Category: Architecture

How to gain insights on Microsoft 365 adoption?

In this post I describe where you can start to get more details (figures!) about the Microsoft (Office) 365 adoption at your company.

There are many different ways to gain insights. But if you rolled out different Office 365 services at your company there’s already quite a lot of valuable data. Where? Well, you know all the admin dashboards in the different Office 365 admin centers, right? So, these dashboards are good start to see what’s adopted but what about a more holistic view?

Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/statistics-graph-chart-data-3411473/

Of course you, could build a new dashboard in PowerBI by attaching different data sources, Graph API etc. But why not utilizing available tools? Is there any?

Microsoft 365 usage analytics

Yes, there is and it delivers you the following information:

  • Adoption overview report
  • Product usage report
  • Storage used report
  • Communication report
  • Collaboration report
  • Office activation report
  • Access from anywhere report
  • Individual service usage reports
  • Individual service user activity reports

What do have to do for this?

There is not much to do.

  1. Enable Microsoft 365 usage analytics [see link at the bottom]
  2. Navigate and utilize the reports in Microsoft 365 usage analytics [see link at the bottom]
  3. Read the reports
  4. Apply measures to drive adoption in the spaces where it is required
  5. Review monthly
  6. Go back to 3. [infinite loop / continuous [adoption] improvement process –> learning never ends ;-)]

Conclusion, opinion and summary

Before you start to build your own reports you might want to start with what’s available at your fingertips! I had the chance to test and it’s ready within minutes. So, you can view report data. What you finally need to do is to check what information you receive and conclude your next steps to drive adoption in weak areas by adequate measures, e.g. awareness campaign, training/education or other means of communications to drive adoption of Office 365 services within your company (as needed).

Additional resources

SIP Trunk Provider Evaluation 2019 by the Eastern Management Group

In this post I like to highlight a SIP Trunk Provider Evaluation by the Eastern Management Group. I came across a nice article regarding the evaluation of (some) SIP Trunk Providers which was carried out by the Eastern Management Group.

In this study 29 SIP Trunk Providers were evaluated based on a survey. More than 3.000 IT managers were asked. As far as I could read the focus resides primarily on SIP Trunk Providers in the US and such with global reach.

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/vectors/statistik-umfrage-webseite-vorlage-1606951/

Conclusion, opinion and summary

In case your are about to plan your migration from ISDN to ALL-IP/SIP Trunks or you are considering to consolidate your SIP Trunk connectivity this study might provide you some insights and metrics to get to a decision on which SIP Trunk (Provider) to choose.

However, 29 SIP Trunk Providers are just a few. Depending on where you need a SIP Trunk you might need to research which are available at a certain world region, country and local area. As always on the market there are small and large SIP Trunk providers offering a different feature set for the SIP Trunk Services.

I recommend to take a closer look to what’s offered in detail and what SIP Trunk “architectures” are serviced, e.g. dedicated (physical) link vs. logical link (via existing Internet/MPLS connectivity), encrypted traffic support, clip no screening support, SBC support/compatibility (are there recommended SBCs/IP-PBX by the respective provider?), call authentication/authorization requirements…

Additional resources

New Microsoft Cloud Data Center Region Germany available

In this post I like to quickly inform about the availability of a new Microsoft cloud data center region in Germany. I was about to deploy a new cloud-based session border controller (SBC) and saw that the region “Deutschland, Westen-Mitte” is available on Azure.

Source: Screenshot showing the Azure Portal https://portal.azure.com and creation of a template-based Azure resource group

Additional resources

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

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