SharePoint 2010 Information

Two downloads appeared on Microsoft’s site over the weekend for you BI freaks to get started into SharePoint 2010:

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Office 2010 Information

Microsoft released some information to go with the 2010 RTM of tonight:

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MS Ireland SQL 2008 R2, Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 “Launch”

Today sees the the technical preview road show of Office 2010, Sharepoint 2010 and SQL 2008 R2 by Microsoft Ireland.  I’m attending the Dublin event and blogging the highlights.  You can still register for the Belfast, Cork and Galway events so make sure you attend if you can.  I’ll update this post as the afternoon moves along so come back later if you want to read more.

The event kicks off with Enda Flynn (Technical Audience Manager in the DPE team).  Enda tells us that the software will be available on volume licensing on May 12th and on the shelves in June.  The Office 2010 beta is stiff available and a Zune HD draw is running for people in Ireland.  Information about this is available when you download (check the site).

Office 2010

Patrick Herlihy is a partner technical specialist in MS Ireland focusing on the UC and BI stuff and will be up next.  The focus on his presentation is management, security and cost effectiveness.

Deployment Options

Lots of ways:

  • Install
  • Terminal services
  • App streaming
  • Web streaming

Server Integration:

Just a few examples:

  • Presence: Office Communication Server
  • Security: AD Rights Management Services
  • On premises hosting with SharePoint


This is now called SharePoint Workspace.  Very useful for sharing data with people outside of the office.  Has offline access.  I’ve used Groove once before on a collaboration project.  It’s a little different but it works well.

Services More Discoverable to End Users

  • End users can see services offered by IT through Office Backstage.
  • End users can also create their own applications in Excel and publish them to SharePoint.


There is online webcasting available.  Video is easier.


Lots of new stuff.  Mail tips, e.g. a warning if you try to send an email to all staff.  Conversation view is enabled by default.  Better integration with OCS.

Office Web Apps

You can use online versions of Office 2010.  You host this on premises with SharePoint.  It supports non-MS browsers.


Think of this as an expanded File menu that is better presented for end users.  Things are easier to find, whether it be the ability to save in another format or save to the SharePoint server – the latter was always an issue in the past.

SharePoint Workspace Offline

This will work with Office on Windows Mobile 6.5 or higher (or whatever it is called this week).  So now you can have docs on SharePoint, sync them to your laptop for home use, or even sync them to your phone for completely mobile use.  They’ll all sync with SharePoint.  The office, the firewall, and the organisation (forest membership) are no longer boundaries to secure data access.


The trend of attacks is that attacks is that they are increasingly attacking applications more than anything else.  The network and OS transport layers are at the bottom, i.e. least attacked.  Between them and applications are the core OS libraries.

Office 2010 has “increased security” – you’ll probably need to search to get the details.  All of this is manageable using GPO.  An example is Protected View.  Office 2010 can detect documents that are sourced from elsewhere and protect you from them.  You have to verify that the doc expected/OK before it has full functionality.

Document Inspector can be controlled using GPO.  It will run every time a doc is saved.

Accessibility Checker is exposed by Backstage.  This can run against documents (by policy) to ensure a document is accessible compliant.


Disk requirements go up by just 1.5GB from Office 2010.  All other requirements are the same.  There are native 32bit and 64bit versions.  Watch out for plugins on 64bit editions.  There is still a problem there.  32bit is still recommended.

It stats up very fast – event the old CTP does.

You can install using GPO startup scripts.  You cannot install using traditional MSI/transform via GPO like you could with XP/2003.  So it’s the same as with Office 2007.  Can install using ConfigMgr or App-V.  You will need App-V 4.6 (the latest version) if you want to do app virtualization for Office 2010.

As usual, there will be an extensive GPO management options.


Office now has the same licensing as Windows.  You use either a MAK or a KMS key.  *wait for you reaction here*

Deployment Planning

  • Use MAP v5.0 (still a beta on Connect) to assess readiness for Office 2010.
  • Office Environment Assessment Tool (OEAT) – checks 3rd party add-ins for compatibility.  It uses an online library to warn you.  It’s kind of a similar model as with ACT.
  • Office Compatibility Code Inspector (OCCI) – will inspect custom code that is written.
  • Office Migration Planning Manager – Identify macro issues, migrate office files to OpenXML


There is a pre-packaged “productivity hub” SharePoint site library with training content for end users. You can load it on SharePoint 2010 to teach users how to use SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010.

Office Ribbon Here is a new plug-in.  It’s a game of some sort to challenge and  teach users how to use the ribbon.  We have a few laughs here when Patrick shows us how little he uses MS Word for formatting :)  MS folks do live in Outlook after all.

SharePoint 2010

Aidan Nolan (they keep saying Aidan is up next and I keep double taking thinking WTF!!! I’m not presenting today!) from MS Ireland is up next.

Sales Pitch

  • Connect and empower people
  • Cut costs with a unified infrastructure
  • Rapidly respond to business needs

Gains for the IT Pros

IT productivity

  • Streamlined central admin
  • Management & health monitoring
  • PSH support

Scalable unified infrastructure:

  • Manage and control server resources – large list management
  • Improve data management and availability – high availability
  • Scalable services architecture

Flexible deployment:

  • Quick and simple installation and configuration – configuration wizards
  • Smooth and predictable upgrade – visual upgrade
  • Manage and control custom code – sandboxed solutions
  • Improved features – group policy block and AD marker

We now get a demo of functionality in SharePoint 2010.  Simple things like the ability to stretch an image, context sensitive ribbon, are big wins here, making it much more end user friendly.  The ribbon in SharePoint is just like an Office ribbon.  There is a theme gallery where you can easily update Office themes (templates).  Popups aren’t hidden away like previous versions of SharePoint.  The interface is much more responsive to mouse movement.  Fast Search brings back previews.  You can select the type of content you want to see, e.g. PowerPoint documents, people, etc.  There is a preview where the content can be browsed inline in the search results.  It also links to duplicate content.

Central administration is completely redesigned.  Health is front and centre.  You can see detected faults along with proposed resolution steps. 


  • 64 bit only – that’s the entire farm.  Dual CPU
  • 8GB minimum for a role
  • 80 GB disk minimum
  • SQL 2005 x64 SP 2 with CU 12, SP3 with CU 2
  • SQL 2008 x64 Std SP1 + KB970315
  • X64 W2008 SP2 Standard or W2008 R2 Std
  • There’s a crap load of s/w pre-requisites.  There is a pre-requisite tool to do all the detection work for you.  It will download and install all the bits required.  Nice time saver.


  • Prerequisites
  • Install the binaries
  • Configuration Wizard
  • Server Farm Configuration Wizard – a new tool to create new site collection and set up service accounts.


  • Silverlight 2
  • Level 1 browser like IE7.  Includes specified versions of Safari and FireFox.

Upgrade Path

  • In place upgrade: supposed to be next – next – next.  A restart of the process is possible.  All timeouts are removed – reported as a big problem before.  Sites are unavailable during upgrade and retain the URL after the upgrade.  Farm settings are inherited.  Customizations are retained.  Entire farm is offline for some time.
  • Database attach: Can attach content, SSP and Project.  Cannot attach Configuration or Search DB’s.  What you do is install an entirely new farm and attach to existing databases.  Can upgrade many content DB’s at once.  Can consolidate farms.  You lose settings and customizations from old farm(s).  It requires lots of engineering time and bandwidth.  You need direct access to the DB servers – problem in huge organizations where there are DBA teams/depts.
  • Hybrid: Do a bit of both in-place and attach.  Maintain settings and customizations.  Multiple content DB’s at once.  Requires time and direct access.

Gradual upgrade is not supported.  Note that you cannot upgrade from 32bit to 64bit.  That requires a migration.

Normally an upgrade retains the 2007 appearance.  You can do a visual appearance upgrade too.  It is a one way operation.

Introducing PowerPivot for Excel/SharePoint

By Bob Duffy MVP (SQL) and DB architect (not MS).  Bob is one of those guys with a big brain that makes you feel sick with jealousy.  Nice guy too.

The first bit is that you can bring in data into Excel 2010 from any source that you can get a data driver for.  It also can run MUCH more rows and data than previous versions.  The demo example has 1.4 million rows.  Data can be cleansed at the entry point into Excel.  Very useful because BI data can be a bit rough around the edges at times.  You can filter out unwanted fields too.  Bob runs through a demo and shows how flexible PowerPivot is for BI work with large volumes of data.  The demo is very, very cool.  Bob pulls in data from SQL, does graphing, slicing, selections and calculations (using macro) and then pulling in data from an RSS atom feed to join it.

You can save locally or save to SharePoint to share with others.  MIS will want to get involved here to assure that a BI application is valid.  And that’s possible thanks to the PowerPivot Gallery.  Admins can manage PP’s here.  And users can subscribe to them.

Bob went on to demonstrating the reporting capabilities of integrating with SQL 2008 R2.  He put together with (what seemed like) a few mouse clicks a map that subscribed to the PP data from the gallery.  It could even overlay a map from Bing.  Then he pulled data from an RSS atom feed from elsewhere and joined it to compare and contrast how one metric affected another.

EDC and Lanuages

The end of the day was with two guys from the EDC in Dublin.  One showed how you could integrate new languages into the Office hints.  The other showed a video of using SharePoint 2010 MUI’s.  An admin would install and enable a language.  Each user could then select the language of their choice in SharePoint.  That could be displayed on the fly in the interface, including the dialog boxes.

And that was the end of the session.  The evening was all aimed at developers so I skipped that.

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Office/SharePoint and Visual Studio 2010 Launch Events

The official MS Ireland launch events for Office 2010/SharePoint 2010 and Visual Studio 2010 will be taking place this month.  You can find more details on the MS Ireland IT Pro blog:

It’s another road show like the last few events so you folks in Cork should expect some very tired people.  I’m not participating but I might be around on the afternoon of the 12th to meet some people who might be flying in.

Why Should You Go To Minasi Conference 2010?

Everyone knows that budgets are slashed and the opportunity to attend big and expensive conferences so you can stay up to date is probably gone.  Well there is a more economic way to stay up to date.

Mark Minasi (well known TechEd/WinConnections speaker, Windows IT Pro journalist, Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2 author) will once again be hosting a conference in his home town of Virginia Beach, VA, USA.  It’s a low cost, non-profit event that is aimed squarely at the IT Pro.  The registration cost is a measly $450 which is around €330.  It’s 3 days full of techie talk, including Windows Server/Desktop, virtualisation, SBS/EBS, Exchange, SharePoint, PowerShell, Active Directory, security/certificate services, SQL, and a whole lot of fun.

This is not WinConnections or TechEd.  It’s a whole lot smaller and all of the speakers are techies.  Because this event is smaller, everyone is approachable and they’ll try to answer any question.  Every session is very interactive, and most of the speakers can usually be found afterwards in the bar, at breakfast/lunch, or at the party.

It’s not only sessions or classes here.  Intercontinental friendships, both personal and professional, are formed here every year.  Delegates look forward to meeting up with friends again, and with figuring out problems with other delegates.  The opportunity to network is unmatched … everyone is made welcome, we pretty much all have breakfast and lunch together.  And whether you want to party or just hang out for a quiet evening, you’ll have some company.

The speakers include authors, journalists, consultants, administrators, MVP’s, and people respected on the Internet for the experience and willingness to help.  Something quite original was tried last year and it’s being repeated this year.  Mark likes to encourage people to develop their skills, be it technical or otherwise.  Many of the speakers at the conference really only started doing this stuff here.  Most people would run at the thought of speaking for 75 minutes.  So last year we tried running mini-sessions where attendees could talk for 15 minutes about stuff they had done that might be interesting, e.g. a first time delegate spoke about how to build a PC at home for running VMware ESXi.  It was a success and it’s being repeated this year.

We also push outside the usual topics to boost personal development.  A few years ago Mark did a session on how to do technical presentations.  It was a hit and provided great information, some of which I try to use.  This year Eric Rux (an editor with Windows IT Pro) is talking about how to get into writing.  With Mark Minasi, and a bunch of other writers (book and magazine) in the audience also taking part, there’ll be a lot of information. 

Previous attendees will know that each conference is pretty much formed the year before based on feedback.  It really is a conference that is “owned” by the delegates.  A perfect example is PKI/certificate services.  Last year it seemed to be mentioned in half of the sessions and most delegates had no knowledge or experience in dealing with this technology.  A Q&A session on content pretty much steered the speaker recruiting.  So this year we have Roger Grimes (MS security architect) in to talk about it.  Take a peek at the below schedule and you’ll see how much interaction there is: panel sessions, Q&A sessions, etc.  Check it out and see if you’ve got a time slot in May to attend.  Here’s the schedule for 2010:

Sunday – May 2nd 2010

  • Pre-Conference event with Todd Lammle
  • 08:30 – 12:30
  • 12:00 PM – Conference Registration Begins
  • 1 PM – Opening Session led by Mark Minasi
  • 2 PM – Session 1: Mark Minasi – 10 (or more) things that you don’t know about Windows Server 2008 R2
  • 3:15 – Break
  • 3:30 – Eric Rux – “So, you want to be a writer, eh?:  Tips, tricks and other thoughts on getting into the writing game – with open discussion with the other authors in the audience”
  • 4:00 – Mini Session – TBC
  • 4:30 – Break
  • 4:45 – Roger Grimes – Fighting off Malware, the latest attacks and ways to resist them!
  • 6:00 – Welcome Reception in the Hunt Room

Monday  – May 3rd 2010

  • 9:00 – Ultan Kinahan – Disaster Recovery With VMware SRM
  • 10:15 – Laura E. Hunter – Active Directory Federation Services
  • 11:30 – Break
  • 11:45 – Aidan Finn – Using Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2: How to manage Hyper-V
  • 1:00 – Lunch (Provided)
  • 1:45 – Claus Neilsen – Digging into PowerShell V2
  • 3:00 – Mark Minasi – The Active Directory recycle bin.
  • 4:15 – Break
  • 4:30 – Expert Panel:  Project Planning, Design and Documentation (Bring Your Own Questions)
  • 5:45 – Offsite Dinner Organized with Transportation

Tuesday – May 4th 2010

  • 9:00 – Eric Rux – Using Windows in your Home! –  “More fun with Windows Home Server: How to use this versatile product for small business and home entertainment”
  • 10:30  – Mini Session – TBC
  • 11:00 – Roger Grimes – Server 2008 PKI – Certificates are becoming increasing critical – learn how to use them!
  • 12:30 – Lunch (Provided)
  • 1:00 – Nathan Winters – Protection and Compliance with Exchange 2010
  • 2:15 – Break
  • 2:30 – Michael B. Smith – Part 1 – Migrating from 2003 AD and Exchange to 2010 Exchange and 2008 R2 AD – Hands on Demonstration
  • 3:45 – Break
  • 4:00 – Michael B. Smith – Part 2 – Migrating from 2003 AD and Exchange to 2010 Exchange and 2008 R2 AD – Hands on Demonstration
  • 5:30 – Dinner (on your own) at a local restaurant. Last chance to rub elbows.

Wednesday –  May 5th 2010

  • 9:00 – Stacy Hein – SQL Server troubleshooting
  • 10:15 – Short Session
  • 10:45 – Break
  • 11:00 – Joe McGlynn – A look at SBS and EBS – Doing IT right for the SME
  • 12:15 – Closing and Lunch
  • 1:30 – Unofficial Round Table

Microsoft Ireland Partner Community Expert Event

I’m attending this day long event and will try to blog as I go along.

Morning Introduction

Conor Whickam, Partner Manager at Microsoft Ireland, opens the day to introduce the agenda.  This is meant to be an interactive session.  I was a bold boy at one of these this time last year so I’m shutting up.  I can hear sighs of relief.

Paul Rellis

Paul Rellis, the GM of Microsoft Ireland takes over with a keynote.  The theme is Microsoft = Productivity.  I guess this is a Business Intelligence year.  He starts talking about a famous human cannon ball called Armando?  The ringmaster was asked why he wasn’t replaced after he died.  It’s because he could find a person of the right calibre.  *Boom Boom*  MS invests in their people and “in their partners”.  MS wants partners to invest in their own staff as MS develops their staff.

The message about Azure/BPOS comes out.  Your two options are to install on premise or to install on Azure.  It’s a partner event but the hosting partners have already been had their ankles slashed.  MS needs to rethink that message.  Plenty of hosters are already pushing Linux more than Windows.  MS jacks up SPLA licensing costs (going up this year, at the end of each annual contract) while competing with their partners with aggressive sales.  CentOS and LAMP will continue to dominate the online market.

State of the Irish Market

Richard Moore now takes over to talk about the state of the Irish Market.  The opportunities include upgrade projects and end of life projects.

On the PC side:

  • 2010 will continue to see a decline until the second half of the year.  The low will be at 2005 levels.
  • Retail is continuing to take market share, growing by 10%
  • Up to 10% of national PC sales will be through the National Educational PC deal
  • Netbooks have not been as successful as predicted.  That’s because notebooks and netbooks do not have a great price differential.  However Telco’s may offer them at discount prices in combination with mobile broadband contracts.


  • Sales down from 40,000 to 30,000
  • IDC predicts another decline in 2010.  This may level out in 2011.
  • A spike in sales (to Dell, not HP!) in 2009 was caused by the MS data centre.


  • 2009 saw a massive slowdown with 4% drop.
  • 2010 predicting a .7% increase.
  • 2011 expected to be around 3.4%

The overall levels are back to 2005 numbers.  2010 will see small decrease or a levelling out.

New opportunities

  • Exchange 2010, Office 2010, SharePoint 2010
  • Server: upgrades and low end (continuing to sell)
  • Cloud computing


  • Lots of old deployments still out there.  70% of E2003 or older.
  • E2010 “offers cost savings” and productivity improvements.
  • Easier to support and maintain.
  • Access anywhere is a mature solution.
  • €15m in upgrade business out there.

Office 2010:


Current installation figures are:

  • Office 2007 (and Office 2010 Beta/RC) is at 30.1% of the Irish market
  • Office 2003 at 29.4%
  • Office 2000 is at 12.0%
  • Office XP 23.3%
  • Office 2000: 12%
  • Office 95/97: 1.4%
  • Other MS Office 1.2%
  • Non-MS products: 1.6%

Office and SharePoint go hand in hand and drive each others sales.

Server opportunities:

  • Windows 2000 end of life on July 13th
  • Virtualisation with Hyper-V very attractive

Server 2008 R2 Foundation:

The Irish market is dominated by small companies.  Server 2008 R2 Foundation would appear to fit in.  However, I don’t know about the fit.  The Irish SME is very happy with SBS.  EBS has been a flop here.

We now get the pitch on Forefront and how it is a future investment for partners.  Again, the Irish SME is stuck in yellow-box land.

Windows 7 Plans: 41% will be running Windows 7 by end of 2011

Now we get the BPOS talk.  See my previous posts on the Patriot Act.  Many are using BPOS as a complimentary add-on to their onsite installation.  For example, some users will use online service, IM will be used, etc.

He reckons there is a niche market for SAM (software asset management).  This is related to auditing and licensing compliance.  You’ll be as popular as a taxation auditor with IT on the customer site but you might make some money.

Partner Sales + Strategy

Karl O’Leary (Partner Sales) and Colin Cassidy (Partner Strategy and Program) now take over.

Colin says that their forecasts are usually pretty accurate.  Again, I’m asking that MS Ireland takes over running the country.  Paul Rellis does more for Irish business than our glorious leader, Brian Cowen.  And anyone who can crunch numbers anyway accurately is better than the Department of Finance. 

Some boring stuff now.  Taking a breather.

MS focusing on virtualisation and Exchange this year when it comes to the partner campaigns:

When you talk about Exchange leads to a conversation about the desktop.  That’s Office 2010.  That leads to Windows 7 and IE8.  Exchange will run on Server 2008/2008 R2.  It might be virtualised and that leads to Hyper-V.  This all needs security: ForeFront.  ForeFront is developed hand-in-hand with Exchange.  Then System Center is used to manage everything.  Don’t stop there.  Push productivity: Then you have Unified Communications (OCS) and SharePoint.  When you do OCS/Exchange then you talk about mobility, e.g. Smart Phones running Windows Mobile.  BTW, there’s something happening with Ballmer next week. 

MS Ireland going after VMware compete business with everything they have.  There is a pincer movement including HP and Dell.  Partners can choose the Bush principle: “You’re either with us or against us”.

4,000 Exchange upgrades are out there in Ireland now.  176,000 XP installations with support ending.  14,583 Windows 2000 installations with support ending.  That’s business to be had.

Partners Presenting

Gerry Kerr from CDsoft, Hyper-V and UC are their things.  Scott from Nitech are an infrastructure/dev partner working in BI.  A dude, Frasier, from Ergo as well.  They are field engineers who also say they do BI.  Oh boy, flashbacks of an awful part of the TechEd 2010 keynote.  I’m watching the doors to see if people are leaving … oh there we go 🙂

Gerry says something that I’ve been saying for over a year.  Hyper-V wins against VMware when you sell System Center, not virtualisation.  It’s the manageability that wins.

Louise Connaughton, EMEA Partner Support Group

Some stuff about what services you get as a partner.  That led into a coffee break which was sorely needed.

The Office / SharePoint Launch Wave

The 3 pillars of the combined solution are:

  • Best user experience: desktop, VDI, terminal services, phone, etc.  Office will also be online.  You can “round trip” between online Office and on-site office with document fidelity.
  • IT Choice: on site or online
  • Business Platform: Office, SharePoint, Dynamics, SQL, partners like Siebel and SAP

MS claims the ribbon is responsible for users using 4 times more features in Office 2007 than they did in 2003.  The ribbon is fully deployed in Office 2010.

2010 Launch

  • Partner readiness day (sales and marketing)
  • Partner IT road show in Dublin, Belfast, Shannon and Cork – similar to the Windows 7/Server 2008 R2/Exchange 2010 launch tour
  • A v-Launch

2010 PR:

  • nWOW microsite release
  • eBook with production quality video

Patrick Herlihy Demo

Patrick is the Exchange/BI techie in MS Ireland partner sales.  He’s now doing a demo of XP/Office 2003 VS Windows 7/Office 2010.

Barry McMahon

Barry (a MS sales person – Application Platform Lead) now talks about SharePoint’s role in BI.  Excel is the most valuable client application – agreed. I worked in a company where over 50% of business data was in spreadsheets.

Three contexts of BI

  • Organisational BI: Built and maintained by IT, for use by the company
  • Team BI: Built by the team, for the team
  • Personal BI: Built by me, for use by me (Excel lives here)

Excel (PowerPivot) with SQL enables and empowers that last one.  It’s made easier by PowerPivot.  Now you have an application. (you can add something called a Slicer to allow data selectivity).  That application can be published to SharePoint.  Here’s where your MIS department will pull their hair out, worried about application/data accuracy.

Here’s the pitch for WPC10 July 11-15th in Washington DC.  MS wants your money.


They broke us up into 4 groups for lunch so 4 different MS teams could come in to do Q&A sessions.  The first one was funny; I was a bold boy last year and we joked about it a bit.  I skipped the last one; the speaker’s voice goes through me like a rusty blade.

The rest of the day is being broken into different tracks.  I was going to skip the virtualisation track – there’s nothing I can learn about the MS line.  However, they have Citrix in and I’d like to learn what they’re up to.  Spoke to some person during the week from Citrix.  She wanted to hear my opinion on their message.  It’s now my stock answer: “Too much marketing; just tell me what the damned thing does because neither your site nor your presentations do”.  So here I am sat waiting for the virtualisation session.

I will do those sessions as different posts.

MS Partner Event: Application Platform University

This is a business intelligence “road show” funded by MS Europe, presented in the Dublin office.  The speaker is Tibbs Pereira, hosted by Barry McMahon.  Barry is a good guy; I’ve worked with him in a previous job and he was great at sharing info and helping us out.

They do something interesting to start out.  There’s around 20 visitors in the room.  The speakers have asked each visitor to introduce themselves, say what they want to get out of the day and list objections/fears from the field about MS BI technology.

The Business Imperatives

  • Business intelligence – usable information
  • The web – availability
  • Business applications – processing data to get information and using it to get results
  • Application lifecycle management – continuous development/improvement of functions and features

Traditional business solutions often include the user using multiple styles of non-integrated applications: green screen, installed and web.  We should try to have a unified application platform: one style of integrated interface, even if it’s multiple applications and systems at the back end.  That makes data easier to access and information easier to use.

Using an integrated backend, not a mix of all the platforms (SAP, Oracle, SQL, MySQL, etc) makes application development easier and data more reliable.  Otherwise you’re fudging data through translation services and hoping it stays consistent.  35% planning this convergence.  41% currently have this convergence underway.  24% aren’t going to converge.  According to Forrester Research in 2007.

Underlying this is the optimised infrastructure (well designed and managed).  Ideally it’ll be dynamic too, e.g. automation, and flexible, e.g. self service in VMM.

Benefits of the MS Platform

Innovation Benefits

  • Better time to value
  • Respond quickly to organisation change via flexibility
  • User experience is familiar
  • Largest partner ecosystem for packaged and customised solutions

Operations Benefits

  • High performance, scalability and reliability
  • Solutions have common management skills and tools, e.g. System Center, clustering, etc.
  • Technology investments work well with each other, MS integration, Active Directory for authorisation/authentication
  • Consistent security standards for increased compliance: take advantage of Configuration Manager to audit those policies.

An interesting point is brought up here.  Lots of MS customers already have the licensing for much of this.  For example, a desktop core CAL may include SharePoint CAL’s.  All that remains is the server licensing which is a comparatively small cost.

Customer Thinking

Customers have typically deployed lots of solutions with no standardisation.  “Legacy systems are forever”.  There’s some movement to standardisation.  Oracle, Microsoft and IBM are emerging as the 3 remaining pillars.  Customers now considering standardisation on one of these 3.  SME typically are standardised on Microsoft already because of price and availability.  Larger enterprises have the heterogeneous application platform.  The won’t ditch legacy stuff but they will integrate into a single application platform for data availability and information access and usage.

Business intelligence is the number one spend in IT.  It was in 2009 (4th year in a row, Gartner) and will be in 2010.  It’s “recession proof”, because information is more important now to understand the pains and losses.  Future compliance solutions, as a result of the recession causes, will continue this drive.

Microsoft SWOT

  • Strengths: Office, roadmap
  • Opportunity: CAL up-sell and deployment
  • Weaknesses: brand perceptions
  • Threats: Oracle


These are the motivations of customers in BI:

  • Application Led: (SAP and Oracle) point application approach.  I need XYZ and these vendors do this
  • Infrastructure led: (IBM, Microsoft) this is a broader, integrated approach.  The idea is a store of data and access systems are built and applications are built on it.

Business Productivity Infrastructure

  • Unified Communications and collaboration
  • Business intelligence
  • Enterprise content management

These sit on:

  • Worflow
  • Search
  • Business data catalog
  • Extensible UI
  • Open XML file formats
  • Website and secure framework

In other words, think of the big picture, not just the point application.  Reports are produced but how are they stored, shared, accessed, secured, used by other solutions, etc.

And all of this needs to run on a secure, reliable, flexible, scalable and well managed IT infrastructure.  If that foundation is week then the business productivity infrastructure is weak => the business is weak.


  • SQL is the data storage engine
  • SharePoint is the thin client access system
  • Office is the thick client access method.

The Next Wave of MS Products

Both SharePoint 2010 and SQL 2008 R2 are focused on business intelligence.  SP will be RTM before July.  SQL this year.  We get a demo of Excel pulling data from SQL, produces an application (a report based on pivot tables and slices) and publishes it to SharePoint so anyone can access it.  The lesson is that BI is something to sell to and use by the business, not IT. 

This is data access/sharing done by non-IT people using data managed by IT.  It’s ad-hoc self-service where the business doesn’t have to wait on IT, and IT doesn’t get distracted from engineering projects and maintenance.  IT can monitor this.  Then we go back to basic MIS and systems analysis classes from college.  IT should take over important or highly used applications to standardise them and to do QA on them.  Critical applications should be managed.

Excel 2007 can now load hundreds of millions of rows from SQL.  In the demo, the 110,000,000 rows consumed approximately 64KB of data, therefore not hammering the network.


RyanAir booking systems runs on SQL 2005.  It was SQL 2000 until recently.  It has 54,000,000 transactions per annum.  Permanent TSB online banking runs on SQL.  Department of family and social affairs runs on SQL.  NASDQ uses it, Citibank uses it, Hotmail, MSN, etc.  So the questions about SQL scalability from the typical 300 user CIO are laughable.  Gartner counts MS SQL as one of the big 3 enterprise database systems.

SQL Reporting Services

The sales phrase being used for SQL is “beyond relational”, i.e. there’s more to MS SQL than storing data: e.g. analysis, integration and reporting.

Competing Against Oracle

Don’t try to tell them to dump Oracle.  Say it’s fine for point applications but MS stack is data/information for the masses.  Chances are, most of the infrastructure and client access licensing are already in place for the MS stack.  You’re likely looking at hybrid solutions where you sell services to merge data into a data warehouse(s) for user access.

Selling SQL Server Advanced Solutions

In BI, MS never talks about the Standard or less editions of SQL.  They always talk about Enterprise.  The same goes when comparing against Oracle. 

There is a new things called the SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse.  It’ll be sold by hardware vendors exclusively.  The idea is that you can scale out a singe data warehouse database across cheaper hardware instead of buying some big gigantic pricey piece of equipment.

There is a new Datacenter SKU as well.  This will be per processor.  Supports up to 256 physical cores.  Unlimited free virtualization on a licesned host.  Unlimited RAM.  Unlimited managed instances. 

Standard price going up by 25%.  Enterprise is going up by 15%.  Now only 4 free VM’s on a licensed host.  Max 2TB RAM.  Up to 25 managed instances.

Standard: 64Gb RAM, 4 physical processors, 1 free VM license. 

Existing Enterprise covered by Software Assurance will be upgraded to Datacenter.

*Hmm, I’d be concerned that these higher costs will further swing SME’s on the online market to MySQL.  It’s probably got over 60% of that market.


This was briefly talked about.  It’s the application and business integration solution from MS, based on XML translation.  Often a possibility to sell with SharePoint.

If you are in Ireland then check out the SharePoint user group and the SQL user group.