Jeff stated that he sees PowerApps and Microsoft Flow replacing these technologies within a couple of years. He was very clear to state that they do not replace them today and that these tools have a way to go before they have the functionality of their predecessors. This is the first time we at Interlink have actually “heard” this so definitively from someone at Microsoft—we are elated to see that Microsoft has a plan.

The Future of Forms

When asked about customizing list forms from within the SharePoint UI, Jeff stated that PowerApps will be able to be used in the future within the SharePoint UI to launch forms for list items. He followed that up by stating PowerApps would likely never completely replace the functionality offered by third party forms tools like Nintex, K2, and StratusForms.

The Future of Microsoft Graph

There have been frustrations amongst our SharePoint developers that Microsoft Graph does not have full feature parity with the SharePoint REST API. When asked about the plans for Microsoft Graph to have the same features as the SharePoint REST API, Jeff stated that this was indeed the plan and they are working on it; however, their focus at the moment was WebHooks.

The Future of Branding

Another big concern we have for our clients and the new SharePoint Framework is the ability to brand sites effectively and to be able to deliver a “world class” design experience while still following the accepted patterns and practices of the new framework. Jeff explained that there will indeed be a railed branding experience for Team Sites. This makes sense as the new Team Sites need to work in the mobile application and we can’t expect to do whatever we want and still have them work in the app. Jeff also stated that if clients need a fully branded site they will still be able to do that using the Publishing template. We see a future with a lot of Intranet Home Pages created with Publishing templates linked to department sites created with Site Templates. Branding will be changing but is by no means dead.


We have had a chance to reflect on the changes seen within Microsoft and the SharePoint product team the past few months, on the upcoming changes to SharePoint, on the transparency of Microsoft, their willingness to hear feedback (and criticism), their willingness to own mistakes, and their sudden embracing of the community. We just can’t seem to find anything to be negative about right now. With the efforts of Jeff Teper and team, Microsoft has built up a lot of good will. I’m willing to see where things are going. I feel like I’m being heard and I’m excited for the future. Have we drunk the Kool-Aid? We don’t think so. We just think Microsoft is finally getting it…

Sarah Bunt

On-Demand Webinar | Empower Enterprise Mobility & Protect Your Intellectual Property

On-Demand Webinar | Empower Enterprise Mobility & Protect Your Intellectual Property

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite Webinar

Is the data stored on your mobile devices protected from internal and external threats?

The use of mobile devices and cloud applications in the enterprise environment continues to have an overwhelming impact on how people work.

In this on-demand event, learn why Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is the most cost effective tool set for protecting your company’s valuable intellectual property.

view webinar and slides empower enterprise mobility Protect Intellectual Property

In a series of demos, see the security features of Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite and how it can:

• Protect mobile devices from data leakage and theft

• Provide threat detection through network access alerts

• Identity and and deliver access management

• Manage your digital rights

• Enable self-service password reset without any additional infrastructure

*** Plus learn if you qualify to get your EMS project funded by Microsoft.

Don’t let the loss of your intellectual property damage your business – watch this webinar today.

Mark Rackley

The Future of SharePoint - My Verdict

The Future of SharePoint - My Verdict

I had the distinct honor of attending the Future of SharePoint event in San Francisco this past Wednesday May 4th. I was able to get in early enough to snag a seat on the front row as me and 99 other customers, press, and MVP’s witnessed the public announcement of information that had previously been under NDA. Finally, when my customers ask questions about mobile I can say more than “just wait” or when they ask about development I can say more than “trust me.” Do you realize how hard it is for me to keep a secret???

Anyway… for the next couple of hours we listened to Microsoft give an overview of everything that’s coming for SharePoint. It took 2 hours just to scratch the surface. So yeah, there’s A LOT coming. I won’t go into great detail about all of it because there are countless blog posts out there now on the different topics. I will link to those so you can find out more information. Rather than add to what’s already been said ad nauseam, I wanted to give my own thoughts and insights on what I’m seeing from Microsoft and the future of SharePoint.

Check out all of Microsoft’s blogs and videos about the new features of SharePoint.

What others in the community are saying about the future of SharePoint

What Stood Out to Me

I think the big takeaway for me is that SharePoint is back with a vengeance. There were whispers, okay... not whispers, but people shouting from the rooftop that SharePoint was dead! On-Premises was dead! We’re all doomed! Time to find another technology to pin all our hopes and dreams on. I mean just look, the link to SharePoint in Office 365 was called “Sites.” Obviously Microsoft was trying to kill SharePoint (that’s sarcasm by the way). However, it’s absolutely clear now that Microsoft is dedicated to SharePoint. They’ve changed that “Sites” link to “SharePoint,” and they already announced there will be ANOTHER release of SharePoint. Jeff Teper proudly proclaimed “SharePoint is the core of Office 365.” This is really great news for companies that have invested so much time and talent into SharePoint, and it’s nice to know that Microsoft has embraced SharePoint again.

Several other items really stood out to me. 


A Mobile App!

What are our clients most excited about? Easily it’s the new mobile app. Finally! (I’m not going to say “Intranet in my pocket”) But finally! A real mobile experience. We no longer have to hack master pages or tell customers that there really is no good story. The new mobile app will work with existing team sites too, so don’t worry about having to rewrite all your team sites to get a mobile experience. Find out more about the new mobile story on SharePoint—the mobile and intelligent intranet.

the future of sharepoint mobile app


The SharePoint Framework

Microsoft has introduced another approach to development in SharePoint called the SharePoint Framework. I know what you are thinking, “ANOTHER development model?” It’s true, if you are counting, there are now 4 development models for SharePoint. Some of you may be getting fatigued and frustrated by all the changes, but I, for one, am actually excited about this one. The new approach is 100% JavaScript and will make it easy for developers to create functionality for the team sites, library, and list pages. It fits more closely with how many developers want to develop in SharePoint and it’s much more integrated than a SharePoint Hosted Add-In! (hallelujah).
Let’s face it, unless you were a software vendor or a large enterprise customer there’s a very good chance you never touched the Add-In model. I just couldn’t get behind it for a lot of my customers because it rarely ever made sense to spin up a server in Azure just to implement a small piece of functionality in SharePoint. It was just an overly complicated process. The SharePoint Framework really solves a huge development problem for small and medium sized businesses. I’m not exactly sure how the ISV’s can embrace the new model, and this is actually a concern for me with StratusForms, but I don’t have the full story yet. I will be watching it closely though.
future of sharepoint framework
It’s important to note that being 100% JavaScript means you won’t be able to do things like elevate permissions and long running operations would be better accomplished with some external API. Check out the blogs below for more Information. There’s already a TON of great content out there for learning more about the SharePoint Framework and how to get started.



On-Premises Gets Some Love…Eventually

Many of our clients are On-Premises and a common question that comes up is “Why isn’t Microsoft talking about on-premises more”? What really stood out to me here is that fact that Microsoft is no longer saying “SharePoint Online” and “SharePoint On-Premises” they are simply saying “SharePoint”. This indicates to me that rather than ignoring on-premises, what they are doing is making on-premises on par with online. It’s just SharePoint!
As far as WHEN you get those online features on-premises, that’s another story. Microsoft will be releasing new features to on-premises customers as feature packs starting in 2017. The only caveat here is that these customers MUST have Software Assurance. Microsoft is pretty tight lipped about exactly WHEN specific features will be released in which stinks, but they have confirmed that the mobile app and the SharePoint Framework will be there.

Key Takeaways

  • SharePoint is not dead - there is a future in SharePoint
  • OneDrive App integration with SharePoint Document libraries looks pretty seamless
  • It’s Groups AND Team Sites, not Groups OR Team Sites
  • There’s finally a good mobile story
  • Client-side development is awesome and I’ve been right since SharePoint 2007 
  • Team Sites can be created in 5 seconds… Holy sprawl batman… MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOVERNANCE IN PLACE!
  • On-Premises features will come as feature packs for SA customers starting in 2017

Finally, it is important to note that none of these changes affect you today. You have time to get ready. You will have “classic mode” to fall back on for quite a while. So, if you are worried about any branding or customizations, maybe you should be, but don’t panic. Simply reach out to a competent resource to help guide you along the way, and once you get to your destination you will be pleasantly surprised. This is the most optimistic I’ve been about SharePoint in a long time.

Finally Finally…

Overall, the Future of SharePoint event in San Francisco really was a great one and completely worth the cross country trip to be there and be a part of it. 5/4/2016 really was one of the biggest days in the history of SharePoint with some of the most dramatic updates ever. For the first time in a while, SharePoint feels modern and not two versions behind, and it feels like it is future focused. The future of SharePoint is bright and I’m looking forward to being a part of it!

Matt Scherocman

Six Reasons Microsoft Azure SQL Database Provides the Best Data Security Around

Six Reasons Microsoft Azure SQL Database Provides the Best Data Security Around

Companies leveraging the cloud for business have a multitude of options. They also have a lot of security concerns when transitioning their data to the cloud. Microsoft has built on the SQL Server foundation, bringing a new level of security to help ease the mind of these cloud-driven companies with six enhancements. All of which are crucial reasons to consider Microsoft Azure SQL Database as your company’s cloud platform of choice:

  1. Always Encrypted: Exactly how it sounds, Always Encrypted means your data remains encrypted…all the time to help you protect sensitive data. Data is encrypted in transit, in memory, on a disk, and during query processing.

  2. Transparent Data Encryption: For those of us constantly keeping up on compliance regulations and requirements, this encrypts databases with associated backups as well as transaction log files without needing changes to your applications. The audit trail is clear in order to stay in compliance while keeping data safe from any breach.

  3. Row-Level Security: This feature can limit access to individual rows of data based on a user's identity, role, or query execution context to ensure only the right people can view that data. This also simplifies the application code so that data isn’t accidently shared in any situation.

  4. Azure Active Directory (AD) Authentication: Different from SQL Authentication, Azure AD
    Authentication simplifies password management by allowing you to access a number of Azure services using the same identity. This does not compromise the level of security. It reduces the amount of IT time spends on retrieving lost passwords and login details while maintaining access control every step of the way.

  5. Dynamic Data Masking: Another, more sophisticated, form of encryption allows users to define masking patterns on actual database columns. For example, users can set a masking rule that masks all but the last four digits of any social security number in the result set of any query to ensure that sensitive data is truly safe.

  6. SQL Database Threat Detection: This feature alerts set users of any suspicious database activities automatically and complements Azure SQL Database Auditing, which records database events and writes audited events to an audit log in the Azure Storage account. 

    Microsoft Azure SQL Database Security

Both features are great examples of how users can monitor and quickly respond to risk. Advanced Threat Analytics is yet another approach to helping users stay ahead of sophisticated malware attacks.

Another (bonus) reason to consider Azure SQL Database that’s best shared through this diagram, courtesy of Microsoft Azure, is that SQL Server’s track record speaks for itself. When you’re in the cloud, you can’t be vulnerable and SQL Server lives up to that motto…six years running!

microsoft azure sql database unparalleded security

Data security in the cloud isn’t a set it and forget it process. It is a constant work in progress because the security risks keep changing and technology keeps advancing. Choosing Microsoft as your partner in mitigating those risks is a smart and educated decision in keeping your data safe.

Learn more about these security enhancements by downloading the Security and Azure SQL Database whitepaper and contact us at Interlink for more information.

SQL Modernization Assessment Ad


Matt Scherocman

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

As business changes and technology evolves, the majority of organizations depend on IT systems to store their data and run critical workflows. Unfortunately, these systems can be a prime target for cyber-attacks as sophisticated hackers put the enterprise in a vulnerable position. Just take note of these especially stunning stats:

  • 76% of attacks stem from compromised user credentials
  • The average cost of a data breach to a company is $3.5 million and total cost of cybercrime on a global scale is as high as $500 billion
  • Because of dangerous IT security blind spots (shown in the image below), it could take over 200 days to detect an attack

    IT blind spots Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

Stats courtesy of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics Datasheet.

The reality is, businesses need to pay attention and adapt to this changing nature of data security threats.

Now available in the Enterprise Mobility Suite, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) helps to protect your company from attacks by leveraging machine learning. It uses behavioral analytics to uncover suspicious behavior, internally or from external attacks. It also detects known security issues and risks , the goal is to stay  one (or two, or three) steps ahead of the attackers.

Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

When you think of security software, your mind might immediately turn to configuring system rules and alerting. All of which take time and commitment from your team. With ATA, you don’t need to create rules, baselines, or thresholds. It’s streamlined from setup and works immediately. Once a threat is detected, it’s also easy to view a timeline of when the attack hit. It can help pinpoint where the breach took place. All of this insight can better prepare you for future attacks.

The thought of being hacked and not even knowing it is scary enough, but ATA also helps identify internal threats like why a user would be accessing files in accounting if they’re in the marketing department? Combined with online security reports, ATA can show anomalies for logins.  It will help detect when user credentials have been compromised by reporting geographically distant logins that occur at the time time – like a single user being logged in from Ohio and from Romania at the same time.  

The high-level benefits of using ATA at your business are obvious. Peace of mind goes a long way, and you also want it to help you adapt as cyber-attacks grow in frequency and sophistication. The features of ATA are even more appealing when you see exactly how it works for your business. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Timeline: We’ve already mentioned that timeline, but it’s worth noting again. In addition to listing the activities as they occur, ATA provides recommendations on how to handle that alert.
  • Organizational Security Graph: This maps out entity interactions which represents the context and activities of the users, devices, and resources. This will be a big driver in managing security for each of your users.
  • Email Alerts: There’s no need for one person to be continuously monitoring for cyber-attacks. With ATA, you can have emails sent to users or groups when suspicious activity is detected.
  • Leveraging the Cloud:  Microsoft cloud based correlation engine helps more quickly identify new attacks and reduce the amount of false positives. 

The cyber-attack threat is real and ATA can help you adapt to the changing cyber-attack world we live in.

Contact Interlink if you any questions.


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