Yammer Enterprise for Office 365

If you have an Office 365 subscription on any plan Small Business Essentials or above, you will be entitled to Yammer Enterprise. Yammer, if you are unaware is an enterprise social networking product that Microsoft acquired a while back and is billed to replace the social features in SharePoint Online over time. Enterprise social networking I think is like marmite and some companies promote the idea whilst others shy away from it which I think has held back adoption and therefore, Yammer isn’t as widely used as you would think, especially for a free service as part of your existing Office 365 license.

Regardless of this, in this post, I will walk you through the very simply steps to activate your Yammer Enterprise network for your Office 365 Tenant and explain some of the next steps you can take to make Yammer more integrated into your business functions and make it more functional for end-users.

Activate Your Yammer Enterprise Network

Activating the Yammer Enterprise Network is actually very simple. First, login to your Office 365 Admin Center as a Global Admin.

Office 365 Dashboard Activate Yammer

From the Dashboard presented when you login, you will have an option for Activate Yammer Enterprise under the Manage Your Organisation heading. Once you have selected this, you will be taken to the domain selection page.

Yammer Enterprise Domain Selection

On this page, you must select which of your verified Office 365 domains you want to activate Yammer for.

Yammer is designed primarily for single domain use so if you work at an organisation which has multiple domain names such as regional domains for each country or territory that you operate in then you will need to activate your Yammer Enterprise network for one domain initially. Once you have your network setup with a single domain, you can follow the instructions on the TechNet article Combine Multiple Yammer Networks (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn804812(v=office.15).aspx) to contact Yammer Technical Support to add the secondary domains.

Once you have selected your domain and you select the Activate Yammer Enterprise button, after a few minutes your new Yammer network will be created.

By design, Office 365 Global Admins will automatically be provisioned as Network Admins in Yammer to administer your network however I found this didn’t work as it should and I had to follow a fix I found on the Office 365 Community by adding a new Global Admin afer the network creation which did get added to Yammer and then I logged in as that user and re-added my other Global Admins manually.

Syncing Domain Users to Yammer with DSync

Whilst Yammer Enterprise is made available via your Office 365 Tenant and allows your users to use their Office 365 credentials for logging in to Yammer Enterprise (be it as a cloud user, an on-premise AD user via DirSync or AADSync or whether you have ADFS setup and configured), the user on-boarding and off-boarding processes for Yammer are distinct. What this means for your end-users is that whilst they can visit yammer.com and try and login using their Office 365 credentials, they actually need to be registered in your network first.

Microsoft provides a tool called Yammer Directory Sync or DSync which functions in a similar fashion to the DirSync or AADSync tools for Azure Active Directory. The DSync tool doesn’t sync any passwords because those are provided via Office 365 and Azure Active Directory however DSync will sync the Name, Job Title, Office, Telephone and Mobile fields of an AD object to Yammer and will provision an account for the user. Setting up Yammer DSync is outside of the scope of this post but you can find out more from the TechNet article Install Yammer Directory Sync (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/dn799032).

Yammer Directory Sync will automatically create Yammer users in your network as new AD users are created and it will also remove users when they are deleted from AD covering off the provision and deprovision processes. As you would expect, the tool updates user attributes as they are changed in AD.

If you don’t setup Yammer Directory Sync then each of your users will need to manually register for Yammer the first time they visit the site and accounts will not be automatically deprovisioned when you remove an AD user account.

Replacing the SharePoint Newsfeed with Yammer

SharePoint Online as with all versions of SharePoint 2010 and 2013 provides the Newsfeed functionality which is designed to be your timeline of information for your companies collaboration world. The Newsfeed in SharePoint is part of a users’ My Site area however Yammer being an enterprise social network provides a better capability for newsfeed and maintaining two systems for one function is redundant. Luckily, there is an option we can change that will replace the native SharePoint Newsfeed with the Yammer service.

As a Global Admin, login to the Office 365 Admin Center and browse to your SharePoint Admin Center. From the SharePoint Admin Center, among the options, you will find a setting titled Enterprise Social Collaboration. Under this heading, change the setting from Use SharePoint Newsfeed (Default) to Use Yammer.com Service. As per the description for this setting, it can take up to 30 minutes for the setting to propagate all of the Office 365 servers so for a short period of time, some users may still be directed to their Newsfeed after this is changed.

Embedding Yammer Feeds into SharePoint

SharePoint is where your company stores its documents and data so it makes sense to have related comments and social interaction from staff in the same place. On the Yammer site, you can find out how to use Yammer Embed to incorporate Yammer Feeds and Pages into your SharePoint sites or even any HTML web site your company may have. You can find out more about Yammer Embed at https://developer.yammer.com/v1.0/docs/embed.

It’s worth noting here that there is currently, a Yammer Web App for SharePoint however this is being discontinued later this year therefore there is no point building a system using the Web App now as you will have to re-create it before not too long and it makes better sense to develop using the long-term solution now.

I hope this post sheds a bit more light on what Yammer is, how to get it and how to start using it.

Automating SharePoint Online with System Center Orchestrator

Recently, I’ve been working with a customer who uses Office 365 SharePoint Online and were looking to automate the creation of new sub sites in SharePoint Online with System Center Orchestrator. In addition to the requirement for automating the creation of the sub sites, the customer wanted this to be available as a self-service offering which they can make available to their users.

The customer asked me to put together a video on how we achieved this. This has been put up on YouTube as a four part video series.

You can see the series in the Automating SharePoint Online with System Center Orchestrator playlist at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAKHPB7NYKVWBHi778g3LoQmtZ-cBMgsb or with the embedded video below.

The four parts are broken down as follows:

Part 1: Introduction and Prerequisites
Part 2: System Center Orchestrator Configuration
Part 3: System Center Service Manager Configuration
Part 4: Finished Product Demonstration

Living the Dream: Exchange, SharePoint and Lync

If you happen to work for a Microsoft prodominant environment and you either are thinking about deploying the holy trinity of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync or you are interested in the integration between the services, then check out these two posts from DrRez on the TechNet Blogs. These two posts go into techincal detail about the integration between the services and how to actually setup some of them.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/drrez/archive/2011/04/26/lync-2010-exchange-2010-sharepoint-2010-and-office-2010-integration-part-1.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/drrez/archive/2011/04/27/lync-2010-exchange-2010-sharepoint-2010-and-office-2010-integration-part-2.aspx

One nugget I learnt from reading it was that for Exchange to see the LDAP thumbnailPhoto attribute to allow it to publish the pictures into the Global Address List and Outlook clients is that you ust update the AD Schema to allow replication of the thumbnailPhoto attribute to Global Catalog servers.

Whats Missing in the Lync Client for Windows Phone 7

Microsoft Lync is one of those fantastic products that I yearn for. It cross cuts the entire communication eco-system and gives you fantastic integration across the Microsoft stack including SharePoint and the Office application suite, however much to my dismay we don’t use Lync in my place of work and instead use the mediocre Cisco CUCM. To this end, my only experiences with Lync in a real-world ‘anger’ situations are when participating in calls hosted by other companies using Lync, Microsoft themselves being the main player for me.

For a long time now, there has been speculation of a Lync Client for Windows Phone 7 being released and this week it finally hit the marketplace not only for Windows Phone 7, but also for Apple iOS devices, Android and Symbian.

The app looks great in the screenshots, showing the features on offer well, however one huge feature is missing for me. The ability to use the app as a Lync Attendee Client: See Lync offers two different clients. The full blown corporate use client and the Lync Attendee Client. If you use Lync in a corporate scenario you will have the full client, however if you are like me and only use Lync to participate in sessions hosted by others, you use the lighter Lync Attendee Client which doesn’t require credentials and is designed around guest access.

Sadly, the Lync Client app for the mobile handsets released this week is only suitable for full client use scenarios as told by the app guidance notes in the Windows Phone Marketplace:

IMPORTANT: Microsoft Lync 2010 for Windows Phone requires a Lync Server or Office365/Lync Online account and will not work without it. If you are unsure about your account status, please contact your IT department.

He being me, I decided to install the app and try it anyway, but sadly the prescribed guidance was correct. This was a sucker-punch to me, and I think it will limit somewhat the ability for people to use the Lync Client. My only hope is that a separate client is released which does give you the ability to participate in Lync sessions as a guest.

If you are lucky enough to use Lync in a full deployment, you can get the app for Windows Phone 7 from http://www.windowsphone.com/en-US/apps/9ce93e51-5b35-e011-854c-00237de2db9e.

Failure with Concessions

Today wasn’t the greatest day for me in one respect. Unfortunatly I flunked my 70-236 Configuring Exchange Server 2007 exam for the second time, and strangely, with months more Exchange experience under my belt (and I mean that because we’ve faced our share of issues and undertaken our share of mini-projects on infrastructure engineering since my last attempt), and with loads of preperation, I actually scored roughly 75 points lower than my first attempt.

I purchased a three exam pack through Prometric earlier in the year which expires December 31st 2011, so I’ve got to try and get two exams passed before the end of the year still, with MDOP being my next exam and still undecided on the third, but Exchange better look out, as once I’ve done my two remaining in the pack, I’ll be going back for my MCITP for Exchange Server 2007 and 2010.

The concession in all of this is a feeling of self-enlightenment. Tomorrow, my trusty laptop will be going back to the office from home so that I can re-deploy it with SCCM to install my yummy new SSD disk (I would clone the disk, but I have a feeling BitLocker might not accept that too kindly). To make sure I didn’t loose any data, I hooked up my VPN this evening and made sure that all of the data on my laptop was safe and sound on the file servers and work, and then I turned my attention to OneNote.

I’m an avid OneNote user, and will use it over written notes whenever I possibly can. Being a Windows Phone 7 user, I also enjoy the OneNote integration in the phone giving me super access to my personal notes. I quickly realised that through the course of migrating through various working practices at work, I had one notebook in my SharePoint 2010 MySite and another locally on the laptop, and then a third in the Windows Live SkyDrive cloud. I’ve just combined them all into my SharePoint 2010 MySite notebook and I feel great for it.

Unification for the win 🙂

Outlook 2010 Social Connector ProgID for Facebook

Today, I was investigating the management and control of the Outlook Social Connector via Group Policy, using the Office 2010 ADM/ADMX files from Microsoft.

Two of the settings of interest for the Outlook Social Connector are the ability to control which social connectors are displayed, and which are automatically loaded without user interaction. Whilst looking online, a Microsoft Forum thread appeared in my results with the ProgID for some of the available connectors, however they were missing a big one – Facebook.

Looking in the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT registry hive on my machine, where I have the Facebook connector installed, I found it, so here is a list of the currently available Outlook Social Connector ProgIDs which can be used (semi-colon seperated) in the Group Policy Management Console to configure the behaviour.

SharePoint – OscAddin.SharePointProvider
SharePoint –
OscAddin.SharePointProvider.1
LinkedIn –
LinkedInSocialConnector.LinkedInSocialProvider
MySpace –
MySpace.OSC
Windows Live Messenger – OscAddin.WindowsLiveProvider
Facebook – OscAddin.FacebookProvider
Facebook – OscAddin.FacebookProvider.1

I hope this helps you all.

Redirecting Non-HTTPS Traffic to HTTPS for SharePoint 2007

Like any sensible SharePoint 2007 deployment, I’m keeping the one I am working on currently currently strictly HTTPS (SSL). The reason for this is that we have opened up the SharePoint deployment to the web. Not a public facing web with anonymous access for internet users, but accessible without VPN on the web for our field employees to use.

One of the problems I have faced up until now is that when SharePoint is configured for HTTPS connections the Non-HTTPS connections are dropped and faced with a 404 Not Found error, the least helpful of all HTTP error codes.

Struggling for a solution to such a simple request –Redirect non-secured traffic to the secure protocol I searched online and found after a little digging this helpful article from a SharePoint blog at http://www.os.com/blog/capture-and-redirect-http-to-https-with-sharepoint-2007/. Here’s the crux of it:

  1. Configure the SharePoint AAM (Alternate Address Mapping) so that HTTPS is the default protocol for the public URL.
  2. Edit the IIS Site for SharePoint and either change the HTTP port to a random number, or do as I did and delete the binding for the HTTP port.
  3. Create a New IIS Site called SharePoint Redirect
  4. Assign the New Site to HTTP on Port 80
  5. Add a Host Header to the New Site Matching the URL of the Site (Eg. sharepoint.company.com)
  6. Using HTTP Redirects, Create a Permanent (HTTP 301) to the HTTPS URL of the SharePoint deployment.

Done

PS: Don’t forget to allow HTTP and HTTPS through the external firewall though otherwise users will never hit the redirect rule.

The Case of The Failed SharePoint Server 2007 Indexing

As my LinkedIn profile will kindly tell you, I’m working on a SharePoint deployment for Vocera to replace our current aged and disorganised ECM (Enterprise Content Management) system.

I was very confused one day to discover during my proof of concept and design stages that the indexing and crawling in SharePoint stopped working. I originally blamed this on myself for moving from an internal model to a external model by making some changed to the Shared Services Provider (SSP), however I discovered today this is untrue.

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/sharepointsearch/thread/84f93fbe-f4a6-4683-b25b-b595b9006ad7

This most helpful Microsoft TechNet Social forum page explains how the cause is a .NET Framework 3.5 Family update that makes changes to the authentication model and providers in SharePoint.

Follow the instructions in the post from Sandeep Lad to resolve your issues.