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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.

 

Matt Scherocman

SQL Server in the Public Cloud: SQL Database vs. SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server in the Public Cloud: SQL Database vs. SQL Server on Azure VMs

When it comes to hosting SQL Server in the public cloud, there are two major options. 

  1. SQL Database
  2. SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines (VMs)

Customers can choose just one or both, as each is designed for different SQL workloads and fit into Microsoft’s platform a different way.

In order to choose the right route for your application workload, you’ll want to match your business requirements with the benefits and capabilities of these two options. But first, know that if you choose a cloud path, you don’t have to be all in the cloud. Same goes for an on-premises direction. A hybrid cloud option, which means having part of your data centers in the cloud while keeping a select workloads on-premises, is what most businesses choose and what Microsoft’s cloud platform is built for.

The diagram below, courtesy of Microsoft Azure, shows the relation of cloud options to the level of administration you have over the infrastructure and the degree of cost efficiency:

SQL Server in the Public Cloud

The public cloud options (represented in blue) are outlined below, starting with…

Microsoft Azure SQL Database

SQL Database is hosted, and maintained by Microsoft. This Azure cloud platform is categorized as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) and offers a few desirable features to help companies scale efficiently. First of which is cost flexibility. Users pay as they go, scaling up or down for more power and little interruption. You can also develop directly on the service using Azure's built-in features and functionality.

#1 Benefit: Lowered Overall Cost and Administration

In addition to lowering the overall cost of running multiple databases, SQL Database reduces ongoing administration costs because you don’t need a full IT team to manage any virtual machines, operating systems, or database software.

How to Purchase

SQL Database is sold as a service, not with a license. In order to limit your cost exposure, clients will need to manage and monitor what is in use along with what can be scaled back to reduce subscription fees.

Administration

With SQL Database, you can continue to administer your database, but Microsoft takes care of the underlying hardware, can replicate data to provide high availability, configures and upgrades the database software, manages load balancing, and does transparent failover if there is a server failure. Ultimately, taking away the time-consuming administration duties.

SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server on Azure VMs allows you to run SQL Server inside a virtual machine in the cloud. This falls under the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) category and is meant to extend on premise SQL Server applications to the cloud.

#1 Benefit: Customizability

If you already have a full-time IT staff and need administrative rights, yet desire a fully customizable setup, SQL Server on Azure VMs is optimized exactly for your scenario.

How to Purchase

Traditional SQL Server licensing is available for SQL Server on Azure VMs. Customers with current software assurance have the ability to run use that license to cover their instances of SQL within Azure. If there is a workload running full time, it is typically less expensive to purchase the SQL than to subscribe to it in scenario 1. 

Administration

SQL Server on Azure VMs makes it possible to keep control over database location down to the location of the disk. You can upgrade on your own schedule.

When deciding what public cloud option is right for you, assess your situation first and determine which workloads fit which cloud scenarios best.  Keep in mind that you may want to reuse licensing that may already be used to run the same workload on premises. 

Whatever your situation, Interlink can help you determine the best fit and then take the right next steps from there. Contact Interlink.

SQL Modernization Assessment Ad

Sarah Bunt

[On-Demand Webinar] Microsoft Azure Disaster Recovery Scenarios - with Demo

[On-Demand Webinar] Microsoft Azure Disaster Recovery Scenarios - with Demo

Ensure your critical business data is never lost and always safe.

An entirely new breed of threats has emerged that can to knock out your business applications and data.

Join Microsoft and Microsoft Heartland Area Partner of the Year - Interlink Cloud Advisors for an exclusive on-demand webinar that demonstrates how Azure Site Recovery - a hybrid solution for disaster recovery - protects and maintains all your applications and data, without having to maintain a secondary data center.  

view Azure Disaster Recovery Scenarios

Designed for all business and IT professionals, this session walks you through the Azure Site Recovery solution includes a product overview and live demo.

This webinar covers some of the most common workload scenarios and questions, including:

  • Overview of Disaster Recovery solutions
  • Prioritizing workloads for failover
  • Building plans to encompass all types of disasters
  • Pricing options
  • Funding available from Microsoft

Plus, you’ll hear a ton of questions that were asked from our audience during the live event.

View this on-demand event now to hear best practices and insights into using the cloud as your disaster recovery tool.


Presenter

mike wilson

Mike Wilson
V. President | Managing Consultant
Microsoft VTSP and Top Microsoft Cloud Certified

Welcome to the Interlink Cloud Blog

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations or warranties regarding the information from our partners or other external sources.

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