Deciding Between SharePoint Online or On Premises Versions

November 17, 2014

Though the relevancy of on-premises installations of SharePoint is dwindling, it might still be the right choice for some organizations. SearchContentManagement.com shares key differences between the two versions in, “SharePoint Online Vs. On-Premises Is Already an Outmoded Question” (registration required.) The write-up cautions that Microsoft is bound to take SharePoint entirely into the cloud, perhaps as early as 2016, but lays out the facts so readers can judge whether a local installation would best suit them in the meantime.

On the subject of Search functionality, the write-up reports:

“Both SharePoint on-premises and Online have search capabilities. The big difference is what their search indexes can include. Typically, when the phrase enterprise search is used, it means that the search engine in question can index multiple, disparate content sources.

“In the case of SharePoint on-premises, this is true. SharePoint has long been capable of indexing SharePoint content, as well as content stored on file shares, Exchange, websites and Lotus Notes databases, among various content sources. Starting in 2007, Microsoft added the capability of indexing structured data from databases and other applications through the then-called Business Data Catalog. That feature has since matured and is now called Business Connectivity Services (BCS), and it allows virtually the same capabilities.

“The same isn’t true of SharePoint Online. The search engine can index all content stored in SharePoint and sources connected through BCS, but not index file shares, other websites or Lotus Notes databases. While the capability is largely constrained based on where SharePoint Online is hosted, the more fundamental difference is the controls available to administrators; the ability to define other content sources, like on-premises implementations, simply doesn’t exist.”

That’s disappointing. The article also contrasts the products in the areas of business data, custom development, and the relationship to its cloud service Azure. It goes on to describe a pattern of Microsoft “deconstructing” its on-premises products into individual services available through Azure, a trend that effectively turns search functionality into a stand-alone product that can be integrated into other applications. Eventually, the piece suggests, Microsoft may completely deconstruct SharePoint into a selection of Azure services. Perhaps. But will companies ever get their access to additional content sources back?

Cynthia Murrell, November 17, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

RapidMiner Cloud Includes Wisdom of the Crowds Operator Recommendations

November 13, 2014

The article on Inside BigData titled RapidMiner Moves Predictive Analytics, Data Mining and Machine Learning into the Cloud promotes RapidMiner Cloud, the recently announced tool for business analysts. The technology allows for users to leverage over 300 cloud platforms such as Amazon, Twitter and Dropbox at an affordable price ($39/month.) The article quotes RapidMiner CEO Ingo Mierswa, who emphasized the “single click” necessary for users to gain important predictive analytics. The article says,

“RapidMiner understands the unique needs of today’s mobile workforce. RapidMiner Cloud includes connectors to cloud-based data sources that can be used on-premises and in the cloud with seamless transitioning between the two. This allows users to literally process Big Data at anytime and in any place, either working in the cloud or picking up where they left off when back in the office. This feature is especially important for mobile staff and consultants in the field.”

RapidMiner Cloud also contains the recently launched Wisdom of the Crowds Operator Recommendations, which culls insights into the analytics process from the millions of models created by members of the RapidMiner community. The article also suggests that RapidMiner is uniquely capable of integration with open-source solutions, rather than competing, the platform is more invested in source-code availability.

Chelsea Kerwin, November 13, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

The Amazon Cloud: From Objects to an “Incredible Figure”

November 7, 2014

I suppose rural Kentucky is no bellwether for the economic micro climates in which Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook, and a handful of other companies operate. The big news in Kentucky is General Electric’s rumored sale of the sprawling Appliance Park. The “park” is a misnomer or one of those business euphemisms for acres of concrete and low cost industrial structures popular in the Rust Belt for many years.

I read “Amazon’s Cloud Is One of the Fastest-Growing Software Businesses in History.” I though about euphemisms because when my team and I wrote an analysis of the issues Amazon faced by using certain parts of infrastructure as a way to reduce the costs of online infrastructure, Amazon did not provide verifiable financial data. I had to look at fuzzies like “objects.”

The $5 billion figure in the Businessweek story arrested my attention. The transition from objects to dollars was quick. Even the MBA must read (which is on the shopping block) had the temerity to write:

If true, it’s an incredible figure.

Here’s another statement based on data from an allegedly objective source, Pacific Crest Securities:

The growth of Amazon’s cloud business is unprecedented, at least when compared to other business software ventures. It’s grown faster after hitting the $1 billion revenue mark than Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce.com.

That is indeed impressive. Businessweek notes:

You would need to turn to Google (GOOG)—which had the advantage of the vast consumer market—to find a business that grew faster.

The point not mentioned in the Businessweek analysis is that the fact that Amazon is not Google may be powering Amazon’s openness about the stunning and incredible size of its cloud business. For now, Google, not Amazon, holds the number one spot on many Internet Top 10 listicles.

Based on the research we have conducted about Amazon, I am hopeful that Amazon will provide similarly concrete information about:

  • Ownership stakes in companies using Amazon cloud services and how discounts and invoicing and payments work
  • Cost detail about the online infrastructure; telco, hardware, software, and human engineers (FTE and rentals)
  • How Amazon’s core services operate on the online infrastructure at times of peak demand; that is, does “peak” mean something different among class/type of cloud customer and Amazon’s core services

At the root of my question is how a push for infrastructure optimization has morphed into the “incredible figure”? More to the point, is the $5 billion real or collection of financial procedures to keep Amazon’s costs from poking through Amazon’s revenue line?

Stephen E Arnold, November 7, 2014

Microsoft Azure May be Permanently Broken

October 9, 2014

Microsoft’s cloud service, Azure, has had a rough month, and there are recent reports that it may be impossible for it to ever recover, at least in reputation. Read more of the details in the Tech Guru Daily article, “Is Microsoft’s Azure Permanently Broken?

The article begins:

“There appear to be some serious issues with Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and some experts suggest the problems might be difficult if not impossible to fix. Last month we reported that Azure was having problems. According to the Microsoft Azure status page there were 38 separate incidents between July 15 and August 15, and apparently things haven’t improved at all. In fact the problems have gotten worse.”

And because this is a live running service, with lots of dependent customers now disappointed repeatedly over a long period of time, it is highly unlikely that Microsoft Azure will be able to recover. There are many other cloud services that preceded Azure that continue to function well, and most customers have likely moved on to one of these by now. If you are a current Microsoft Azure customer, and have yet to experience major issues, you may want to consider other options before it does interrupt your regular business.

Emily Rae Aldridge, October 09, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Math in the Googley Cloud

October 6, 2014

Short honk: I think this is significant development. Math in the cloud, courtesy of the University of Washington and Google. Navigate to “Collaborative Mathematics with SageMathCloud and Google Cloud Platform.” No information about latency for calculations or changes to equations, output generation, or overall response time. I don’t suggest a 56K modem for this type of work.

Stephen E Arnold, September 30, 2014

Microsoft Azure Price Cuts? Maybe More Bad News for Search Vendors

September 26, 2014

The race for commodity pricing in cloud computing is underway. I read an article, which I assume is semi-accurate, called “Microsoft Azure Sees Big Price Reductions: Competition Is Good.” “Good” is a often a relative term.

For those looking for low cost cloud computing that delivers Azure functions, lower prices mean that Amazon- and Google-type prices may be too high.

For a vendor trying to pitch an information retrieval system to a Microsoft centric outfit, the falling prices may mean that Azure Search is not just good enough. It is a deal. The only systems that can be less expensive are those one downloads from an open source repository or one that a hard worker codes herself.

The write up states:

Microsoft has announced, in a blog post, that it will be slashing the cost of some of its Azure cloud services from October 1st….customers buying through Enterprise agreements will enjoy even lower prices. The rate card currently shows 63 services being reduced by up to about 40%.

For enterprise search vendors chasing SharePoint licensees with promises of better, faster, and cheaper—the move by Microsoft is likely to be of interest.

I anticipate that search vendors will scramble even harder than ever. Furthermore, I look forward to even more outrageous assertions about the value of content processing. As an example, check out this set of assertions about an open source based system that has been scrambling for purchase on the sales mountain for six or seven years.

Stephen E Arnold, September 26, 2014

Cloud Based Mathematica from Wolfram

September 16, 2014

I read “Launching Today: Mathmatica Online.” The interface is similar to the desktop application. The benefits of having the Mathematica tool accessible on non desktop devices and without requiring a local installation of the program are many; for example, notebooks work on tablets. With refreshing candor, Dr. Wolfram notes:

There are some tradeoffs of course. For example, Manipulate can’t be as zippy in the cloud as it is on the desktop, because it has to run across the network. But because its Cloud CDF interface is running directly in the web browser, it can immediately be embedded in any web page, without any plug-in…

Worth a look at http://www.wolfram.com/mathematica/online/.

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2014

SharePoint Simplifies Cloud Use with Better Updates

September 16, 2014

The next major update to SharePoint functionality will not occur until sometime in 2015, but for now users can get the most function out of their current implementation by taking advantage of Service Pack 1. Especially important for customers who intend to integrate Cloud components, SP1 focuses on reliability, security, and performance. Read more in the Enterprise Apps Today article, “SharePoint Updates Ease Move to Cloud.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 has been out for quite some time and received a Service Pack update earlier in the year. While SP1 included the usual mix of performance, reliability and security fixes, it also provided a number of new and updated features with an eye toward the cloud. Another update makes it easier to use Yammer as the social network of choice over the outdated Newsfeed.”

For more tips and tricks regarding getting the most out of your SharePoint installation, head on over to ArnoldIT.com. Stephen E. Arnold has made a career out of all things search, and gives a good bit of attention to the enterprise. His SharePoint feed helps users and administrators navigate the often complicated and potentially frustrating ins and outs of SharePoint.

Emily Rae Aldridge, September 16, 2014

Microsoft Incorporates SharePoint Server Component for the Cloud

September 11, 2014

Microsoft is slowly learning that combining components of SharePoint Online and the SharePoint on-site versions tends to serve the user better. The latest combination involves SharePoint server and you can read all the details in the eWeek article, “Microsoft Borrows From SharePoint Server for Cloud-Based Intranets.”

The article begins:

“The company ports two SharePoint Server 2013 features to its cloud-based counterpart to provide a better search-driven navigation experience. Microsoft has issued an update that brings search-based navigation capabilities from the on-premises version of SharePoint to intranets based on SharePoint Online, the company’s cloud-based business collaboration platform.“

Stephen E. Arnold is an expert in search and devotes a good bit of his attention to SharePoint. His research can be found on ArnoldIT.com, and those interested in SharePoint might want to bookmark the SharePoint feed. He focuses on the tips and tricks that can make SharePoint not only tolerable, but much more functional, for both the administrator and the user.

Emily Rae Aldridge, September 11, 2014

Microsoft Extends DLP to SharePoint

September 9, 2014

Microsoft is unveiling data loss prevention for the Office 365 suite. Administrators will be able to search for information across SharePoint Online and OneDrive. Read more in the PCWorld article, “Microsoft Rolls Out DLP to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft has extended the data loss prevention features in Office 365 so that they are available not only for its email tools but also for data in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Office 365 already had DLP capabilities for Exchange Online and Outlook, so that compliance officers could monitor email communications and enforce corporate and regulatory rules regarding the use of sensitive corporate data, such as confidential intellectual property details and customers’ financial information.”

Microsoft continues to improve the Office 365, spending special attention on streamlining and improving the user experience for SharePoint. For users who are interested in keeping up with the latest updates, keep an eye on ArnoldIT.com and particularly the SharePoint feed. Stephen E. Arnold has made a career out of all things search, and his expertise shines through as he offers the latest tips and tricks for SharePoint users.

Emily Rae Aldridge, September 09, 2014

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