Not Just Another Virtual Event? For THE Community BY The Community… Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon 2021 is on!

It’s been a year since we came together as a community to run the Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon in 2020. That event was a first-of-its-kind community event focused on including attendees and speakers from all parts of the planet in a truly global inclusive event designed to help people make new connections and be more aware of much of the rollout that was happening to support remote work in the early days of COVID while also supporting deep technical knowledge in 15 simultaneous tracks in deep technical content as well as end user and business content delivered by the community. 

Those that brought you M365 Virtual Marathon have come back by popular demand April 26-28, 2021 with a continued focus on community engagement, including featured speakers and keynotes from Microsoft and Community Leaders.  The M365 Virtual Marathon also features sessions covering new technologies, such as Microsoft Viva, providing a deeper dive, building on the product announcements at Microsoft Ignite. Keynotes include Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive (and Viva), Karuana Director Microsoft Teams, Heather Newman, Power Platform Principal PM Power Platform Engineering Community, and Laurie Pottmeyer, Microsoft Teams Community

>> Read more about the event at http://m365virtualmarathon.com for Event details

The M365 Virtual Marathon features experts panels on topics from Microsoft Teams, Power Platform in multiple regions around the globe. Over 280 sessions are being delivered by over 100 Microsoft MVPs, MCTs & RDs, in addition to 150 experts and leaders from the community.  You’ve heard many announcements from Microsoft from Ignite, the community experts will expand and deep dive on product announcements, as well as provide industry verticals including education and healthcare.   We hope you find the event offerings allow you to engage on your terms and attend the session type that interests you most, or catch up and connect with other attendees.

Check out the schedule and line up of speakers on our event page or on SPSEvents.org

The M365 Virtual Marathon begins April 26, 2021, at 09:00 PDT and is 60-hours, ending on April 28, 2021, at 09:00 PDT.  We sorted through over 450 sessions to pick the top 280 sessions from over 250 speakers the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  The event has sessions presented in seven languages, including French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, and English.  This event has sessions running for more than 2 days straight, so you’re sure to find a time to check out the incredible line up of sessions.

This event is provided for free. We hope to record the sessions and provide them, but please give us time to provide to process and upload what will be 280 hours or 16,800 minutes of sessions. The volunteers on the community spent over 100 hours splicing, downloading then uploading the content last year on our M365VM youtube channel. Thanks for liking and subscribing!

We’re excited to join you in a few weeks for another great event, BY THE COMMUNITY FOR THE COMMUNITY!

For the Community by the Community

Register using the links below and if you would like to volunteer to be a session moderator, please sign up using the Moderator Sign Up form below. The schedule will go LIVE with join links in the session details on SPSevents.org and on m365virtualmarathon.com on 4/26/21 at 9am Pacific, but we encourage you to register so we can be better prepared to serve you.

>>Click Here to Register for M365 Virtual Marathon 2021 and Join the Global Community for this Event<<

>>Click Here to Sign Up to be a Volunteer Session Moderator

Teams Governance: 6 Keys to What Really Matters

Microsoft Teams Governance

What really matters in a Microsoft Teams Deployment? Can you just turn it on and see what happens? What if you were to figure it out along the way? What is Teams Sprawl and why do they refer to your Teams environment as the Wild West? I like to call it herding cats. There’s no reason to herd cats if you can keep your arms around your environment. In fact you can accomplish both good governance and user satisfaction at the same time.

  1. Focused Teams Adoption and Champions Plan – End user confusion is not the thing to start with, but most Teams deployments will likely not be greenfield. There will be some previous environment even if you’re replacing Slack, Skype for Business, or moving data from SharePoint to be used in Teams. Start with a clear migration path, and a very strong community of champions in a pilot environment, DO NOT add confusion by staying in a persistent “islands mode” deployment where users are sent back and forth from Skype and Teams. Adoption is one of the most important keys to a successful environment with Teams. Users need a clear path on what to use when on both Collaboration, File sharing, Voice, and Apps.
  2. Streamlined Provisioning & Lifecycle – Teams provisioning can be simple or a nightmare. You want a good balance of easy to obtain with light approval or to borrow from Nintex a “lazy” approval process where Teams can be auto or quickly approved. You absolutely need to avoid duplication and sprawl. On the back end when someone is done with a Team how does it get archived? What if it is needed later? You need to have a good Teams lifecycle strategy.
  3. Classification & Unified Labeling Strategy with Hubs and Information Architecture – A trusted, structured and easy to use environment starts with good labels such as all external access teams being put into a Hub marked for external. Likewise internal HR Teams should be “Hubified” together into HR to allow search, design, and consistency. From both a management and compliance perspective keeping “like” things together will allow for improved auditing and compliance. It helps both IT and the Users in maintaining a clean, well managed and easy to use environment. Labeling for compliance will be much much easier when setup properly with AIP, DLP, policies, templates, retention and sensitivity labels. Information policies and further security policies can be enforced through good A good structure will support a “Unified Labeling” across Microsoft 365 driven by good governance and Information architecture in Teams.
  4. Manage Sharing for External Files & Guest Access – A well managed environment makes it easy to track external file sharing in the right places. As well managing external guests either through white labeled domains or a process for managing and expiring both links and users. Ensure you have good processes and procedures for either automation or operations and reporting.
  5. Quality Assurance for User Performance with Analytics and User Insights – You need to look beyond out of the box reports for ensuring Network and Call Quality. Early in the deployment you will see optimization that can be done. Don’t be quick to blame Microsoft as 90% of outages are often from Telco’s and network infrastructure that can be optimized. Even user device configuration can be optimized to ensure good performance. In the beginning this means focusing on the bottom 10% and then the bottom 1%, but do NOT ignore the user experience.
  6. Teams as a Platform Application Management including full Power Platform Environments for Dev/Test/Staging (preproduction) and Production – While many would look at the policies in Teams and say it’s about either enabling or disabling apps for governance. I say Teams as a Platform is the goal. It is your job. If you’ve done governance and deployment well, you will find that a solid Teams deployment is one that embraces the Teams as a Platform mantra and looks to see how it can be matured to support “Environments.” Mature Teams environments that support business unit application development in pre production is a healthy way to support the growth of Teams inside your organization. Once your Teams becomes the hub of the company you’ll see how this is way more than deployment, but an investment in your company and where work gets done.
Microsoft Teams Governance
6 Keys to Successful Teams Governance

Come join me for 60 minutes on Teams Governance with Q&A. I’ll be diving into each of these 6 Keys to Successful Governance.

When: Wed, Apr 14, 2021 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PDT / 1PM EDT

Don’t miss the chance to attend the Microsoft Teams governance workshop by Joel Oleson, MVP
Attend this webinar to understand the key elements for streamlining governance using Teams and other Microsoft 365 workloads without compromising on end-user autonomy and IT control.

Please join me, Joel Oleson, MVP, Regional Director, and former Microsoft IT Architect in this free 1 hour webinar on Teams Governance hosted by TeamsHub by Cyclotron for insights and solutions to increase collaboration, productivity, innovation, and adoption for your Microsoft 365 investments.

>> Register now! <<

Teams Voice and Telephony Demystified: 7 Key Questions

Many have found the power of collaboration in Teams and others are just getting started, but Telephony is still a struggle for many. The transition from Skype for Business or other telephony systems to Teams, can be a challenge to get your arms around an ever changing and improving set of Telephony features. Teams Voice licensing can also be a struggle if you don’t know where to get started. There are a lot of great features, but where does one start?

  • Are you struggling with getting your arms around Microsoft Teams, phone integration and calling plans?
  • Still feeling like you’re playing catch-up with Skype for Business and Teams features?
  • Struggling to get your arms around call quality and direct dialing?
  • Overwhelmed by calling plans, call quality, and figuring out how to approach it?

In this upcoming free webinar I will be diving into 7 key questions to help you get started with Microsoft Teams Voice and Telephony.

Key Questions to get started with Microsoft Teams Voice and Telephony
Like this infographic? It is shared creative commons share alike. You can download and share.

Seven Key Questions to Unleash the Power of Microsoft Telephony   

  • Have you assigned numbers and provided Microsoft Teams-certified devices for everyone or VIPs? Number assignment is the way to get users started with Teams voice features. With a Teams device it can be even easier with a single click to connect and with a familiar phone experience. You may find that you want to only support assigned numbers for executives and VIPs and use soft phone VOIP for other users.
  • Have you enabled audio conferencing and/or cloud compliance recording to add flexibility to meetings with dial-in numbers?
    Ever tried joining a conference call, but the wifi signal was poor and wish you could just dial in? Not an uncommon request. It’s helpful to have numbers assigned for those who run regular reoccurring meetings.
  • Have you implemented Microsoft cloud virtual PBX or will you be using direct routing?
    You can leverage your existing telecom SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunks or integrate a virtual PBX for the switch.
  • Have you decided on a Microsoft calling plan or are you planning on using your existing phone system?
    Your long distance carrier at work can be integrated or you can switch to the Microsoft Calling Plans available in numerous locations (18 different countries as of today).
  • Have you implemented call queues, auto attendant, and contact center integration for your help desk?
    From automated attendant, custom greetings to hold music with call queues and integration with existing contact center products, there are a broad range of features for your call center or help desk.
  • Have you implemented dynamic emergency calling?
    Once you configure your e911 system in Teams, emergency calls can be route emergency personnel to the location of your offices based on dynamic emergency calling leveraging the LIS protocol which includes information for subnets of the clients.
  • Have you educated the organization on cloud voicemail?
    Adoption of the Teams Voice features for calling and voicemail can delight users with powerful features, like transcription of speech to text for voicemails and more.

You’re NOT alone.  This session is to help you understand the answers to 7 key questions and get you well on your way. ​ 

 In this one-hour free webinar, Microsoft MVP Joel Oleson and Cayosoft founder Bob Bobel will drill down on the Microsoft Teams telephony stack.  We will unlock the knowledge surrounding the key features of calling and telephony in Microsoft Teams and answer 7 key questions to Unleash the Power of Microsoft Teams

Join us for the free webinar on Thursday April 15 at 11am Pacific Time 2pm Eastern Time to learn more!

>> Register Now <<

Do you Have Regular Backups for Your Microsoft 365 Content & Data

Microsoft 365 Backup and Recovery

The Microsoft 365 Services Agreement lists 3 different times a recommended a “regular backup” of your data. According to IDC there are 67% of Microsoft 365 customers who do not regularly backup their data.

It wasn’t until I recently started digging into backups and what Microsoft expects customers to be doing in the 2 way services agreement that I realized many may be relying 100% on Microsoft for recovery of their critical business data without realizing that Microsoft actually expects customers to be managing permissions, managing security, and managing a regular backup.

Microsoft Service Agreement:
•4 a iv – “You should have a regular backup plan as Microsoft won’t be able to retrieve Your Content or Data once your account is closed.”
•4 f – “You should have a regular backup plan.”
•6 b – “We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data…”

Microsoft produced a “Shared Responsibility Model” to help customers to understand who has responsibility and at what level across SAAS, PAAS, IAAS, and On Prem. I highly recommend referring to this across the various workloads and services you may be subscribed to from Microsoft.

Now that you’re wondering about backups. I’m putting together a webinar on backup and recovery for Microsoft 365. In an upcoming webinar I’m going to dive into some of the limitations for how long and in various ways Microsoft 365 retains and backs up your data in Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive and Exchange. How long can you request a file be restored that was accidentally deleted? What about an incriminating deleted Teams chat messages or a sensitive deleted exchange message or inbox? These questions will be answered and more…

>> Join me as I explore more on this topic in a free 1 hour webinar:

Title: Backup and Recovery for Microsoft 365–SharePoint, Exchange, Teams, OneDrive and More

Get peace of mind and keep your cloud data safe from disaster

When: Session starts on April 20, 2021 at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT.

Do you know how often your data is being backed up? Do you know how many days back you can get your data from Microsoft? Do you know if there was an extended outage what you would do for critical business data? Do you have a business continuity plan in the case of a major breach? These questions and more will be discussed as we reverse engineer the backup and recovery policies of Microsoft and find the edge of the cliff. After you understand the capabilities of Microsoft and the boundary of the cliff, you will explore where are you on the Maturity Model and plans around backup and recovery. The time is better now than ever before to focus on backups for remote employees and backups for Microsoft 365 with a serious plan for business continuity and recovery. Join us in this free, one-hour learning session with Microsoft MVP Joel Oleson and Synology to find out more.

>> Register Now <<

Microsoft 365 Backup and Recovery
Microsoft 365 Backup and Recovery

5 Favorite Announcements from Ignite & Best of Ignite Experts MVP Panel

Microsoft Ignite Experts Panel
I’ve been trying to watch and take in as much as I can from this “Surprise” spring version of Microsoft Ignite. It used to be we’d need to digest once a year the announcements from Microsoft Ignite. Now you’ve got two big ones. I guess the good news is we get that much more transparency into what is happening in Redmond. We shouldn’t complain. The three year cycle to the 6 month cycle or is it really one month cycle… I’ll let you decide. Either way, Join me on either my Club House tomorrow morning or join me on the experts panel on Tuesday morning 9am Pacific time.

I put together my 5 Favorite Announcements from Spring 2021 Microsoft Ignite.

1. Viva Connections will be free! It hasn’t even shipped yet and Microsoft Viva Connections with all the cool feeds coming at you is going to be included in the SharePoint licensing. That’s so awesome!! I think it’s going to be very important that we get this right. Is the Intranet dead? Did Viva Connections kill it? I don’t think so. I think there’s still an important need for corporations to learn how to both communicate to users, but also to gather and engage, and also provide value and direction for getting to the tools we use everyday and those rare ones we are digging into a mega menu, targeted content and departmental solutions… absolutely. Do I think that the Viva brand is here to stay and we should all be making Viva part of our Microsoft vernacular… absolutely… this train is just leaving the station. Read the Viva Guide to Ignite for tons more details. Watch Jared Spataro’s very funny and clever session on the Hybrid workplace on demand (no signin required) Also check out Chuck’s session on Viva on employee experience it includes a cameo from Naomi where she shows off some new Teams integration with Viva Topics… it’s way more than highlighting. Viva Learning will enter public preview in April 2021.

“Starting in March, the Microsoft Teams desktop experience for Viva Connections – which provides a curated, company-branded experience including news, conversations and other resources for employees – will begin rolling out to all customers as part of their existing Microsoft 365 license.” 

On-Demand Sessions: Introducing Microsoft Viva Connections by Adam Harmetz
Viva Connections is your gateway to a modern employee experience

Microsoft Viva


2. Microsoft Teams Webinar features – As someone who has been doing a lot of events. It seems like there’s a continuous battle to convince the Marketing folks that Teams is good enough, or it’s convincing the community that there are marketing reasons we didn’t use Teams. Announced at Ignite among dozens of other amazing Teams announcements is a pile of goodness for supporting real true webinars with over 1000 attendees internal or external with powerful attendance reports, and registration pages for our webinars that are integrated. He even teased about a webinar of 20,000 attendees. (That’s my target for M365 Virtual Marathon. The call for speakers is open. We already have 100 speakers lined up, but we seriously want 500.) Even setting up this event I wish I had this feature to be able to gather registrations for our experts panel. Here’s your Guide to Ignite from the Teams Team. Teams has more than 100 new features since COVID has started. Teams “Casting” and meetings rooms features were super cool. Some fantastic vision shared by Jared Spataro. The Teams Rooms of the future are already looking super awesome. Love the speech to text in captions and avatar facial and voice recognition. You can see the new webinar features in action in the “Easy, Intuitive Webinars with Microsoft Teams: Virtual Engagement in the Age of Remote Work” with Lars Johnson, Sr. Director, Microsoft Teams Marketing; and Christina Torok, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

3. Announcing Microsoft Mesh! – AR/VR took a big leap forward. The keynote showed us what is possible when running an event in VR. AltSpaceVR hosted the keynote as well as provided an opportunity to connect with people around the globe. I really enjoyed seeing friends from Utah, Germany, Netherlands, and Australia all in what felt like a hallway. The demonstration of Pokémon GO experience built on Niantic’s planet-scale platform that has enabled millions of people to have augmented reality experiences in the real world, is planned to be enhanced with Microsoft Mesh features enabling people to be present together in shared experiences across space and time. I’m anxious to see that myself. The keynote in AltspaceVR encouraged me to commit to putting together a future event and incorporating AltspaceVR into our virtual events. (I’ve been already trying to do that, but also hoping others are convinced.)

4. Announcing Power Point Live with Teams and Presenter Mode –  Presenter mode is the latest innovation in Microsoft Teams that empowers you to customize how your video feed and content appear to the audience. Seeing the speaker can reduce the cognitive overload for your audience since they can read your non-verbal cues and stay more focused with you as their visual guide. Presenter mode is a great companion to PowerPoint Live in Teams that makes your presentation immersive and engaging. 

Power Fx A new language for low code developers to be implemented across the Power Platform. Currently used as the language to develop canvas apps in Microsoft Power Apps, Power Fx will eventually become the consistent language across the Power Platform. You can learn more about this and other Power Platform and Dynamics features announced at Ignite.
The key sessions to watch:
What’s new and what’s next for Microsoft Power Platform
Hosted by Charles Lamanna, CVP, Low Code Application Platform and Julie Strauss, Partner PM Director
Power BI and Data
Drive a data culture with Power BI: Vision, strategy, and roadmap
Hosted by Arun Ulagaratchagan, CVP, Power BI

5. Azure – I feel so far behind in the LOADS of updates to Azure. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of Ignite was focused on this. I can’t not mention a few of them.

Semantic search capability in Azure Cognitive Search now in preview.
Azure Communication Services to be generally available, with Microsoft Teams interoperability in preview
Private Azure Marketplace now generally available
Windows Server 2022 is now available in preview
Azure Percept, AI-powered family of edge devices and services, now in preview

Yes I missed about 1000 other things including a few of your favorites I’m sure. Put them in the comments I’d love to hear them so I don’t miss them in the panel, but dive into the Book of Ignite AKA Book of Knowledge AKA Ignite Bible for more.

Join us on Tuesday March 9th at 9am Pacific 12pm Eastern with

Wow! Just wow! IGNITE 2021 has been packed with so many announcements, and roadmap updates

From Mixed Reality Pokemon adventures with Microsoft to Viva Connections being included with your Microsoft 365 licensing…   Did you catch ’em all??? No one did… believe us! As a result the best way to consume all of those updates in the shortest way possible is with a broad experts panel. Here we’ve assembled Developers, Architects, Evangelists, and IT Pros across the Microsoft 365 workloads. Bring your questions and join us for this experts panel!   This 1 hour session is an opportunity to hear from top experts, MVPs, RDs to discuss and interact with the community. Bring your questions and be ready to take ferocious notes!

Experts Lineup:
Eric Overfield, CEO of Pixelmill, MVP & MS Regional Director
Jeff Willinger, Digital Workspace Innovator, MVP
Ryan Schouten, MVP Blizzard Entertainment
Joel Oleson, Sr. Product Manager, TeamsHUB by Cyclotron & Founder Joel365, MVP & RD
Sharon Weaver, CEO Smarter Consulting, Microsoft Regional Director
Amber Bahl, CEO, TeamsHUB by Cyclotron 

 What you’ll learn:: Announcements Roadmap updates Open Q&A Expert Feedback Discussions about what’s coming next

>>Register Here<<