Microsoft MVP Award 2017

What a better way to start in 2017: I have received the MVP Award for Enterprise Mobility for another year. Thank you Microsoft! Thank you everyone that helped me to deliver the activities in the past year!

Looking forward for a great 2017!

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Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year! I wish you to be happy and healthy! Have a great 2017!
La Mulţi Ani!
Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
Bonne année!
Ein gutes neues Jahr!
Boldog Új Évet!
Gott nytt år!
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Attending #CloudBrew by @AZUGBE

Azure and beer … what could go wrong? In this case it was the recipe for success for the CloudBrew event organized by AZUGBE. The event took place in the former Lamot brewery, now a conference center, in Mechelen.

I have attended sessions on the infrastructure track presented by Alex Mang, Rasmus Hald, Robin Vermeirsch and Peter Örneholm.

The traditional beer sampling was presented by MALT&MOUT.

Congratulations for a wonderful event! Looking forward to the next year edition.

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Attending #SCUGBE System Center Night Winter Edition

Last Wednesday, on Nov 23, 2016, I have attended #SCUGBE System Center Night Winter Edition. The meeting took place at Microsoft Benelux offices in Zaventem.

The event was full house, all the seats were taken. The first session was Protect your business from within and without with Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS) by Dieter Wijckmans and Florent Appointaire. Lots of questions from the audience, the topic was very interesting.

I had to leave at the break to catch the train, so I missed the session on Empower Mobility by providing a Single identity, delivered by Ken Goossens and Jan Van Meirvenne. I also missed the post-event beers.

Congratulations for the speakers and organizers for a great event!

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System Center Configuration Manager as a Service

In the last year I have seen and heard many rumours about System Center Configuration Manager:

  • Configuration Manager 2016 is the last version of the product
  • SCCM is end of life, Microsoft is not investing anymore in it
  • Intune will replace Configuration Manager

I am sorry to dissapoint the people making these statements. System Center Configuration Manager is alive and kicking. Check this blog post from Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of the Enterprise Client & Mobility at Microsoft.

Gartner has recognized Microsoft as a Leader for the eleventh consecutive year,  in the 2015 Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools (previously called Magic Quadrant for PC Configuration Life Cycle Management) with Configuration Manager (and previously SMS).
Funny enough, Gartner retired this magic quadrant for 2016. Probably Configuration Manager would have been the leader for the twelfth time.

In my opinion the above rumours are based on misunderstandings of the way Configuration Manager has evolved from a traditional on-premise product with a 3-year engineering cycle to the Software as a Service model.

Configuration Manager Current Branch
Back in 2015 the Configuration Manager team made the decision to adopt the Current Branch model, also used by the Windows team.
One year later, there have been 4 CB releases in the last 12 months – 1511, 1602, 1606, and 1610. So, actually System Center Configuration Manager 2016 is Configuration Manager Current Branch release 1606.
Microsoft is moving away from the versioning based on years, because there will be more versions per year.
This model is aligning with the Windows 10 Curent Branch model.
Besides the baseline releases there are also Technical Preview releases. They are intended for early validation in a lab environment, and allow you to validate new features before they are available on current branch. These should not be deployed in production (unless you are a TAP customer and you have  a support agreement with Microsoft).
So definitely Microsoft is investing in the development of Configuration Manager, by moving to a SaaS model.

In case you missed it, Update 1610 for System Center Configuration Manager was released on Friday.

Intune will not replace Configuration Manager
Microsoft Intune is a cloud-based Mobile Device Manageent (MDM) solution part of the Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). It has a different feature set and is targeted as managing mobile devices: Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Windows 10 managed as a mobile device using OMA-DM protocol.If you are interested on OMA-DM protocol support check this page on MSDN.

If you want to manage both on-premise desktops (with Windows Vista and above) and  mobile solutions, you can use both Configuration Manager and Intune/EMS in hybrid mode.

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MVP Summit 2016

I am back in Seattle/Redmond to attend the MVP Summit 2016. It has been 3 years since my last attendance to this event.

It is good to meet again old friends and make new ones. The Enterprise Mobility MVP group has grown since my last visit, more than 40 MVPs are attending the Summit.

Another reason for attending this event is to meet the Product Group team members and obtain first hand, early information about the products and directions. This is the greatest value one can get from the MVP Summit.

And of course, being able to provide feedback to the Product Group and suggest features is very important.

Thank you everyone for a great MVP Summit!

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Attending VMworld 2016 Europe in Barcelona

Same city, a different conference. Last week I have attended VMworld 2016 Europe in Barcelona. I arrived on Saturday, so Sunday was reserved for sightseeing.

The conference was at Fira Barcelona. I attended mostly End User Computing (EUC) and Virtualization sessions. I also had a chance to do a lab on AirWatch. I bought several books, looking forward to upgrade my VCP5-DCV certification.

Revived some nice memories by visiting Barcelona again. The first time was in 2001. The last time was at TechEd Europe 2014.

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Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) is the new EMS

As announced at Microsoft Ignite and on the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility blog, the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is now Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS).

Besides the change in name, there are a few interesting news:

  • Azure Information Protection (formerly known as Azure Rights Management Services) will also be generally available on Oct 1, 2016.
  • Existing Enterprise Mobility Suite subscriptions become Enterprise Mobility + Security E3 subscriptions.
  • A new expanded EMS E5 plan will be available beginning Oct 1, 2016.
  • Azure AD Premium becomes Azure AD Premium P1.
  • A new plan Azure AD Premium P2 includes all the capabilities in Azure AD Premium P1 as well as Identity Protection and Privileged Identity Management.
  • Existing Azure Rights Management Premium is now Azure Information Protection Premium P1.
  • The Azure Information Protection Premium P2 offer adds automatic classification, on top of the manual classification and labelling.

What this means for you?

Watch out for more news on:

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EMS PoC: Configure Microsoft Intune Policies

Here it is a new guide from the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) series, on how to Configure Microsoft Intune Policies. The guide is published for free as volunteer contribution to the community.

Implementing a Proof-Of-Concept allows you to evaluate the functionality and decide the implementation, based on hands-on experience with the solution.

Feel free to use the guide to implement your own Enterprise Mobility Suite Proof-of-Concept.

The  guide includes the following topics:

  • Configure a Global MDM Policy
  • Create device groups
  • Configure an E-mail Profile
  • Configure a Certificates Profile
  • Configure a VPN Profile
  • Configure a WiFi Profile
  • Wipe a device remotely

You can find the previous guides here:

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Head in the clouds: Summer trip in Bucegi mountains

This year I spent again my summer holiday in Sinaia, Prahova Valley, Romania. This gave me the opportunity to walk on my favorite mountain track in Bucegi mountains.

The trip starts in Sinaia, a holiday resort and home of the Peles Castle – former summer residence of the Romanian kings. From the railway station, a short walk to the telecabin, and ascension to Cota 1400. This will save 10 km of walking uphill on the road.

From Cota 1400 a track under the teleski and telegondolas is climbing to Cabana Miorita. From there an easy path is avoiding the climb to Cota 2000, going around the mountain and then directly to Cabana Piatra Arsa (Burned Stone).

From Piatra Arsa there is one hour walk to Babele (Old Ladies). The site is rather busy with tourists taking the easy way with the telecabin from Busteni. I decided to go further to Vf. Omu (Man’s peak), a two hours trip.

The track from Babele is climbing slowly from 2200 m to 2507 m at Vf. Omu, and I was literally with my head in the clouds. Funny enough, in the valley there was sunshine. Just before arriving at Vf. Omu, a summer rain started, and I got my feet wet. Luckily I had a raincoat and my MVP jacket 🙂

Vf. Omu cabin is just a refuge, there were no places to stay (unless reserving in advance), so after drinking a couple of hot teas, I took the track back to Babele. The rain stopped just before arrival, allowing me to take some more pictures of Babele and the Sphinx. Two hours of waiting at the telecabin and I was down in the valley in Busteni. The trip took a total of 10 hours.

In the previous years I have also took other beautiful tracks, climbing from the valley from Busteni, however they are rather difficult and recommended for experienced mountaineers.

Bucegi mountains are beautiful, Please take a look at the pictures below. If you are planning a trip, I recommend getting a local guide.

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