TechEd 2014 Recap

A few weeks ago I attended Microsoft TechEd 2014 in Houston, TX. Throughout the week I went to various sessions in the SharePoint, O365, BI, and Developer topics. Below are some of the announcements from these areas that I took away from the conference.

Encrypted storage for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business

As more organizations begin to look at migrating to the cloud, having the assurance that their data is fully encrypted is going to be a critical factor in their decision. Here at West Monroe we have already had some clients turn away from SharePoint Online due to the legal requirement of the storage being encrypted. However, beginning July 2014 every file in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business will be encrypted with its own unique key. Check out Rajesh Jha’s post about this and several other new security, compliance, and privacy features coming out.

Autohosted SharePoint Apps Discontinued

An announcement that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of the autohosted app hosting model for SharePoint. Autohosted SharePoint Apps were still in preview and due to the lack of flexibility after deploying an autohosted app, they were really only used for quick demos. They were really never meant for production.

Office 365 API Tools for Visual Studio and a New API for Visual Studio Online

Back in November 2013 at the SharePoint conference it was announced that there is a new API for accessing O365 content. During TechEd, it was announced that there is a new toolset available for Visual Studio to access the API. The details of this feature have been covered pretty well by the Office Developer Team so I won’t go into the details, but be sure to check out their blog post about it.

In addition to the update for the O365 API, Microsoft announced the release of a new API for accessing Visual Studio Online content (available for TFS in a future release). This API really opens the door for integrating VSO with other web tools and mobile applications. It will be interesting to see where organizations take this capability.

Head over to Brian Harry’s excellent article on this new API for all the details and capabilities of this new API.

Office App Model Samples v2.0

First announced in early March, the Office App Model Samples project on CodePlex has been updated to version 2. This community project is a great resource for SharePoint application developers to get ideas, examples, and inspiration for their apps. The content is community-built and is continually updated each month. I won’t go into all the changes in version 2, but be sure to read Vesa Juvonen’s post which contains all the info.

As of this article the project is still hosted on CodePlex however the roadmap shows it being moved over to GitHub under the OfficeDev account at http://github.com/officedev during June 2014.

BI Notes

Note: These are a couple things I heard during the sessions I attended but am still waiting to hear the official word on.

Similar to the existing Power BI Windows 8 application, a version for the iPad on iOS is currently in the works and should be released sometime this year. While I enjoy using my Surface Pro, there are still a lot more iPads out there and as more organizations begin looking at using Power BI it is going to be crucial that Microsoft has an offering for these users.

During the Q&A portion of one of my sessions on Power BI, it was asked if it was possible to surface data from an on-premise cube into Power BI (which only runs in O365). The answer to this question is “no” as of right now, but it was mentioned that this is a common ask that Microsoft is receiving and they are currently looking into this functionality. This type of architecture has many obstacles to overcome – the big one being security – so I wouldn’t anticipate seeing this anytime soon, but it was great to hear this is something they are looking into.

The current implementation of PowerView for on-premise environments uses Silverlight for its presentation on a webpage while the SharePoint counterpart uses HTML5. For organizations with on-premise installations of SharePoint that are using the BI reporting stack and want their portal available to their iPad users, this has been a huge pain point as Silverlight is not supported in iOS. Mentioned by several people I heard speak at TechEd, this is something that Microsoft is actively working on. I did not get a sense for a time frame when we may see this available, but sooner the better!

With the release of SharePoint 2013 came close to zero updates to SQL Server Reporting Services and PerformancePoint. I spoke with a couple folks from the BI product group about this and it turns out this was intentional as Microsoft refocused their resources to building out Power BI. They are now taking this time to reevaluate the direction for SSRS and PerformancePoint by reaching out to partners and industry professionals to determine what the demand is for new functionality. I’m still seeing a pretty high demand for the implementation of SSRS, so hopefully we see some new functionality with the next release of the product.

Summary

In summary, this year’s TechEd conference came with another round of exciting announcements and insights into the roadmap for many of Microsoft’s products and services. This information is a great asset for us as we are able to better serve our clients in planning for the future. This is especially critical as more organizations begin to migrate from their on-premise environments to cloud services, where releases and new functionality are on a more continuous cycle.

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