Archive for the ‘Teams collaboration remote access’ category

Microsoft Teams for phone calls

November 30th, 2021

Organizations that want to use Microsoft Teams for phone calls will have a new option, starting in January.   

Microsoft is introducing a new product, “Teams Phone with Calling Plan.” that combines the “Microsoft 365 Business Voice” product offering with enterprise capabilities of the “Teams Calling Essentials” product. Those two products will disappear after the new Teams Phone with Calling Plan product gets released.

These product changes will simplify purchasing and bring “enterprise-grade capabilities to SMBs,”.

The overall product changes and pricing are shown in the following diagram from a Microsoft FAQ document (Word doc download):

[Click on image for larger view.]Figure 1. Consolidation and pricing changes for Microsoft Teams products (source: Microsoft FAQ document). The new Teams Phone with Calling Plan product, coming Jan. 1, 2022, will supplant the Business Voice and Teams Calling Essentials products.

Microsoft Business Voice Ending in March
Microsoft Business Voice is a Teams product that sets up Microsoft as an organization’s telephony service provider. It’s for Microsoft 365 and Office 365 users having “300 or fewer people,”

Microsoft is planning to phase out its Business Voice product on March 1, 2022, according to the FAQ document. However, existing Microsoft Business Voice users will be able to renew their subscriptions “until June 30, 2022” or they can choose the Teams Phone with Calling Plan option instead.

While the Teams Calling Essentials product also is going away, no dates were described by Microsoft for its end.

New Teams Phone with Calling Plan Coming Jan. 1
Organizations with Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions that include Microsoft Teams will be offered Teams Phone with Calling Plan. It’s not available yet as a standalone product.

Users of Teams Phone with Calling Plan get 3,000 minutes for domestic calls in the United States and Canada, but just 1,200 minutes for domestic calls in other markets. for Organizations that call outside their domestic zones, Microsoft sells an add-on international calling plan that offers 600 minutes per user per month,.

The calls, conducted from Microsoft Teams, work across mobile networks and the public switched telephone network.

Teams Phone with Calling Plan will be offered through Microsoft’s partners in 33 markets starting on Jan. 1, 2022.

Teams Phone with Calling Plan also will be directly available from the Teams Phone website in the US, UK, and Canada on January 3rd, and in the remainder of markets later in January,” To add Teams Phone with Calling Plan, organizations will need to have one of the following qualifying subscriptions, per the FAQ: “Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard, Business Premium, F1, F3, E3, A3 and Office 365 F1, F3, E1, E3, A1, A3.”

Teams Phone Option and Calling Plan Option
Alternatively, organizations can buy a “standalone” product called Teams Phone, which “allows them to purchase dial tone from a third-party provider.”

Microsoft also alternatively offers a separate Calling Plan product for Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Teams users to connect to the public switched telephone network (that is, landline phones).

Audio Conferencing Realignment in March
Audio Conferencing is a Teams feature that lets users start conferences with their phones, even when the phones lack the bandwidth for a Teams session.  Microsoft in August to broaden access to the Audio Conferencing beyond Microsoft 365 E5 and Office 365 E5 plans. That announcement came in the context of price hikes for Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions, expected to occur on March 1, 2022.

In its Friday announcement, Microsoft clarified that Audio Conferencing “will be available as part of all Teams-inclusive Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions starting on March 1, 2021.”

Metaverse

November 5th, 2021

Digital transformation over the last 2 years brought a tsunami of change to every industry – from ubiquitous e commerce, to the adoption of telehealth in healthcare to digital wallets in financial services to curbside pickup and contactless shopping in retail – and cybercrime, digital technology has been at the forefront of this seismic shift.

There has been much talk recently about Facebooks recent renaming itself to focus on the metaverse. Microsoft has also long been evolving solutions for the metaverse. So what is it?

It is not the metaverse first imagined by Neal Stephenson in 1992’s “Snow Crash.” Instead, it is a persistent, digital world that is connected to many aspects of the physical world, including people, places and things. In this short video and in this announcement it’s described as a sort of inhabitable Internet (via 3-D avatars instead of people.

During his keynote talk at the Microsoft Ignite event, taking place virtually this week, CEO Satya Nadella described an emerging “metaverse” of digital experiences that will sustain businesses in the new world of hybrid work. Microsoft defines a metaverse as “a digital space inhabited by digital representations of people and things

Nadella’s concluding statement about the metaverse suggested that it would not evolve into an inhuman digital world, reminiscent of “The Matrix” movie:

In a sense, the metaverse enables us to embed computing into the real world and to embed the real world into computing, bringing real presence to any digital space. For years we’ve talked about creating this digital representation of the world. But now we actually have the opportunity to go in that world and participate in it. What’s most important is that we are able to bring our humanity with us and choose how we want to experience this world and who we want to interact with.

Teams Enhancements

November 5th, 2021

At this year’s Ignite conference. Microsoft announced updates and new features to its business communication platform. Mesh for Microsoft Teams, provides new options for digital meetups with personalized avatars and 3-D environments. Personalized avatars, will give a sense of presence in meetings without turning on cameras.

Users will have more options to join meeting rooms and virtual collaboration spaces using redesigned avatars that will move and react based on your speech . Tuesday’s announcement comes after Facebook unveiled its similar virtual avatar technology that will soon be available in its newly christened Meta social media platform relaunch.

Microsoft said that users will not only be able to come together in new virtual reality rooms, but will be able to collaborate and to share on documents stored in Microsoft 365. Users can join a Mesh room either from their PC, or smartphone or mixed reality device.

This arose from a multiyear collaboration between Microsoft and mega-partner Accenture, an Ireland-based IT services firm that is known for virtual conference and meeting technologies.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams will begin to roll out in 2022 in preview and will launch with a set of prebuilt immersive spaces, with options for organizations to create their own custom spaces to be added.

 Microsoft Teams Enhancements
For Microsoft Teams, the company unveiled more features one of which is the inclusion of a virtual green room to allow organizers and guest speakers to interact in a second virtual space to collaborate on presentation content, monitor chat and socialize. Microsoft said this feature will be available in preview in early 2022.

To secure shared documents a new feature planned for 2022 called Teams Connect. will allow for Teams channels to be shared with outside individuals and organizations, with IT retaining control on how and what documents can be shared.

Teams Chat will be upgraded and it will permit individuals in a Teams organization to use their personal Teams account to chat and collaborate., and also o chat with yourself, which Microsoft said will be useful for personal organization and keeping memos stored in one place.

Power BI autp install for TEAMS is coming.

September 17th, 2021
  • Power BI will begin automatically installing the Power BI app for Teams for users when they visit the Power BI service
  • Power BI admins can choose not to auto-install through a new Power BI tenant setting
  • The tenant setting has started to roll-out now, giving admins time to opt-out if desired.
  • The automatic installation will start to take effect in November 2021, for organizations with the setting enabled.

Auto-install for Power BI app for Microsoft Teams

When the Power BI app for Microsoft Teams is installed, users get better experiences without leaving Teams, like:

These capabilities are available once the Power BI app for Teams is installed for a user

The Install Power BI app for Microsoft Teams automatically tenant setting is added to the Power BI admin portal. Power BI admins can control the auto-install behavior. By default, the auto-install is enabled.

Power BI tenant setting that controls automatically installation of the Power BI app for Microsoft Teams for a user.

The automatic installation happens for a user under the following conditions:

  1. The Power BI app for Microsoft Teams is set to allowed in the Microsoft Teams admin portal
  2. The Power BI tenant setting Install Power BI app for Microsoft Teams automatically is enabled
  3. The user has a Microsoft Teams license
  4. The user opens the Power BI service (e.g. app.powerbi.com) in a web browser

Initially, auto-install applies to new users the first time they visit the Power BI service in a web browser. In the future, auto-install will occur for all active users of the Power BI service who meet the criteria.

When auto-install occurs, the following notification is shown in the Power BI service notification pane.

Graphical user interface, text, application Description automatically generated

Questions and Answers

What happening today?

Pre-announcing auto-install of Power BI in Teams.

Starting to roll-out a Power BI tenant admin setting which enables Power BI admins to choose to opt-out of the automatic installation behavior.

When will these changes take effect?

In November 2021, Power BI auto-install of Power BI in Teams will start rolling out.

Which users will be affected?

When the Power BI tenant setting is enabled, the Power BI app for Microsoft Teams will be installed for users who meet the criteria specified. Initially, automatic installation will apply to new users and will expand to all users who visit the Power BI service in a web browser after the initial roll-out in November 2021.

When should I use a Microsoft Teams App Setup Policy?

Microsoft Teams app setup policies allow Microsoft Teams Admins to install an app for a target set of users. Since this applies to all users in the specified group, you can ensure everyone who needs Power BI has it, even when they’re not active Power BI users. Use app setup policies to pin the Power BI app in Teams to the Microsoft Teams left rail. This additional step makes data and analytics prominently available throughout your organization..

Read more about automatic installation in the Power BI documentation

Read more about the Power BI app for Microsoft Teams

Read more about collaboration in Microsoft Teams with Power BI

August 24th, 2021

A bungled data migration of a network drive caused the deletion of 22 terabytes of information from Dallas Police Department police force’s systems – included case files in a murder trial,during a data migration exercise carried out at the end of the 2020-21 financial year

“On August 6, 2021, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) and City of Dallas Information and Technology Services Department (ITS) informed the administration of this Office that in April 2021, the City discovered that multiple terabytes of DPD data had been deleted during a data migration of a DPD network drive,” said a statement [PDF] from the Dallas County prosecutor’s office.

14TB were recovered, presumably from backups, but “approximately 8 Terabytes remain missing and are believed to be unrecoverable.”

The Home Office initially issued a statement saying the data loss was down to a “technical issue”, which had been resolved, There must have been some technical resolution because the Home Office later said it was not a technical issue after all, and in fact a “housekeeping error” with Home Secretary Priti Patel saying: “Home Office engineers continue to work to restore data lost as a result of human error during a routine housekeeping process earlier this week.”

In a letter published by The Guardian, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) deputy chief constable Naveed Malik, lead for the organisation on the Police National Computer (PNC), said approximately 213,000 offence records, 175,000 arrest records and 15,000 person records had potentially been deleted in error. The DNA database connected to the PNC saw 26,000 records corresponding to 21,710 subjects potentially deleted in error, “including records previously marked for indefinite retention following conviction of serious offences”. The letter also said 30,000 fingerprint records and 600 subject records may have been deleted in error.

The PNC dates back to the 1970s. The current iteration is a Fujitsu BS2000/OSD SE700-30 mainframe based in a Hendon data centre, running Software AG’s natural programming language-using ADABAS database. The UK’s territorial and regional police forces, Serious Fraud Office, Security and Secret Intelligence Services (MI5, MI6), HM Revenue & Customs, and the National Crime Agency all make use of it. They have controlled and 24-hour access from remote terminals and through local police force systems.

These incidents highlight the importance of backups and backup and recovery processes. How often do you test whether you can restore your back ups? Does this still work for restoring older back ups when you upgrade? Has a move to the cloud changed the retention of your back ups, the frequency of upgrades, or the ease or time for restore?

Skype for Business Online retires on July 31, 2021 -time to migrate to TEAMS

July 8th, 2021

Skype for Business Online retires on July 31, 2021,

We recognize that customers have been working hard to complete their Skype for Business Online-to-Teams transitions by the retirement date. Some customers are going to face significant challenges to finish by July 31, 2021. We also understand the hurdles the past year has presented for organizations worldwide and the increased reliance on communication and collaboration platforms like Skype for Business Online and Teams to ensure business continuity.

Microsoft-assisted upgrades to Teams.. Read  guidance about Microsoft-assisted upgrades for information about what to expect.

After they’ve been scheduled for a Microsoft-assisted upgrade, Skype for Business Online customers will be able to request a three-month extension of the Skype for Business Online service to help address any remaining technical or organizational readiness issues. Customers can submit requests through the Teams admin center and can expect a response within three business days. Read the latest blog post to learn more.

.(he retirement of Skype for Business Online and corresponding assisted upgrades do not affect the Skype consumer service, Skype for Business Server products and Skype for Business Online operated by 21Vianet (China Sovereign Clouds Instance).)

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/upgrade-skype-teams

Synergy Microsoft Gold partnership

June 23rd, 2021

Our Microsoft Partner Network Gold competency membership has been confirmed again for the 15th time.

Natural remote hybrid meetings in Teams

June 22nd, 2021

With office environments becoming increasingly “hybrid” post-pandemic, Microsoft is readying multiple improvements to its software to facilitate remote meetings.

Specifically, the company announced coming perks for users of the Microsoft Teams collaboration service, as well as Microsoft Viva, Microsoft’s relatively new “employee experience platform.”

Software improvements also are coming for Microsoft Whiteboard, a screen app used for collaboratively sketching ideas during meetings. Emerging Microsoft 365 “fluid components,” used to facilitate collaborations on the fly in applications, also are coming.

More Natural Remote Meetings
Microsoft’s meetings enhancements support the current work-from-home trend, dubbed “hybrid work,” Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, in the announcement suggested that Microsoft’s solutions bring organizations “a new operating model for people, places and process.”

The future improvements announced on Thursday aim to make remote meetings seem more natural. Microsoft concluded from its research findings that offering “a good view of the in-room participants” to remote viewers and “normalizing the sizes of people’s remote video feeds” would make remote meetings seem less fatiguing to viewers.

Fluid Components Expansion
Microsoft had introduced a preview of fluid components for Microsoft Teams in its May 2021 Build event. Fluid components enable messaging from software components, such as action items, lists or tables, when using the Teams service. Microsoft’s Thursday announcement explained that fluid components also are now coming to “OneNote, Outlook and Whiteboard to make it easier to collaborate synchronously and asynchronously across Teams and Office apps.” The exact timing when these fluid components will be integrated, though, not yet announced.

Fluid components are new Microsoft 365 solutions built on the Microsoft Fluid Framework, a Web-based “componentized document model for shared, interactive experiences” that was first introduced at the 2019 Microsoft Build event. These fluid components will are expected come to the Microsoft Teams and Whiteboard applications sometime this summer,

Front Row View in Teams Rooms
A major improvement for enhancing remote meeting experiences is its new “front row” feature for Teams Rooms.

With the front row feature, remote meeting participants appear in a row at the bottom of a screen, which is supposed to be at the same eye level as would be experienced if they had actually been seated in a meeting room. The top of the screen can then be used to display presentation materials. There’s also screen room on the sides to display other materials, such as a meeting agenda and a chat window.

The new front row feature “will be supported across both single and dual display configurations,” Microsoft explained in a Teams Rooms announcement. It’s expected to arrive “over the course of this year.”

New Whiteboard App
The Microsoft Whiteboard application, which lets people draw diagrams collaboratively using digital inking, is now described as being “completely new.” It has a new “Fluent toolbar” and improved inking capabilities when using a mouse. Drawn shapes get automatically straightened with a “shape recognition” capability.

The new Whiteboard app has various collaboration improvements. “Collaboration cursors” appear to identify people working together on a whiteboard. Microsoft added a laser pointer tool. It also added a “follow along” feature and new templates.

Quickly identify and fix your performance bottleneck

May 4th, 2021

Are you responsible for a busy SQL server, for example, the Finance Department’s systems, documentation management, CRM, BI, or a Web Server; perhaps a busy file and print server, or something else entirely.

Were you responsible for installing the application running the workload for your company? Is the workload business critical, i.e. TOO BIG TO FAIL?

Do users, or even worse, customers, complain about performance?

If you are responsible to keep the workloads running in your organization that would benefit from additional performance, please read on – even if you don’t consider yourself a “Techie”.

Windows and VMs are both factors of high latency that impacts performance.

Variables Affecting the Performance of the Applications

There are many variables that affect the performance of those applications. The slowest, i.e. the most restrictive of these is the “Bottleneck”. Think of water being poured from a bottle. The water can only flow as fast as the neck of the bottle, the ‘slowest’ part of the bottle.

In a computer hardware the bottleneck will almost always fit into one of the following categories:

  • CPU
  • DISK
  • MEMORY
  • NETWORK

With Windows, it is usually very easy to find out which one the bottleneck is in, and here is how to do it (like an IT Engineer):

  • To open Resource Monitor – click the Start menu, and type “resource monitor”, and press Enter. Microsoft includes this as part of the Windows operating system and it is already installed.
  • Notice the graphs in the right-hand pane. When your computer is running at peak load, or users are complaining about performance, which of the graphs are ‘maxing out’? This is a great indicator of where your workload’s bottleneck is to be found.
Resource monitor

What You Can Do to Improve Application Performance

Once you have identified your bottleneck – the slowest part of your ‘compute environment’ then, what can you do to improve it?

The traditional approach to solving computer performance issues is to throw bigger and more powerful hardware at the solution like an extra disk or a new laptop, or putting more RAM into your workstation, or on the more extreme end, buying new servers or expensive storage solutions.

How do you decide when it is appropriate to spend money on new or additional hardware, and when it isn’t. Well the obvious answer is; ‘when you can get the performance that you need’, with the existing hardware infrastructure that you have already bought.

You don’t replace your car, just because it needs a service or tuning?

Let’s take disk speed as an example. Look at the response time column in Resource Monitor. Open the monitor to full screen or large enough to see the data. On the Overview tab, open the Disk Activity section so that you can see the Response Time column.

Do it now on the computer you’re using to read this. (You didn’t close Resource Monitor yet, did you?) This shows the Disk Response Time, or , how long is the storage taking to read and write data? Of course, a slower disk speed = a slower performance, but what is considered a good disk speed or a bad speed?

Scott Lowe, has written a great post that you can read here…TechRepublic: Use Resource Monitor to monitor storage performance that perfectly describes what to expect from faster and slower Disk Response Times:

Response Time (ms). Disk response time in milliseconds. For this metric, a lower number is definitely better; in general, anything less than 10 ms is considered good performance. If you occasionally go beyond 10 ms, you should be okay, but if the system is consistently waiting more than 20 ms for response from the storage, then you may have a problem that needs attention, and it’s likely that users will notice performance degradation. At 50 ms and greater, the problem is serious.”

I hope when you check on your computer, the Disk Response Time is below 20 milliseconds. What about those other workloads that you were thinking about earlier. What’s the Disk Response Times on that busy SQL server, the CRM or BI platform, or those Windows servers that the users complain about?

Your Two Options

When the Disk Response Times are often higher than 20 milliseconds, and you need to improve the application performance, then it’s choice time and there are two main options:

  • Storage workload reduction software like DymaxIO™ fast data (Diskeeper®, SSDkeeper®, and V-locity® are now new DymaxIO fast data software). This tool will reduce Disk Storage Times by allowing much e of the data that your applications need to read, to come from a RAM cache, rather than be read slower disk storage. RAM is much faster than the media in your disk storage.
  • Contact us to trial this. You don’t even need to reboot.
  • If you have tried the DymaxIO software, and you still need faster disk access, then, it’s time to start getting quotations for new hardware. It does make sense though, to take a couple of minutes to install DymaxIO first, to see if that can be avoided. The software solution to remove storage inefficiencies is typically a much more cost-effective solution than having to buy hardware! A software solution to a software problem.

Improve Your Application Performance by Decreasing Disk Latency like an IT Engineer – call us to learn more 0097143365589

Snaplogic iPaaS now even better – ask Synergy Software Systems

April 29th, 2021

We’re excited to announce the ‘February 2021’ release of the SnapLogic Intelligent Integration Platform. In this release, there are a number of new Snap Packs: for Marketo and Hubspot. for Marketing Automation, for Microsoft Teams and Power BI for team communication and analytics rly, and OpenAPI to connect to any OpenAPI compliant endpoints.

There is also support for Azure Synapse analytics to our ELT capability. Platform enhancements include :

  • higher productivity through expanded Universal search,
  • platform notifications to Slack,
  • better reliability through Snaplex level scheduling, and more.

Hassle-free connectivity with NEW Snap Packs

New Snap Packs provide out-of-the-box connectivity to key enterprise endpoints.  For example the new Marketo and Hubspot Snap Packs allow you to connect seamlessly to these marketing automation systems. Easily manage marketing assets/campaigns or leads that enter your marketing funnel. While HubSpot Snap Pack supports CRUD (create, read, update, delete) operations, the Marketo Snap Pack allows you to do bulk operations on leads.

With these Snap Packs, quickly sync your assets and leads data across Marketing, Sales, and other functional areas and easily connect to event/survey applications such as Eventbrite, SurveyMonkey, or to Demand Generation tools such as Google Ads, Linkedin, and Analytics endpoints such as Microsoft Power BI and Tableau.

The  Microsoft Power BI Snap Pack is also new and allows you to connect your Power BI instance to hundreds of data sources to bring your data to life with live dashboards and reports. Visualize your data and share insights across teams or embed these in your app or website. The Snap Pack helps you to post, push datasets, read, and edit so that you can easily query data, create/bind entities, import files, and update entities.

For an organization that has a heavy investment in the Microsoft ecosystem, the next Snap Pack the new Microsoft Teams Snap Pack allows you to easily integrate your Microsoft Teams into your enterprise workflows for customers, employees, and teams. This Snap Pack supports accounts such as OAuth2 User, Application, and Dynamic accounts to adhere to your enterprise security standards. Use it to send messages, perform channel operations, and perform team operations. . 

Another key new Snap Pack with this release is the OpenAPI Snap Pack. Most API endpoints today adhere to the OpenAPI specification version 2 or 3. Leverage this Snap Pack to connect to any API endpoint with the published OpenAPI specification so that users can get all the needed documentation while they build their automated workflows. More efficiently connect to any generic endpoint without the need for specific Snaps.

Improved connectivity with other Snap Pack enhancements

Google Sheets Snap Pack now supports JSON based version 4 of the API rather than XML based version 3

Kafka Snap Pack updates now support reading/writing record headers and timestamps, provide option to choose one output document per batch. The later feature allows systems that don’t natively support streaming data to effectively work with Kafka messages by batching them together.

Amazon Redshift and Amazon SQS Snap Packs provide cross-account IAM support that allows organizations to trust and allocate roles with specific access privileges to specific groups or users.

Pushdown to any cloud data warehouse including Azure Synapse 

Over previous releases, Snaplogic has introduced ELT support for Snowflake, Redshift cloud data warehouses so that you can do both ETL and ELT on a single platform. The ELT support is extended to Azure Synapse with this release. With ELT for Azure Synapse, you can accelerate data loading into Azure Synapse to provide ultimate flexibility to transform data by use of all computing resources across SnapLogic and Azure Synpase, thus reducing TCO and enabling a faster time-to-value. 

With the SnapLogic platform yextract data from SaaS applications and databases with a vast number of Snaps. Once the data is in the staging area in Azure Cloud Storage, visually define data transformations, no need to write SQL. These visual transformations are converted into SQL statements and pushed to Azure Synapse for execution.

New features added to SnapLogic ELT make it easy to discover schema and SQL functions in the target cloud data warehouse. The platform provides suggestions for column names during LOAD, INSERT SELECT or MERGE INTO operations. The platform also provides SQL function suggestions when working with your target cloud data warehouse. To deal with large number of SQL functions various cloud data warehouses support, are grouped into different categories to simplify discovery.

Better Ease of Use and improved resiliency with the Platform Updates

The SnapLogic Intelligent Integration platform continues to evolve to make it easy for integration developers, whether they are technical or non-technical, to build and monitor integrations. 

Universal Search, as the name suggests helps you search everything related to SnapLogic, all from a single search box. With the February release, it now performs pipeline searches in addition to the searches in Community, Configured Snaps and Documentation. This is not just a simple text based search. The Iris AI integration assistant provides more relevant search results across generic content (in community and documentation) and specific content from your org (such as pipelines or configured Snaps that you have access to). T

Figure 1: Universal search now supports pipeline searches

To efficiently monitor your integrations use the platform notifications to Slack. Users then get notified via Slack for any notifications from SnapLogic platform such as Daily API Usage, Snaplex Congestion, CPU usage, user activity, in addition to email notifications. Send notifications either on Slack Channels or directly to users.

Figure 2: Configuring Notifications to Slack

Enable Snaplex levels scheduling for all the scheduled tasks. This update reduces the time difference between the scheduled time of task execution and the actual time of task execution. With this update, your scheduled tasks won’t be affected by network disruption of the control plane helping your reliably deliver data that advances business processes and delivers insights.