Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Office 365 Jump start sessions

Last week, I had the opportunity to take part in 3 training events organised around the new Microsoft Office365 product; the replacement for BPOS. These sessions were all online, run using MS Live meeting, with a mixture of PowerPoint slides and some actual demos of the product in use.

The sessions were started at 10.00 am Pacific Daylight time (18.00 BST) as they were being hosted from the West Coast of the USA. They ran until 4.00 pm PDT which meant staying up until midnight, very much a long evening, particularly as I usually get up at 6.30 in the morning. However as the event was so worthwhile, I don’t feel too put out by that.


On the first day, they had a few technical issues with the audio at the very beginning of the session; for some reason, they kept losing the sound from the presenters. However, once that little hiccup was out of the way, the sessions picked up pace quite rapidly and they went through a great deal of information.

The moderator was Adam Carter who kept things moving along really nicely; he was joined by a number of people that had specific knowledge of key components of the package and these went into the various parts in some detail. At the same time, the online participants were invited to ask any questions; there were some really great issues raised and for the most part, the moderators were able to deal with these or to pass them on to the specialists for them to elaborate further.

I’ll write up a bit more about the actual product itself in a later blog post; suffice to say that the various components were explained and demonstrated very well. I would suggest most people had a really good opportunity to see them in action, learn a bit more about some of the basic administrative tasks required, and how to make use of the new product.

Of particular note was the session on using PowerShell to do some of the admin tasks; for those that are not so confident in using this utility or still working out if they need to use it, the demonstration showed just how flexible and easy to use it is, and I’m sure that many would have gone away determined to learn more about working with the commandlets.

For me the best demonstration was by Mark Kashman who gave a superb presentation on the use of SharePoint Online. He had created a demonstration site using the “Fabrikam” company name, and it was quite astonishing; simply one of the best SharePoint sites I’ve seen. A number of people asked if it would be made publically accessible as a reference site, and he has said they will look at this, but he felt that the site was still unfinished and that the team would want to do more work on it before releasing it into the wild.

All in all, this was a really great opportunity to learn more about the new Office365 product. It was very well put together and I think pitched at just the right level for most of the people involved. The slides are now available online to download –


They did suggest that the videos will also be available in a couple of weeks’ time, and if I get the details, I’ll add them on as well. They also promoted the Microsoft Virtual Academy, another really great free resource; if you haven’t heard about this, check it out at


I hope that Microsoft put out a few more sessions like the jumpstart session; I would suggest that if they do, you would be well advised to sign up as it is a great training resource for IT sysadmins, to make that they stay on top of the latest products and developments.