Thursday, 7 November 2013


I’ve been a skeptic about cloud and mostly writing it off as a fad but once in a while you see where different types of cloud infrastructure can come together to form a beautiful solution that empowers the end user. Keep in mind that Office 365 is more than just Office but a suite of applications running in a data center with most of the mundane administration taken out of the experience. This service is built on enterprise grade architecture and data centers so even the smallest user reaps the benefits of the backend design. This post isn’t to get deep into the details of cloud architecture but more to talk about what Office 365 means to me.

One of the most heavily used features for me is SkyDrive Pro because I am finding myself using the same device less throughout my day or I am test driving a new operating system but don’t want to be tied down to the details with migrating data. Think of this as your file server for your documents that can be accessed from a web browser or a native Windows application. If you are in a bind there are web based versions of several common Office applications so you can open and edit from a web browser. You can also share the data with co-workers inside the organization or people outside the organization if the security settings for the account are set to do so. Since I run a small business being able to share accounting data between my bookkeeper and accountant is critical. Rather than emailing out easy to sniff emails with attachments or forcing people to use cumbersome encryption tools I can use their Microsoft or Office365 accounts to give them access.

When I would be on Microsoft campus for MVP Summit one of the things I quickly picked up on was the religious use of OneNote by some of the product managers. I had gone through training from Franklin Covey years before and I thought this might be a helpful progression in my note taking. Hands down having indexed notebooks that can be pulled up on a laptop is great but being able to get at notes on your phone is even better. I’ve become a convert to the point that I even collect other people’s blog articles and papers into a special OneNote notebook. I would say the key isn’t to try to use OneNote exclusively overnight but try making task lists and notes first then if you feel comfortable try using it to take notes in real time.

Device support beyond Windows phone is necessary to survive in today’s mobile device market and I’m glad that Microsoft has made versions of Office 365 for iPhone and Android. It is common to see users using more than one mobile operating system and in some cases having more than one device that is a certain form factor such as a smart phone. I know you aren’t going to write a paper in Word on a phone but I’ve tweaked slide decks and done informal run-throughs of a presentation before a meeting. It comes down to agility when you are in a less than ideal situation.

If you have a business partner or classmate you need to share and edit documents with they can sign up for a Microsoft account online and use the touch friendly web based versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word and more. And if they happen to be a home user I find the Office 365 Home licensing enticing as it can be installed on up to five Windows PC or Apple OS X devices. In addition the suite can be installed onto another five Android and iPhone devices. Office 365 home is a great way for families to stay legitimate with Microsoft licensing and not have to shell out big money when there is an upgrade or a need for extra licenses. I definitely think this will be the way of the future for Office in the home and small business, I believe the enterprise customer will eventually get on board but will be more conservative when it comes to embracing cloud services such as Office 365 but I definitely do not see this being any sort of fad that will be disappearing any time soon.

If you are a TechNet or MSDN subscriber check out the trail subscription included with your benefits. If you want to do a single user pilot it is less than ten dollars Canadian a month to do so. For more information and to sign up for Office 365 go to the following page and give it a test drive:

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

CSMUG Winter 2013.1 Meeting: People Centric IT

Worried about consumerization or employee owned devices? Maybe you are looking to empower users with more flexible work styles or cope with the demands of integrating contractors into your organization. Microsoft, Calgary Systems Management User Group and the Calgary IT Pro Community Association present an afternoon showcasing the future of People Centric IT and the technologies to drive solutions to these challenges. Join Microsoft MVP Kevin Kaminski and others on a journey through Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, Configuration Manager and Intune.

The event is scheduled to take place from 12:00pm and 5:30pm Thursday November 14, 2013 at Bottlescrew Bills 140 10 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0A3 (courtesy of Inteqna). Lunch and snacks will be supplied (courtesy of CoreTech) along with a prize draw at the end for a Surface 2 Pro and other prizes (courtesy of Microsoft). The event is free and registration can be done via the following link:

Mobility with Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone – Kalvin Falconar, Microsoft
Time: 12:30-1:00
Mobility has become a widely recognized megatrend. Mobile device use for business has grown rapidly. A high percentage of employees and remote field workers will use at least one mobile device for work and in many cases “bring their own”. The proliferation of small, fast, powerful, ruggedized and highly secure devices enable field workers to be more productive.
The challenge for IT is to evolve rapidly and work with other business leaders to develop and implement enterprise-wide mobile solutions. This includes enabling richer connectivity, better applications and integration, wherever, whenever, while maintaining enterprise-grade security and availability.
·         Demonstration: Windows 8.1 offers dramatic improvements in mobility, management and device choice.  (Bonus content: Five reasons you want to deploy Windows 8.1 over Windows 7.)
·         Demonstration: Rugged, field ready devices, SmartPhones running Windows Phone OS, and Tablets running Windows 8.1 will be showcased.
·         Discussion: What is happening on the immediate horizon with Windows Devices? 

Enable your IT Infrastructure to be People Centric – Jeff Chin, Microsoft
Time: 1:15 - 2:15PM
Don't lose sleep again over desktop and device management. People-centric IT (PCIT) empowers each user to work virtually anywhere on PCs and devices of their choice while providing IT with an easy, consistent, and secure way to manage it all.  Expectations of technology and IT are changing - The lines between personal life and work are blurring; and the people you support want a consistent and personalized experience no matter what device they're using. Supporting an ecosystem of devices and applications can be expensive, consuming valuable IT resources and exposing security risks.  Microsoft's approach helps organizations offer a comprehensive solution, built on top of your existing infrastructure to create a consistent and secure self-service and management experience.

Welcome to Intune – Kevin Kaminski, CoreTech
Time: 2:30-3:00
This session is to bring you up to speed on Windows Intune. There will be a brief overview of current capabilities but the session will drill into the mobile device management, application deployment and reporting improvements in this cloud based service.

System Center Configuration Manager R2 with Intune – Kevin Kaminski, CoreTech
Time: 3:15-4:15
With the new product release schedule for System Center product changes are showing up on a yearly basis. This presentation will introduce some of the cloud based offerings to supporting devices and users using Configuration Manager 2012 R2 with Intune. Discover how you can manage Remote access and WiFi profiles along with the related certificates using Configuration Manager. Deploy Firewall and antivirus profiles with better compliance reporting and remediation. The application model in Configuration Manager 2012 will be introduced where much logic that used to be embedded in package wrappers is now managed and reported on at the infrastructure level. See how this can be leveraged to provide advanced behaviors for application deployment.

Using Intune you can have different management profiles and capabilities to suit the different management requirements between personal and corporate owned devices. See how Intune can complement an existing Configuration Manager environment to manage remote, mobile, personal or non-domain joined devices.

Doing Business Differently with Office 365 - Sheldon Mackarenko, Microsoft
Time: 4:30 – 5:00
The New Office enables your users to be more efficient, sacrifice nothing and become more productive.  From a fluid experience across devices your users can adopt the new technology intuitively.  More and more organizations are eliminating multiple bolt on solutions for a complete end to end integrated productivity solution.  Find out how Office 365 would allow your team to drive productivity and innovation.


Kalvin Falconar, CISSP
Kalvin Falconar holds several certifications in Project Management, Lean Six Sigma, Architecture, and Information Security.  He has worked in IT for over 27 years and as of September 1, 2013 has taken a new role at Microsoft in Western Canada helping organizations respond to the need for mobility in industrial and corporate scenarios.
Jeff Chin, TSP
Jeff has filled many roles over the years from being a developer to joining Microsoft as a Premier Field Engineer. Jeff’s current role at Microsoft helps customers understand and implement the latest technologies enabling the optimized desktop and mobile workforce. His proven track record shows how he is able to understand challenges and requirements of diverse customer environments and produce top notch solutions to suit their demands.

Kevin Kaminski, MVP
Kevin is a seasoned consultant focusing mainly on end user type technologies that range from device management to application delivery. Using his experiences from different organizations he is able to draw upon practical knowledge that he incorporates into his speaking engagements, training material and articles. As an App-V MVP, Kevin delivers and maintains an App-V master’s class with fellow MVP Tim Mangan. He also spends time blogging for and speaking at various engagements such as BriForum and Microsoft Management Summit. To assist his local IT community he sits as a director on the Calgary IT Pro User Group and manages the Calgary Systems Management User Group.

Sheldon Mackarenko

Friday, 1 November 2013

Need App-V 5.0 Training?

It is not often I get a chance to break from the usual pace of consulting to take the time to share some of my knowledge through the classroom. I thought it would be worthwhile to do some shameless self-promotion and mention a few course dates coming up where I’ll be teaching App-V 5.0. The first course is one Tim Mangan and myself developed for Flexera to help people better understand packaging for App-V 5.0 using Flexera AdminStudio over three days in Boston. Check Flexera’s education schedule over here for registration information.

The other two offerings are an expert level class that Tim Mangan and I maintain around App-V 5.0 with a little CM 2012 thrown in. This class runs a full five days because of the need to discuss a larger set of concepts such as the administration of App-V servers and application deployment with CM 2012. The first date is in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) and the second one is an online offering if you have issues getting budget for travel. Because the online class has some challenges keeping on top of the classroom it is limited to five seats but the course in Calgary is a standard ten seat limit I have. If you are interested in either of the five day classes email me directly ( and take a look at the following sites for more information.

Also if you are in the USA please take a look at our class schedule where Tim Mangan runs classes separately from mine.