Archive for January, 2017

This morning, Microsoft published a message in the Office 365 Admin Center for administrators who have at least one Site Mailbox in their organization. Starting as soon as March 2017 (in only 1 month), you will no longer be able to create new Site Mailboxes, however any Site mailboxes will continue to work until September 2017. Instead of site mailboxes, you should now use Office 365 groups.

Site Mailbox is going away in SharePoint Online

Starting September 2017, Microsoft will offer a process to move your content from Site Mailboxes to Office 365 Groups. Here is the full message:

We’re removing Site Mailboxes in SharePoint Online

MC92090

Published On: January 31, 2017

Expires On: September 15, 2017

Beginning March 2017, new SharePoint Online organizations will no longer have access to the Site Mailbox feature, existing SharePoint Online organizations will no longer be able to create new Site Mailboxes; however, any Site Mailboxes provisioned prior to March 2017 will continue to function.

How does this affect me?

You are receiving this message because our reporting indicates your organization has one or more Site Mailboxes available. Beginning March 2017, your users may no longer create new Site Mailboxes. In September 2017, we will have a process in place allowing you to transition your existing Site Mailbox site to an Office 365 Group. We will communicate again in June 2017, via Message Center, with more details.

What do I need to do to prepare for this change?

If you are using the Site Mailbox feature in SharePoint Online, you should consider transitioning to Office 365 Groups, to support email-centric collaborative scenarios. Please click Additional Information to learn more.

Additional information

Were you using Site Mailboxes as part of your day to day collaboration? How does this affect you? Let me know in the comments!

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Leave a comment and don’t forget to like the Absolute SharePoint Blog Page   on Facebook and to follow me on Twitter here  for the latest news and technical articles on SharePoint.  I am also a Pluralsight author, and you can view all the courses I created on my author page.
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Product overview by Vlad Catrinescu – requested by Valo Intranet, but thoughts are my own.

Valo Intranet Logo

SharePoint Server is one of the best, and arguably the most popular platform for Enterprise Intranets in the world. According to the popular and respected Nielsen Norman Group, 9/10 of the best Intranets in the world of 2016 were hosted on the SharePoint platform, and 5/10 of the top Intranets in 2017 also use SharePoint. However, there is a big problem that companies are facing with building an amazing Intranet: The time it takes to build it as well as the number of resources. The average team size to create an award-winning Intranet in 2016 was 14 people, and it took them an average of 16 months building their Intranet.

This is why a lot of third-party vendor started offering “Ready-to-go” solutions for Intranets in SharePoint On-Premises and SharePoint Online, also commonly referred to “Intranet in a box” because of how little effort is required to deploy them and get them fully up and running in your organization. In this review, we will look at an Intranet called Valo Intranet, which won the Best Intranet / Extranet Solution Award at the European SharePoint Conference in 2016. With an award like this, expectations are high, but before we start, here are a few words about Valo Intranet from the product’s website:

Valo Intranet Fall in love with your intranet! Valo is a ready-to-go social intranet on Office 365 and SharePoint. Valo Intranet brings together the most popular intranet features, and creates competitive edge by increasing productivity and improving work satisfaction. Valo is built on Microsoft’s recommended cloud add-in model, so Office 365 continuous updates are always safe.

Valo Intranet has more than 300,000 daily users and 150+ happy customers worldwide. Our dedicated development team works hard with an exciting roadmap – new releases and add-ons coming in every 3 months! Valo Intranet is easy-to-use, mobile-friendly, and technically strong – a flexible solution for the changing world. Valo is the last intranet you’ll need.

The Review

The review of Valo Intranet will be done in a SharePoint Online environment provided by Valo, and pre-populated with some data.

Valo Intranet

Valo Intranet contains multiple features to create a modern Intranet easily, as well as multiple templates and functionalities to make Intranet creation easy. You can see some of those features in the picture below.

Valo Intranet

Valo Intranet

There are also multiple add-ons that you can add, depending of what specific features you want to use on your Intranet, and one that is not on the picture below is Idea Management. We will review some of those Add-ons as part of this review. Something that I find really good, especially being from a bilingual country, is that Valo Intranet supports 14 languages, including French, Spanish and German, which are the most popular I’ve seen when deploying SharePoint at my clients.

Valo Intranet

On the design aspect, Valo does look like a beautiful intranet, the responsive design scales well from the big screen to the small mobile device and user experience is still awesome on the small screen. Let’s take a look at some of the features, or widgets that you can add to your page more in detail. First of all, the News Carrousel seen below displays news to users visiting the Intranet, and it’s possible to target the news to certain users according to some criteria’s. Directly in the carousel, we can see date it was published, the number of comments on that news as well as how many likes it received.

Valo Intranet

The information for the news carrousel is actually created in a SharePoint blog, and brought into the more “presentable” format with the Valo customizations. Users can comment and like the blog post.

Valo Intranet

Similar to out of the box SharePoint blogs, you cannot have threaded comments, or like a comment. I like the idea of using almost native Blogs to display news, because it makes a lot easier for content publishers to create content, since most of them already know how SharePoint blogs work. Next up, the Quick Links. The Quick Links do look beautiful, they have small animations when you go over them as well as a description, similar to the Out of the box Promoted Links Web part but way better.

Valo Intranet

Another feature offered by Valo Intranet is “Surveys”. I am a big fan of using Surveys or Polls on Intranets to get the first-hand feeling of employees on different matters, so I was really happy to see that Valo included a nice widget pictured below for surveys.

Valo Intranet

Something to be aware is that by default, when creating the survey, if you do not modify anything, every user will be able to go to the list, and view what others have answered, since every vote is an item in a list. This might cause problems for polls that are more important, such as employee of the month!

Valo Intranet

However, there is an option that you can change in the List Settings, so users can only see and Edit items that they created, this way they will not be able to see what other users have voted. I think it should be set with the settings below by default in order to avoid any case where the survey creator forgets to change the default settings.

Valo Intranet

Up next, the People Finder widget is a really cool small widget that you can put directly on home page of your Intranet, to allow people to easily find users by searching either names, or phone numbers. The widget can display only one person as seen in the screenshot below, or it can be configured to show more. You can click the “See More” button, which will go to the classic SharePoint People Search page. I like this widget a lot, the only improvement I would have loved was if Valo would have implemented a custom display template or something that looks nicer when clicking the “See More” link, but we’ll maybe get this in a future version.

Valo Intranet

Valo Intranet

Other cool widgets include multiple ways of bringing content from other sources, and displaying them beautifully in your Intranet. Below you can see a RSS Web part, which you can configure with any RSS Feed, a Video Web Part that connects directly to Office 365 video, an Events Web Part that connects to a calendar, and a Blogs web part that displays Delve blogs.

Valo Intranet

Valo also integrates Yammer in your Intranet by allowing you to comment, like and post in your Yammer network feed directly from the Intranet, as well as a widget that displays praises.

Valo Intranet

Valo Intranet also allows you to display activity of your company in Social Media with the Social Hub, a group of Widgets that display content from Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and etc.

Valo Intranet

Intranet Administrators also have access to a page called the Administrator Toolpack. The Administrator Toolpack is a really cool page which allows your Intranet’s administrators to view information on the Most Popular content in your site, as well as content which is not used or might be outdated.

Valo Intranet

Lastly the Workspaces in Valo Intranet allow a user to easily access all the SharePoint Team sites or Office 365 Groups they are a part of, and there are two main types of workspaces: Projects and Teams. The list can be customized according to customer requirements.

Valo Intranet

Valo also offers a mobile app for both Android and iOS which allows users to browse their Intranet on the go. You have three main tabs where you can see the Highlight news, all the News and lastly the Alert News. You can also click a single button and go to your Intranet page and browse it from your mobile device. Something that I wish the app had is a Pin/Password when opening the app since Intranets contain a lot of information about the company if ever the phone is lost / stolen.

Valo Intranet

That’s it for the review as a user, now let’s take a quick look of the experience to customize Valo. Something I realized very fast is that while Valo is awesome to use and consume, some webaprts will really need you to read the manual in order to customize them due to the number of available options. On the first picture to the left below you have the parameters required for the advanced news and on the right, the default content to show blog posts. Customizing all the widgets to show the things you want can be quite challenging on a few features.

Valo Intranet

That is not the case for all the available widgets, because some of them are really easy, for example branding your site can easily be done with the Valo Style Editor. Simply choose what colors you want where from the Style Editor, and done! No CSS knowledge needed!

Valo Intranet

Other features such as the Admin Toolpack that I’ve talked about earlier, is configured from a SharePoint list, and you can easily change the values as your business requirements change.

Valo Intranet

Conclusion

In this blog post we have reviewed Valo, a Ready-To-Go Intranet for SharePoint On-Premises and Office 365. Valo beautifully displays a lot of useful widgets of information on your Intranet and allows you to create a modern, beautiful looking Intranet in a matter of weeks. Throughout the review, I have found most of the widgets very useful and well displayed, but some of them have a lot of options to configure, so you can’t do it without reading the manual. I have loved how well Valo handles the display of information, both on a 4K display as well as on my Android Phone, and I think that the Workspaces and Admin Toolpack features will be very useful for every company that decides to use Valo. Lastly, the fact that Valo Intranet works with 14 languages, and supports multilingual intranet scenarios makes it a good product for global companies, or for companies that are based in a bilingual country.

If you are looking for a Ready-To-Go Intranet for SharePoint, definitely check out Valo by clicking on the banner below.

Valo Intranet

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Speaking at SharePoint Fest D.C. 2017

Categories: Announcements
Comments: 1

This April, I will be headed to Washington DC to speak at the well-known SharePoint Fest D.C Conference! If you did not sign up yet, you can register now with code CatrinescuDC200 and save 200$ of the registration price! You can also try your chance to Win a free Pass to SharePoint Fest DC 2017

SharePoint Fest D.C

Here are the sessions and workshops that I will do:

Half Day Workshop- Implementing a SharePoint 2013 / 2016 Hybrid Infrastructure

SharePoint Hybrid infrastructures are gaining popularity, so SharePoint IT professionals need to prepare.

In this half day workshop, we will learn what is a Hybrid SharePoint Infrastructure, what are the prerequisites, and how to configure the following Hybrid SharePoint Features:

  • Hybrid OneDrive for Business
  • Hybrid Sites
  • Hybrid Cloud Search
  • Hybrid Federated Search

Level: Advanced

Session: What do YOU get from SharePoint Hybrid?

Every time you see a blog post about SharePoint 2016, you see the word hybrid. But what exactly is a hybrid infrastructure and what features does the business user get?

In this session, we will look at SharePoint Hybrid from a business user point of view to understand what features we get out of it. We will look at Hybrid Team Sites, Hybrid Search, Hybrid Extranet sites and more!

Session: PowerShell for Office 365

Take your Office 365 Administrator skills further by learning to automate repetitive tasks using the magic of PowerShell.

In this session you will learn how to use PowerShell for Office 365, and we will focus on SharePoint online. A basic understanding of PowerShell is recommended to get the most out of this session!

To get all the information about the conference, check out their site: http://www.sharepointfest.com/DC/

Hope to see you there!

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This April, I am really glad to speak at one of my favorite SharePoint conferences -SharePoint Fest.  SharePoint Fest usually does 4 conferences per year ( Denver – DC – Seattle – Chicago) , and I try to speak at all of them every year! To give back to the awesome SharePoint community, and to try to meet as many of the blog readers as possible, I talked to SharePoint Fest and they gave me one SharePoint Fest DC 2017 Gold Pass to give away to the readers of my blog!

Update: The winner has been announced!

SpeakingatSPFestDC

To enter you simply have to put your name and email, and you can get bonus entries if you follow @vladcatrinescu on Twitter and like the Absolute SharePoint page on Facebook!  Furthermore you can tweet about the  giveaway every day and get 9 bonus entries for every time you tweet!

The prize only includes the conference pass and not any travel costs or anything else . Just the conference pass!  Here is a small paragraph about the conference:

SharePoint Fest is a two-day training conference (plus two optional days of workshops) that will have over 80 sessions spread across multiple tracks that bring together SharePoint enthusiasts and practitioners with many of the leading SharePoint experts and solution providers in the country.

At SharePoint Fest, attendees will be able to attend workshops and seminars – taught by Microsoft Certified Trainers, Microsoft engineers, and Microsoft MCMs and MVPs – covering Enterprise Content Management, Implementation/Administration, Business Value, Search, Business Intelligence, Office 365 and SharePoint Development. Attendees will be able to choose one complete learning track or mix and match based on what content best meets their current needs.

There will be sessions created for SharePoint administrators, software developers, business analysts, information architects, and knowledge workers, which will ensure that attendees walk away with as much knowledge as they desire to truly leverage SharePoint in their current environment.

 SharePoint Fest DC 2017 Giveaway

Enter the raffle below to win one of the two passes! You got until February 15th to enter! Remember that you can tweet about the giveaway every day in order to win more entries! Remember that even if you don’t win , you can use CatrinescuDC200  to save 200$ of the registration cost!

Click here to view this promotion.
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In October, last year, I was really lucky to be part of the first aOS tour ever in South Africa, when we travelled between Cape Town and Durban in the AvePoint Red Bus. It was an awesome experience, and we had the chance to visit some smaller communities in George and Port Elizabeth and share our SharePoint Knowledge. Here is a picture of the awesome crew from the South Africa road trip!

The South African aOS road trip 2016

In February 2017, I will participate in another aOS tour, this time a bit closer to home. The aOSCanadian Tour is a free conference taking place in four different Canadian cities, over the span of five days. Starting February 6th 2017 we will tour from Quebec City, to Montreal, Ottawa all the way down to Toronto with some of the most influential speakers from Europe and Canada.

aOS Canadian Tour

I will be presenting in all 4 cities my session called What do YOU get from SharePoint Hybrid?. This session is aimed at everyone who wants to know, what do we actually get from a hybrid SharePoint deployment. Here is the description:

Every time you see a blog post about SharePoint 2016, you see the word hybrid. But what exactly is a hybrid infrastructure and what features does the business user get? In this session, we will look at SharePoint Hybrid from a business user point of view to understand what features we get out of it. We will look at Hybrid Team Sites, Hybrid Search, Hybrid Extranet sites and more!

aOS Canadian Tour

You can register here for every event:

Hope to see you there!

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Leave a comment and don’t forget to like the Absolute SharePoint Blog Page   on Facebook and to follow me on Twitter here  for the latest news and technical articles on SharePoint.  I am also a Pluralsight author, and you can view all the courses I created on my author page.
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I am extremely happy to announce that my 7th Pluralsight course and first of 2017 is published and this one is on how to Provision and Configure Web Applications in SharePoint Server 2016. It’s a relatively small course for SharePoint 2016 Administrators, and teaches you how to create and manage Web Applications in SharePoint 2016

Configure Web Applications

At the core of every SharePoint implementation you can find Web Applications. In this course, Provision and Configure Web Applications in SharePoint 2016, you’ll learn foundational knowledge of Web Applications. First, you will learn how to create Web Applications both by the Central Administration and PowerShell. Next, you’ll learn how to manage Managed Paths and Alternate Access Mappings. Finally, you’ll learn how to manage Web Application settings such as SharePoint Designer Settings, Max File Size, Service connections, and more. When you’re finished with this course, you will have the skills and knowledge of Web Applications needed to create and configure Web Applications in SharePoint Server 2016. This course also covers the “Provision and configure Web Applications” objectives of the SharePoint 2016 MCSE exam 70-339.

You can find the course on Pluralsight at : http://spvlad.com/provisionWebAppsSP2016 or by clicking the banner below.

Configure Web Applications

If you don’t have a Pluralsight Subscription, check out how to get a free 3 months on my blog post over here: https://absolute-sharepoint.com/2015/12/free-pluralsight-6-month-subscription.html ! If you enjoy the course and you learned a lot, you can share it on social media by directly retweeting the tweet below!

Follow me on Social Media and Share this article with your friends!

Leave a comment and don’t forget to like the Absolute SharePoint Blog Page   on Facebook and to follow me on Twitter here  for the latest news and technical articles on SharePoint.  I am also a Pluralsight author, and you can view all the courses I created on my author page.
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