Saturday, 30 September 2017

MIckey's not so scary Halloween Party

Friday night I went to Disney's Magic Kingdom for Mickeys not so scary Halloween Party.   Not sure if I will every be in Orlando at this time of the year again so wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to see how Disney do Halloween. 
It's a separate ticket event, Disney close the park to normal guests at 7 although the event ticket lets you in from 4pm.  They put a wrist band on you so they can tell who can stay in the park.  I got a Lyft taxi as I am still having issues with Uber.  Can't praise Lyft enough.  The longest I have had to wait for a taxi is 3 minutes from requesting one, the app is very good and prices are less than half of what I would pay for a normal taxi. The guy dropped me off outside the park in torrential rain, I had a rainoat in my bag but I was drenched before I managed to get it on.  The rain stayed around until about 8 o'clock with some more heavy showers
To get out of the rain I went into the haunted house and then as it was new since I was last there I went on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride.  The mine train ride is medium thrill roller coaster with a little bit of entertainment half way through.
There are a few extra bits that the park put on for Halloween. 
There are lots of Halloween inspired merchandise and food. I had a Mickey shaped cinnamon bun and a hot chocolate from the Star Bucks on Main Street. 
Throughout the park are lots of Treat stations.  When you come into the park they give you a treat bag with some candy in it to tide you over until 7.  At that point they start handing out Candy at every treat station.  Most of what you get are fun sized bags of things like skittles or fun sized snickers or mars.  I got a bag full to bring back for Amy but I am struggling to stop it melting due to me having my cases in the car during the day as I am moving from hotel to hotel.
There are two shows.  One is a monsters inc dance show that they had to move to a cafe due to the rain and the big show is Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular.  From where I was stood the sanderson sisters looked just like they did in the film and even sounded like them.  The first show was cut down in length due to the rain and the stage being wet but the second show was the full version.
There was an impromptu singing in the rain parade which consisted of one float with some characters on, a couple of characters in front of it and some cast members in wellies dancing and splashing in puddles.
The main parade was very good, similar to the normal parade with floats with characters on separated by cast members.  All with a sort of Halloween theme to it although one float was a big chicken which I didn't get. Just googled it and apparently its Clara Cluck although still not sure why it was in the parade.
The happy hallowishes firework display was as awesome as every with the fireworks going off in time with Halloween music and the castle lit up with 3D projection.
In all a good night, the rain didn't seem to put many people off form enjoying the park

Friday, 29 September 2017

Conference Day 5

Amazing party last night at universal.  Ride times varied from 5 minutes to 60 minutes.  It was good to see the park in the dark, Microsoft had done a great job of project their logo everywhere adding additional lights to set the scene.  There were DJs playing live music at various sports throughout the park and quite a few characters out.  Around the park there were drink stations handing out soft drinks and alcohol.  What really was amazing though is that all the food and drink stalls and restaurants were open on an all you could eat / drink basis.  All the stalls that usually sell a slice of pizza for $8 or a churro for $5 you could go up to them and not pay a thing, go and sit down in a dinner and order a meal, drink as much butter beer as you wanted.  Amazing.

Today is the last day of the conference, session run until lunch and then people start to disappear to catch flights back home.  Just a couple of short sessions to attend today.

Managing Apps with Intune

Intune supports IOS, android and windows
Works with enrolled and non enrolled devices

Intune admin console
Can add line of business apps to library
Choose an applications e.g. .apk for android, apple apps can be pulled direct from store
Add app description and publish

Available - user goes to company portal and can see list of apps
Required - auto installs on users devices
Uninstall - uninstalls
Not applicable - device / users do not see the app to be installed

Can also decide if apps should be available to MDM (mobile device management) devices or BYOD (non enrolled) devices

MDM can also provision apps as part of the install such as configuring an email app on install.  One drive can be provisioned with locked down settings.
Managed browser - a browser that lets you lock down things like copy and paste, pre-provision allow / block list, homepage, bookmarks
Also remaps internal web pages to be accessible external via a proxy

Can configure apps so that they only use manged browser so for example somone emails you on your phone with an internal url. You click on the link, it fires up the managed browser and the internal web page is displayed via the proxy


Microsoft will try and host all meetings in teams
Use Teams for all Team communication rather than email

Things that drive growth
Mobile app usage
File sharing, put the files into teams so people go to teams for the data
with mobile app people are seeing employees keeping in touch in the evenings
Integration with SharePoint online coming, can already add another doc library in a tab but news connectort and pages coming soon
Federation and Guest Access - chatting with 3rd parties is coming,  guests can added to the team from external, currently Microsoft live ID but they are looking at allowing other accounts to authenticate such as google etc
Change management Team is a good example - share the changes via teams and discuss in teams


reduce the password load on users, having to create them and re-enter passwords multiple times during the day
Replacement method cannot be breached, phised or cracked
Develop a replacment
passwords are portable and backward compatible
Reduce user visible password surface area
Windows hello for business can pass through authentication to apps that support single sign on
This can be backed up with two factor authentication such as using the Microsoft authenticator app on your phone

Conference Day 4

Spent a lot of time at the expo again today talking to a few Microsoft guys about integrating storage spaces direct with VMware (not possible at this time), monitoring windows 10 client health, using Skype / teams as a phone system and a replacement for Direct Access

This was the last full day of the conference, the expo closed at 4 although the sessions were still going on till 6

Tonight is the conference social night at Universal and everyone is looking forward to that although my feet are already to drop off just from the walking I have done today.

Notes from Today

Storage Spaces Direct

Case studies

Youth Villages
Deployed storage spaces direct for their electronic medical records system for 150,000 patients instead of upgrading their old SAN
They cut their costs in half saving $150,000 and storage performance increased by 30x

King County Library
1.4m residents over 49 locations
Use storage spaces direct to replace an iscsi SAN
Faster and more responsive, consolidated three clusters to 1 saving 15 servers

Create Advertising
Based in Hollywood making trailers for movies
Terrabytes of footage being accessed by 35 editors
Moved to Storage Space direct
4 node cluster with JBODs consitig of 24 disks attached to each node
Performance and cost were drivers to move.  Old storage costs 4X the storage spaces direct solution
 This was their solution

 Allows you to use industry standard servers

Install server 2016
Create a cluster
Enable storage space direct
Pool the disk space on each server to one big pool
Carve the pool up into fault tolerant volumes
Expose the volumes as SMB for virtual NAS
Could run hyperV on top of that space
No support for NFS or VMware yet.

Maximum 1PB of raw storage per cluster
You can dynamically add servers and divers to scale up
Only fabric is Ethernet

New features - need to join windows insider program - free and easy

Can be SSD only or mix of SSD and HDD
Important to have some flash storage (SSD)
SSD is used to provide cache and is allocated automatically

Can be monitored via Honolulu
This can show you throughput, volumes, and which drives are used for storage and which are used for cache

Drives should be in pass through mode, no raid
NVME drives - Flash device that sits on PCIE buss 1.5 x the cost of SSD but 3x faster and uses half the CPU load

Only the fastest type of drive will be used for cache.  If you only have one type of disk there will be no cache

New this year - SCM support

Servers should support RDMA to reduce the load on the CPU

Can configure drive, server and rack resiliance when building a cluster
Disk resilience models
Mirror resiliency - can suffer 2 simultaneous failures
Mirroring gives best peformance but is costly needs 3 the storage you need

This needs 4+ nodes
Can suffer 2 simultaneous failures
20% wasted space

New this year duplication and compression - Seeing up to 95% savings

All data that is stored is checksumed to ensure data integrity - this is important for archive data

Data can be protected at rest with bitlocker and in transit with SMB encryption - SMB encryption cannot be used with RDMA

Storage spaces direct needs a 2016 datacenter edition
Hardware build your own with supported components or 
Buy vendor solution from 


GDPR is coming in may 2018.  Effects any company that offers goods and services to people in the EU

People can ask to 
Access their personal data
Correct errors in their personal data
Erase their personal data

Export personal data

Failure to comply could lead to fines of up to 4% of global revenue

Hard to find that information as it could be located on multiple different platforms.  It could even be on backup files on tape which would especially be difficult to remove data from

You need to be able to demonstrate compliance if audited
Any breech should be reported in 72 hours

Comvault showed a product  that integrates into their backup solution which  provides a single search location to find the data on premise, in backups or in the cloud
More information from
Microsoft. Com/gdpr

Microsoft recommended using the Office 365 security and compliance center to help improve your security score.  Office 365 secure score.  You can baseline your score against other organisations.  Outputs a plan to improve security

Azure Information Protection help with keeping information identifiable and secure
Data can be classified and labelled.  Track sharing and log access.  

Enterprise Mobility Suite

Works with Windows, iOS, mac, android
Can separate out personal and company data
When accessing company data user need to Authenticate, could be with a pin.  Once pin is entered don't need to re Auth for different apps.
The tool lets you deploy apps to personal devices

Demo shows an un-managed device accessing email. Got a message to say that they needed a managed device to access this information

EMS can all be run in the cloud.  

They also demonstrated how it restricted copy and pasting data from a company app to a non company app on the same device and restricted you being able to save to non company storage locations.

Permissions can be set on a user or application basis.  This also works for office 365 apps

Windows analytics - managing updates upgrades and health

Upgrade readiness online portal tool in azure portal
Looks at apps installed and shares information about what works and what doesn't
Not just for major upgrades it can be used for minor upgrades as well - feature upgrades
The tool will also report on devices and drivers that may need to be updated to work with the upgrade.
It can monitor alerts about health of environment such as crashes
It shows common blue screen issues resulting from driver crashes to start

All free tools to achieve this

Need to push out an organization ID with group policy.  The analytics is already built into windows 10.  It will send this information to Azure and tag it with the org ID.

Need Windows 10 1703 march release. 1703 is needed due to proxy authentication may be able to put a direct rule in so it works with early versions.

Remote Access

Had a chat with one of the Microsoft guys around VPN.  
Direct Access is depreciated.  No new features however it will remain supported as long as its a feature of the OS
New replacement is Auto VPN
Auto VPN is still client less and transparent
It can be configured as DAS is now where all traffic except internet traffic goes over the vpn or you can configure it so that only specific end points goes over the VPN triggered either by application or end points
The other big advantage is that you can configure an infrastructure tunnel so that as long as the device is in a wake state you can push updates to the device without the users having to be logged on

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Conference Day 3

Just got back from a meal with Jim.  Jim is a guy I met on the conference bus.  He is a similar age to me and with a fairly similar background.  Gaming history started on the Atari 2800, had an Amiga, Sega Consoles and then PC gaming, Ultima online, Quake, World of Warcraft etc.  He used to be sponsored to play Quake and his team was ranked no 1 in the world.  He currently works in  a infrastructure team that supports Sony's streaming gaming service based in California.  So all in all lots of common ground to talk about and very interesting.
Best of all he reminded me that Double Tree Hotels give out free cookies if you ask so I am happily munching on one of those now as I write this.

Another good day of sessions today at the conference.  For a change in the morning I hardly moved, all of the talks were either in the same room or next to each other which has been unheard of until now.  I met up with Richard from ISN and we did a few sessions together, apart from bumping into him outside the lunch hall on Monday I hadn't seen him so that was good

Still trying desperately to win an XBOX at the expo and failing but I did win $20 on one of the games.  The expo has been really good to talk to all the vendors and Microsoft themselves have a massive presence there with experts from pretty much all of the Microsoft technologies.

There are a lot of people from Europe here more than I remember in the past, one guy I got talking to from Sweden who works for a consulting company said that they had sent 50 people over to the conference.

Tomorrow is the last full day with the party in Universal tomorrow night.  I heard it was the first time Universal had closed the park for a private party so that's pretty awesome

So notes from today

Server 2016

Azure File Sync
Centralize file services in Azure - hub spoke model
Local files servers cache file server data in multiple locations
Data is cached on the local file servers based on policies that you set.  It builds a heat map of most used files.
The files outside of that cache only the metadata is stored so very little footprint on the server
If a user requests a file parts of the file are pulled back so for example if its a zip file and they only open one of the items in the zip file it will only pull the part of the zip file it needs, if its a large video file it will start to stream the video file rather than wait to pull the whole file.
The full data set resides in Azure and can be backed up to Azure
Replication can be set at a folder level and can easily be added to existing files servers don't need to re-engineer
If you loose a file server, stand up a new server with the same disk structure, install the agent and very quickly you will have a fully populated server.  It may be slow initially while it caches the files the users are requesting but users will have full access to the entire data set instantly.  You don't have to wait for Terabytes of data to be restored.
Downloadable agent installs on 2012 R2 or higher

Windows server 1709 out soon
Nano server was set for use in the container space but also for hosting but hosting take up has been poor.  With the new version of windows they have resized Nano to focus on containers and server core will focus on hosting
There are two streams to get Windows Server Updates, bi annual and long term.  GUI versions of Windows will be restricted to the long term updates which should see updates every 2-3 years.
The Nano server compressed image has been reduced from a base image of 383mb to 78mb

Microsoft strongly believe that we are currently in the same space with containers as we were 10 years ago with virtualization.  Everyone was looking at virtiualiaztion 10 years ago when adoption was minimal and not believing that we would be running mission critical apps on it and now there is more virtual than physical. Containers are here to stay and will be as big as virtualization in 10 years time

Old .net legacy apps
There is a docker convert program a bit like P2V that will convert your .net app to a container
Free docker tools on github - once moved to a container it will use a fraction of memory and storage
1 hour to convert an application - can easily test to see if it works.

Everything that the application needs sits in the container - no pre-reqs needed so complexly portable between servers.
Devs can create an app with all the dependencies with the knowledge it will work as its moved through environments

Project Honolulu
This is server management redesigned to allow you to admin server cores from any device 
All the common admin tools displayed in a web portal
Very good, really makes core easier to manage  and its a FREE download
IIS is not required but WMF 5.1 is required on 2012 or 2012 R2
Honolulu with also plug into azure services such as azure backup

Software assurance for windows
Seemed to suggest that with SA there is a big cost saving benefit of running servers in Azure - for each server license you can run a server in azure and pay the linux price - the compute price
For every windows server that has SA you can use up to two virtual machines and up to 16 cores in Azure

2008 migrations
There may be a number of programs / funding available to help migrate 20008 servers to Azure 

MTA - modernize traditional apps
Partnership with Microsoft, docker and avande
help enterprises make their existing legacy apps more secure, more efficient and portable to hybrid cloud infrastructure
They will containerise a legacy .net application and within 5 days they will get it running in Azure
Funding available for these programs

ROI savings for modernizing apps

Shielded VMs
Shielded VMs are coming soon to Azure.  This will mean that encrypted VMs wont be able to be run outside of that infrastructure

Satadom - tradditional flash memroy connected to a sata connector
Frees up drives slot 128GB storage can boot OS

Windows defender Advanced Threat Protection
Built into the OS
Cloud based threat protection
Shows the breadcrumbs related to attacks

Optimizing Azure for DR

4 layers of DR to consider

Case study capstone mini corp

Storsimple - iscsi storage device
Sits on premises
Every bit of data written to it is written to Azure
Hot data is cached locally
Its basically an Azure File Sync appliance

Hyper V replication to Azure
Hyper V replica can replicate to another Hyper V server or Azure using Azure Site Recovery
In Azure you are paying only for storage until the machine is turned on

For machines not running on Hyper V - vmware or physical
Azure Site Recovery can replicate the server to Azure using a Disk Driver
Need to run a process server on premises
Writes it to a VHD file in Azure.  When you have a disaster you can create a VM in azure and attach the disks
 Failback would have to be to virtual machine, cant failback to physical
 ASR is free for 31 days to allow you to migrate

Application Level Replications
ASR doesn’t require compute - Application will
Needs to be good connectivity to Azure
Can stretch clusters or availability groups to Azure

For front end servers such as web servers use VM Scale Sets
Removes the need for licenses and compute charges
Create a Gold Image that you create instances from
From this you can scale based on metrics or schedule

Script DR reovery to create the machines needed and bring them up in the order that’s required.
Script your whole DR plan

Azure Traffic Manager provides failover DNS

 Acenture Customer example
411,00 employees, 10 datacenters, 2 PB of data in One Drive
77% in the cloud, 13,200 virtual machines

Wanted to be able to test DR without affecting production
Copy of production environment in Azure
Copied DCs and servers
Replicated using ASR
Machines have same names so only need to change IP
At any time they can bring up DR
Users connect from the DR test machine

Used to have DR datacenters
Used to test yearly
People would give up weekend to test
Very similar to us currently

Building on Blockchain

This one started to get heavy fast.  The eye opener for me was that Blockchains can be used for other things than just currency

Blockchain is a secure, shared distributed ledger
Data is stored in a ledger must like a database
Everyone on the network has a copy of it and everyone can add to it
Everyone has to agree that an addition is true before it can be committed

Currently traditional transactions are based on trust with third parties
Where trust doesn’t exist there is a lot of manual checks or 3rd party brokers

Example in a grocery supply chain
Every item in the chain farmer, wholesaler, distributer and store has information based on the product
Food contamination issue, hard to trace back as everyone will store different bits of information in different ways and could be succeptable to be changed
With blockchain everyone woulld share the same infromation

Blockchains were initially created for currency transactions and never for enterprise databases
Microsoft are working on a framework to overcome some of the shortcomings that would be needed to transition it to an enterprise database - look at coco framework

Its not easy to build an application around blockchain so Microsoft are coming up with a toolkit to assist with this

Getting started
Does blockchain apply to my scenario?
What technology should I build on - what ledger?
How do I translate workflows into smart contracts?
How do I build a distributed app?

Etherium - smart contract - adds decision making logic workflow - so instead of bitcoin where I want to give xx money, you can specify I want to give xx money on a Monday if its sunny

No standard for smart contract language and everyone is implementing it differently
Workflow Is not hidden from everyone else in the chain
Workload computation is restricted currently

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Conference Day 2

Another full day today.  I am leaving the hotel at 7.30 in the morning and getting back around 7 so nearly 12 hours and the conference center is huge.  Its split across multiple buildings and can take 15 minutes to get from one end to another so sometimes location does factor into what talk you go to as if your first preference talk is at the opposite end from your current talk there is just no way to get to it in time.

The first talk I went to was 

How to make Hackathons great. 

The presenter of this wanted to get people in the room that had done hackathons to lead this talk but people were reluctant so he shared his ideas and by the end people had opened up.

There was no magic solution and what we are doing currently seems to go well with what was suggested.

The notes I made were as follows

Elements of a hackathon
  • Idea pitch
  • Team formation
  • The hack
  • Result presentaion
  • Mentoring - important role, subject matter expertise, technology, architecture, legal, marketing and business - for complex topics consider a technology mentor per team
  • Jury - Provide different perspective and viewpoints, gives feedback
  • Follow up
  • Staffing
  • Materials
  • Duration
  • Catering

It's important to create a safe environment - don’t records, don’t log details of people suggestions, make people feel safe they can contribute

Pitch - short concise present the pitch 1-2 minutes

Mix of skills, teams should be made of people with different skills and needs. Devs, designers, subject matter experts, etc

Use a framework - SCRUM - AGILE like approaches with micro sprints are quite successful

Preparation matters - Plan resources that are going to be needed at the start.  Whiteboards, flipcharts, wifi, software, venue etc

 1/3 or 1/2 ration of people with ideas to support staff - this number includes catering, registration, facilitation

Time management - make sure things keep on track

Floor Comments

Hallmark cards - typically run day sessions to cater for people with family life
The most important thing they found is getting the buy in from the top as it will take people out of work

One company bought in some local students to join in to bring in fresh ideas

Collaboration in the Office Apps

So this one went on about how people are working more collaboratively, typically coming together at conception to brainstorm ideas then going away to work on bits individually, checking in as a group to see how things are progressing, maybe going away again and then coming back together at the end

Again they pushed teams to help with this but the big take away was that collaborative working that we can do today with office online apps is coming to all versions of Outlook

Very soon people will be able to co-author on all versions of office PC, MAC, Android, IOS etc.  
Chat intergrationi is built into office so you can chat to other people you are working with while you collaborate.

Showed an example where in the comments section of an office doc he added a @someone and that notified the user on their phone that there was  document that needed their comments on.  This was done via a mobile app (i assume office 365) when the original requester logged back in to the document they got an updates that showed them what changes had been made

This functionality is dependent on the data being stored on one drive or sharepoint online - this can be done with team sites easily

Drive Yammer usage and adoption across your organization

So there were two main takeaways from this the first is that to drive yammer within our organization it needs to be driven from the top.  The content that gets sent out from the CEO or HR currently via emails and is very static if that was moved to yammer and it was encouraged for people to feedback on it that should be all the catalyst that is needed to drive yammer.  From there awareness will grow and people will hopefully start to use it themselves

The other one was teams vs yammer and that turned out to be fairly simple

Teams is for Team based communication where your audience is targeted and yammer is for a wider audience where people are necessary targeted.

The Microsoft teams team has a yammer group.  They use it to get feedback on the product from Microsoft employees.  It's the easiest way to get community feedback
Microsoft have an all hands live Q&A.  They gather questions ahead of time using Yammer and then discuss them live
They even it broadcasted live with Skype Broadcast

Virgin trains example
Good way for remote workers to keep in touch with their organisation
They had a message to say that not enough people were buying from the train shops.
Lots of ideas shared on yammer and employees were posting their success stories on yammer

 Thinking inside the box - Containers in Azure

Notes from session

Containers make things easier
It has to be Developer driven
Rapid deployment
Reproducible configurations on any cloud
Immutability - just deploy a new container over the top

Service separation - micro services, can pull large applications apart and create containers for the parts
High Availability
Reduced costs - more containers on same hardware

Azure offers
Container instances - designed for small task based applications that run,  perfrom a task then shut down
Container services - full container service
Container registry - container hub for storing container instances

Docker engine - lets you run containers
Docker client - CLI to the docker engine
Docker Image - application template to be deployed multiple time

You can layer images, for example  windows > IIS > application

Saw a demo
Used visual studio to build an asp .net core application
Created new project, web application and was a check box to enable docker support

 Azure Customer Stories
26 September 2017
Carmax - faster response to 16 million customers
Move to a dev / ops model
Reduce storage costs and gain scale

Gave them access to azure services such as redis cache they didn’t have to build themselves
Very easy to stand up new environments so if something didn’t work they could rebuild at very little costs and time

Azure Customer Stories 

Went through some Azure customer stories

Rapidly growing video content, maxing out data center storage
 Moved videos to azure and benefited from adaptive biutrate streaming
Azure content delivery network increased video performance

Urban refuge

With azure you can build apps for android, ios and windows simultaneously using visual studio tools for xamarin

Using Azure Site Recovery
Savings of 65%

Protect and control your sensitive emails with new office 365 message encryption capabilities

Existing encryption solutions are cumbersome due to having to distribute key especially as people started to consume email on multiple devices

Classify the content - how private is this data, then apply the relevant protection to the classification

Office 365 message encryption vision - anyone on any device in any email client

Microsoft now offer email protection in their outlook clients

User sends from outlook webapp to a 3rd party using gmail.  Creates the email and hits the protect button
By default it selects the  default template that encrypts the email and the recipient can only read the email not forward it on.  The user can change the level of protection they want from a number of drop downs.. You can even create your own templates

The recipient receives a wrapper email saying that someone has sent a protected message
The wrapper email can be customized by the sending organization.  This is just a normal email  so you can read this anywhere

There are two options to either use a one time pass code or to sign in with a federated service, Microsoft accounts, gmail and yahoo are currently federated

Once authenticated the email and attachments are then displayed in a web page with the allowed reply, forwarding, print, copy paste options

If the account isnt federated then the user clicks on the one time passcode link and gets emailed the passcode which they enter and can they view the email in a portal

Also works on outlook for macs outlook for IOS - no portal required when using outlook app

To turn this on you do need to run a powershell commandlet
In a few months it will be alwayws on for new tennants

Using mail flow you can force these policies to be on

If you want to use your own keys this is possible, place the key in the azure key vault and fire up Azure information protection.  If you do this then only you will have visibility of your keys.

There may be issues around compliance where companies cant see the email due to it being encrypted and stored on a portal

and to finish off

Some people were consuming the sessions in a break out area where this massive screen had the content from some sessions playing simultaneously and you could get a headset and tune into the audio of the session.  Useful if you didnt want to walk or wanted to flick between sessions

For the evening meal at the hotel I went with the Brisket 

Monday, 25 September 2017

Conference Day 1

Today was the first day of the conference.  I was out of the hotel at 7.30 to catch the conference shuttle bus, breakfast had been laid on and consisted of some eggs and bacon.  I was done with breakfast at about 8.10 so started to head to the keynote but was told it was full up already even though it wasn't scheduled to start till 9 so I went back to the hall I had just had breakfast in and watched it on a live stream on a screen that would put most cinemas to shame.  I was left feeling underwhelmed by the keynote.  So they started off by saying they wanted to focus on using technology to empower people, nothing really new there and they had taken the information on any device, anywhere to now include multi sense and they see it very important that that you can interact with that data in a number of different ways to suit the device and the environment, predominately speech and Ink.  To achieve the better speech recognition and better searching and understanding required better AI and lots of compute power in the cloud.   Microsoft were in the race to develop a Quantum computer and they wheeled on 3 scientists to explain how their computer which seemed to based on things that hadn't really been proven to exist and needed to run at temperatures colder than space was going to do that.   Don't get me wrong,  when someone does develop a Quantum computer that is viable in the number of calculations it can perform it will be a game changer but the focus they gave it during the keynote today seemed out of place.

Microsoft also briefly showed bing for business which looked like a normal bing search engine but it was also hooked into company data so as well as doing an internet search it brought back results from Sharepoint, one drive, email etc.

The other main takeway was that Microsoft was integrating the Skype technology into Microsoft Teams and discontinuing the Skype for Business app.  Obviously on the back of that they were heavily pushing Teams adoption.

As a wow factor they had a car on stage and showed a demo of how Ford were using mixed reality or as we know it augmented reality to cut design costs down by being able to create virtual meeting spaces and adjust parts of the car and see how that affects things like performance, aero dynamics, cost, drivers view etc all in real time without having to pass clay models around the office.  But there was nothing new there that hadnt been seen before

After the key note I attended, Office 365 creating a modern workspace.  Again they focused on using AI to delver better ways to search for information and sense, new ways to interact with that content.  It wasn't long before they got onto Teams again.  As Microsoft see communication as being core to collaboration and Teams being their collaboration tool it made sense to them to bring their communication tool and their collaboration tool together hence why Skype is being bumped off.  Teams will also allow non organizational members to join so you can pull in people from other organizations into your team site.

There were a couple of minor mentions 

There will be more of the @someone in office so  in an email you can write @someone and it will copy them in or in a word document you can @someone in the comments and it will notify them on thier device that they need to review a document

There will be smarter use of ink in documents, as you draw shapes it will recognize the shape and convert  your rough scribbles to actual shapes with shape features, triangles get angles, circles will get made into a proper cicle with radius you can adjust and if you draw a rectangle you can add rows and columns and as you write into a table it auto resizes

Sharepoint will have an offline access so you can sync documents before you leave the office and work on them offline

Autopilot - a solution that provisions devices once a user logs on.  Think of how your mobile phone works when you first get it and you sign into google.  It will be a similar experience on a device that has been registered to the organization  Once the users has logged on intune brings down polices and applications to the device wherever they are

Secure email, very brief demo that suggested that Microsoft had partnered with some vendors so that when a user using office 365 sends an email to an external company, and they press  the protect button  it will send an encrypted email.  The user at the other end user will need to sign into their service such as gmail. and once they have re-authenticated they will be able to read the email.  You can also specify controls so that the end users can copy, paste or forward.

Windows defender can now do complete security analysis and threat protection and will trace the attack back to the source Microsoft purchased hexadite to achieve this.

After that session I attended the Expo and tried to get round as many vendors as I could.  Some were non starters due to the level of access we dont have to our hypervisors or system center but there were some potentially useful ones.  Things like companies that deliver office 365 training and adoption over the web,  threat security that not only looks at trends on end devices but also looks at what people are doing in office 365, Skype room solutions, securing and managing azure better etc.  I don't think there was anything that screamed you must have this, probably the most game changing was the adoption of skype and using that throughout the organization to collaborate better and having the devices to enable you to do that and throwing away the old style desk phones.

The final session I attended was focused purely on teams

The  buzz words here were 
Before, during and after

Ensuring that all of the information that you need before a meeting is available, everything is at hand during the meeting and then afterwards everything is captured for refence

When a new person is added to the team they will see all of the historic content such as meetings, documents and emails.  

Microsoft will continue to build enterprise voice functionality  within teams so you can see call list history, transfer calls, organize multi user meetings etc

Outlook will have a new teams meeting button much like new skype meeting. There will also be local call numbers as well so people can join on a normal phone.

When you schedule a meeting in teams you have the option to make it public.  This publishes it to the team site and anyone that feels they have something to offer can join in

In a meeting you will see all the participants and any shared content.  Hovering over the users pulls out contact information so you can see who those people are, job role, organization chart information etc This functionality is also available on mobile devices.

Once the meeting has finished if the option to record it was selected it will be stored in the cloud for those that missed it.  It will be transcribed to allow for easy searching and can be dynamically translated into different languages.

One customer talked about the following use cases
Team collaboration - replacing email within teams
Ad hoc projects - using teams for project planning
Incident response -transcribe the incident in teams so that people can see how it was dealt with after the event.

Microsoft will offer the following upgrade options from Skype for Business
  • Teams only
  • Side by side
  • Side by side with notify - informs teams is coming and invites the user to try it.
Teams also comes out of the box with a bot that users can ask questions on how to do things in Teams


Very large screen

Around 25,000 attendees meant it got pretty busy