Friday, October 11, 2013

Power BI Data Management Gateway and Resources

Power BI continues to be a hot topic that many people have been asking me about.

As you may know, there was an announcement in July about the new Power BI in Office 365 that is coming. Here is more information about that announcement -

A lot of people have been asking for more information.

First if you want to try out the Power BI Preview, please go here to sign-up for the preview -

Second I have had many people ask me for some good resources. If you want to learn more about Power BI with Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View and Power Map here are two really good links - and If you follow the sub links of these articles you will find a ton of good information.

Third, the biggest question I still get is does the new Power BI support the ability to connect to line of business databases. This is probably one of the most exciting things being introduced because up till now because Excel Services could only work with the data contained in the spreadsheet. The answer is the new Data Management Gateway. It requires to you to install a gateway on-premise that will make a secure connection to SharePoint Online. It push data from on-premise (on demand or a schedule) to your spreadsheets stored in SharePoint Online to render the reports through the browser. You still have the ability to open the Excel client with the add-ins for Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View and Power Map.

Here is a really good reference for you to start reading and all of its associated articles - There are articles that cover what the Data Management Gateway is, how it is installed / configured, how to create data sources using OData and then how to connect them into Excel. There is even a really interesting article about how SSIS can be utilized as a data source for Power BI. As well is a good article on health reports and utilization of the Data Management Gateway.

Exchange Deployment Assistant

If you have not heard, the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant has received a big uplift and streamlining.

I would say this is a necessary tool any organization should utilize as they begin planning for Exchange Online. The tool brings together topics from the Office 365 Service Descriptions, Deployment Guide and TechNet providing a single place to begin planning your Exchange Online deployment. Based on a few simple questions you get information on:

  • Single Sign On / ADFS / DirSync
  • How to route email through on-premise or directly to EOP
  • How to configure hybrid
  • Guidance for certificates, network security, bandwidth, unified messaging, mobile devices, client requirements, EOP, public folders, etc.
  • Required software
  • Required information to collect
  • Running the hybrid configuration wizard
  • Etc.

This tool really covers all the major activities and recommend that you use it.

Reference -

Mobile Lync App Expanded Meeting Capabilities

There was yet again another new announcement this week on Lync App for Windows Phone, iPhone and iPad which can be used with Lync Online.

The big news is the Lync App now supports the ability for attendees to join a meeting without a Lync account (as a guest) using the app. With this capability allows people to use the Lync Audio feature (without having to dial-in) to participate in the meeting. They can see all the content, including desktop sharing on their mobile device. This is huge feature because it allows organizations to easily allow people from outside of their organization to attend meetings without having to dial-in or be on a computer with the full Lync client.

Additionally the Lync App was extended to allow for ad-hoc, multi-party meetings to be initiated by the mobile device.

Reference -

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lync Online Meetings and Enterprise Compliance Features

In this short blog I am going to capture a few simple facts about how easy it is to create an Online Meeting with Office 365. Plus will I cover a few administrator topics to show you why Office 365 with Lync Online is an Enterprise class cloud service that aligns to Enterprise businesses.

Creating Meetings in Outlook Web Access Calendar

Some people do not know, but is now possible to schedule a Lync Online meeting inside of Outlook Web Access. When creating a meeting just click Online Meeting.


As you can see here, the online meeting link and information was added into the meeting invite.


If you click on the online meeting settings you can see what policies have been set as inviting people to meeting, the default policy for the lobby (which is where attendees go through to attend a meeting), and who can be presenters. Your organization Lync Online administrator has control over this policy and it cannot be overridden. This is an important topic and I will discuss it more at the end of this blog.


Creating an Online Meeting in Outlook

As I mentioned, it is possible to create an Online Meeting in Outlook client. All you need to is click the button.


Once that is done as you can see, the meeting has been created just like in OWA.


If you click on Meeting Options, you will see you have some more options change the default configuration of your Lync Online Meeting. These setting can easily be set during the actual online meeting but sometimes it is nice to have them pre-set just in case you are the presenter and you are running a little late. Additionally, if you like a configuration, you can click Remember Settings.


Interesting note, if you make changes, the Lync meeting URL changes in the invite.

The Lync Online Meeting

I am not going to cover the full Lync Online Meeting experience in this blog. It is suffice to say, there is a lot of features and capabilities that are available to an end user. There are tons of presenter controls to mute/unmute, blog attendees, admit people into the meeting from the lobby, promote attendees to presenters, etc. End users can share their desktop, applications, polling, white-boarding, question and answer, recording, etc. Note that Online Meetings do not have to be created through a calendar, they can be completely ad-hoc. End users can be talking with one another in Lync Online and inviting / drag-and-drop more people right into their conversation. Plus there are Lync Mobile apps that are on Windows, iPhone and Android. This allows people to attend meetings when they are on the go.

For all the information about Lync Online, I recommend reading the Service Description here -


Adding a Conference Call Phone Number

With Lync Online Meetings by default you have ability to do PC-to-PC audio based meetings. These meetings are multi-party. However your organizations may need to support online meeting for people who need to call in through a phone number. Lync Online supports the ability for Third-Party Dial-in Audio Conferencing Providers (ACP) to be integrated into the Lync Online service. For more information review the Service Description -

Below is a screenshot of where this is configured. You have the ability to identify which users have the ability to add a call number to their meeting.

Once this completed, the ACP phone number and passcode will automatically be added into the online meeting information for the end user.


Lync Online Federation with Other Organizations

Another thing you may consider when configuring Lync Online Meetings for your business is to set up federation. You can configure federation with other organizations that have Lync Online, Lync on-premise or even OCS R2 on-premise. Doing this allows for Lync PC multi-party audio without having to set up a conference bridge. This also enables IM, presence and whole host of other features to allow your organizations to communicate with each more effectively. Below is a screenshot of where you will go to set up Lync Online Federation.

Note this is also where you go allow or disallow integrated public communications with Skype. This is very powerful capability and we ensure you have control over this to protect your organizational data.

Here is some more information about it -


To extend upon this, Exchange Online also allows organizations to share calendars with each other. This enables organizations with Exchange Online or Exchange on-premise to create an organizational relationship to share calendar information. Doing this will make it extremely easy for an end user to look at calendar free/busy and then create an Online Meeting with partner organizations. Below is a screenshot showing where you can set up calendar federation. Note your organization can also allow sharing by individually externally instead of using federation. For more information about the policies for external calendar sharing, please read the following -


Additional Configuration for Meetings

The Lync Online administrator also has the ability to add organizational information into the online meeting invite template. You can incorporate your company logo, create a help URL to provide any custom instructions, you can provide a URL to legal compliance information and even put in a customer footer message. All important things for an enterprise service. Below is a screenshot of where this would be configured.


Lync Online Meeting Policy

Here is another really differentiator of Lync Online Meetings when compared to other cloud services. With Lync Online you can create corporate policies on what you will allow with Online Meetings. These cannot be overridden by end users. For instance you can use the Conference Policy ( to control things such as:

  • Whether you allow anonymous participants
  • What level of participation you all external people to participate – you may limit it
  • Whether you allow conferences to be recorded
  • Whether you allow video
  • You can control which features you will even allow – for instance you can shut off Polling, Q and A, whiteboarding, etc.
  • Whether you allow desktop sharing
  • You may want to block file transfers
  • Etc.

This is important because enterprise data must be protected. There is tons of data being communicated in Online Meetings and there are legitimate business reasons why communications need to be controlled. You can create policies that align to your data loss prevention policies you are creating across Office 365.

If you want to explore more policies to create for Lync Online, I highly recommend you read this and There are more considerations other than just Online Meetings.

Lync Online Meeting Archiving

In addition to policy, another important feature of Lync Online Meetings with Office 365 is archiving. Luckily with Office 365 Lync Online is integrated with Exchange Online; again a differentiator with other cloud services.

To archive peer-to-peer instant messages, multiparty instant messages, and content upload activities in meetings a Legal Hold with Exchange Online would be created. You can specify the types of data to be captured in that legal and as you can see below, there is a Lync Items option. This will ensure the data is captured along with calendar items. Below is a screenshot to show you where that is accounted for.


Additionally, if you have very strict rules around being legally required to preserve electronically stored information, you have the ability to turn off features. For instance within Lync Online and create policy to turn of features that are not captured in archiving.


In my blog posting here - - I explored many of the features of Legal Hold as there is a lot things to be considered.

For more information Lync Online archiving you can also read the Service Description here -

In Closing

I feel like there is a lot more I can cover around why Online Meetings as they are great in Office 365.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lync Online Reports Updates

Back in July, Office 365 and Lync Online released some initial reports. I posted some information about it here -

I was just announced that this reporting capability has been expanded - These are new visual reports that used to only be available through PoweShell or REST Services. Now you have visual reports on active users, audio/video minutes, conference minutes, P2P sessions, P2P conferences, etc.

This provides good report information that can be presented to your management to show how the Lync Online service is being used.

This is really valuable information as it allows customers to get a handle on Lync utilization. This can be helpful information for tweaking your network configuration to support Lync Online services. For more information on more on network planning for Lync Online, recommend you read the following - and utilize this tool

Force Lync Web App Client for a Web Meeting in Lync Online

Forcing Lync Web App Client

I learned a neat trick the other day. Let’s say you have a meeting you need to schedule with Lync Online (this works on-premise too) that you need to force the attendees to meet over the browser (Lync Web App Client). Well this is actually pretty simple, all you need to do is modify the meeting URL. Just add ?sl=1 to the end of the URL.

So your URL may be like the following -

All you need to do is change it to be -

When a user clicks on the link, they will be forced into the Lync Web App Client. They will not be prompted to install the Lync client.



There are some considerations for the presenter on the type of web meeting you are planning to give.

  • Sharing Slides - If the meeting the presenter is showing some slides instead of sharing your desktop or PowerPoint as a Program try using the PowerPoint option. This uploads the PowerPoint into the Lync Online service versus running the slides locally. This has two advantages first you will get better performance. Second no browser add-in is required; a browser add-in is required if you are sharing your desktop or a program. This may be important to you of the meeting audience is outside of your organization and you may not know what computer lockdown requirements they may enforced.


  • Audio - In the web meeting you will most likely need to support audio; an add-in is required and the user will be prompted to add it if it is not there. Like I mentioned, your meeting may be with an external audience that may not support add-ins because they have lockdown requirements on their computers. This is not a problem for Lync Online. You can purchase Audio Conferencing Partner (ACP) that will provide an integrated 1-800 call in service. This will allow anyone to call the 1-800 number be integrated into the Lync Online meeting. The person attending the meeting can simply select the option that they will call the 1-800 number for the meeting versus installing the add-in.
  • Other Stuff – Many of the other features of such as polling, whiteboarding, IMing in the meeting, sharing files, etc. do not require an add-in. If you need to share you need desktop or do a video sharing session, and you must force the web meeting with the browser, an add-in is required. I have provided some references below.


Here are some good resources.