Workflow Associations lost in migration

Ran into this interesting problem today.  It is related to this long running workflow bug from this post.  As part of the eBay/PayPal split, we are creating a new domain and moving the users.  Of course, some users still exist, some do not.  No matter what, the workflow user will not exist in the target domain.  So the previous bug occurs.

But we ran into another issue.  All the listsite workflow associations disappeared for those "User not found" workflows. Took a couple of hours, but finally figured it out.

If you run the SPFarm.MigrateUserAccount method before updating the non-existing workflow owner to an existing person…you will LOSE ALL ASSOCIATIONS for all the workflows across the farm that the previously migrated user owned!  Ouch…

Lesson learned…be sure to update the workflow modifiedby first, then migrate your users!

Chris

Delve vs Box : What the heck is Delve? Don’t baby me…don’t tech me…give it to me straight! –

At @MS_Ignite I had a very fun, cool, awesome session that we affectionately called "Battle of the Office Graph".  Can you tell from the pic?

Huh, you said Delve in the blog title, why now are you saying "Office Graph"?  Well, that's what this blog post is here to enlighten you about!  So let me explain…the "Office Graph" is the basis for a series of "signals" or "events" that occur in the O365 eco-system that are fed into the SharePoint Search index.  These signals can be a myriad of different things such as "Create", "Update", "Email", blah blah (you can learn all about it here).  These events also have properties that are indexed such that you can "query" them via the SharePoint Search APIs.  So…back to the question that was asked over and over again at the Delve booth at @MS_Ignite…

What is Delve? 

This O365 page tries to tell you, but kinda fails miserably.  Delve, my friends, is simply a UI on top of the SharePoint Search index (yeah…that awesome Ceres code built by the amazingly cool and crazy smart Norwegians that I love to hang out with!) that shows you these various events that you or other people have generated in a "meaningful" way.  At least…that's how it started out anyway.  as some other people have started to notice, the page is taking on the new persona of the "My Profile" page, only rebranded as "Delve". The "meaningful" way is simply a basic set of queries that the Search team put together that they think makes the most sense for a majority of people and organizations on the planet.  Will it work for you?…probably…is it optimal for you?  Maybe not. If you check out Wikipedia…it has a horrible definition that is not even close!  Does it use machine learning and artificial intelligence…ummm no.  As a computer scientist, I can safely say that simple algorithms and data queries don't qualify for machine learning or even come close to AI.  The marketing guys did a really good job and they let the media spin this out of control! It also does not let you manage your emails or pretty much anything else that the page says (as of 5/20/2015)!

Since it is just a simple one page app that makes Ajax calls to the Search API…this is where the ability to make your own "Delve" page (or App) comes into play.  You can create your own pages in O365 that makes calls to the Search API and build your own Delve interface(s).  Currently the default Delve UI page is not extensible unless you highjack the CDN, which you can do inside your network, but not outside it (which of course would make for a terrible user experience). Wait a few more months and you should get the ability to do some customization (although we are not sure exactly what they will entail just yet)!

In addition, the widely awaited and
anticipated "Push API" is coming very soon (likely end of 2015).  This
will allow you to pump your own "signals" into the SharePoint Search
index aka Office Graph aka Delve.  This will kick the crap out of Box
and all the other online storage companies and anyone else that is even
thinking about entering the online storage market!

So….it's this future ability to create your own UI based off the internal and external indexed signals that makes the future of the O365 platform so exciting!  Which brings me to the second part of this blog post…comparing Delve and O365 (OneDrive) to something like Box.  Ok so yeah, they had an IPO recently.  The stock has tanked horribly…why?  Cuz Microsoft is about to destroy them.  If you are stockholder…well…I'm sorry for you.  Get out now!  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say its possible that they may use some of that cash to catchup, however, if they simply use it to do Merger and Acquisitions of simple disk drives…well…your screwed.

Real life example: 

eBay has a fairly huge presence on Box but does not use their internal OneDrive (My Site) or their O365 tenant.  Box currently provides a seamless single sign on experience that gains eBay access to cloud hosted corporate data (can you say "I don't trust internal IT"?).  However, it is missing some key features that exist in Office 365 that should make you pause and reconsider your usage of Box.  This is the current experience with eBay Box:

eBay Box: 

Open the Box url, type your ebay email (do NOT type your password)…

 

Home Realm Discovery takes you to the eBay SSO (this is similar with Yammer and O365 solutions)

 

You are presented with your eBay Box application:

 

As you can see, not much going on.  Its just a web UI on top of some storage.  Very lame, very boring.  You don't get anything close to what Office 365 gives you!  But Box does have a couple of nice simple features that O365 does not have, keep reading…

O365 OneDrive:

Open the O365 login page (https://login.microsoftonline.com/) – maybe one day they will change this pic of Santa Monica to something else, been this same image for like 4 years now!

Enter your email and again, Home Realm Discovery takes you to the eBay SSO (this is similar with Yammer and O365 solutions)

 

Once logged in (and if you have a license assigned), you are presented with your O365 tenant.  

At this point, without saying anything…its pretty obvious who the winner is between O365 and Box. But let's do the apples to apples thing shall we?  Clicking on OneDrive, we get the following:

 

Both (OneDrive and Box) are similar when compared to each other directly.  But its the indirect comparisons (pick your poison, apple vs orange, which ever is better is O365) where O365 starts to kick the **** out of Box.  However, Box does have some things that OneDrive does not have…

Box is good at:

  • Notifications (although O365 "My Site" aka OneDrive has it, it is buried and not as friendly as Box):

  • Logging – I know where I logged in from and when.  Try to find that in your O365 UI!:

O365 is good at…everything else!

Look at all the stuff you get with O365…seriously?!?  Box thinks they can compete?  Not even close.  Narrow-minded silicon valley hippies that just managed to pull off getting an IPO for a set of managed disks (aka hard drives).

O365 is bad at…everything Box is good at.

Just look at the simple design of the administration pages above.  OneDrive is a My Site hence, you go to the Settings cog->Site Settings…umm…no.  This equates to you need special training to learn to manage your "My Site" aka OneDrive.  People don't give a flying flip about a "My Site" or "Site Settings".  They want the simplicity of Box in terms of the admin.  The day the O365 team makes OneDrive simple to use with these types of admin UIs is the day the damn thing will rule the world.  Until then…its not even close.  The tech is there, but the UI is not. 

Summary:

That all being said.  It is the ability for your OneDrive to be fed into the Office Graph and the Delve UI that makes it so exciting.  In the "OneDrive" image above, you will notice the "Delve Test" word document in my OneDrive.  In the image below (along with injected Twitter data), you will see the document has in fact been inserted into my Office Graph! 

 

Box doesn't have this, it's a simple web UI on top of some disk drives with Federated Auth ability…LAME!  Get off Box and go O365!

Chris 

The eBay and PayPal Split

*Posting this now, as our part of the split is pretty much done even though we still have a few more weeks before the final split of the two companies*

As many of you know, I was asked to return as the architect to help split eBay and PayPal into two separate companies.  It was the first time I had ever been involved in "splitting" a public company into two parts.  I have been involved in merging companies, but splitting was a whole new ball game.  eBay had acquired Deloitte to advise on the regulatory rules around the split and thus-ly, they naturally would oversee all of our data split activities and approve my split plans.  Before the serious stuff…how bout some pictures of the team?

Pictures:

eBay Team (Vijiya, Surjan, Venu, Sukanya, Lavanya, Harika, Shanti, Asijit and some hidden faces) – I did not take this pic btw!

 

SPS Sillion Valley and Meeting the "Gordon" himself of "Gordon Biersh" (happened whilst at eBay):

 

Teaching the team how to play flip cup!

 

Of course I owned pretty much everything, so "Tell Chris Everything" was burned into everyone's psych…

 

And now the good stuff that will help the tech world….

Active Directory

  • Users, DLs – Another team built this strategy out.  A very talented team from COO (aka Michael Noel's company).  They used custom built scripts and the expensive yet super shitty Quest Tool (now Dell) to migrate users and then keep the password in Sync.
  • Names that change and those that don't  – DL names did not get updated from "ebay" to "paypal".  As you can imagine, that would have caused a massive workload on all Applications involved.  There was however a filtering process for accounts and DLs that did not need to come over.
  • Email addresses – PayPal went to Office 365/Exchange online.  Until the very last second, eBay maintained the MX records for the "Paypal" domain.  Once the user migration started to occur (laptops to the new paypal domain), the user's email address in the ebay system would be removed.  Of course you just can't flip a switch and automatically everyone is migrated and moved.  It took about a week for single users to really start seeing the migration of the MX and Mail box to occur.
    • Tackling migrated user emails – As you can imagine, workflows and other things that relied on the User Info table for email would show the old "ebay.com" alias, but of course, many users moved to "PayPal".  I decided that rather than leak any future data between the companies via workflows or alerts (and keep with SEC and other rules), I updated all users to "paypal.com".  So users that stay at ebay will not receive an email from the PayPal system.
  • The infamous lost of certain attributes – at some point, someone did something not so bright and annihilated two of the most important AD attributes for roughly half the migrated users.  This of course caused havoc throughout the system once the changes were replicated (SharePoint solutions and 3rd party apps use these properties once replicated via FIM to the user profile).  I was on top of it and made sure the AD guys heard from the SP team before anyone else.  It took 2 days to re-replicate all the properties for 25K users, ouch.

Permissions:

Permissions were a pain in the ass.  The AD guys setup a trust so anyone could login from either domain.  Obviously this is a bad thing cuz then you start seeing the UserInfo table fill up with odd ball stuff.  We had some test trust splits, but I made it a point to cut the ties completely after iteration #3.  I did this by doing the following:

  • Deny the old domain – Add the web app policy that denies any old domain users from logging into the new domain and then update the access denied page to remind them to use their new domain credentials
  • Set the People Picker OU – People would see two of each other when assigned permissions or testing things, of course I would get a defect assigned from every person that thought the migration didn't happen until I got fed up and locked it down to only pull from the local site collection user info list and the new domain.

3rd party apps

  • Vast amount of apps that must split like a cell.  Just to give you an idea:
    • Workday
    • SAP
    • SharePoint
    • Active Directory
    • Exchange
    • Human Resource systems
    • IT Ticketing (Remedy, home built)
    • Video solutions
    • File shares
    • SSO (Ping Identity)
  • Every one of these had to have a project team with PMO, architects, developers and business resources to split them off.  Super expensive and a massive undertaking!

Content – What goes, what stays?
The SEC and other regulatory bodies has some pretty strict rules around what could go and stay with each company.  There were several options one could have used to decide what content stayed and went:

  • Let the users tell us #1 (no guidance) – This requires user's to know what sites they use and what content is important.  Ha…I laughed my ass off at this option.  User's can never find or remember where and what they use everyday.  This would be a failure rigth off the bat
  • Let the users tell us #2 (with guidance) – build a tool that shows user's the sites they have viewed, edited whatever in the last 6 months/year. I built it, but they did not come (or rather, we didn't promote it).  User's never would have taken the time, and the business killed it as we didn't want liability for some reason.
  • Tell them what is going – We chose this option.  We did the migration about four times.  Each time we added more sites to the list of "should go".  At some point, no one complained about data missing.  See the next set of data points…

 What we used…

  • My algo ruled – We ended up using an Algorithm I built to decide what should go and what should stay.  It went something like this:  If the site used the "PayPal" master page, its good.  If the site had an ownercreater with a "Paypal.com" email address, its good.  If the site title had the name "PayPal", its good.  If the site didn't meet the first set of criteria, but had a document with the doc name having "PayPal", is was called "Mixed", it also got to go.  Legal loved the algo, signed off, and away we went.
  • Have a process – As much as the algo proved its value, there were still a set of sites that had to go no matter what.  The main intranet site was not tagged as "PayPal", but still had to go.  Shared resource sites managed by "eBay", had to go.  We put these in a special category and user's had to tell us they wanted them or they would get deleted.

IRM – Information Rights Management

  • IRM Enabled Docs – Turns out when you migrate from one domain to another, you lose access to all IRM enabled documents.  Huh…who would have thunk it?

Branding and MasterPages

  • 2007 strikes back! – 2007 had some weird crap in it.  My domain knowledge from the last upgrade helped me to "fix" some SP Hive files to support weird things like missing web part zones and other oddities
  • Lucky lucky – Our site creation process from 3 years ago helped us so much.  All the sites would get tagged based on the user and the templates they selected.  It made it super easy to find the PayPal sites (based on the algo above).
  • PayPal Branding – All migrated sites got PayPal branding, period.  No other companies, no eBay, therefore all master pages and other images were moved to PayPal.  It caused a bit of grief for some sites, but minor.

Single Sign On

  • SSO to SSO – all those apps above…yep…SSOclaims enabled.  eBay has a mandate that *all* new applications much support claims based Auth.  If not, you won't sell it or install it!  This meant migrating every new PayPal instance to the new PayPal SSO.  Not an easy or quick process of course.  I have another post about using the old Kerberos shite coming soon.

URL Migration

  • SystemUpdate – when updating listitems and files, make sure you use SystemUpdate.  It just looks tacky having a bunch of updates for URLs as people find others that have to be updated.
  • Keywords  and Best Bets – ensure that you remove old best bets (ones that point to sites that were deleted) and also make sure that you update the best bet urls so that they point to the new urls
  • InfoPath forms – forms that submit data to lists or other libraries must be updated.  I have a post from the last migration that details the hidden awesome code for in-memory InfoPath updating here
  • Title column and 255 chars – some URLs will get bigger when you replace them. Which means if the users decided to use the damn "Title" column, you will know that you can't change its type from Single Line of Text to Multi-line.  Those items are a lost cause and must be written off as much.  For the other columns, I could easily change the type to multiple lines of text and then update the URL.
  • Crawl Rules  – be sure you update your crawl rules to exclude those really dumb emails from customers that have weird stuff in them that should not show up in search results.  And all the unaccetable keywords that are not allowed in ebay and paypal systems.
  • Profile Properties – make sure you update User Profile properties (such as PictureUrl) that point to the old system to point to the new system
  • Code and Layouts files – Yeah, if you code has static AD domain references, you will have to update that.  And make sure that weird statically coded URLs in layout files are also updated.  This is super bad practice to statically code your absolute urls in your freakin layouts file.

List template and User Solutions

  • List Templates – Just blow that shite away…its ridiculous to try to create something and see 100s of weird list templates showing up
  • User Solutions – I blew all these away, totally worthless

Code, maintaining two code bases

  • TFS – yeah, you have to create new branches to support the changes in each company.  And at some point, they must break the link completely.  It required some serious refactoring in some cases to support both companies with one codebase.  I learned a ton of lessons around when you should put a company name in and when you should not.  In a majority of cases, NEVER put the name of the company somewhere in code.  Horrible, just horrible.
  • Company Names – and speaking about company names.  Never create columns on your lists that have the company name, especially if they will be used as refiners in your search center!  PayPal will forever more have the name "eBay" in the search results.  Bummer…

Testing, testing, testing

  • Have a tool that doesn't suck – When browsing, editing and doing reporting, don't use HP ALM.  It is a horrible piece of junk.  That being said, find one that at least:
    • Allows usersdepartments to enter defects
    • Allows you to easily find defects (assigned to you or the project)
    • Ensure user's don't add to a defect rather than creating new defects (this drove me crazy and I went off on a couple of people).
    • Set priorities for resolution
    • Set Severity and resolution times
    • Make sure people know that a defect will roll to the next migration attempt (deferrable)
  • Have a killer defect manager – we had an awesome lady running our defect management, Sukanya Samal.  Very knowledgeable and very to task, just amazing.  You never know when you might have some jokers like these fellows…
  • Have some great tools – I created several tools three years ago that help with checking the health of the migrated farm.  You should too:
    • Link Checker – checks all the links across the farm recording what pages have what links.  This allows you to go back in and query the pages that didn't get all the links updated.  You can then dynamically run your Url Updater to target just these pages after you have made modifications for the outlier cases
    • Error Check – a tool I have had for a while that checks all SharePoint pages for error conditions (correlation errors, web part error, asp.net error).  Every time this would tell me if someone forgot to install a 3rd party product or some other dependent assembly somewhere.  I would then be able to fix all the pages.  It was also useful for determining pages that were also broken in production that we didn't need to fix in the migration (don't get blamed for someone elses problem!)

Scripts, scripts and more scripts

  • Script everything! – I had over 85+ scripts for migrating the environment.  We could do a full rebuild in about 3 days.  Examples:
    • Install FarmAdd servers to farm
    • Install solutions
    • Create app pools, web apps and service apps
    • Start WFE and App services
    • Add web config entries
    • Attach CDBs
    • Create your web app policies – to add all your testers and admins
    • Create AD and BDC connections, map UPS properties
    • Deploy solutions
    • Update workflows
    • Migrate Users and Groups
    • Create Content Sources
    • Setup Best Bets (Fast and SP)
    • Delete Sites
    • Find and Replace URLs
    • Enable Full Auditing across sites
    • Setup Trusts with certs
    • Set and unghost master pages
    • etc, etc….
  • Utilize script references – I had several scripts that held our common functions and variables This allowed us to modify one file and have all the other scripts target our environments (Staging, QA, dev, production) with no changes.
  • Order Matters – don't just fire off scripts at random.  They must follow a logical order.  Take for instance…update the workflows to an existing user, then fire the MigrateUsers command.
  • Table locks matter – Same reason your OneDrive doesn't sync more than 5000 items, watch for when your scripts query over 5000 items in the DB, this causes a table lock and will stop all other scripts.

Of course, my scripts became famous:

 Migrating Users and Groups

  • Migrate cmds –  If you have ever done a domain to domain migration, you will know the pain involved.  How do you find all the users to call the migration usergroup command on?  How long does it take, and how should I execute it?  Well, turns out that you have to query *every* content database and the UserInfo table to get *every* user and group out.  You could then feed that to a PowerShell script that would update them.  But running that script as a single thread will take DAYS!  Especially with 60K+ users.  You need to create a dynamic script that queries the UserInfo table and then takes an input *char* such as "a".  You can then fire off 26 individual PowerShell scripts that cut the time rough by 26.  This runs so much faster.  Oh, and that same pattern, you do for EVERYTHING involving users.  Make a script that takes a "char" parameter and get it done oh so much faster!

Firewalls and proxy filters 
PayPal went security crazy.  They locked down everything.  Waaayyyy more than eBay.  You couldn't do anything without getting flagged for it in some way or another.  And just about every subnet was isolated from every other subnet.  Ouch.  Some tips…

  • F5 VIPs – ensure that your servers can use the same VIP for load balancing from inside the subnet!  This drove me crazy until I figured out what was going on.  Ensure the F5 guys add the right iRules to the VIP!
  • Outbound proxy filter – damn, when you block your own web properties and wonder why things don't work?  I find it funny that a company will lock down the outbound internet traffic to their own sites, didn't make for a very workable "crawl" system for those sites! 
  • Teams that just can't do it by themselves – eBay is going to Node.JS and Druple with ElasticSearch.  PayPal is going *ALL* Microsoft.  The new intranet team that run the eBay side were not network guys.  And they kept driving me crazy because they couldn't connect to SharePoint and saying it was my responsibility to fix it.  Bullshit.  They just needed to quit being lazy and go talk to the network guys.  Just stupid that "architects" don't know how to diagnose and resolve network issues.
  • FIPS policy – they tried to apply it, but I caught them when they tried it.  SharePoint don't work with FIPS.  It's not that SharePoint isn't secure, its just that it used some non-FIPS algos for hashing some things for speed.  Of course, enabling FIBS causes .NET to exception out anytime a piece of code uses it.  They dropped that pretty fast when I told them how bad it would be for SharePoint and all the other .NET apps on the network.  Reference this

Networks:

  • IPs, subnets and VIPs – oh my!  Make sure your subnets are setup property…reference this

Workflows:

  • The infamous workflow error I surfaced years ago (on top of many others) – This kept bitting me in the ass.  Every migration, every time, without fail.  Some workflows would update fine, some, not at all.  Some would update, but one file would remain.  Retarded.  I eventually had to manually fix association and workflow instances.  Not for the faint of heart.  Reference this post.
  • MigrateUsers and workflow associations – And just if injury and insult wasn't enough…death ensued.  If you run the MigrateUser command and the workflow has an invalid user on and file.Properties["vti_modified" property, you will lose those associations.  Reference ths post.

Audiences:

  • We created the UPS from scratch.  Which means all things related to it were re-created, including audiences.  This meant that all audiences got new IDs.  These new IDs did not map to the audience settings across the list items and pages of the farm.  Ouch.  We had to update all those (but with a script of course).

Notable Twitter Handles:

Summary:

Splitting a company cost a lot of money, time and resources.  I feel sorry for all the people that will have to find something to do (if their sales team doesn't close some deals and find them work) after we are completely done. We are talking 1000s of people to split eBay and PayPal.  They gotta go somewhere, the world keeps spinning and other companies have cash to burn so I guess they'll take some of this knowledge and find another project.  I know that I increased my intrinsic value from this project.  If anything, I now have a new monkier…"Chris Baba".  And some followers:

It seems to be incredibly rare that you get asked to come back and do a project at a company almost fours years later.  Especially of the size and important of this.  Just as it was 4 years ago, this has been an incredibly exciting and amazing experience that I'll cherish as a major accomplishment to add to the many I have worked so hard for.

Hope you learned something to support the migrations you are doing or are thinking about doing, especially those that are about splitting a company off from another!

CJG aka "Chris Baba"
@givenscj

Build, MSIgnite and Bill Baer – All recent Office Announcements

The last Microsoft Ignite post was all fun. This one is all tech!  Here's a list of all the announcements that I could find from the last few weeks (focused on Office product group), I could care less about Windows 10 (I prefer real OSes like System/390):

SharePoint 2016 (many of these came from Bill Baer's tweet storm [:O]):

  • SharePoint Foundation will not exist in SharePoint 2016.  I have known about this for a while…you might even go as far enough to say you can blame it on me and a couple of other people.  But this just makes sense in so many ways.  It would have been nice if they took it one more step to remove the ISO/EXE process, but too much change freaks everyone out!
  • Delve integration is coming to on-premises SharePoint 2013 – There will be a CU released later this year that will allow you to integrate your O365 Delve instance with your on-premises environment.  Think "Yammer" integration style, most likely just a nice little ole link sitting at the top somewhere.  Be sure to get your 3rd party IdP setup so the click bait is seamless!
  • Information security features – SSN regex checker for documents is coming to on-premises (already in O365)
  • Crawl 500 million items – this is necessary for the future of the Push API aka "Cloud Service Application" coming to the general public in Nov timeframe.  once you gain the ability to read/write the index, you will want to put all kinds of things in it!
  • Sign is as different user is back!  – Everyone learned a good lesson from having multiple O365 tenants…
  • Encryption in motion – more to come on this later
  • Responsive master pages – yes, they are coming; it was a painful 3+ years watching all the other tech easily adapt and evolve, but 2016 will get us there.
  • List View Thresholds – As you can imagine, the move to responsive and JS framework with REST APIs removes the older limitations, therefore, no more 5000 item list view threshold (which was more of a database issue [table lock promotion] than SharePoint)
  • Granular server roles DistCache, Workflow, etc
  • Upgrade Path – You must upgrade from 2013.  You cannot jump from anything before 2013
  • Forefront UPS Sync – FIM is out (which is sad because it was an amazing tool)
  • New Update Model – Patch system based on O365 update methodology (always on, no downtime)
  • 10GB uploads – Why you would ever need this is beyond me.  Totally un-necessary.
  • Durable links – I gave them this idea and showed them how to do it based on Oracle Portal and a tool I built a couple years ago.  http://www.sharepointdurablelinks.com

Office 365:

  • OWA with real time authoring details – we finally get real google doc functionality.  Took about as long as I told them it would take to build it (and yeah, you know what email I'm talking about)
  • Office integration with Skype for business – I'm hoping Skype for business brings back the fun and interaction that Hotmail messager had back in the day. 
  • Delve page updatesranding – Add your own actions to the delve page
  • Employee productivity BI Reporting – track employee's time on email, hours worked, time in meetings, etc. I will be doing another post on this later.
  • O365 Admin Workload specific Roles – aka granular permission assignment – hard to believe they called the platform secure before this announcement!
  • Login telemetry – Similiar login telemetry to Box and Yammer (when, where, how you logged in) – again hard to believe that we could call O365 secure before this.
  • Mobile Apps – More mobile apps for new features (O365 Video)

NextGen Portals:
First off, "NextGen Portals" is a marketing term wrapping a set of pages and apis that you "may" already know about.  It was "invented" by the one and only Mark Kashman.  It wraps the concept of several things included but certainly not limited too:

  • O365 Video – Azure media services, video stored in Azure, SP stores pointer and manages data in Azure back end
  • Infopedia – Advanced next generation of the Delve "page" – surface data and info via more search querys
  • Responsive design and inclusion of HTML5 based technology that works across mobile devices

Delve and OfficeGraph:
Just to be clear, Office Graph is a set of search queries that mimic "Supervised" machine learning algorithms.  In my world, I only consider "Unsupervised" machine learning to be true machine learning.  Therefore, machine learning comes later when you can inject and digest the information in much more advanced tools such as IBM Watson.  If you want to learn more about Delve and OfficeGraph, check out my post where I rip anyone who wastes money on Box.

  • Injection of developer "signals" later this year (Nov)

Azure:

  • AzureStack – on-premises Azure instances (cloud in a box).  This is mainly designed to be implemented by hosting providers, but very large customers can also play here.
  • Dedicated O365 – Similar O365 instances are also available to be hosted on-premises

Certainly some cool stuff…just wait until November 2015 when the really crazy amazing stuff comes out.  It will be a great ending to the year for Microsoft.
Chris

Microsoft Ignite 2015 Recap

Chicago…its my kind of town!

I'm sure you heard that phrase more than once last week if you were actually there.  5 days of core sessions with pre-conference workshops for those that paid some extra cash.  For me…the week went something like this:

Sat Evening – Virgin Hotels with the gang

Lidiya and I got in on Saturday afternoon, checked into the speaker hotel (which Microsoft was nice enough to pick up this time around so thanks Microsoft)!  We checked in, headed over to the Virgin Hotel to meet the crew! 

Of course, the crew are some of the coolest people on the planet!  Just check out some of these awesome photos!

Once we have a couple of drinks, said hi and chatted a bit…we headed on over to the next event!

Sat Night #1 – Chicago Next Hackathon by @bitterac aka Andrew Clark

Mikael Svenson invited myself and Marc Anderson over to Norway earlier in the year to judge the Arctic SharePoint Challenge (@SPChallenge).  It was an amazing event that I will blog about in another post (link to follow). Here's a sneak peak at the "Council":

Mikael had a heck of a time finding people to compete.  He ended up asking me and I said "Hell Yeah!".  And of course I then asked my good friend Shannon Bray and he totally went for it! 

ChicagoNext is all about having local high schoolers compete with industry professionals on technology problems facing non-profits in the Chicago area.  I had no idea what to expect from this event, venue or anything else!  We ended up in a very random part of Chicago's suburbs.  At least a mile away from the bustling of downtown Chicago. They gave us five problems to solve…everyone took the "Access Services" solution…we choose something just a bit more difficult…lol.

You can view some pics from the event here (yeah…I know about the t-shirt):

https://www.flickr.com/photos/131420056%40N08/sets/72157650264255274?rb=1

Of course we watched the "cat fight" that night too:

Sat Night #2 – Back at the Virgin Hotels

Once Mikael, Shannon and I formulated our plan, we headed back to the Virgin to check on the "crew".  It was not pretty…we left all the girls will Bill and he did his best to manage, but alias…the girls got the best of him (don't ask me what ole boy is doing in the background (I cut him out)…lol):

Sunday – Chicago Next Hackathon

Back to the grind!  We got back to the venue at 9am and started coding!  Our solution ended up being a solution to problem #4. Shannon was our DBA and Azure Specialist…I guess.  He helped build the sql tables to support our solution.  Mikael built out our Web API layer to support the API calls from my Windows Phone Mobile App.  Our solution would set up GeoFences around "event" locations to keep track if volunteers would enter or exit the geo fence.  If you were inside, we counted your time towards helping with the event, if not, well…you didn't get any credits.  We tested this by going around the corner to the local bar and amazingly…finding some Arrogant Bastard beer to drink.  Even @JThake joined in the fun with a hot babe…later I realized, as we got closer to the corner…it was my lovely wifey!  The goal was to provide a seamless solution to track volunteers so non-profits could tag tangible stats to grants and grant applications.  We had the best technical solution by far…unfortunately…we bombed our presentation (we blame Shannon's demo god karma)…we did get off to a great start with my "Lettttsssss get ready to rummmbbbbleee" opening in Round 6….

Monday – Ignite Day #1

Can you say "long corridor"?  I knew you could.  That was crazy.  It definitely showed in the attendance of sessions on one side versus the other.   A lot of people stayed on one side or the other.  I didn't quite make the keynote, I did watch it from Channel 9 and I have to say…it was oh so much better from the comfort of my room!

Monday night

#SharePint at the Virgin Hotel.  Holy cow…what a crazy party!  Sooo many people showed up for the drinks and of course…the DJ! 

The party would have kept going…but unfortunately someone tried to jack some bottles of vodka and they cut us off (single double fisted would have been fine)…guess that qualifies for EPIC party right?!?  The evening continued on the Virgin's 2nd floor bar and well into the night!  Good times, definitely something I won't forget!

Tuesday – Ignite Day #2

Can you say…"hangover"?…yeah…I knew you could. This is when it kicked in that the bus schedule was pretty much…let's say in the words of Mikael…"that's stupid".  Buses didn't run all day?  Yup…cutoff at 10:30ish everyday.  That was just absurd.  Next year they better run all day long.  Olaf, et all, you really screwed the pooch on this one.  The food is forgivable (if even that words needs mentioned)…those of you that complained about it…just try making food for 22K people.  Yeah…that's what I thought.  It wasn't the best…but it wasn't the worst either.  Since we are on the topic…let's just bring up a couple of other things:

  • Vendors (who spent several more thousands of dollars than attendees), didn't get food.  Yeah, they would have loved to have that sub-standard food, but they didn't get any. 
  • Speakers didn't get any distributed materials.  This is fair (being our flight and hotel was taken care of), but it was a surprise. I know I wasn't the only one to be surprised about this!

Vegas didn't play ball.  Vegas has so many conferences…they just demand what they want.  Microsoft was getting screwed over so bad having the conference in Vegas it just wasn't even funny.  Chicago (which is on the verge of insolvency) was so accommodating to the conference.  So much so…they won next year during the week.  That being said, it makes sense that we can only hope that the entertainment will be better next year (this was the second year that I didn't attend the attendee party…wonder why).

Tuesday Night Parties!

There was only one for us. The AvePoint party setup by the amazing Julie (@JulieLiu). The rest, I heard, were good, but nothing ever compares to the AvePoint party.  It was hosted at the lovely Chicago Station.  This was the view from my seat:

And of course, a shout out to the awesome, amazing CEO of AvePoint…TJ…yes…I wore an @AvePoint_Inc shirt and red "hot chilli" pants:

Wednesday – Ignite Day #3

The big day!  Battle of the Graph was at 5pm.  I spent most of the day prepping in the speaker room where I met one of my security and identity idols…the one and only…@vibronet:

If you didn't see the pre-session promos…well…you totally missed out…check out this photo from one of Mikael's friends…just plain…awesome!

 

Thursday – Ignite Day #4

Today was another big day for me…the first time (and will not be the last) being recorded on Channel 9. Before hand, I did manage to walk the Expo hall.  I found that SharePoint was not very well represented…but there was a HUGE area with a ton of VOIP people…how does that world make any money!?!  None of us can figure that out right now! I did hang out at the Planet Technologies booth most of the week…I can honestly say…they are some of the best people you will ever meet in your entire life!  So sorry I wasn't able to join them this year…they will always be my best of friends!

 

 

After browsing the Expo hall, I was able to chat with the awesome and long time friend of ours @JoeySnow.  You can watch the awesome session here:

Before heading out…I ran into these crazies guys that have been good friends for a long time and are now rock stars!

And the one and only @StephenLRose:

Thursday Night – Dinner at the top of Chicago – Aon Microsoft Building

We did not attend the attendee party…for obvious reasons.  Instead, we dined at the height of the 80th floor of the Microsoft building downtown Chicago.

Afterwards, we partied at yet another SharePint at "Howl At The Moon"…

Although the night didn't end up as happy as it started…its always to be expected as much fun as we have.  In the end…its all love…and a few bites (right Fabian?).

Friday – Ignite Day #5

No conference center for us!  We moved from the speaker hotel to the lovely and fun Virgin Hotel:

 

It was pretty much try to recover from Thursday evening and Friday morning!  We did some Chicago sight seeing via the awesome ferry/boat rides…check out this hottie:

We had some amazing friends that we have not seen in ages that used to live next to us in San Diego that we had to meet up with…needless to say…they are pretty awesome, beautiful people…(yes…my t-shirt says…"I'm a Genius"…lol):

Of course, we all went out to the comedy club…and low and behold…who do we see in the front row…but @SharePointing and his lovely wife!  You won't even believe what happened to Steve…but it was so freaking funny!  "Who is that Steve Walker?!?"

The night concluded at a "Frat" party in north Chicago…we won't go there, but suffice to say…I'm not college age anymore…but I'm glad I had my Marine bodyguard with me!

Saturday – Ahh….

Saturday was all about relaxing before heading back home to sunny San Diego, CA.   We did decide to increase our art IQ's just a bit by finding @JoelOlsen in as many paintings as we could find!

 

In the end…I found him in Midway airport on his way back to our lovely San Diego…

It's a small world…small community.  We take care of each other.  We love each other.  I can never imagine living my life in a world without all of you.  Your amazing, lovely, smart, crazy people…and you are just the types I want in mine and Lidiya's lives!

Sunday…soccer and my road to third place!

Last little bit…we made it back at 12:30am.  I grabbed another guys bag…20 mins into our ride home on Uber…Delta calls…Mr Givens…you grabbed someone else's bag.  No way…sure enough, I did.  I tell them to let him take my bag, I'll switch with him.  I drive 30 mins, meet him…his wife/girlfriend is Russian…I say "hi" and "goodbye" in Russian…give them some money for their first holiday drink…and go home to my bed (2am).

The next day (err…a few hours later at 8am)…we kick ass and we win our game 3-2 to play for 3rd place in my soccer league next sunday. Later that Sunday afternoon….we wonder where all our friends are…we miss you guys already…the withdraw starts to kick in…

Summary

Lidiya and I whole heartily agree.  We have made some of the best friends from the past few conferences, life long ones…people that we will love and care about for the rest of our lives.  Ignite was a place that just re-enforced how much we miss those that we equate to our equals in terms of knowledge, life and karma. We love you.  More than we could ever express.  You are some of the finest, most amazing people we will EVER meet.  You are welcome in our house anytime.

As Randy Williams would air guitar…"To those of you…we salute you"

Live long and prosper!
Chris & Lidiya