Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Integration in Office 365

Office 365 is a Powerful Tool for SMEs

The Logo Of Microsoft Office 365
Either I'm in a productive mood this week or I've drunk too much coffee, these are the only explanations I can offer for posting twice in two days on this blog :)

All sorts of businesses require software similar to Microsoft Office to store and access information. As an alternative to the standard Office package stands Office 365. For a moderately low price, a company gets access not only to the complete Microsoft Office suite but also to Exchange and SharePoint. The integration of SharePoint with Office software and tools brings many benefits.

One of the more powerful tools available in this package is Microsoft Office Web Apps. This is a feature that allows users to view and edit Office documents online through a browser. Since the files can be used online, there is no need to install Microsoft Office on the computer. As an added bonus, files being viewed on a browser also allows full use of all Office software on devices that are not Microsoft-based, such as standard tablets.

With a "remember me" feature, accessing SharePoint is the same as logging in. Once logged in, users are able to access any drive on the network and share information, in other words "shared drives". With this feature, information and files can be accessed and transferred from across the network, saving time and effort. Though setting up the shared drives can be a bit troublesome, it is well-worth the leg work in the long run.

The true power of Office-SharePoint integration comes through when saving Office files directly to a SharePoint location. This can be done easily, simply accessing the "Save As" and selecting from the locations that have been added to the list. This means documents do not have to be saved on the hard drive at all, instead redirecting all files to other locations such as business sites and the cloud.

Though all these tools are powerful, the data transferred through the networks must be kept safe. Toward this end, Office 365 includes powerful security measures to ensure all data is secure. This is accomplished by using more than just anti-virus software. All Office 365 services are monitored to be able to identify threats as they appear and recognize unusual behavior which is then reported or handled directly.

With all the tools of Microsoft Office at your disposal without even having to install the software on each computer, Office 365 is a powerful package. By using integration with SharePoint, the familiar Office suite becomes an even more effective tool. With it, users can access Office software online and share documents throughout the network and beyond.

Click here for information about how to integrate Sharepoint with 365

Cheers, Brent

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Why I Love Scotland

10 Reasons Why I Love Scotland

Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands
This article is a departure from my usual dose of Sharepoint related fare. As a traveler, I have seen enumerable places, but in my opinion none matches the exquisiteness of Scotland. The top 10 reasons why I love Scotland are its scenery, people, food, golf, culture, history, drinks, music, weather, and castles.

1) Scotland's scenery is breathtakingly natural and uncorrupted. Because Scotland receives much rain, the mountains and plains are overwhelmingly rich and green. I also saw many rainbows, and one astounding rainbow in Edinburgh perfectly encircled the sun. The gardens, especially those of Crathes Castle, are the most beautiful I have ever seen.

2) People in Scotland are often warmly welcoming and temperate, unless they've had too many beers :). Most everyone is amicable (aside from the grumpy chap at my local bakers), including tour guides, entertainers, and everyday citizens.

Indeed, when I was last in Edinburgh, I was leaning in the doorway of an office to keep from the rain, and I was offered a nice cup of tea from a chap who works for a local Edinburgh based company. Clocks are not taken so seriously here, as Scottish way of life is rather relaxed and free of hustle.

3) Scotland is home to some of the best food in the world. The Aberdeen Angus is top-quality beef, the nowhere is fish fresher. Scottish salmon is unbeatable, and Tobermory serves the best fish and chips in existence. The Falls of Feugh in Banchory serves a wonderful afternoon tea with scones, jam, and clotted cream.

4) As a golfer, I enjoyed visiting the home of golf. St. Andrews is a wonderful town, and I loved stepping onto its original golf course. The town has 36 miles of golf courses and many gift shops for golf merchandise.

Golfing at St Andrews

5) Scottish culture is colourful. Everwhere, even on streets, tartan can be seen. Once I saw a bagpiper in full regalia playing in a park in Inverary. Tourists were taking pictures with him and he was more than pleased to oblige. Scottish song and dance is also a stunning experience to behold.

6) History is behind much in Scotland. Inverary is a beautiful example, with traditional buildings and an overall old-time feel. The Urquhart Castle ruins, once one of Scotland's largest castles, is still a stunning site and full of history. Visiting Culloden is an incredible journey through history to the battle in 1746. The ruins of St. Andrew's Cathedral also exude history.

The Ruins of Urquhart Castle

7) From whiskey to ale, Scotland has some of the most delicious beverages in the world. Tennent's Velvet Scottish Ale is the greatest beer I have ever tasted. I also tried light lagers and Guinness, all of them fantastic. I also tasted free whiskey samples in several gift shops, and I can say that single-malt Scotch whiskey earns its fame.

8) Scottish music is amazing with bagpipes, drums, violins, flutes, etc. Banchory, Inverary, The Taste of Scotland Cabaret in Edinburgh, and many other places witness the stunning talents of bagpipers. Edinburgh's Military Tattoo is the greatest bagpipe performance I ever heard.

9) All year the weather is mild, neither too hot nor too cold. Cloud cover is frequent, so the sun is rarely intense. The rain and cloud cover actually enhance the scenery's natural beatuy, as it is free from darkening shadows or glares. Daylight is prolonged during summer, and both sunrise and sunset are captivating.

10) Castles are a must-see in Scotland. Duart Castle, one of Scotland's oldest castles, offers a beautiful view from its balconies and has a wonderful interior. Crathes Castle has the most incredible garden, and Glamis Castle was the Queen Mother's childhood home. Edinburgh castle is also a powerful specter.

No place in the world is quite like Scotland. I appreciate learning about diverse cultures and visiting different countries, but Scotland will always be my favorite. With its comforting food, personalities, beauty, and culture, I truly love Scotland the Brave.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

An Introduction to Sharepoint Administration

What is the Role of a SharePoint Administrator?


Before discussing exactly what SharePoint Administration involves, it is first necessary to understand what SharePoint is and, conversely, what it is not. Microsoft's SharePoint is not a program or software, it is a platform.

It is a massive web-based platform that can house and accommodate huge amounts of data, documentation, images, presentations, calendars, discussion boards and blogs. And all of this data can be searched, accessed, updated, and shared in real-time. It is also a front-end tool where the webpages that are used to access and view all of this data can be customized just like any website.

SharePoint is a server based product that is installed on the back end of a system. It is not an individual application or program housed on people's desktops. Instead it resides on the back-end and that is the beauty of the design because it can be viewed, modified and shared by anyone within the organization, provided they have been granted access.
Access can be controlled, restricted and is flexible enough that it can even be taken down to the site level or document level. As an Administrator, you can grant read, write and collaborative access to any document or site within SharePoint. It is fully customizable.

When you consider the scope and potential of SharePoint, it becomes very easy to see the challenges facing an Administrator. SharePoint can be used to launch a simple departmental website with a few documents, task lists, spreadsheets or calendars.

Or it can be a massive repository for all of a large company's data and documentation, spanning dozens of different intranet websites and even connecting, reading and housing data from separate, legacy systems. SharePoint also does all of this without any significant drag on a company’s system or resources.

As a SharePoint Administrator, your role will depend largely on how much of SharePoint’s potential is utilized and what the scope of the platform roll-out. As with the earlier example, you might simply be creating an intranet website for a single department within an organization.

Creating a site does not require any programming or even web design skills. It can all be done through the user interface. As an Administrator, you are responsible for granting access for the sites you create and this, again, can be very straightforward or, it can become very complex if the platform is rolled out company-wide and access to data is taken down to the document level.

The SharePoint sites themselves can be customized just like any website. You can change the banners, import images, set up menus and essentially control navigation. So, the Administrator’s job in creating the sites will, again, depend largely on how much customization and functionality is built in to the sites.

Administrators can also grant access to lower-level administrators who can own and administer their respective sites and documentation. As SharePoint grows within an organization, multiple levels of administrators often develop.

Another major component of SharePoint is its search capabilities. It has a massive, built-in search engine that allows users to search through all of the internal documentation housed on the SharePoint site. The Admins role from this perspective is ensuring that all of the underlying documentation is tagged and indexed properly to allow for the full potential of the search capability.

This aspect of the Administrator’s role is not unlike someone responsible for search engine optimization. But, again, the tools used for tagging and indexing documents are more straightforward and user friendly.

There are many online resources for learning more about SharePoint Administration and even certification programs available. Microsoft’s own website is a great place to start or even online learning sites like can be a good resource for learning more about the platform.

SharePoint is a massive tool that houses tons of documentation in a collaborative, real-time, web-based environment. It is not unlikely that SharePoint Administrators will be in high demand as companies continue to move towards taking advantage of all that this platform has to offer.