UC and Cloud Day Summary

UC and Cloud Day Summary

Birmingham hosts UC and Cloud Day

Neil and myself travelled to Birmingham to attend the UC and Cloud Day.  It was a first for us, but had been recommended to us by James from Binary Tree who has been a couple of times.   We had some logistical hiccups with thinking is was at the NEC versus NCC (luckily only a few mins apart) and returning to Birmingham International station at 19:02 to catch our 19:00 train back to London.  Luckily we were bailed out by the rail service as the train literally pulled into the platform as we reached the top of the escalators!

The event itself was very well managed and run.  There were some unfortunate last minute changes to the schedule so it took a bit longer to work out which sessions to go to, but there was plenty of choice with tracks in Skype for Business, Exchange, Office 365, Azure and Cloud.  Having recently been to Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta where there were over 800 sessions, the content in these sessions did tend to be similar (as expected)  So if you saw all you wanted to at Ignite and didn’t miss any sessions (pretty unlikely unless you were able to be in at least six sessions at the same time) then the UC and Cloud day may not have the session content you want, however if you missed sessions at Ignite or wanted to explore a different track, or you couldn’t make it to Ignite then UC and Cloud day is perfect for you!

Sessions Attended

Even though we’d seen similar sessions with Microsoft we still learnt something new at each session we went to.  So we felt that we still got something from the sessions.  I especially enjoyed listening to Thomas Lee who did a session on Azure with PowerShell.  The content of a PowerShell session is always hard I think, since looking at PowerShell code isn’t really overly exciting to all but a few seasoned PowerShell chefs, but we had some interesting discussions on why you’d use ARM templates versus PowerShell cmdlets (came down mostly to personal preference or dislike of JSON writing) and I learnt that in the new Azure console you can pin services to the left hand side (since there are now far too many services to keep them all visible all of the time)

We also listened to Michael Van Horenbeeck talk about Multi-Factor Authentication among other things.  He is a big fan of MFA and has recommended that everyone should enable it for all users.  Of course MFA does help security, although I’ve often wondered if someone gets my phone and they hack the pin or they get in via hacking the fingerprint reader (which on an iPhone is simpler than you think) then what is the use of MFA if it sends a text message to that same phone anyway…?  However I’d heed Michael’s advice, if you want to be secure (and you don’t need to use Windows Powershell since MFA is on the roadmap but not here) then MFA should be enabled as a matter of course.

Bhargav Shukla talked about Azure Site Recovery and using it for backing up your on-premises VMs and physicals or replicating them to Azure for Disaster Recovery purposes or migration.  Plus did you know that you can use Azure Site Recovery free for 31 days to replicate a machine to Azure (and that is from the time of each machine being replicated)

We did come out of the day with a couple of thoughts that we will raise with Microsoft to see if they’ve had others giving similar feedback or whether it is a new idea

  • In EMS Microsoft Application Manager without Enrolment (MAM-WE) you can create policies to allow sharing between any managed application.  Now this is fine at the moment since the applications are all pretty much the Microsoft applications, however since this is an open API what if the business wants to publish say Twitter via MAM-WE but does not want corporate data to be copy/pasted into Twitter from Word, Outlook, Excel, etc.  Perhaps it is worth having an option to select the managed applications that you do want to treat as a trusted unit, or assign a trust level to each app and only allow sharing from less trusted to more trusted or something like that
  • Has there been any consideration given to extend Azure Information Protection so that you can require MFA for opening a document?  Then the document may be encrypted and decryption requires the user’s credential (or have malware running in the user’s context) but to open it an MFA request is needed.
  • When you create an email that contains attachments and you protect that email with RMS, could Outlook warn you if the attachments are NOT RMS protected, since the recipient can open the attachment and forward, copy/paste, etc which is more than likely not what the user intended

Vendor Hall

The vendor area was filled with various vendors including many names you probably already know like Binary Tree, Cloud Migrator 360, Sennheiser, Dell Software, QUADROtech and many others.  We are always surprised how we find vendors who are working with or have worked with big clients but we’ve never heard of them before and yet we’re working in the same space.   It makes you realise that the migration space is bigger than you think, and even with FastTrack becoming more aggressive about migrating people for free (just like we offer at Nero Blanco) there are still plenty of customers for whom FastTrack is not the most appropriate option

Word of thanks

A final work of thanks to the organizers for putting on a great event, well attended by both vendors and punters and giving great value to the Microsoft community.  We look forward to UC and Cloud Day 2017 🙂