I’ve recently had a good short conversation with a senior developer, having worked more than 5 years in SharePoint platform. He shared with me that he found SharePoint really challenging and really wanted to master it. It’s pretty difficult for him to have deep understanding about SharePoint plus update about this emerging technology. He came to ask me my idea on what to do next to step up his experience in SharePoint development.
Inspired by Microsoft, its products and technologies, my head with Tung Pham‘s one huddled together thinking about an eBook which would provide step-by-step guide to you in the Office 365 Hybrid deployment because we’ve realized the huge trend for the modern collaboration during our work today. We consider ourselves to be fortunate to have worked and discussed with number of different IT executives and CIO during the last three years before kicking off writing this eBook.
The definition of Digital Workplace may vary, but mostly aims to explain the virtual environment which comprises of tools to facilitate people at work, to increase employee engagement and to automate everything thoroughly the organization. Digital Workplace is just a different way to differentiate the computerized environment, but it also contains some significant changes on how people work in a daily basis. Having involved in number of digital workplace adoptions since 2008 with Microsoft SharePoint, I’m now realizing the road map of the maturity of such a so-called “computerized environment” or “digitalized workplace”.
The deprecation of Sandbox solution is actually not new to those who continuously keep their eyes on Microsoft, which was announced in 2014. And 2 years later in 2016, Microsoft announced that its steps to completing the removal of code-based sandbox solution in SharePoint Online. Customers who have been using code-based sandbox solution have only 30 days before existing code gets stopped. This message does contribute to the list of pain points that exists.
SharePoint is proven a platform for so many real-world no-code solutions, it still requires customization to fulfill business requirement, and to maximize investment for the platform, especially for middle and large organization. With SharePoint On-premises, the customization is flexible as you have several options in the development approach. You own your development environment to test everything you need. You control what to be patched when Microsoft releases a new update. You can rollback with your backup and recovery plan. Everything sounds well as you go. But with SharePoint Online, things are not that easy like the on-premises one. The development approach SharePoint Online supports is to go with client-side technologies. No server-side is supported. Sandbox mode with many limitations has been deprecated. You wouldn’t easily rollback your SharePoint Online site. This results to a nightmare to people who are responsible for roll-out of SharePoint Online in the whole organization.
We have heard a lot about hybrid model between SharePoint on-premises and Office 365, along with many benefits and reasons, from making the best use of your investment to on-premises to utilizing workloads running beneath cloud-based infrastructure, while meeting the requirement of data compliance regulatory. The buzzword about SharePoint hybrid today is almost Search to give end users the access to content stored in both SharePoint On-premises and Office 365. You might have heard of connecting on-premises LOB to Microsoft cloud services. But how about workflow which is an inevitable component to a successful digital workplace deployment? Yes, I mean hybrid workflow.
A bad plan or incomplete plan is often worse than no plan at all, or we have all heard that failing to plan is planning to fail. The business is being changed hoarsely by the trend of digital transformation, and the release of new technologies are out every minute making your business goes more slowly if the consideration of improvement is not proposed within your organization. However, that’s part of an innovation of technology that serves for your business. The other part is how to determine a technology that addresses to the challenge of your business and how you transform from existing technology to new modern one.
This article is to come up with top 3 reasons why Office 365 is the best choice for the legacy transformation.
Total Cost of Ownership
Operation cost for legacy system is unforeseen. The number you have to pay annually not only system maintenance but also human resource responsible for the maintenance. It’s hard to hire them. Even when you have such a resource the salary is always high. For example, with Notes system, you have to pay approximately 2000 USD per client. Hiring Notes system engineer and developers are considered a nightmare to human resource in-charge person.
Look at Office 365, it’s easy to hire an Office 365 staff to help you manage the whole including Exchange Online, SharePoint, Office 365 or so on. Office 365 developers have been come much easier to be hired since Microsoft announced the new future of Office 365 and SharePoint. There is a library called PnP offering you a ton of templates in the real-world scenario. Office 365 pricing makes people comfortable. Imagine just 25 USD/user you have almost everything in your life from Microsoft Office client, email system with no worry about downtime and fault tolerance, collaboration platform to share document and file which is accessible over the internet. More and more of what I just said Office 365 is offering you.
A Modern platform for Digital Workplace
The trend of digital transformation brings about the digital workplace need. A digital workplace becomes crucial part of your business success. In a short way of explanation, a digital workplace is an environment where your employees can complete their tasks by a set of digital tool. They can communicate and share information they have, and access to information they need regardless of where they are and devices they are using.
A legacy system does not provide a comprehensive set of tools to a successful digital workplace. Notes although offers your mail communication, collaboration software but is not considered a flexible and customizable platform. With Notes, it becomes impossible to access information you need out of your network. In case you have a business trip oversee, you can’t use your mobile devices to work on something. In a nutshell, modern information worker these days expect much more that a legacy platform can do.
With Office 365, I’m not providing biased opinion. But undeniably if you have already been familiar with Office 365, you probably know that Office 365 is offering number of different cloud services.
- Microsoft Office – your Microsoft office not only in on-premises but cloud
- Exchange Online – an email messaging
- SharePoint Online – a Collaboration platform
- Skype for Business – a unified communication
- Yammer – a private enterprise social
- Office Delve – a machine learning for collaboration at work
- OneDrive – a file share repository
- PowerBI – your actionable insight and online analytics
- Microsoft Flow – a workflow within Office 365
Read more about Office 365 here https://products.office.com/en/business/office-365-enterprise-e3-business-software
“Cloud First, Mobile First”
Not only Microsoft has “Cloud First, Mobile First” strategy but also many organizations have defined it. Since defined, legacy platform needs to be transformed in order to meet the expectation. Office 365 platform can be implemented as the consolidated enterprise information portal for all of cloud-based systems including Microsoft Azure, Dynamic CRM or external services like SalesForce, SAP. Employees can access information and data in a one-stop shop business without navigating to different applications while legacy platform is just a burden of the implementation. Enterprise Mobility Suite which also can be integrated in Office 365 emphasizes the “Cloud First, Mobile First” nowadays.
Product analysis by Thuan Nguyen in ThuanSoldier.NET requested by CRN Solutions, but these thoughts are my own.
What is Webparts360?
Webparts360 extends the configurability and feature set of SharePoint to simplify the development of custom solutions that easily combines SharePoint content with line-of-business data. Its low code development approach makes it suitable for empowering non-programmers use it as a rapid application development platform for moving business workflows and collaborative solutions to SharePoint.
Unlike other SP workflow add-ins such as AgilePoint, Nintex or K2, Webparts360 takes a more holistic view to application development cycle by providing the following features and functionalities:
- Solution Designer – provides a web based solution designer that manages all the resources within the solution including SP contents such as groups, custom lists, documents libraries and external databases
- Business web parts – fills in gaps user interface components (i.e. input, process and output) for data entry forms, dashboards, reporting and navigation with granular permission control options. These web parts can consume both SP contents and back-end databases.
- Solutions Manager – allows you to package a completed solution from one sub-site to another. During deployment, it will update all the links with the solution and map roles based on groups to the actual ones on the production server.
Due to its popularity with Lotus Notes developers, it is not uncommon to see hundreds of solutions within a single SP farm. Therefore, they have added some features that can greatly increase solutions governance and manageability, including:
- Solutions Gallery – a centralized repository of published solutions that make it easy for site administrator to deploy a solution unto a new sub site.
- Solution Viewer – a visual tool to show all the components/resources within a solution, including database model, entity relationships diagrams, solution pages and workflow diagrams
- Web parts management – Adding to solution pages, web part check-in/check-out feature for team development, and web parts versioning control.
Webparts360 is well suited for developing business solutions such as procurement, employee self-service, supply chain management, customer service and business process automation projects that delivers a single view of work.
Using Webparts360 is easier because it provide a single design console that contains all the elements that make up the solution.
- Solution: This section allows you to define the solution properties and storage for the system interfaces, e.g. pages and icon images.
- Security: The security section controls the people who can manage the solution (developers) and those who can use it (user roles)
- Data: The data section provides the data connectivity access to external database and to leverage on SQL to manage data retrieval.
- Lists & Libraries: Custom lists and libraries are the main data that make up this solution and you can see how they are used in the relationships diagrams.
- Webparts: Web parts contains all custom widgets (user interfaces) for data input and workflow (transactions), output (reports) and menu (navigation) elements for this solution.
The transactions web part essentially extends a custom list or document library feature to support multiple states where you can control which columns can be updated or viewed. The reports web part provides a combination of different data presentation views that also allows you to add context sensitive menu options. Here are a list of some of the interesting features and functionalities of Webparts360 that makes it possible to build bigger and better solutions, including the ability to:
- Use SP custom lists and document libraries as relational database
- Create user groups based on data in SQL instead of adding to SP groups chaos
- Create multiple data entry forms based on user roles or transaction processing states
- Add context sensitive menu options on table or data grids
- Create charts using SP custom lists or SQL database with drill-down capability
- Provide context sensitive filters to show related data
- Package and deploy solution from one sub site to another
- Upgrade SP solutions across versions, e.g. 2007 > 2010 > 2013 > 2016
- View your solution from a single design console
Webparts360 is flexible and powerful applications development tool for SharePoint that empower users to build total solutions easily and quickly. If you have a lot of business workloads to build, this is a good tool that will help you to get more done while increasing your control and ROI of SharePoint.
Please find more information about WebPart360 here http://www.webparts360.com/
Many friends of mine and my avid blog reader have asked me on what I have been doing these days because it’s been 5 months since I wrote the latest article about Udemy. My immediate answer is that I’m still doing SharePoint stuffs but pretty different from what I did in the recent past. My job now is to be working with public sector organizations to help them understand how important collaboration and digital workplace are, and to drive them to building a successful collaborative digital workplace with Microsoft SharePoint products and technologies.
Beside SharePoint & Office 365, I often spend my spare time reading and exploring more about Microsoft Azure such as Azure Mobile Service, Azure Machine Learning (and its concept to build prediction system) or so on. I’m also working on a small start-up mobile app in which I with my team utilize almost Microsoft Azure from mobile services, hub notification and Azure SQL.
Part of these things If you have realized, digitalization is also the topic I’m adopting. This concept covers a dozen things including mobility, analytic, machine learning, social and digital workplace which I recently got interviewed by LiveTiles (http://www.livetiles.nyc/blog/3-benefits-of-gamification/)
Lastly, a few friend of mine questioned me on Internet of Thing (IoT) which is one of the hottest trends nowadays. To be honest, I’m not really ready for IoT even used to research it a bit in the past. Moreover, IoT requires financial budget for R & D Lab and long-term investment which I cannot afford at the moment. At least I’m sure I will do something on this stuff in the future. This product (https://www.particle.io) has caught my eyes on after I was introduced by a fellow MVP. It’s worth trying if you have time.
Looking forward to something new in the near future. Thank you all of you who have read my blog so far.
If you are based in Singapore and love to learn and discuss with Microsoft Azure team in Singapore, Global Azure Boot camp 2016 Singapore is the must-attend event. It becomes BIGGER this year! 3 Tracks, 19 speakers and 19 sessions. Information can be found here http://singapore.azurebootcamp.net/
I will be talking about planning and deploying SharePoint farm in Microsoft Azure.