Microsoft Offers New Office 365 Migration API for Higher Performance

Microsoft has announced a new Office 365 Migration API that moves files through Azure using a dedicated path.  Previously, when you used migration tools such as ShareGate, AvePoint, Metalogix, etc. the migration tools used the same conduit that the Office 365 portal uses to migrate files.  Microsoft throttles that path to avoid the Office 365 portal being slammed by people migrating their content.

Using the new Migration API, you can package up exports of your current SharePoint content and send them through Azure which will then import the content into Office 365.  This will work for SharePoint files, file shares and personal file shares.

ShareGate has published a good article detailing the new Migration API and how it works with their migration tools.

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Organization Map and Work Performance Tracking Coming to Delve

Microsoft is revamping the Delve experience to include more data about our habits, our work and our teams.  In the latest preview of an upcoming Delve App, Microsoft will display a dashboard about your work life.delve_organization_view_web

Already, the reaction has been interesting – one article questioned whether you really want to know in real time how hard you’re working, how many emails you’re averaging and comparison against your colleagues.  It will be also interesting if this data is available to your boss.

The new version of Delve, however, will also include a dashboard view—and there, presumably, you’ll be able to see whether you’re a workaholic, or whether you need to spend a few more hours keeping up with your coworkers. The dashboard tracks your own work performance and compares it to the company average.

The idea, as Microsoft tells it, is for Delve to monitor your time and improve your productivity, by figuring out how you spend your day. But it’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that workers may feel intimidated if they’re, say, making 25 percent fewer calls than their coworkers after hours. At some point, some worker will undoubtedly use the Delve numbers to ask for a raise—and then that manager will begin factoring those Delve numbers into their pay scales. The new Delve dashboard could make people feel pushed to work even more. 

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SQL Server 2016 Preview Coming This Summer

Microsoft has announced the latest version of SQL Server on premise.  SQL 2016 will arrive in preview this summer with some key new features.

Always Encrypted

Always encrypted means just that – the data is encrypted at rest and in transit.  Encryption is transparent to the application so no changes are required at the application level. 

Stretching From On Premise to Azure

In the new version of SQL 2016, you’ll be able to stretch your data from on premise to the cloud based on business rules.  In a similar way to StorSimple does for storage, SQL 2016 will allow you to extend your data to the cloud for those rows that are historical, less accessed, etc.  Enabling the always encrypted feature means that your data is encrypted at all times.

In Memory Analytics

In memory OLTP has been available in SQL 2014 – in 2016 this is now extended into operational analytics.  This will improve integration of OLTP and OLAP scenarios, all running in memory to speed up performance.

R Processing in the Database

Microsoft has a technology called Polybase which provides integration between Hadoop and SQL on premise.  Microsoft also just bought a company called Revolution Analytics which provides an open source distribution of R.  In the next version of SQL, these platforms will be integrated into SQL Server directly, providing better tools for no-sql workloads.

Native JSON Support

Microsoft is promising “native JSON support” which sounds promising and interesting given their investment in Azure DocumentDB and Azure Search which are both JSON based. 

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Cortana and Power BI Integration Coming as Part of Windows 10

One of the key features demonstrated today at MS Ignite was the integration of Power BI and Cortana.  Using Power BI’s natural language question and answer features, Cortana will now provide voice integration into the Power BI experience.

In addition, you’ll be able to interact with your corporate data right from within the Cortana experience including voice integration for querying your data.  See below for some sample screens from the MS Ignite key note!


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Microsoft Azure Data Lake Coming Soon

In the big data world, the latest buzz concept is the “Data Lake”.

In the industry, the concept of a data lake is relatively new. It’s as an enterprise wide repository of every type of data collected in a single place prior to any formal definition of requirements or schema. This allows every type of data to be kept without discrimination regardless of its size, structure, or how fast it is ingested. Organizations can then use Hadoop or advanced analytics to find patterns of the data. Data lakes can also serve as a repository for lower cost data preparation prior to moving curated data into a data warehouse.

Essentially, the concept is a massive (e.g. Petabytes) repository of raw files coming in from various sources such as web analytics, Internet of things, etc.

Azure Data Lake

Microsoft announced a new Azure Data Lake service that builds on top of their existing Hadoop investments to provide cloud based scalability at massive sizes.

The service is in private preview and interested developers can sign up here.

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New Azure SQL Data Warehouse Service Will Bring Analytics as an Elastic, Fully Managed Service

Microsoft announced this week a brand new service – the Azure SQL Data Warehouse.   Azure SQL has provided PAAS based SQL services for a few years now, but if you wanted to run SQL analysis services, build cubes and do analytics you had to roll-out your own SQL Server on raw infrastructure as a service. 

Azure SQL is quite a good service in terms of performance, scalability and pricing.  You can create a database for as little as $10 / month and scale it up to 500 GB and dedicated performance. 

The new SQL Data Warehouse Service will be built on top of the same Azure SQL elastic technology to enable a data warehouse that can scale up or down as needed. 

The new platform also promises integration with Microsoft’s other big data and business intelligence services such as HDInsight, Power BI, Azure Machine Learning, etc.

The preview will be available later this year…

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Looking to Manage Your Azure Blobs? Use AzCopy to Download, Upload and Move

For those of you storing files in Azure, you should check out AzCopy.  It provides a command line interface for managing files in Azure Storage.  

The latest version supports the following tasks:

  • Downloading files from Azure Blob Storage
  • Uploading files to Azure Blob Storage
  • Copying files via Server Side Copy
  • Uploading and Downloading whole folders, subdirectories, etc.

The latest preview release also supports moving files within Azure File Storage.

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Brandoo and WordPress Now Completely Broken: Moved Back to MySQL on Ubuntu

Brandoo is an open source plugin for WordPress that translates MySQL to SQL Server.  As performance increased on this blog, the free database provided by ClearDB wasn’t cutting it and I moved to Azure SQL using the Brandoo plugin.

I received a note from the author of the plugin saying it was no longer supported and continued to use the plugin because it was working. 

As of WordPress 4.2, Brandoo finally broke altogether.  The blog continued to work but the upgrade process failed and I couldn’t get access to my blog at all from an administration perspective.  I couldn’t also post any new blog posts.

So over the past week, I have re-architected my blog to go back to MySQL as this seems to be the only reliable way to run WordPress.  Instead of using the free MySQL database from ClearDB, I have set up a dedicated linux VM for running MySQL in Azure.  This seems to work remarkably well, even with the smallest VM – MySQL is very efficient at running in a small VM footprint.


For those looking to go this route, have a read through this article – I found it very helpful in setting up Ubuntu, MySQL and then connecting it to Azure Web Sites.

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