Tuesday, March 7, 2017

SharePoint Saturday Munich 2017 Day 2: The Conference!

You can read a short introduction about SPS Munich and the pre-conference workshops that took place on the previous day in my last post.

We went to the conference at around 8:30 and the atrium was already full of people. We were met by Mathias Einig who organizes the SPS Munich and SPS Stockholm events and he gave us the tip to quickly get into the Keynote room as it was expected to get packed. It did. The room was full and there were 3 more rooms that had been watching the keynote on big screens.

Even though Chris McNulty from Microsoft had to cancel his keynote at the last moment, Vesa Juvonen and Eric Shupps opened with a very artistic keynote - Vesa playing the Microsoft guy, and Eric being the bad, really annoyed customer asking the "awesome" questions :) From time to time, Eric did put his positive hat on, yes he had one. We've got many insights from the keynote, mainly around priorities and not real release dates, but there are a few things that are definitely on the way:

- Proper Modern Team Sites, providing customization capabilities that will match the levels possible within the Classic sites
- Classic sites are not going away anytime soon
- OneDrive single client for syncing both SharePoint document libraries & OneDrive will soon be a reality (in fact there is a TeamSiteSyncPreview.reg which you can download and already sync SharePoint document libraries.
- SharePoint Framework will be the future model for SharePoint development. Skills needed would match those of a regular web developer, so the possible career path for SharePoint developers would be more interesting and flexible.
- There will be another (maybe even two) on-premise version of SharePoint Server.
- SharePoint Product Engineering is aiming to shorten the release cycle from 3 years to small incremental releases, so that the users can get more feedback in the process. And oh boy, they did get feedback as Vesa said.

Last but not least, we've had lots of laughing in the hall. Well done, Vesa and Eric!

Eric did really get into the bad cop from Texas role and transmitted a lot of feedback and questions that the audience would have otherwise asked anyway. One of my favorite ones as I hear it all the time from the people I work with:

A little bit of impressive statistics shown by Mathias. With 430 attendees, I think that was the biggest SharePoint Saturday ever? I bet it is the biggest in Europe and the best one held so far. The event was in fact international with all sessions held in English and people from all over Europe and even the US!

Meanwhile, at the coffee area, there was this really cool poster by IF-Blueprint AG who were volunteers at the event. Cheers to the person or team who worked on it, it's really cool!

The agenda. First of all, we've all downloaded the mobile app Whova (which is available for iOS and Android) way before the conference day came, so we've made our custom agendas.  Sorry to the 3 people at the event that had Windows Phones :) The app was really useful for a couple of things:

- Navigating through the schedule and modifying it on the go. I've changed my mind for one of the sessions on the day.
- Rating the sessions - there was even a section for comments.
- Networking with other SharePointers. I've got a message from another Bulgarian whom I didn't know before the conference, but we were in the same room.
- Photo Contest :) Even though we've posted some pics, I think the organizers missed that one partly because there were so many things going on at the same time! But this is not a critic in any way. It was fun, at least to see what people would post in terms of interesting pictures from the event.

There was a printed agenda as a bag insert, too, it was also useful. I liked the looks of it, so I'll share the picture here (it's from the official SPS Munich site).

The #spsmuc20 session with Spencer Harbar got replaced with Paul Hunt's Exploring Identity Management Options in O365 as Spencer couldn't make it to the conference, but it wasn't on my agenda anyway.

The sessions that I've visited were:

#SPSMUC00 - Keynote: The Future if SharePoint is Now, Reinventing Content Collaboration with Vesa Juvonen and Eric Shupps

#SPSMUC01 - The Key to a Successful Office 365 Implementation is Adoption with Jasper Oosterveld

Move, Manage, Protect SharePoint & Office 365 - sponsored session by Metalogix.

#SPSMUC07 - Office 365 Groups Deep Dive with Maarten Eekels

#SPSMUC06 - Securing Office 365 and Microsoft Azure like a Rock Star with Jussi Roine

#SPSMUC11 - Power charging Microsoft Teams with Bots, Connectors and Tabs with Wictor Wilén

#SPSMUC13 - Level up with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow with Mikael Svenson

#SPSMUC23 - Panel Discussion: Groups, Teams, Conversations, Skype, Yammer - say what?

...and SharePINT of course :) 

My recap of the sessions:

#SPSMUC01 - The Key to a Successful Office 365 Implementation is Adoption with Jasper Oosterveld

First of all, Jasper is an amazing speaker, full of energy and always wearing a smile. I truly believed that his IS the key to Office 365 adoption, along with all the tips & tricks he presented :)

One of the case studies I found very interesting - a video with the key stakeholder. The project was a simple Project Management solution in SharePoint, one you've probably designed in a few days - it looked like the default columns in a Task list, then a very simple branding, BUT the key was the way it was presented. With a video with the key stakeholder - I think a VP of Information Technology or something similar.

The solution home page:

A project site:

Video still... it made me wonder how many times I've seen projects fail because of poor communication / presentation / a little bit of PR.

Jasper also used the introduction of Microsoft Teams by Satya Nadella as an example, how Microsoft are bringing "the big guns" when introducing something new.

As a takeaway, if you'd do Office 365 projects, make sure you:

- Have vision & goals.

- Have an executive sponsor.

- Have a budget for adoption (it's not free).

- Know your target audience.

- Make a launch party (everyone loves to have some fun at work).

- Think about a video with the project sponsor if you have virtual teams.

- Try and answer the "What's in it for me?" question proactively

- Train your users by doing quick 1-2 min videos frequently (think of hiring a voice actor to make your videos more professional).

- Train users in person if that's the style of working in your organization (don't make groups larger than 10-15 people and don't do it alone as you won't be able to handle all the incoming questions).

- Train the trainers (especially valid if you're an external consultant and you're not going to be around for long in the organization).

- Have Office 365 champions (definitely try to get those people from different departments).

- Share a roadmap.

- Be honest!

- Set a baseline and success criteria. You can use the OOB O365 Reports to measure the success once you launch - you'd need to be an administrator of the O365 tenant to access those.

- Start small.

- Use the First Release cycle for selected power users in your organization. Keep in mind they must be curious and play with the new features so that you get feedback from them.

- Office 365 is going fast! Go to conferences & events, just like SPS Munich :) to stay up-to-date.

Hands down, the session was above my expectations. Even though just a level 100, I got some useful insights which I'll use into practice.

Move, Manage, Protect SharePoint & Office 365 - sponsored session by Metalogix.

Crappy sponsored session. Slides in German!? The speaker said he gets a bit uneasy in front of people (?!) A good question that was asked at the end about the licensing model for calculation could not be answered. Got redirected to account managers. So where were the account managers instead of in the room?
Although I am certified on Metalogix Content Matrix and I've used their software for a large-scale migration for a customer 2 years ago, I honestly think they could do better. Anyway, thank you Metalogix for being SPS Munich's only diamond sponsor!

Instead of this session, I was planning to go to a level 400 Business (?) session: #SPSMUC10: The Executive's Guide to the Digital Workplace and I am so glad I didn't go there!

Maarten was a great speaker, very professional, the session included lots of info about Groups (and Teams, even if it wasn't announced beforehand). He started with the building blocks of Groups:

Maarten focused on a few things:

- Connectors - those are also available in Teams and there are more than a 100 of them already. You can build your own by creating an incoming webhook and then send requests to it from any web service (this was demoed with Postman - a very handy tool which I was not aware of, so thanks Maarten).

- External guest access - right now the only part that's available to external users is the modern team site. Teams do not have external access just yet, but it's on the roadmap.

- Manageability - mixed feelings story. Groups are managed from so many different places - O365 Admin Center, Exchange Admin Center, the Outlook (?) Groups mobile app, PowerShell...with the latest being the greatest.

Maarten showed us some good examples of commandlets to manage what kind of external users people can invite in groups (on the picture above) and gave us a few insights on the Groups roadmap to wrap up the session. Again, very glad I chose this one over the level 400 business session...

We've had a pretty good lunch, this day it was a menu with predefined options, but again, hands down for the food. I will not fill this blog post with pictures as they're too much already, you just have to trust me! It was awesome and we've had plenty of time (80 min) for lunch (there were some sponsored sessions going on during lunch time too) and in that time we've managed to get a tour of the brand new Microsoft DE HQ office. There were 5 groups for the day (10-11 people) and the previous group was already full, so this time we went 15 min ahead of time.

And we were in. I'd let the pictures speak for that place, but in a few words: it's awesome! Not what you'd expect from a huge corporation - it was not that grey, dark, American standard cubicle box floor...About 1900 employees are "attached" to that office, but our guides told us that there are only 1100 seats. The difference could be easily explained with the first picture:

#SPSMUC06 - Securing Office 365 and Microsoft Azure like a Rock Star with Jussi Roine

To be honest I don't have much experience with Azure and the security in it, I've just used MFA in Office 365. But Jussi's session was really insightful and I'm surprised he managed to stick it into 50 minutes.

I took a few things with me:

- Azure Active Directory is at the heart of security, just like the good old AD is on-premise.

- Enable MFA for the admin users in Office 365

- Enable the free security tools in Azure - Azure Active Directory reporting, Azure Security Center, Operations Management Suite

- Forget about building on-premise security solutions - they're not as exciting anymore :)

- You can discover unmanaged cloud apps/services on your users' workstations - something that most organizations would launch a project for and do manual surveys and interviews with people.

- If you're a large business, you'd need to invest in the paid options.

And this diagram was really cool - we've had 20 seconds to memorize it :)

Jussi was an expert in the field, and the examples he's used in the demos were quite interesting. such as detecting impossible travel activities from Netherlands to Bosnia and Herzegovina (cool country, been there on a rafting trip :)) and botnet attacks on Russi's tenants. Great session!

#SPSMUC11 - Power charging Microsoft Teams with Bots, Connectors and Tabs with Wictor Wilén

Wictor started with a quick introduction on Microsoft Teams and then focused on 3 areas:

- Connectors - nice use cases here. This topic was also covered by Maarten Eekels in one of the previous sessions.

- Tabs - While those seem basic, they are reminding me of the Global Navigation in SharePoint. Wictor did a cool announcement of his new yo teams-tab tool which is basically scaffolding everything you need to start building your Tab for Microsoft Teams. Wictor asked everyone in the room to know TypeScript for the next time, as this was the future of SharePoint development. I trust him. He was helping me out of a good will with a customer project a few years back and I can say his wealth of knowledge is incredible.

- Bots - those are based on the Microsoft Bot Framework and could do some pretty interesting stuff. During the workshops on Day 1, Vesa showed us how a bot is listening to commands via the iPhone's voice recognition and is creating a team site, based on the voice command. Pretty neat, huh?

 #SPSMUC13 - Level up with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow with Mikael Svenson

What an amazing session :) We were shown the Whac-an-MVP game created with PowerApps - LOL.

I took the following outcomes:

- PowerApps is the successor, not the replacement for InfoPath.
- Same is valid for Flow and SharePoint Designer workflows.
- Always copy your screens in PowerApps, there's no ALM story here :)
- Do not build any new stuff with InfoPath or SharePoint Designer (or at least try not to)

#SPSMUC23 - Panel Discussion: Groups, Teams, Conversations, Skype, Yammer - say what?

This was the most fun session. The atmosphere was quite relaxed at the end of the day, the speakers even got an unexpected beer delivery in the room :)

My outcomes:

- Forget about Yammer, use Teams
- Use the cloud as much as possible, there aren't many valid alternatives for on-premise social.
- Groups are the backbone of everything new in Office 365.

I've found the panel very informative and useful, except for some "marketing" comments done by Symon Garfield, I think he really didn't fit the otherwise "best-of-breed" group of speakers. Perhaps the fact that he's now a Microsoft employee would explain that...

There was a raffle with some pretty cool prizes (Phantom 3 Drone, Xbox etc,) and then an official closing by Mathias with a group picture of the speakers. An epic way to spend the Saturday, I'd say!

SharePINT :) Of course...looking forward for the next SharePoint Saturday!

Monday, March 6, 2017

SharePoint Saturday Munich 2017 Day 1: Pre-Conf Workshops

For the first time, I've аttended SharePoint Saturday Munich which was a massive community event, held directly at the Microsoft DE headquarters (awesome office, by the way).

My friend and ex-colleague Alex Pavlov who is living and working in Munich and has been a part of the previous event in 2015 told me it was awesome and I should definitely go this year. So, I asked another buddy Ivan Yankulov, he thought it was a good idea and we formed the team.

We've traveled the 1334 km  (1:50 hours flight) to attend the free, community-organized SharePoint event and boy, I personally do not regret it!

This Saturday, the organizers (the great team of Rencore AB) invested in setting up two full-day pre-conf workshops (paid - EUR 125 per workshop, limited to 50 seats each) on Friday, March 3rd.

The workshop, targeted more to administrators was SharePoint 2016 Infrastructure Powerclass for Admins with Thomas Vochten.

As I currently do not work with SharePoint 2016, I chose go to to: PnP all the way – Reusable tools for SharePoint with Vesa Juvonen, Erwin van Hunen, Paolo Pialorsi and last, but not least our friend from Bulgaria Radi Atanassov. Sounds funny, right? Going abroad to listen to a Bulgarian speaker - well, unfortunately in Bulgaria there's no SharePoint Saturday anymore and we (about 15-20 of us) only meet up in the SharePoint User Group Bulgaria once a month. I believe it's a good idea to meet 400+ more SharePoint professionals from all around Europe (and even a few from US) so that we can catch up on the latest features, best practices and get aligned on the SharePoint future. And have a SharePint altogether, of course.

I must admit I've missed the first tickets in December and I've booked my place on 9th of January, when the 2nd batch of tickets was released. I was refreshing the site a few times that day :) After I've registered, I got frequent communication over e-mail with updates on sessions, time, logistics etc. There was everything I needed to know so that I just showed up on the first day at 08:15 with my computer and tickets printed (later, I realized I didn't even needed the computer).

So, here we are, flying out from Sofia, Bulgaria on Thursday, March 2nd around sunset time, just after wrapping up the work day. Our flight was delayed with half an hour, but check out what a view we've got in exchange for that.

So, after the landing in Munich, I took the Lufthansa Express bus to the Nordfriedhof station and within 15 mins of walking I was at my hotel, just steps away from the Microsoft office, where we'd spend the next 2 days, full of Microsoft and Office 365 knowledge. By the way, Germany is so well organized, that you don't even need to know German to get around, everyone spoke English, from the bus driver, to the hotel staff and so on...

In the morning, we were at the Microsoft office 08:15 AM and the registration was already running full speed. Even though we couldn't get our badges on time, at 08:30 we were in the workshop rooms, with a cup of hot coffee (by the way the coffee that Microsoft treats their employees with was not bad at all).

Our workshop was focused on everything PnP. I must confess I do not use that yet, but I am quite interested in starting to use it. I brought my laptop (and a few more people did) as I though we're actually going to use the samples and do something with them, but the day went more in a conference-like agenda. Anyway - happy with it, and I just gave PnP a try today so that I can create a solution that updates the SharePoint User Profiles (Delve in SPO) with data populated in a SharePoint list. For that purpose, I've used especially the PowerShell module on which Erwin van Hunen is working frequently.

Here's a quick selfie of the Bulgarian team @ the workshop.

Even though there was a small fee for the workshops, the whole event would not be possible without the support from the sponsors, so I'm including the slide with their names. Kudos to all those great companies!

Paul Hunt mentioned on Twitter, that this was the best food on a SharePoint Saturday. While I can't compare, I think it deserves a few words. During all breaks, there were fresh fruits, pretzels, some small chocolate bites and cakes. Basically, thousands of calories :)

We've had lunch at the Microsoft canteen, and there were plenty of choices - some slow-roasted pork, pizza, pasta, sushi, soups, salads and freshly squeezed juices. Love it! During our lunch, Mathias Einig (who's the main person to blame for SPS Munich and SPS Stockholm) came to ask if everything's going well and if we're happy with the workshops. Great attention to attendees!

I've included this photo of my lunch as it contains something very rare these days - one of the 3 Microsoft phones we've seen during the event:)

After we were full of calories and knowledge, we ended the day with a 6-7 km walk through the Englisher Garten and a few beers (Maß, of course) at Augustiner Keller, which was recommended by Alex as a "local". The food and beers were great, I highly recommend this place, but you should make a booking, especially on a Friday or Saturday evening. There was a huge beergarten, so I'd love to come back here during the summer months. The same is valid for the Englisher Garten, it would be so green during the summer. It didn't matter for the locals, though as the beergartens there were full at 5 PM :)

More info on Day 2 - the actual conference will come as part of the next blog post.