Windows Phone Dead because of Lack of Apps – Really?

Yes, I am biased, I am a Microsoftie. That being said, I think it is a pity that people write off Windows Phone, especially if it’s for the wrong, or even non-existent, reason.

My Windows Phone does everything I need it to do and even more. I have my Office365 accounts on it, my Microsoft Band App, my Dash, my music, camera, Twitter, what have you. I’m not here to crunch numbers on how many apps are out there on the different platforms. Although that is the main thing people hold against Windows Phone: there is just not enough apps. Now, I just found a decent article on what we actually DO on our devices using ComScore “The 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report” as a source. The article is in Dutch. Sorry for that, the article came from a Belgian site. But here are some of the numbers.

We spend 89% of our time on a smartphone in apps, 11% goes to the Mobile Web. We spend 80% of our time on only 3 apps! Only 3 apps! With Facebook being nr.1 by far. Followed by YouTube, all flavors of “Chatter and Social” apps and Games. 65% of people hardly download any apps after buying their device. Those main apps come with the device Out-Of-The-Box. We install apps that come with some specific hardware like GoPro camera’s, health devices, smartwatches and we install apps for Banking, Starbucks and Dunkin-Donuts. In the ComScore report there is no app mentioned that does not run on Windows Phone. Funny detail in the article and the report: no mention on usage of the “phone-app”. Time to get rid  of the Phone-App?

So the general opinion “Windows Phone lacks apps” is not consistent with what we actually DO on our devices. Windows Phone is dead, must be the Conspiracy …. What say you?

Nevertheless, I will bring only my Windows Phone to deliver my presentations and demo’s on Azure Disaster Recovery during our events in Bermuda and Belize next week. Hello iOS, hello Android…. anybody out there?

Happy Apping to you all!

Knowledge is Key – Learning is crucial

“You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow”.

 

 

When it comes to IT in Organizations something must shift, if not, it will be like the quote. In my opinion the main source lies with learning, or better said, the lack of learning. There is no organizational conversation on learning as an ongoing process. Best efforts get stuck at the level of “training as needed” and way too often even that gets stuck on the “no time” and/or “no budget” argument.

I pointed out in several other blogposts that the state of current IT is the biggest stop for leveraging modern technologies in organizations. And by that we create so called “shadow IT”, employees will find their own way of trying to do their job, with or without Company IT: Gmail, drop box, WhatsApp, Facebook, flash drives, byod. And, we can do nothing about it on the short term. But we know, lessons learned (?), what the source is. IT is not up to it. IT has barely the knowledge to keep yesterday’s systems running (as we were not learning 5 years ago either) so embracing new technologies while juggling with 7 old balls already? Right, I don’t think so. By the way, when I say “IT”, I do not specifically mean IT Department or IT People, I mean all people and processes that work with and through computers. Managers using a pocket calculator while working in Excel? C’mon!

What will happen if we do nothing? Well, the probable almost certain future is that is stays like this. We came up to here and now like this, it will probably get us through the next 5 years as well (hopefully). So organizations will just keep throwing away money because, hey, hardware and software must be paid. And we’ll just keep on not using what we paid for. Now that’s fine economics, isn’t it? And the only reason that that might work out is that the competition is in exactly the same position. Having the tools while nobody knows how to use them because nobody told them.

Or, we can transform the conversations on the place of IT within the organization. The relevance of IT and how to finally get to the point where IT is a business enabler (Gartner). A good starting point for shifting that conversation is asking the question “What happens with our business when we unplug everything for 72 hours”? Suddenly everybody realizes the relevance of IT for the organization. Now the time has come to take that on seriously.

We’ll have to start creating learning plans. Long term learning plans in a way that ongoing learning will be the standard conversation. Long term learning plans, 3 to 5 years, get less specific as they sit further into the future, we do not know what the future beholds. But by making them nevertheless, time and budget can be allocated and more important, it’s all about transforming that conversation throughout the organization, all layers and all departments deeply involved.

Imagine what would be possible then. On collaboration, communication, productivity, total cost of ownership, return on investment, security, personal development, employee loyalty, customer service and efficiency. The list is endless. Put it in like specific measurable results and you’ll be sorry you did not think of this 10 years ago.

 

Happy learning!

Cloud Adoption, where to start: CEO

This is the third blog in a series on Cloud Adoption and Cloud Migration. Previously I wrote “The GAP between Cloud Migration and Cloud Adoption” and “Office 365 and Bandwidth – Adoption to Cloud Computing“. This one is on Ownership of Cloud Adoption and Ownership of Cloud Migration. As explained in previous mentioned posts Adoption and Migration are two totally different things.

IT Departments are responsible for Cloud Migration(s). It’s about the technical challenges of moving workloads to the Cloud. Ownership of Migration lies with the IT Department, somewhat automatically delegated by the Organization. Not much to discuss here.

Now Cloud Adoption, who has Ownership of that? I have seen a lot of Migrations not yielding the expected results, not because it was a bad Migration but because the Organization did not benefit from it, or even worse, continued “business as usual”. Didn’t even have to do with Cloud Migrations; could be Onprem Exchange, SharePoint, Desktop OS or Office migrations as well. A lot of Organizations run the latest versions of those but still live in the dark ages when it comes to using them. Because nobody in the Organization took Ownership of the Adoption. Mostly that was left to IT Managers. But who listens to IT Managers, not the Sales and Marketing Managers for sure. They are busy. And so any free 1996 Pegasus mail server and mail client could actually do the job. IT should not be owner of the Adoption of features made possible by the Migration. It should work the other way around. First there is a Feature Requirement list made by the Business. Out of that an IT Project/Migration may get started.

That being said, Adoption first, leaves the question of who must be the Owner if not IT. The answer to that is very simple: the CEO. If the CEO is not the Owner of Adoption every IT Manager will set himself up for failure when engaging in whatever Migration. Adoption touches the very heart and nature of the way people work and thus the Organization. If that is not endorsed, empowered and owned by the CEO, well, good luck. All will trickle down into the Organization from the highest management making sure all is in place when the stages of Migration arrive. I have very good experiences with Migrating higher Management first. Let them “Walk the Talk” and show that “all is well”.

Also, when progress stops because of CEO’s are not taking Ownership, Shadow-IT becomes a painful reality. Percentages of users finding their own way to do their job are rising, IT loses yet more control as will the Organization itself. Mobile Devices, Tablets, Notebooks, Drop Box, Skype, OneDrive, unmanaged devices, unmanaged storage, where is the corporate content going? That makes any’s Organizations fear of safety in the Cloud a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?

To set up that CEO’s come back in control IT Management needs to have good connections with the higher Management. As a Consultant I can’t do much if I’m stuck on the level of IT. IT may understand what direction to go or not, but if higher management speaks a different language then IT is also stuck. This morning I had a one hour conversation on this with the IT Manager of one of my customers. He’s stuck in that exact situation. I could only listen to him and coach him on how to repair the damages of the past in those lines of communication in order for his CEO to get aligned again and put his fist on the table to move forward. I asked him to keep me posted on how that will go.

Another Customer sits at the other side of this. His CEO is enrolled in Azure and they are really moving forward FAST now. The CEO knows nothing about Technology but he was informed in such a way he could endorse and empower the Organization to move in that direction.

Conclusion: Cloud Adoption starts at the CEO!

 

CEO’s, Happy Adopting!!! You really should!

The GAP between Cloud Migration and Cloud Adoption

Everybody is starting or already on the way of migrating stuff to the Cloud. Business cases revolve around money. Direct cash back. However, Cloud Adoption is very different from Cloud Migration. And actually I believe we do it in the wrong order: we migrate and maybe someday, but not now, we (will try to) adopt.

Let me define Cloud Migration and Cloud Adoption. Cloud migration is about taking a workload currently running in the local network and move that workload to the Cloud. A Mailbox migration to Exchange Online is a perfect example of Cloud Migration. Cloud Adoption is about leveraging features of workloads running in the Cloud which are not available when those workloads run in the local network. Office 365 for example advertises with “Enterprise Grade Features” but moving a Mailbox does not imply those features will be used. And most often they will not be used. So having you mailbox in the Cloud does not mean you do Cloud computing.

Recently I commented on http://www.conceptsearching.com/wp/challenges-in-adopting-cloud/ and my only comment was that this is the consequence of BAD PreSales and BAD Management of Customer Expectations. When we do not put an effort in on Cloud Adoption, the results of Cloud Migration are disappointing and frustrating. Maybe that is the main reason for this report to come out with such statistics.

Mea culpa. Me too, I have been focusing too much on the technical challenges of Migrating workloads to the Cloud. Although, together with that, I have always been evangelizing the powers of the Collaboration Suite; Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, Office, Devices. Then we talk Adoption. To get the full benefits of Cloud, Adoption should be the context and Migration is just content. Migration is only the execution of part of the adoption.

Now that Cloud Migration is no longer “rocket science” and now that the dust has settled, we can redefine Cloud Adoption as a Strategy whereas Cloud Migration was a tactical operation. For Organizations this is GREAT news. It means a huge step in getting IT as a “Business Enabler” instead of a “Cost Center. And for IT Companies and Consultants that is GREAT news too. It means we can engage in longer projects with our Customers! Adopting them to the Cloud and contribute to our Customers in moving their IT forward. Less technical and tactical, more engaging and strategic.

Happy Adopting!!!

Accounts, Identities and mail addresses

Users want to access applications and data that run anywhere, and, they want to run them from anywhere. There is only a very thin line left distinguishing business apps from non-business apps and they all need to be accessible anytime, anyplace, anywhere. That calls for Identity Management which can be very confusing for users. So here is a little explanation on the why, the what and the how.

In the old days we used to logon to our computer using this format:

  • Domain\user
  • Computer\user

Or maybe even without the domain\ or computer\:

  • User (domain user)
  • User (local computer user)

As long as the applications and their data sat on that local computer or in that local Active Directory domain, a logon like this worked perfectly. (Really? No. It uses NetBIOS and that protocol is soooo 1987, but that discussion is out of scope for this article)

The logon identity for a user must now be valid outside of the local computer and the local Active Directory as well. It must identify the user as a unique identity across multiple platforms, preferably: local computer, Active Directory, cloud applications like Office365 and personal applications like Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and the rest of it all.

The format to logon is called User Principal Name and a UPN looks like an email address and that can be very confusing for some users, for example:

NOTE: this is NOT necessarily a mail address! A mail address for this user could be, for example:

If your computer is running Windows 8 (or above) you can logon using a Microsoft Account (a.k.a. LiveID or Hotmail.com or outlook.com account). The format of such an account is always the UPN format and it may or may not correspond to your private email account.

If you use multiple devices like PC, laptop, tablet, Windows Phone, the Microsoft Account synchronizes a lot of settings between your devices (like recent documents, desktop wallpaper, etc.) so that the user experiences a unified work environment, on whatever device.

Next to having a Microsoft Account (private, individual) you can have an Active Directory account to access corporate resources in your corporate network, maybe even remotely. Active Directory can (and should) have UPN as logon format instead of the NetBIOS domain\user.

When using Microsoft Online services like Office365, Microsoft Intune or Microsoft Azure you may have a so called Organizational Account, always in the format of a UPN. It can be synchronized from your Active Directory account, even with synchronization of your password. But beware, unless a thing called Federated Identities is enabled by your administrators, it still is 2 separate identities; you logon to separate authentication providers, your local Active Directory and a Cloud Authentication provider like Azure Active Directory.

So until now, this is all on accounts, the mechanism with which you authenticate yourself. Now we get to email addresses.

An email address always comes in the format of UPN (actually UPN’s were there first and email addresses were derived from the UPN). As noted above, the account does not necessarily have to match an email address. It can but it is not a requirement.

And that is exactly what can make it very confusing for users if they do not distinguish the difference between accounts (UPN, identity) and email addresses. THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS! A user can sign with one UPN and have access through that to multiple mail addresses (aliases) even in different domains.

Some organizations and users try to match the account UPN to the email address, making it simple for users: who you are (account UPN) is your mail address. It gets confusing when you have multiple accounts AND multiple email addresses. In order to get it straightened out for yourselves you can create a little table like this and fill out the appropriate UPN’s:

Access to

Microsoft Account

Active Directory Account

Organizational Account

Devices

     

Active Directory

     

Online Services

     

Office ProPlus

     

Work email

     

Private email

     

 

Happy logging on!

 

 

 

 

 

Office 365 – Office Pro Plus Deployment Tool – An example

When you browse the Internet for use of the Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run for Office products you may find yourself lost in a myriad of websites referring to other websites and send you into several complete circles. There just too much out there if you just need to do a rollout for 5 or 10 PC’s. I thought I just make an example for the whole process.

Some background on my example. I have to do a rollout on 4 PC’s, last time I visited that location the Internet connection was terrible. And, I found out that users do not have a dedicated PC in the small Office. That gives me 2 good reasons to prepare the rollout using the Office Deployment Tool at home: no slow downloads on 4 PC’s and I can configure the shared computer activation.

On my Surface Pro3 I created a directory C:\o365 and Shared it with Everyone (Read Permissions) as \\jk-proi7\o365 .

In that directory I downloaded the Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run, you can find it here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36778 . Run “officedeploymenttool.exe” which creates only 2 files, so I’m left with 3 files in that directory:

Now I need to download the binaries of the Office Pro Plus in the language(s) I need and the versions (32 bits – 64 bits) I need. In my situation I only need the English 32 bits version so I edit, in Notepad, the “configuration.xml” file:

<Configuration>

<Add SourcePath=”\\jk-proi7\o365\” OfficeClientEdition=”32″ >

<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>

<Language ID=”en-us” />

</Product>

</Add>

</Configuration>

And I saved the file as “downloadus.xml” in that same directory, keeping everything together.

I’m ready to download now so I click Run and enter the following command:

\\jk-proi7\o365\setup.exe /download \\jk-proi7\o365\downloadus.xml

I accept the UAC warning and a CMD Prompt Window opens with just a blinking cursor. That is bit annoying, no progress bar or what so ever. But in my directory I see files added and in Task Manager I can see my network is downloading at full speed. So stuff is happening, just wait until the CMD Prompt Window closes.

My o365 Directory now contains a folder “Office” which is just over 1 GB in size; the Office Pro Plus binaries!

For deploying Office Pro Plus I need to edit the “configuration.xml” once again and this time I save as “installus.xml”:

<Configuration>

<Add SourcePath=”\\jk-proi7\o365\” OfficeClientEdition=”32″ >

<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>

<Language ID=”en-us” />

</Product>

</Add>

<Display Level=”None” AcceptEULA=”TRUE” />

<Property Name=”SharedComputerLicensing” Value=”1″ />

</Configuration>

Notice I used the Property Name to make sure that multiple users can run Office Apps on the machine after deployment. More on Shared Activation can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn782860(v=office.15).aspx

To install Office Pro Plus with these configuration settings I run the following command (with elevated privileges) on each machine:

\\jk-proi7\o365\setup.exe /configure \\jk-proi7\o365\installus.xml

Once again the nagging Command Prompt Window with no information. But look at Task Manager and folders being created, there is stuff happening on the PC.

Now all different users can logon to the PC and individually activate their Office Pro Plus.

 

A good starting point to read more on the whole process: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219422(v=office.15).aspx

Working as a Happy Cloud Company

One of the first projects I took on when I started with my current employer a year ago was to “get our stuff to the Cloud”. Inova Solutions is a Microsoft Gold Partner “Licensing Solution Provider” and my CEO aimed to have 50% of our resources in the Microsoft Cloud within a year. It all went a bit faster than that so we’ve been working with Office365, Intune, CRM Online and Azure for over half a year now. We are used to it, we don’t even wonder about it anymore, it is business as usual. And, there is a bunch of features available we still have to discover and implement, which will take us some time. Business as usual. Happy CEO.

But every now and then we become aware again that it is extraordinary that our entire organization runs all of its business completely in the Cloud.

We have seen this huge decline in IT Costs, be it investments or maintenance. Things don’t break anymore. Our offices on Aruba, Curacao, Jamaica and Trinidad do not rely on site-to-site VPNs anymore. We are always on at a constant low cost. Happy CFO.

When we meet with customers, with partners and even with Microsoft, people are astonished that we actually work like that! All of it, all the time. We do not only Walk-the-Talk, we are actually “Being what is Next” for a lot of organizations. Customers like that and they want that. Most of the time it’s not the IT Manager that makes the decision, it’s higher Management that asks how long it will take us to build them that. It is becoming strategic instead of tactical, increasing productivity while decreasing costs. Doing events and showing off our own dog food makes the audience dribble (have to make sure we have tissues). Happy Customers, Happy Sales People.

And in the meantime we can work anywhere, from hotel rooms, lounges, airports, airplanes, home, and we can work anytime. I tend to wake up very early, like 4 AM, every now and then I meet my colleague who tends to be a night worker on Lync: “Morning Jasper”. “Go to bed Shawn”. We get our stuff done. Without any servers. If the Internet connection breaks we go to Starbucks and work on. If lightning strikes and we lose power for a couple of hours we do the same. We still get our stuff done. Coffee gets cold because we are getting stuff done all the time. Happy Mobile Workers.

Isn’t it amazing? We are a Happy Cloud Only Company, that is what we preach, that is what we practice. Mobile First – Cloud First: Happy CTO!

Are you next to be Happy?

Working with Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Selffie of Surface Pro 3

At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, July 14 – July 17 in Washington DC, they offered the Surface Pro 3 with a discount of some $ 300,-. I bought one after stumbling back and forth trying to decide for 2 days. It’s still a lot of money.

But oh joy! This is really an amazing piece of hardware (and I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to hardware). I’m not going to put in all specs, there are plenty of places where you can find those. It’s about experience. The first experience after unboxing is its weight, it will probably float (but I’m not going to try that). It’s much lighter than my Surface Pro, maybe not when you compare specs, but it’s about the experience. Probably you’ve seen the picture somewhere of Surface3 compared with an iPhone for thickness, which shows is exactly how thin it is. How the h*ll do they get all that stuff in a light and thin device like this.

Plug it in and switch it on! Surfaces boot really fast, so does this one. No need to get a cup of coffee first. Great screen resolution! Go through to necessary configuration steps and ready to go. Configure the Pen for the screen, Stream a copy of Office Professional Plus from Office 365 and install a couple of my favorite Apps, run Windows Update. Playtime … or worktime! This device does both. I think I’m out of the 3-devices world. My Surface Pro 3 and my Lumia 925 will do. I travel really a lot so that is a big win.

I bought myself 2 extra’s, the Surface Mouse and a Miracast Receiver. The latter allows to project your screen wireless to any HDMI screen, beamer or projector. Did my first presentation with that yesterday. Just walk across the room, Surface Pro 3 in the hand and do my demo, my presentation and white boarding in PowerPoint and OneNote and the Pen… boy, impressive. And not just for me, imagine what my customer wants now…… At home, stream Netflix movies to my television. Nice technologyJ.

For work, I use my Administrative accounts form a Virtual Machine and Hyper-V runs smoothly on the Surface Pro 3. The type-cover is a bit bigger than the one on my Surface Pro and certainly the mouse pad area is works much better. Of course I’m typing this on my new “machine”.

My impression after one week: totally terrific! Welcome to the 2-devices world. No compromise from a tablet point of view and no compromise from a laptop point of view.