Archive for the ‘SharePoint and EPM’ category

SQL 2016 Sp1- this is a big deal – Synergy Software Systems

November 19th, 2016

In addition to a consistent programmability experience across all editions.

SQL Server 2016 SP1 also introduces all the supportability and diagnostics improvements first introduced in SQL 2014 SP2, as well as new improvements and fixes centered around performance, supportability, programmability and diagnostics based on the learnings and feedback from customers and SQL community.

SQL Server 2016 SP1 also includes all the fixes up to SQL Server 2016 RTM CU3 including Security Update MS16–136.

SQL editions have traditionally been differentiated by features- this meant that essential features for day to day database use were not present in express or standard versions. Our view is that this is not desirable and that ther is core set of features needed in all editions, and that differentiation should be more about hardware size and resource supported.

Well Sql 2016 sp1 now brings us close to that wish so its a really big deal for the SMB and mid market customer.

Once you have an application using SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition, you can just do an Edition Upgrade to Enterprise Edition to get even more scalability and performance, and take advantage of the higher license limits in Enterprise Edition. You will also get the intrinsic performance benefits that are present in Enterprise Edition.

The table compares the list of features which were only available in Enterprise edition, which are now enabled in Standard, Web, Express, and LocalDB editions with SQL Server 2016 SP1. This consistent programmatically surface area allows developers and ISVs to develop and build applications leveraging the following features which can be deployed against any edition of SQL Server installed in the customer environmen

This is a bold move by Microsoft, and should increase Standard sales, and customer satisfaction, without cannibalizing Enterprise sales. Standard Edition customers can use these features both to consolidate their codebases and, in many scenarios, build solutions that offer better performance.

There are many of new features available across all editions of SP1.
There still differences in Enterprise:

Availability features like: online operations, piecemeal restore, and fully functional Availability Groups (e.g. read-only replicas) are still Enterprise only.

Performance features like parallelism still don’t work in Express Edition (or LocalDB).

Automatic indexed view usage without NOEXPAND hints, and high-end features like hot-add memory/CPU, will continue to be available only in Enterprise.

Operational features like: Resource Governor, Extensible Key Management (EKM), and Transparent Data Encryption will remain Enterprise Edition only.

Others, like Backup Encryption, Backup Compression, and Buffer Pool Extension, will continue to work in Standard, but will still not function in Express.

SQL Server Agent is still unavailable in Express and LocalDB. As a result, , Change Data Capture will not work. Cross-server Service Broker also remains unavailable in these editions.

In-Memory OLTP and PolyBase are supported in Express, but ere unavailable in LocalDB.

Virtualization Rights haven’t changed and are still much more valuable in Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance.

Resource limits on the lower level editions remain the same. The upper memory limit in Standard Edition, is still 128 GB (while Enterprise Edition is now 24 TB).

I feel that Standard Edition is expensive enough that its memory limits should never be so dangerously close to the upper bound of a well-equipped laptop and maybe we should expect the limit to increase at least with each new version. If you when you are on Standard Edition and scale is required, then you can now use many Enterprise features across multiple Standard Edition boxes or instances, instead of trying to scale up.

All the newly introduced Trace flags with SQL Server 2016 SP1 are documented and can be found at http://aka.ms/traceflags.

SP1 contains a roll-up of solutions provided in SQL Server 2016 cumulative updates up to and including the latest Cumulative Update – CU3 and Security Update MS16–136 released on November 8th, 2016. Therefore, there is no reason to wait for SP1 CU1 to ‘catch–up‘ with SQL Server 2016 CU3 content.

The SQL Server 2016 SP1 installation may require reboot post installation

Microsoft Dynamics 365 now available in the U.A.E. – ask Synergy Software Systems

November 1st, 2016

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a suite of cloud services to help companies to accelerate their digital transformation with purpose-built apps to address specific business needs.

Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP functions into applications that work smoothly together across all divisions: sales, customer service, field service, operations, financials, marketing, and project service automation. These apps can be easily and independently deployed and scaled on demand.

Start with what you need the most.

All apps are delivered through easy-to-use, mobile experiences and feature offline capabilities.  

Users can rely on Power BI, Cortana Intelligence and Azure IoT functions which are natively embedded.

In addition to that, Dynamics 365 and Office 365 are deeply integrated.  Since Dynamics 365 uses a new common data servicel, customers can extend functionality and build custom apps using PowerApps, Microsoft Flow (News: PowerApps and Flow available) as well as professional developer solutions.

To find out more call us now on 00971 43365589.

SQL Cumulative updates for September 2016 –

September 24th, 2016

Cumulative update 14 release for SQL Server 2012 SP2 is now available for download at the Microsoft Downloads site. Please note that registration is no longer required to download Cumulative updates.
CU#14 KB Article: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3180914
Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 SP2 Latest Cumulative Update: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50731
Cumulative update 5 release for SQL Server 2012 SP3 is now available for download at the Microsoft Downloads site. Please note that registration is no longer required to download Cumulative updates.
To learn more about the release or servicing model, please visit:
• CU#5 KB Article: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3180915
• Microsoft® SQL Server® 2012 SP3 Latest Cumulative Update: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50733
• Update Center for Microsoft SQL Server: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/sqlserver/ff803383.aspx
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Microsoft also just announced that Cumulative Update 2 for SQL Server 2016 is now available for download here. There are a number of fixes including one regarding the Query Store. See here – you should seriously consider if you are running QSL Server 2016.

Stephen Jones
Director
Synergy Software Systems
009714 3365589
Visit our active blog site for news and the latest product information
www.synergy-software.com/blog
Microsoft Award – Highest Customer Satisfaction 2014
Microsoft President’s Club 2015

Gartner shows Microsoft Azure as a cloud leader for the third succesive year

September 23rd, 2016

Gartner has recently identified Microsoft Azure as a leader in the analyst firm’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), for the third year in a row, both based on both completeness of vision and the ability to execute.

Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform enables the creation of virtual networks, servers and machines, and supports multitenant storage, object storage and a robust content delivery network for both Microsoft and other vendor solutions. Azure also provides advanced services such as machine learning and Internet of things.

The Azure infrastructure has security integrated from the ground up, and all data, whether at rest or in transit, is strongly encrypted. All of offerings are supported by a leading-edge Cyber Defense Operations Centre that monitors customer infrastructure around the clock.

Gartner’s announcement comes at a time when the Gulf region is taking strident steps towards cloud infrastructure adoption. Saudi Arabia plans to invest $2 trillion in IT projects in the coming years, with a significant portion to be invested in cloud. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates will see a gradual growth in IT spend from now until 2020, according to a report from BMI Research. A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4 per cent is expected.

An accompanying decline in hardware sales together with BMI’s prediction that SaaS will take an increasing share of software sales, and strongly indicates a decisive shift to cloud for the GCC.

When Microsoft announced the G series of virtual machines, back in Q1 of 2015, it represented the most memory, highest processing power and the largest local SSD capacity of any VMs then available in the public cloud. The G series, allowed Azure to lead the market with continued innovation also supporting SAP HANA workloads up to 32 TB. Azure has industry-wide recognition too for its support of Linux and other open-source technologies having nearly one third of all Azure VMs on Linux boxes.

Gartner’s report singled out Microsoft’s “rapid rollout” of these new features and many others, signaling that the company’s brand and history, both with its customers and with its delivery of enterprise-class solutions and services, combine to allow the company to ‘rapidly attain the status of strategic cloud IaaS provider’.
“Microsoft Azure encompasses integrated IaaS and PaaS components that operate and feel like a unified whole,” Gartner analysts wrote.

Microsoft has been rapidly rolling out new features and services, including differentiated capabilities. It has a vision of infrastructure and platform services that are not only leading standalone offerings, but also seamlessly extend and interoperate with on-premises Microsoft infrastructure (rooted in Hyper-V, Windows Server, Active Directory and System Center), development tools (including Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server [TFS]), middleware and applications, as well as Microsoft’s SaaS offerings.”

Gartner’s analysts also cited Microsoft’s “deep investments” in engineering and “innovative roadmap” as crucial factors in the company’s current IaaS market standing. The report further recommends Microsoft Azure for General business applications and development environments that use Microsoft technologies; migration of virtualized workloads for Microsoft-centric organizations; cloud-native applications (including Internet of Things applications); and batch computing.

Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.

Microsoft Gulf opened its Dubai-based headquarters in 1991 the same year as Synergy Software Systems.

For cloud hosting, or to back up to the cloud, or for applications like Dynamics 365 or Ax RTW (7) or Synergy MMS, or our xRM HIS, or Imaging storage, and Document management, or for cloud based monitoring of your clouds and on premise networks, find out how we can help with your move to the cloud.

Cloud – IaaS,PaaS,SaaS – what does this mean for Microsoft Dynamics?

September 20th, 2016

•<IaaS – Infrastructure as a service shares a huge gird of raw computing power and storage, including databases, rules engines, processing power and other infrastructure capabilities. A cloud provider makes this power accessible on an “as needed” basis. Its usually charged as a utility – you pay for what you use. for many comanies this is a way to outsource much of their day to day IT server management and strategy. The cloud provider takes care of hardware and database and operating systems upgrades, patches. log management, database tuning and expansion, and support, together with the associated overhead cost of energy, staff, server room – (no fit out, space to rent,n or A/c needed no separate maintenance contracts, no need for back up and anti virus software, etc)
PaaS - Platform as a service. This allows developers to access tools to create their own applications. The building blocks are made available by the software vendors to provide a jump start on development. PaaS is what your supply chain IT support or third party consultants can use to create customized workflows or tools specific to your needs. This may also for example be a temporary environment for testing
•SaaS – Software as a service. The business process application (“solution” in vendor-speak) layer in the cloud. Users can ‘rent’ or subscribe to applications on a per use basis to tackle specific business issues. SaaS is what you log on to use without any customization. Some vendors may also offer a rent to buy option.

Dynamics CRM is available on the cloud as part of the Office 365 suite ,and also on premise.

Ax can be run on premise, or the on premise licenses can be hosted on a cloud such as Azure i.e. IaaS charges are based on the server and database option selcted, the amount of storage space , the number of environments and a per month cost based on usage.
Both CRM and Ax are also available on a SPLA i.e rental licence basis/per user role either premise or on a hosted platform.
Third party hosting providers may offer a fixed priced SPLA and IaaS offering, for example Synergy Software Systems provides this option via our partner SaaS Plaza.

The current version of AX, released under the codename “AX 7″, or sometimes as Ax RTW provides both infrastructure and platform as a service, and you could also say software as a service for many businesses. It is currently only available as a cloud offering with a minimum of 20 Enterprise users or equivalent (this minimum number was reduced to 20 this month)

Note Historically AX has been a favored development platform and is often bought with the purpose of customizing the logic to match the exact needs of the business, instead of a company attempting to adjust their business processes.

The next step will be Dynamics 365 which will launch in the USA in November this year and we expect to see in the U.A.E. mid 2017. This will be an integrated solution with a common database, common data layer (out of the box master data integration), office productivity (Word Excel …) and communication tools (Skye Business,) collaboration tools )SharePoint, Yammer..) CRM, A Business logic layer which until recently was called ‘madeira’ this will extend to include sales, purchases finance … and will be an excellent solution of the SMB sector and medium size businesses. For the Enterprise customer Dynamics Ax 7 will also be an option finally set of tools will work across this solution stack Power Apps (think Xamarin, AsxStudio) Power BI, Microsoft Flow etc. And that’s not all there will also be an apps store and it will be easy for developers to push new apps into the store.

we will be covering lot more in this topic in coming months.

So the cloud is coming and offers more options than ever. Many companies will have a mix of on premise and cloud based solutions for the foreseebale future.Azure technology stack is due mid next year and will enable on premise Ax 7 as will as other hybrid cloud options There are many other azure solutions, e.g. for cloud based back up, or Cortana Analytics for Bi or the Azure IoT stack.

All the major IT vendors are now focused on the cloud. As the world becomes more mobile, and business models more disruptive expect its adoption to accelerate -we already mass use cloud systems One note, drop box, Facebook Linked-in Google apps, Hotmail, You tube, Vimeo,…. and many mobile apps already in our personal lives and the new ‘generation z’ employees now entering the job market expect the same power, agility and simplicity f se in their work tools.
So if the cloud, social and mobile are not part of your IT strategy then you have already ‘missed the bus’.

Why the ‘cloud’? What is a hybrid cloud? Ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

September 19th, 2016

Buy or rent?. On premise or SaaS.? The answer to the questions, for enterprise computing, goes in cycles. When mainframe computing was at its peak, many organizations did not own such expensive machines outright and many companies rented processing time on these machines when needed, an arrangement known as time-sharing.
Moore’s law changed that. The era of mini — and then micro — computing made processing power so cheap that many organizations chose to own. As enterprise computing infrastructures became more complex, and the cost and difficulty of finding expert IT staff increases, so renting or subscription as it now called, has come back into vogue once more, in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing

The terms “cloud” and “data center” may sound like interchangeable technical jargon or trendy buzz words. A data centre is ideal for those companies that need a customized, dedicated system that gives them full control over their data and equipment. Typically those with many integrations, and uncertain internet connections, and an internal IT team will consider this route. Since only the one company will be using the infrastructure’s power, a data centre is suitable for organizations that run many different types of applications and complex workloads.

A data centre, however, has limited capacity — once you build a data centre, you will not be able to instantly change the amount of storage, or processing power to accommodate for example significant changes in workload and data processing. On the other hand, a cloud system is scalable to your business needs. It has potentially unlimited capacity, based on your vendor’s offerings and service plans. When you are looking at big data processing for predictive analytics, of have high day end or seasonal workloads, then the ability to ramp up and down is important to avoid oversizing. For project based companies both the number of user licences required, and the processing power may vary from year to year. For a rapidly expanding company hardware and server room expansion and management is a challenge on premise.

In a recent IDC (International Data Corporation) Multi-Client Study, CloudView 2016) respondents to the survey said that they expect to increase their cloud spending by approximately 44% over the next two years, and 70% of heavy cloud users are thinking in terms of a “hybrid” cloud strategy.

The idea of a hybrid cloud is to get the best of on-premise deployment by leveraging cloud services. Some work is done on premise, some on the cloud e.g. BI or payment gateway. A combination of both public and private platforms, a hybrid cloud is meant to provide organizations with greater IT and infrastructure flexibility, as well as visibility and control over their cloud usage. The result should be that a, hybrid cloud enables business agility, including streamlined operations and improved cost management.

Sounds good but what does it all mean and what are the challenges? First let’s review some of the basics concepts.

Public Cloud
A public cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are provided off-site, over the Internet. Data centre hardware is not owned by clients and so you face no capital expenses. Instead, providers sell hosting as a ‘utility’ or rental service. Providers offer maintenance, disaster recovery and backup, however basic this may be. This is typically a multi-tenant software solution. Individual company data sits in separate blocks in a common clustered hardware. Data for individual organisations is kept separate and protected with robust security. Breaches of data with a reliable provider are rare. However, some security standards are not suitable for very sensitive data, rigorous audit trails or industry-specific compliance.

A Public cloud is y used to host web servers or develop applications. It is attractive to small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) when they are happy to use out-of-the-box menu specifications. Virtual machines are configured quickly – often within hours. Some SaaS (Software as a Service) services are placed within a public cloud when they have high levels of built-in security.

Private Cloud
A private cloud is one in which the services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network. It operates on an isolated network and is extremely secure. It keeps data behind a firewall and is built either on-premise or in a ring-fenced section of a data centre. A Private cloud is a single tenant solution, with the hardware accessed by one, or multiple businesses. It’s an ideal solution for enterprise organisations or specialist firms with high levels of security and compliance. Clients generally maintain their own cloud system and own their hardware.

Security and compliance on private cloud is configured to meet compliance standards. Private cloud systems cost much more than public cloud and re-configuring is more complex and lengthy.

Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid cloud uses public and private cloud for different elements of computing. Only some elements will require high security and customisation but others will not. Hybrid cloud offers private cloud for sensitive data but keeps non-sensitive, generic data (e.g. customer literature) in a cheaper public cloud environment. Hybrid cloud is usually hosted by different cloud providers – one for public and one for private. Hybrid cloud benefits companies who experience seasonal spikes so extra computing power is deployed quickly and cheaply in public cloud while keeping sensitive information in its private cloud.

A Hybrid cloud is the biggest growth area in cloud computing for enterprise businesses. As servers become ‘smarter’, hybrid cloud is estimated to represent 75% of future enterprise cloud computing.

A Hybrid cloud does not mean failover to onsite, for which a failover solution or a clustered install is needed and the failover can be to any other site whether local, remote or on cloud. Nor does hybrid mean offline working on premise option.

IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) polled more than 1,000 C-level executives to reveal that 78% of respondents deploy a cloud initiative that is fully integrated or coordinated — an increase from 34% in 2012. Enterprises may be embracing the cloud, but they are not yet fully invested in a cloud-only strategy. Across 18 industries, 45% of workloads are expected to remain on-premise in the near future.

A hybrid cloud deployment is a collaboration of public cloud, private cloud and traditional IT platforms that allow enterprises to customize a cloud solution that meets the particular needs of their company. The top motivating factors for adopting hybrid cloud solutions, according to the IBM study, include lowering the total cost of ownership, facilitating innovation, improving efficiency and meeting customer expectations.

Among the companies that embrace cloud computing, 76% responded that they were able to expand into new industries, 71% created new revenue sources and 69% supported new business models.

Security remains a concern, however, and has become a hurdle for companies and a deterrent from fully investing in the cloud. Nearly half of respondents expressed that security and compliance risks are a challenge in IBM’s study, while 41% of respondents expressed that the cost of the cloud was a deterrent and 38% feared a disruption to company operations by introducing a new cloud solution.

When survey respondents are segmented by performance, IBM concludes that twice as many high performers have fully integrated their cloud initiatives compared to low performers.

Nati Shalom, recently discussed in his post Achieving Hybrid Cloud Without Compromising On The Least Common Denominator, a survey that demonstrates that enterprises these days are often leveraging as many as six clouds simultaneously, and the list just keeps on growing with new technologies sprouting up by the minute. IT markets are not just moving to the cloud — they are moving to ‘clouds’,” said Ed Anderson, research vice president and Sid Nag, research director at Gartner in their report: “Market Trends: Cloud Adoption Trends Favor Public Cloud With a Hybrid Twist,” published August 4, 2016. “Evidence is mounting that as organizations mature in their usage of cloud services they are opting to use multiple cloud services, bound together through hybrid implementations.”

That’s why solutions like the Azure Stack, that are also geared towards multi-cloud scenerios in the context of app migration to the cloud from traditional data centers, especially while taking all of the enterprise-grade considerations involved in such a transition into account, are critical.

Many solutions don’t provide the extensibility and interoperability that enterprises need for future-proofing, application deployment portability among other popular use cases across clouds. Hybrid cloud itself has also has proven that it isn’t immune to future proofing with disruptive technologies arising every day

Azure users now have a set of building blocks for managing the entire application stack and its lifecycle, across clouds, stacks and technologies. And with Microsoft now having the most open source developers on GitHub, yup – ahead of Facebook, Angular, and even Docker – Azure is uniquely positioned to achieve this level of openness and interoperability.
This will also ultimately provide a higher degree of flexibility that allows users to define their own level of abstraction per use case or application. In this manner, cloud portability is achievable without the need to change the underlying code, enabling true hybrid cloud.

Fifty-five percent of CIOs surveyed by Gartner indicated that by 2020 they will structure more than half of their applications as SaaS or manage them in a public cloud infrastructure. To manage and govern public, private and hybrid cloud services requires a focus on cloud management. This, in turn, requires new roles, processes and technologies.

Key Employee roles for the Hybrid cloud
Database professionals to filter out business critical data from the data overload we have today. A Big Data Foundationprofessional will be familiar with – Hadoop and MongoDB.
Software developers no longer just push code, they are pivotal to the user experience and thus the user adoption of cloud solutions.
Information security managers must appreciate the risks involved with business data and discuss this across the organization (at all levels) to align key stakeholders in positions to invest in and implement security measures.
Enterprise architects. Today solution architects, need the skills to adapt to cloud computing and hybrid cloud environments. Companies want to avoid working with ad hoc systems implementations, and architects who understand cloud computing and all its service models are in high demand. to design a scalable and sustainable cloud infrastructure which optimizes the use of private and public cloud.
Business managers working in the cloud need to understand how the technical infrastructure supports the business strategy get the benefits of cloud computing to drive their objectives.

Microsoft’s Hybrid cloud blog: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/hybridcloudbp/2016/09/

If you are considering how the cloud can benefit your business then contact us to explore the many options.

Find out out about the new integrated Dynamics 365 offerings. e.g.
Ask about specific vertical solutions like Synergy MMS for hotel facility management, or 7 Medical HIS and imaging solutions
Host your applications in a secure managed cloud – with both fixed price or based on use billing.
Monitor your on site global networks with cloud based monitoring systems.
Use Cortana Analytics and Power BI to turn data into information.
Back up to the cloud.
Skype Business
and much, much more.

Dynamics 365 and Linked in – How does this affect Dubai and the U.A.E.?

August 10th, 2016

The code word Madeira has now transformed into Microsoft Dynamics 365

This is Microsoft’s new approach to end-to-end intelligent business applications in the cloud. Dynamics 365 unifies ERP and CRM into one cloud service with new, purpose-built apps to manage all your core business functions: Sales, Customer Service, Finance, Field Service, Operations, Marketing and Project Service Automation. At the Enterprise level Dynamics Ax will also be an option.

Dynamics 365 is a cloud-only solution built on the Microsoft Azure stack. What excited the partners at the recent WPC conference that Synergy Software Systems’ directors attended in July, was the announcement of an underlying common data model, with deep integrations, coupled with the equally new Microsoft Flow solution and the emergence of Xamarin as Power Apps. So we will see Office 365 seamlessly connect business apps with collaboration and productivity tools like email, spreadsheets and word processing documents, Skype Business. Power BI and a flexible, extensible platform,

Dynamics 365 looks to be a game changer that will enables companies to stay nimble, adapt and innovate in real time. It will launch in the USA probably in November this year with just the Finance functional piece. Other elements will release through next year, but realistically we do not foresee it reaching the UAE as a fully featured solution much before 2018.

The life of the on-premise Dynamics Ax 2012 R3 versions is to be extended by at least another 3 years meanwhile.

Microsoft has steadily been increasing tis presence in social media, with several acquisitions embedded in Dynamics CRM. There was positive endorsement for Microsoft’s cloud and social strategy by the announcement that Facebook has adopted Office 365 ( which ahs now reached 75 million user seats).

The other recent big news of course was their acquisition of Linked-in. There are a number of ways that Microsoft plans to take advantage of its $26.2 billion LinkedIn acquisition, ranging from data-gathering to getting a foothold in social to plans for re-imagining the recruitment and talent management businesses and more.

A more straightforward integration opportunities between the two companies is LinkedIn’s integration with Microsoft Office. Microsoft explained how it could use LinkedIn’s data in familiar programs, like Outlook, Skype, or Office applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, for example. Microsoft says that today, there’s not a single source for data on individual professionals — it’s scattered around, and is often out-of-date. (And I might add often widely inaccurate or hyped)
By integrating professional profile data into Office 365, email and other communication apps, users may be more inclined to keep that information up-to-date. The data will maybe more visible to friends, colleagues and employers. This of course may be a double edged sword if that that data more easily accessible to anyone who wanted to know more about a professional’s background or experience.

LinkedIn has a sizable network of over 433 million users, yet Office’s footprint is much bigger. Microsoft says there are more than 1.2 billion Office users today. LinkedIn becoming a part of Office would massively increase its data’s visibility.
LinkedIn itself in 2012, bought the Gmail plugin Rapportive for $15 million, which allowed Gmail users to access a sidebar that would show the profile and other social networking updates. Maybe unfortunately, the it took out functionality that made the service popular in the first place, including its integrations with other social networks.Installing an extension into your web browser that changes what your Gmail inbox looks like and what information it displays when loaded in a tab. didn’t address the fact that many users today get their email by way of mobile phones, not just desktop web interfaces.

It makes absolute sense for Microsoft to invest in the messaging capability within LinkedIn, to create an integrated experience between Outlook, Skype and LinkedIn. Traditional email is starting to die off. Instead, communication is shorter and the frequency go3w up, leaning more towards an instant messaging type mechanicism e.g. What’s App, Snap Chat, Twitter.

So, what changes LinkedIn becoming a part of Microsoft,. Well that profile data can become natively integrated into Microsoft’s Office products and other communications apps which could then share their data back with LinkedIn. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained in an email to employees, that by integrating LinkedIn’s network in Office 365 and Dynamics, the company will be able to enable new experiences like “a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.”

In other words, LinkedIn’s newsfeed, can become highly personalized and might e.g. know what you’re currently working on, what meetings you have planned and what projects are underway. And as you head into those meetings, Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana will then be able to quickly give you background on who you’re about to sit down with, and have have their LinkedIn resumes on file. This, Nadella says, will increase user engagement, the company’s subscription business, and opens the door for targeted advertising.

It sounds both clever and creepy to think about your work projects and meetings being the subject of for ad targeting in the future. We can hope for an opt-out mechanisms that respect user and data privacy.

Knowing how employees spend their time and who they work with, could also help to inform LinkedIn’s recruiting products.

Microsoft says that LinkedIn Learning (based on LinkedIn’s acquisition of Lynda.com last year for $1.5 billion), will also be integrated into Office so users canlearn how to perform advanced tasks and sign up for courses without having to leave Office.

The Dynamics family has never really figured big at Microsoft -Bng for example added $5bn to the bottom line last year. Azure is the new engine of growth. Linked in may prove to be the strategic acquisition that brings Dynamics to the fore.

How much will Lined in’s profiling of a customer’s management team assist a sale in Dynamics CRM? LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator has the capability to create quality leads and present updated and accurate information to sales reps. With the acquisition, it is probable that Sales Navigator will directly integrate with Dynamics CRM and may eventually be built on Dynamics CRM. What if the records of contacts, accounts and leads in your Dynamics CRM are updated as the related profiles of those people and companies are changed? Think of all the time sales reps and administrators would save inputting and updating records or the wasted hours saved by not using wrong contact data. When a client got a new phone number, – it’s already reflected in the Dynamics CRM contact record. What if you could see the contact’s, or lead’s, recent activity on LinkedIn. What posts has he liked or shared? Has he published any LinkedIn pulse articles lately?

HR professionals may find a bigger role on the Dynamics 365 platform as the powerful recruiting tool of LinkedIn is integrated into the ERP solution. Both, human resources professionals and the projects and field service industries may benefit from LinkedIn’s to help them source and to manage temporary workers.

A recent report by Cisco said that by 2019, video will account for 80 percent of global internet traffic and this is where Microsoft’s 2011 acquisition of Skype may come to the fore. Experts predic that video is the future of recruitment, and with Whatsapp currently thought to be testing video messaging, video communication will become commonplace, even in the workplace. Hands on in the product interviews with WebEx, Go to Meeting, Team viewer etc and use webcams, or with videoconferencing are already well established, Will video meanl the end of face-to-face interviews>. Should you send a video message as your cover letter? It might differentiate you today, but if you’re not doing that in 24 months, then you’ may be left out.

Given the tie ups between Infor, Salesforce and SAGE on AWS – maybe Microsoft realises it needs to compete with the full suite of business apps to drive forward its cloud future.

Rather than pay the 35% corporate tax rate to repatriate offshore capital for the purchase, which would have amounted to approximately $9 billion, Microsoft fund4e the purchase using debt. In addition to the tax savings, Microsoft’s AAA credit rating no doubt facilitatee a low-interest loan %, which can be written off to further reduce the cost of funds. The LinkedIn acquisition is a marked departure from the strategy of ex-CEO Steve Ballmer, which deployed a series of Windows-only products in an attempt to build a moat around the f Windows franchise.

The LinkedIn purchase signals Microsoft’s intention to seize opportunities in areas with high growth potential. The deal is likely to drive significant benefits and an increasing revenue stream to the Azure cloud platform, which saw a decline in sales in Q1 2016.

The immediate significant benefit opportunity for Microsoft’s cloud initiatives is to migrate of LinkedIn’s operations, which are hosted as a private cloud across several leased data centers, to the Azure cloud service. LinkedIn need to expand its data center utilization, and Azure’s excess capacity provides a solution at a lower overall cost.

Integrating each company’s unique social graphing metrics of how users use the systems will benefit Azure , because the graphs have very little overlap. Microsoft graphs are generally Office-centric, including: calendar usage, email, contacts and documents. LinkedIn’s graphs, on the other hand, track communications, professional relationships, learning and recruiting. The combination of graphs provides the opportunity for Microsoft to present customized cloud-based productivity solutions based on a holistic view of users’ data.

In a world where the millenials are rapidly being chased by ‘generation z’ – social and media are the norm – maybe Microsoft really is ‘cool again. ‘ In this region with a high percentage of the population aged under 25, and one of the highest uses of mobile phones, a ‘Smart government’ focus, with apps for everything we are lily to see the results of such speculation very soon.

Synergy Software Systems, Dubai goes to Microsoft WPC Toronto 2016.

July 16th, 2016

The WPC 2016 in Toronto was the first WPC to be sold out. More than 16,000 attendees from 135 countries.

In his keynote, Satya Nadella demonstrated how Microsoft is dedicated to continue to support the growth of its customers and partners through new innovations and partnerships, driven by the Microsoft ambitions to reinvent productivity and business processes, build the intelligent cloud platform, and create more personal computing. see https://partner.microsoft.com/en-US/wpc/wpc-2016-vision-keynotes
Nadella stated that the entire Gross Domestic Product is being shaped by digital technology. You can learn more about the transformative power of technology in his new LinkedIn post, Reinventing Business Processes.
On Day 1 Satya Nadella described the three core ambitions that Microsoft will pivot the business around in FY17. It was the turn of three VPs to flesh out the story for each of these:
• Build the intelligent cloud platform – Scott Guthrie (@scottgu), Executive VP Cloud + Enterprise Group
• Reinvent productivity & business processes – Kirk Koenigsbauer (@kjkoenigsbauer), Corporate VP, Office Marketing
• Create more personal computing – Yusuf Mehdi (@yusuf_i_mehdi), Corporate VP, Windows & Devices

This year in particular, the message of digital transformation has been very strong, and has been anchored around what Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, called “a generational shift” of organisations seeking to move their business to the cloud. Scott as usual pleased the crowd with lots of great info on the scale and industry leading capability of Azure. He claimed that the 34 Azure regions are more than AWS and Google combined, talked up the increasingly “open” nature of services available on Azure and highlighted Azure’s leadership position in multiple Gartner Magic Quadrants (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/campaigns/magic-quadrant/).

Scott referenced a great set of resources covering key Solution Areas that are enabled with Azure (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/). Scott closed out his presentation with a review of management tools. EMS now called Enterprise Mobility + Security (https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/server-cloud/enterprise-mobility/Overview.aspx) kicked things off (apparently 40% of installed Office365 base have access to EMS). He invited Julie White to show a couple of new tools within EMS.

Azure Information Protection (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/azure-information-protection) was also pretty impressive in the way that rights management and control of Microsoft Office documents was simplified and automated so that users might actually use it (all be it in the controlled world of demos).
Cloud App Security (https://www.microsoft.com/en/server-cloud/products/cloud-app-security/) can identify the SaaS apps that are running within your business and allow you to drill down into detailed information on each of these (apparently they have information on 13,000 SaaS applications).
Next up was Operation Management + Security/OMS (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/operations-management-suite) allowing management across multiple environments (including non Microsoft such as vmware).

The big news here was that EMS and OMS are available to partners through the CSP licensing program.

A starring role in this section went to Facebook. Tim Campos (@tcampos) – the Facebook CIO explained that they had decided to go with Office 365 and then gave a glowing endorsement of Microsoft.

‘We need partnerships with industry leaders and we are glad that Microsoft has got its mojo back.’ He explained that Facebook employees spend four hours per day in collaboration systems with an unprecedented access to information. He discussed how tools such as Delve, Clutter and Microsoft Graph would help employees “sift through the noise”. . This was a huge endorsement of Office365.

There were some good demos across the Office 365 capability including Delve Personal Analytics (https://products.office.com/en-us/business/explore-office-delve) which was both impressive but a little Orwellian
The demo of all the capabilities of the Office suite from SharePoint to Skype was very slick and you can watch it at the 19:10 min mark in this video https://player.vimeo.com/video/174410386

In the last part of the day1 keynote there was one BIG item-
Windows10 is now available through the CSP program as a subscription service and called Windows10 Enterprise E3 at USD$7/seat/month. Providers will be able to wrap up a full end to end solution suite and buy it under a single subscription program (CSP) – Azure + Office365 + Dynamics365 + Windows10 E3.

Azure Stack (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/) got another call out, although there was not too much detail. A short discussion about the common APIs and services and how this would help deliver the vision of the Hybrid Cloud. However, for the service provider community this is a “must find out more” area.
Azure stack becomes an extension of Microsoft Azure and together they will become a huge connected network of compatible Azure services. @maryjofoley provided more detail in her article (http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-readies-first-technical-preview-of-azure-stack-hybrid-cloud-bundle/).
The sad news is that it has only just gone into beta and without it the new Dynamics Ax RTW will not be available till next year (as predicted by us long back in a blog post).
And for the official Microsoft site go to https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/.

Microsoft and General Electric on Monday announced a deal to make GE’s industrial software platform available on Microsoft’s cloud, a move that puts Microsoft one step closer to its cloud computing rival Amazon. The deal also bolsters GE’s software ambitions. One memorable phrase was “Digital Twins” where IoT sensors feed data about a physical object to a virtual/ digital companion to allow near real-time review of status etc. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Twins).

Last week’s announcement of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource to showcase just how seriously Microsoft takes this message. Available this fall, Microsoft Dynamics 365 will unify the current Microsoft CRM and ERP cloud solutions into one cloud service with new purpose-built apps to help manage specific business functions. Microsoft AppSource will be Microsoft’s new destination for business users to find and try out line-of-business SaaS apps from Microsoft and Microsoft partners.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 will bring together the best of CRM and ERP cloud offerings into one cloud service with specific, purpose built, apps for each of your key business processes – like Finance, Sales, Customer Service, etc.

To ensure interoperability and extensibility they also use a common data model and consistent application platform. The common data model is a cloud-resident, business database, with hundreds of standard business entities spanning both business process (Dynamics 365) and productivity (Office 365).

The combination of these things gives customers a comprehensive solution for business process innovation that lets them:
• Start with what they need by offering apps that fit roles, industries, businesses – and grow at their pace to run their entire business in the cloud.
• Enable greater productivity by connecting structured workflow of business applications (Dynamics 365) and processes with the unstructured work of collaboration and productivity (Office 365) so tat employees are empowered with productivity tools surfaced in the context of their business processes, and vice versa.
• Gain built-in, actionable, intelligence with business applications that infuse big data, advanced analytics and IoT into processes which proactively guide employees and customers to optimal outcomes. With Dynamics 365, data and insights are transformed into intelligent
• ompose, modify and extend processes in real-time. Power BI, PowerApps and the new Microsoft Flow can empower business users to change and adapt their processes without requiring IT support, and with a consistent, flexible, extensible platform.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud service so it will not be available, as is, on premises or in private clouds.

Steve Clayton (@stevecla) Demo -Steve has the great title of Chief Storyteller at Microsoft and he gave an impressive demo that pulled almost all of Microsoft cloud assets together:
•Dynamics 365
•Office365
•Azure (IoT)
•Azure Cortana Intelligence Suite

There were also some other tools that were included in the demo that looked interesting a certainly worth further investigation. For example, Microsoft Flow (https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/) a tool to help create automated workflows across Microsoft application portfolio.
Satya talked up the Conversations as a Platform “What if we could teach all computers and computing around us human language?”.

The wow factor as last year came form Hololens. The opportunity with “mixed reality” as an alternative to ‘Augmented Reality’ gave us some new jargon to use.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_reality).

The focus was on a proof of concept Microsoft and Japan Airline (JAL) have worked on to provide virtual training for aircraft engines and co-pilots. (https://blogs.microsoft.com/transform/2016/07/11/japan-airlines-creates-yet-another-first-class-experience-this-time-using-microsoft-hololens/).

The resignation of Microsoft COO Kevin Turner essentially removes a layer of management from the company’s operating structure. Gavriella Schuster was named full time worldwide channel chief. To her credit she took the trouble to visit the partner regional meetings and take questions head on.

Former Oracle channel chief, Judson Althoff will now have increased influence as the commercial lead. Reporting to him will be EPG (Enterprise Partner Group), SMS&P (Small, Midmarket Solutions & Partners), Public Sector and Developer Experience and Services.
Althoff took over Turner’s customary Wednesday morning vision keynote to describe the new operating model and how it will work. It was not a good sign that there was a steady stream of delegates walking out throughout his presentation. He had perhaps the most important messages for partners.
Of all information the provided at WPC apart the key question is where are Microsoft putting their focus? This is what all Microsoft internal metrics will be based on and therefore where Microsoft employees themselves will be focused. he dealt with that directly.

‘This does not mean that partners have to immediately change everything they do, but it absolutely means that the story they tell about their business to Microsoft has to align with this focus.’ Judson could not have made this clearer.
The all up drivers that shape the business:.
• Mission: Empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more
• Worldview: Mobile first, cloud first
• Ambitions: •Reinvent productivity and business process
• Build the intelligent cloud platform
• Create more personal computing
• Culture: Make a difference

…..and this is what that means for Microsoft’s sales teams:
1.Drive Digital Transformation with customers
2.Accelerate cloud adoption
3.Propel Windows 10 Enterprise deployment
4.Generate SQL Server 2016 growth
5.Drive ISV and SI momentum
6.Make experiences come to life through hardware solutions

The huge societal shift that is driving all of this is Digital Transformation and Experiences. According to PWC research 86% of CEOs think digital is their #1 priority and are using it to transform their businesses:
This is what all Microsoft internal metrics will be based on and therefore where Microsoft employees themselves will be focused.

An explicitly re-enforced theme was that SECURITY is at the heart of all of the differentiation messages. His claim is that EMS (https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/server-cloud/enterprise-mobility/Overview.aspx) is the fastest growing product that MS has ever had. This is a must add asset for cloud deployments.

SQL Server 2016 will be the richest in terms of built in capability, the most secure and also the best value that will democratise access the analytics.

There was lots more messaging -watch the whole video (https://player.vimeo.com/video/174543385)

Of all the partner programs at Microsoft relevant to Dynamics ERP and CRM VARs, none is more wide ranging and relevant this year than the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program . Coming up on two years of execution, CSP has grown from Azure, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility Suite to include CRM Online and the new AX on Azure. Project Madeira is on the horizon but expect at least another 18 months before it gets out to our region.

An online certification programme, the Microsoft Professional Degree is a Microsoft-led initiative built on the Open edX on Azure platform. It will look to provide professionals with ‘real-world knowledge and hands-on experience to grow their skills in critical fields’. The first curriculum will focus on the Data Science Degree programme, and will target the development of skills and experience in the data science industry, which is evolving rapidly. “The ability to offer Learning as a Service, to meet a learner where they are in their own journey and provide the targeted experiences they need to reach their specific goals, is critical to closing the skills gap,” said Alison Cunard, general manager of Microsoft Learning Experiences. A study by McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2018 the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.”

WPC was also a good chance to network with other partners, see new solutions, get first hand demos, meet up with AxPact and there was a mega concert with Swedish duo Icona Pop, and Gwen Stefani at the Air Canada centre but I am the wrong age to comment – suffice to say that the rest of the audience were obviously having a great time.

Microsoft to buy Linked-In

June 13th, 2016

Microsoft is buying the professional social network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion (£18.5bn), the two companies have announced.
The news, announced on Monday afternoon, instantly sent LinkedIn’s share price soaring by 48% percent. The deal will represent one of the biggest in Microsoft’s history.

Microsoft said LinkedIn boss Jeff Weiner will stay in charge and report to Satya Nadella.
The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”

For Microsoft, it’s bringing a key, missing piece into the company’s strategy to build out more services for enterprises. “The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, said.

Support for Microsoft Dynamics in the U.A.E. – Dubai – and the G.C.C and more -Synergy Software Systems

June 9th, 2016

“Go with Synergy and sleep at night.”

That mantra was propagated by our customers in the 90s and is still the message today – that is why:
- we have many customers who have been with us over 10 years and some over 15 years.
- we received the Highest Customer Satisfaction Award from Microsoft
- we attained President’s Club status (top 5% of Partners globally)
- we are the only Dynamics Ax partner in the Middle East accepted into Ax Pact
- we are the only Middle East Dynamics partner to attend Connect at Seattle last year
- we regularly work with Microsoft’ s global platinum partners to assist their deployments in this region.

The reasons are simple.
Our business is built on support, not on selling licenses.
We don’t outsource,
We don’t use temporary staff
We don’t use freelancers
All our consultants are centralized, in large modern offices, in the heart of Dubai
We support customers globally with web dial in and screens sharing.
We maintain a support infrastructure for testing, patching analysis.
We participate in the Microsoft TAP programme for beta testing
Even the support receptionist is a Microsoft certified consultant
We support an manned CRM helpdesk -even the
If we can’t support it ourselves then we don’t implement
Those who implement and our know your people and your business and your build are there to support you.
We have the depth and breadth of skills that a small company cannot offer.
On average our consultants have more than 10 years experience
Our Dynamics team has more than 300 man years of relevant experience and numerous certifications

Synergy Software Systems -”Working together”
Find out why so many companies have benefitted from our post implementation project review to stablise their system to provide a firm platform to take them forward, so that they can leverage the full power of Microsoft Dynamics.
Let us help you to sleep at night.

SQL server 2016- runs a lot faster!

April 23rd, 2016

There many well publicised features of SQL 2106 that have maybe overshadowed the many enhancements to improve performance.

Added together there is a huge impact as these various blofg articles reveal.

Large Data File Writes (April 15)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/15/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-larger-data-file-writes-2/

Indirect Checkpoint Default (April 12)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/12/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-indirect-checkpoint-default/

SOS_RWLock Redesign (April 7)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/07/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-sos_rwlock-redesign/

Dynamic Memory Object (CMemThread) Partitioning (April 6)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/06/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dynamic-memory-object-cmemthread-partitioning/

Updated Scheduling Algorithms (April 1)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/04/01/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-updated-scheduling-algorithms/

Automatic Soft NUMA (March 30)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/30/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-automatic-soft-numa/

Instant File Initialization (March 25)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/25/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-instant-file-initialization/

LDF Stamped (March 22)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/22/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-ldf-stamped/

Automatic TEMPDB Configuration (March 17)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/17/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-automatic-tempdb-configuration/

T1117 and T1118 Changes for TEMPDB and User Databases (March 15)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/15/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-t1117-and-t1118-changes-for-tempdb-and-user-databases/

Spatial Index Builds Faster (March 10)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/10/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-spatial-index-builds-faster/

TVPs with Spatial Column(s) (March 8)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/08/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-tvps-with-spatial-columns/

Native Spatial Implementations (March 3)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/03/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-native-spatial-implementations/

DBCC Extended Checks (March 1)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/03/01/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dbcc-extended-checks/

DBCC Scales 7x Better (February 25)

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/psssql/2016/02/25/sql-2016-it-just-runs-faster-dbcc-scales-7x-better/

Query Store – SQL 2016

April 23rd, 2016

Query Store will be available in all editions of SQL Server 2016.

This is a huge plus because Query Store serves as a data recorder for your query execution plans. It’ll help you troubleshoot :parameter sniffing issues, connection settings issues, plan regressions, bad stats, and much more.
It is a rich persisted db of query execution over time for SQL Server/Azure DB and is a central starting point for Query Tuning and Troubleshooting

- Query Store collects and persists:
- all query texts and to compile time stats
- all plan choices and runtime metrics – and allows you to force plans from history

What can you do with it?

Analyze performance and details of queries whether they are cached or not
Analyze the history of queries and plans across server restarts
Look at properties and statistics for queries not available in DMVs
What queries consume the most/least cpu, i/o, memory over time?
Compare performance before/after a change (A/B Testing)
Plan stability after upgrading to SQL Server 2016
Are ad-hoc queries killing performance filling up your cache?
What is the standard deviation of performance for a query?
What % of time is the performance of my query spent on compile?
What is the performance of queries with different SET options?
Keep performance information in the backup of the database
Allows a simpler and more robust method to force plans vs plan guides

Upgrades are also easier in SQL 2016 with Query Store – you control when Optimizer changes are enabled
and can also quickly fix regressions with Query Store

See Books Online’s section on Query Store to start learning, .

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on April 12, 2016

April 21st, 2016

Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ended on April 12, 2016
customers still running SQL Server 2005 after April 12, 2016, will no longer receive security updates and technical support. We recommend upgrading to SQL Server 2014 and Azure SQL Database to achieve breakthrough performance, maintain security and compliance, and optimize your data platform infrastructure.

Envision 2016 takeaways – Synergy Software Systems

April 12th, 2016

Nadella, in his opening Microsoft Envision keynote said “The very nature of work is changing.” He spoke about Microsoft reinventing productivity and business process through the Windows 10 platform and other products. With all of the abundance of technology, what is still scarce is human attention and time. Our goal in reinventing business process and productivity is to help you reclaim that time to grow your focus on things that matter the most to you and your organization.”

Astronaut Scott Kelly who spent nearly one year on the International Space Station, when asked what business people could learn about technology from his experience in space, said that, as he left the International Space Station for the last time, he was “absolutely inspired by what we are capable of achieving if we dream it — and that we have to put the resources behind it.”

Nadella and Lilian Rincon of the Skype team previewed enhancements to Skype that will include making Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, persistent within Skype. If you need to look something up, such as check your calendar, you will be able to click on the Cortana icon and ask Cortana to check your schedule without leaving Skype. Along with the integration with Cortana, Skype will also be able to interact with “bots” or automated artificial intelligence agents from other organizations. One example of bots included a hotel bot that helped with booking a room — all from within Skype.

Microsoft also announced an important new partnership with car manufacturer Toyota at the Microsoft Envision event. The new collaboration called simply Toyota Connected was touched upon briefly in Nadella’s remarks. The new initiative will deliver a connected car technology drawing in part from Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

Microsoft is partnering with R3, a consortium of major banks around the world, to develop new blockchain technologies, leveraging the underlying approach from the Bitcoin digital currency to change the way they track transactions and offer financial services to their customers. The blockchain is a public ledger of transactions, and the R3 consortium consists of more than 40 banks, including big names such as BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo, ING, JPMorgan and Citi. Microsoft will work with the consortium to “develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize decades-old processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations,” said Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive vice president for business development, in a blog post explaining the news. Goals include faster trades of assets such as stocks and bonds, and direct transfer of ownership, which cuts clearing houses out of the processes, something that’s appealing to banks because it promises to cut costs and reduce the risk of fraud, Johnson said. The partnership could be a boon for Microsoft’s partners and its cloud platform. The consortium will use Microsoft Azure and also have access to more than 45 “blockchain as a service” technologies from companies that work with Microsoft. In addition, Microsoft says it will offer dedicated technical support and service to R3’s blockchain labs.

Paypal President and CEO Dan Schulman said Bitcoin is “not necessarily something that we’re betting on,” even though PayPal allows Bitcoin through the Coinbase bitcoin wallet. However, the underlying blockchain technology is “very interesting,” Schulman said. What blockchain allows is … theoretically a friction-free, cost-free way of doing transactions.” The key, he said, is to tie the blockchain into a currency that isn’t as volatile as Bitcoin.

PayPal is used by 180 million people worldwide. It’s also used by 14 million merchants, according to Schulman, the CEO of PayPal since the company’s split from eBay back in 2014. Schulman gave a fireside chat format interview with Peggy Johnson, EVP of Business Development at Microsoft. PayPal has two other brands. The company bought Xoom about a year ago. Xoom is an international money transfer service. PayPal is also behind Venmo, the digital wallet service with a social element to it. Venmo, which is popular with millennials and younger generations, is used four to five times per week on average by customers because of the social element and the ability to split the cost of payments for things like meals and entertainment. Whereas, PayPal is used on average by customers just a little over two times per month. Schulman foresees that Venmo and PayPal will be a seamless experience in the future

Clearly many prominent Dynamics partners have opted for WPC and don’t see Envision as a replacement for Convergence. The focus of this conference has massively shifted, as has Microsoft’s vision in general. Attendees included top company executives, department managers, and other decision makers. This opens up opportunities to see how the vision of “One Microsoft” can be achieved through the use of many products. For example someone attending because they are a Microsoft Dynamics AX customer had the opportunity to see how they could leverage PowerBI, Office 365, and Azure to create a more connected and efficient business environment.

Many big players announced new solutions built on top of CRM, and azure/Cortana based solutions. However relatively very few partner products were showcased. While many of the main partners had a booth, the expo floor was much smaller with very limited product selection. The attendance and the expo traffic was significantly lower than Convergence. the rationale may be that top executives focus on strategic, visionary sessions – not on deciding what third-party product would be a good match for their requirements.
Extension in Microsoft Dynamics is eagerly awaited its not yet available in the current RTW release but should be a features of the upcoming ‘AX 7 update 1’ . The ability to adapt queries for the processes of drafting or extending existing elements, without overriding into other layers. means that developers no longer need to customise elements; instead elements will be extended. All customisations and code are then stored in a separate assembly and are therefore not influenced during upgrades and tests.. This approach will significantly reduces upgrade cost and conflicts.

Microsoft announced the availability of two out-of-the-box Power BI content packs for different business users: Financial Performance and Retail Channel Performance. Both power packs can be selected from the service catalogue and be deployed ‘within minutes’.

If you missed out, then see available on-demand the keynote and several session videos on the new Microsoft Envision YouTube Channel.
They have 87 videos on the site and 16 playlists uploaded.

SQL Server 2005 extended support will end on April 12, 2016.

March 13th, 2016

Reminder that SQL Server 2005 extended support will end on April 12, 2016.
After this date, no security updates, hotfixes, or Microsoft professional support will be available for SQL Server 2005. Continuing to run the product after the end of support may expose your business to security risks, increased maintenance and operations costs, as well as compliance violations and possibly a fine.

To avoid the risks of running unsupported software, Microsoft recommends that you migrate to SQL Server 2014 or Azure SQL Database prior to April 12, 2016. You can find more information on how to plan your SQL Server 2005 migration at http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserverupgrade.