How to enable external users to access PowerApps?

In this post I describe what Microsoft provides with PowerApps Portals (in Preview, August 2018) to enable external users (not within your company) to access your PowerApps-based business apps.

What’s PowerApps at all?

Microsoft PowerApps is basically an app toolbox which you can use to quickly build business apps without being a developer because you can build a business app by clicking it together. It’s part of Office 365 and allows to use what you’ve already got there (Office 365, Dynamics 365 …) or (partially) elsewhere.

What’s PowerApps Portals?

Before the introduction of PowerApps Portals all users need to be within your Office 365 tenant to access your PowerApps-based business apps. PowerApps Portal is a game changer it let’s external users access your business apps via WWW on a public accessible website. You can also control access to the portal, e.g. anonymously, LinkedIn, Microsoft ID, Azure AD account, SAML2, OpenId Connect or else.

Source: https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/introducing-powerapps-portals-powerful-low-code-websites-for-external-users/

Conclusion, opinion and summary

PowerApps Portals is very handy for you if you need to build a business app which is not only accessible for your employees or users which are member of your Office 365 tenant. To enable a wider accessibility to PowerApps can enable more interaction with external users to your company.

Additional resources

Microsoft Flow Online Conference 2019

In this post I like to inform you about the upcoming Microsoft Flow Online Conference 2019. The free (~8-hours) online conference starts at September 10th, 2019 at 9 AM (EST), 15 PM (CEST).

The focus of the online conference is to show how to automate processes and tasks easily (with no or little code) by using Microsoft Flow and related technology from the Office 365 stack and more. And if you might wonder what about Teams integration? Can I automate things in Teams by using Flow? Of course, you can integrate and use Flow in conjunction with Teams. So you can automate processes and integrate it within Teams as your hub of modern teamwork.

Source: https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/register-for-the-microsoft-flow-online-conference-2019/

Conclusion, opinion and summary

First of all, I already like the format, because it’s an online conference and I do not need to travel far, catch any plane, stuck in any traffic jam or else.

The agenda and list of content looks pretty nice! There’s something for everyone, you can find sessions if you are completely new to Flow but also if you are a bit more advanced and automated some processes and tasks.

Additional resources

Microsoft Teams gets Private Channels in September 2019

Microsoft plans to roll out private channel in Microsoft Teams in September 2019. This is one of the most requested features in Teams.

Finally, this enables to manage and control access to channels in Teams. So only defined users can access a Teams channel within a specific Team.

Source: https://admin.microsoft.com/AdminPortal/Home#/MessageCenter

Conclusion, opinion and summary

I’m looking forward to this feature update because this brings more manageability for team owners within a [Teams] team, if required. Especially, if you have a project team with external guests you might want to have an internal project-related conversation or data exchange, too. So, by secure private channels you have [soon] the option to define such “internal” channels for a project team within a [Teams] team. There’ll be no need to create an extra Team for this use case, just as one possible use case, e.g. you do not need to create two project Teams for [internal] and [external] collaboration. Instead you can utilize secure private channels and avoid creating duplicate Teams due to access-control needs for project contents and collaboration.

Right now ( 8th August 2019) I’m not aware of plans if the feature will come to existing [Teams] teams or only to newly created ones. I hope that it will apply to existing [Teams] teams but we’ll see in September 2019.

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B2B Sync with OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online

In this post I like to highlight a highly handy feature update “B2B sync” regarding Microsoft OneDrive for Business for “inter-org collaboration”.

B2B sync enables users to sync not only OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online data of their organization but of other organizations, too! This means that your collaboration experience becomes much better because if you are a guest of an external Team, which is of course hosted in another Office 365 tenant, you’ll be able to sync files from this SharePoint Online, too.

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/download-cloud-icon-network-2013195/

Conclusion, opinion and summary

I like this feature because this enables you to have much more synced data exchange and collaboration with external parties also having Office 365 incl. SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. So, you do not need to down-/upload files via browser.

Additional resources

Manage discover of private Teams

Microsoft rolls out a new feature which allows to manage the discovery of private Teams.

Source: Microsoft 365 Roadmap (August 2019)

Conclusion, opinion and summary

To manage the discovery of private Teams allows that Teams are listed and searchable like public Teams. However, an user cannot directly join a Team he/she need to get approved by a Team owner in order to join.

You’ll be able to manage this per-Team either via PowerShell or in the Teams GUI.

Addition resources

Skype for Business Online End of Service 2021

In this post I like to highlight a very special date, the 31st of July 2021. The date marks the end of an era of the communication and collaboration with Skype for Business Online.

Microsoft officially announced the retirement of Skype for Business Online by 31st of July 2021.

Source: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/07/28/23/39/cottage-1550083_960_720.jpg

Conclusion, opinion and summary

We had a great time Skype for Business Online. Thanks. However, time changes and so do people, technology and work. Therefore, Microsoft Teams enables ways of modern communication and collaboration which Skype for Business (Online) did not. The retirement date is not that close. So, you’ve got a time frame which should provide sufficient time to plan and migrate to Microsoft Teams.

Additional resources

My Cloud Network Readiness Notes for Office 365 and Teams

This post is about some basic aspects of networking for the cloud and where to find some viable resources. I focus on Microsoft Cloud connectivity. However, the requirements are similar to any other cloud services. To me, there are two common question which I always ask before any further (technical) Microsoft / Office 365 planning: What’s your network topology and how do your network metrics look like?
“Nice” and “fine” are some times answers I get, of course that’s not what I want to hear. 😉

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/monitor-binary-binary-system-1307227/

What’s your network topology/design?

By asking this question I want to get insights on the network design, e.g. does the company operate a centralized network and internet connectivity approach?

Example answer: A company got 12 physical locations, buildings or offices in different cities, so geographically dispersed. The company’s headquarter (HQ) is in Stuttgart, Germany. All locations are linked together via MPLS-WAN links to the HQ. Let’s say a star topology is operated. All internet traffic is routed via HQ and breaks out centrally.

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/network-earth-block-chain-globe-3524352/

How do your network metrics look like?

Very often companies do not have network metrics, no long-term metrics (2 weeks+) and no networking reporting to easily visualize and get insights on past and as-is network traffic. Although this might be very helpful also for security reasons to detected uncommon network patterns etc.

Well, by asking, how do your network metrics look like? I’d whish to get some viable metrics, e.g. packet loss, jitter, rtt, bandwidths (of course), … Many times it’s unclear.

These actual trivial questions are essential to know and estimate “Is my company’s network ready for cloud workloads?” or to know what’s to do to get the connectivity ready for (certain) cloud workloads. We also need to differentiate between workloads and their priority, e.g. no real-time vs. real-time workloads, file transfer vs. video calls.

What’s recommended?

A functioning, efficient and reliable network, especially internet connectivity towards the Microsoft Cloud Edge is key. If we talk about client facing applications, for instance Microsoft Teams, it is recommended to get the client app as near as possible to the Microsoft Cloud Edge so that the traffic can enter the highly optimized Microsoft Cloud Data Center Network (backend). Verify that the connectivity metrics towards the Microsoft Cloud Edge are meet.

Conclusion, opinion and summary

To reach the goal that clients’ network traffic can quickly enter Microsoft Cloud Data Center, we need to think about suited network concepts and designs. In my opinion centralized internet breakouts for clients are obsolete. Without a doubt there are advantages in management and routing traffic centrally depending on your point of view. If we “re-calibrate” our point of view and our expectations based on user and business requirements and principles we must re-think and re-assess our network to fulfill these requirements. To succeed we need to focus on the principle of excellent user experience which than will drive your business ahead. And as mentioned above, the network and internet connectivity towards the Cloud Edge are key.

Additional resources