Everything You Need to Know About Office 365 -- February 2018 Edition
Hello friends. Me again with your monthly dose of Office 365 information. Good news this month, instead of snark, I went with hyperbole as appropriate. Guessing you know there weren’t 1 million new features this month, so I think it will be okay. As always, I would love to hear from you in the comments on things you would like to see me cover differently, why you disagree with my interpretations, or how great I am. All comments welcome.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
New Features Make Doing Real Work on Your iPod and iPhone Awesome
Let’s be honest, as we bounce from meeting to meeting, hauling around our laptops is no fun. So most of us take with us either our phone or the real productive take a tablet. Good news! Microsoft got the memo and is this article, Jeff Teper announced about a million new features for the iOS apps of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive with the OneDrive app getting the majority of the love. I am sure you already have the apps (darn forced updates) but make sure you play around with the new integrations, drag and drop, and the ability to preview over 130 file types. If you do real work with your fruit devices, this was an awesome update.
Teams Takes Another Big Swing at Slack
Interesting theory crafting. Brad Sams, after digging around in the new developer preview of Teams has come to the conclusion that a free tier is coming down the pipe. In his latest article, he walks you through the hints and gives you some color on the strategy he sees coming. Personally, I think this would be great. I know the only reason that a couple of my projects still use Slack is that Teams is cost prohibitive for our free offerings. Hopefully, by next month we have something more concrete here. Exciting times.
Microsoft Wants You Off of Box, Dropbox, and Google
That is not a surprise, is it? But I guess they got tired of hearing “come back next year when our current contract is up,” so they upped the ante. If you are an existing Box, Dropbox, or Google customer, Microsoft will give you OneDrive for Business for free for the life of that competitor’s contract. They also have the FastTrack program to aid you in the migration. I don’t know about you, but I find OneDrive about 1,000 times more useful than any of those competitors, so this seems like a no-brainer. I don’t know… I would like to add some color here, but it baffles me that anyone uses Google Drive and Docs for actual work. So, I am having a hard time adding context. I will make it simple. Make the move before June 30, 2018, when the offer expires.
Power BI Continues to Spread the Love
Quickie here. If you are using Power BI, then you should know that the web part for embedding your reports into your SharePoint site finally left preview and became a fully supported web part. Hooray. Other than removing the (preview) tag from the web part, I haven’t seen any changes so soldier on.
On-Premises Data Gateway Adds High Availability
Hooray! As I am sure you know, the On-Premises Data Gateway lets you connect to your on-premises data sources like SharePoint, SQL, Files, and a bunch of other weird stuff from the 1800’s like DB2 from your Office365 tenant. You can now have more hybrid functionality. You can use those data connections with PowerApps, Power BI, Flow, Logic Apps, and Analysis Services. It turns out those connections are kind of a big deal, so Microsoft added high-availability to the Data Gateway. And can we just talk about how cool that one Data Gateway works across a range of products? If this isn’t life-changing progress, I don’t know what is. Love this tool, check it out and install it today if you aren’t using it already. Thanks to magic, no firewall changes required.
Archive Your Office 365 Groups aka Governance
This one is less news and more something you should be thinking about. In this article, Tony covers all of the technical aspects of archiving groups, but more importantly, he also talks through the impending challenges of groups as time goes on. While we both agree Microsoft will tackle these challenges in the future, it is a good read. And after you finish it, schedule yourself an hour of meditation on governance in general. Office 365 has been great and we have been able to ignore some of the hot-button governance issues like infrastructure, updates, upgrades, and storage. That is only a small part of the story. Make sure you continue to refine your strategies on information architecture, archiving, new functionality, security, and sprawl. The rate of change in the cloud should be mirrored by the rate of brain cycles you spend on these topics.