Office 365: How to replicate SharePoint intranet content to cloud extranet

It’s fairly easy to build extranets for your clients, vendors or other partners with SharePoint Online or Office 365, e.g. for collaboration or mobile access. Compared to adding your partners securely to your internal infrastructure (e.g. Active Directory), a cloud-based extranet could be the better approach.

But take care about new data islands! You can easily connect some pre-selected parts of your locally existing data and documents with the new extranet in the cloud using the Cloud Connector for Office 365 and SharePoint Online. The connector keeps the data and documents up-to-date automatically in background.

This FAQ gives a step-by-step example how to do this.

Prepare your intranet SharePoint document library as data source for publishing to Office 365

Possibly you don’t want to publish all your documents to the external cloud. You can use an additional field to mark documents for publishing to the cloud-based Extranet and create a view for this. In our sample we use a view “ToExtranet” that only shows documents with the additional field “Extranet” = True.

Fig.: The screen shows documents in your local Intranet document library. An additional flag “Extranet” was added to mark some documents for transfer to external cloud, e.g. all PDFs – but not the original Powerpoints in that example.

You can create a view to filter the documents to transfer.

Fig.: The view uses a flag “Extranet” = True to filter documents for transfer to Extranet. 

Setup your Intranet-to-Extranet cloud connection with the Cloud Connector

With the Cloud Connector Connection Manager (a MMC snap-in) you have to setup:

1. the connection (e.g. uni-directional with overwrite, scheduling etc.),

2. the data source (your Intranet view ToExtranet) and

3. the data destination (in Extranet, the library must be created manually before).

You can use auto mapping to connect the fields of both data entities or map fields manually.

See here for sample connection settings:

Fig.: Sampe Intranet-to-Extranet one-way connection.

Please note:

  • Bi-directional connections are supported as well, if required.
  • If overwrite destination is enabled, non-matching entries in the destination are removed with initial sync.
  • Please enable schedulung later on, when all settings are verified and you have an idea of replication duration. Duration time depends on bandwith, performance of source and destination, document size and number of documents. Only changes are transferred.

Before running the connection, you have to define the data source and destination.

Fig.: The CSOM Provider is used to connect to the data source, e.g. a SharePoint on-premise.

Please note:

  • The view “ToExtranet” is given as data source in connection string.
  • Windows authentication is used to connect to the Intranet.
  • You don’t have to enter a primary key, SharePoint document IDs are used by default.
  • Please verify all settings before save.
  • The data source could also be in the cloud. Cloud-to-Cloud conenctions are supported as well.

Next you have to define your data destination:

Fig.: Data destination sample, a library “Extranet” in the Office 365 cloud.

Please note

  • The destination can be an on-premise SharePoint as well or any other hosted SharePoint 2010 sandbox.
  • No installation required on both sides, source and destination. The Cloud Conenctor runs somewhere in your network as a windows service, e.g. on any Windows Server or Client (Windows 7).

If all settings are verified, please go to connection root and run the connection manually first.

Please note,that it cloud take some time to transfer all documents. You can take a look in your cloud library to see how it goes on.

See your selected documents in the Office 365 extranet

Now take a look at your extranet. The pre-selected documents are in there, after running the connection.

Fig.: Sample data destination in the Office 365 cloud.

Please note:

  • Selected documents are transferred only.
  • Metadata like date / time of creation or last modification can be kept for extranet, if required by field mapping.
  • The user mapping is more complicated. It would work only in case, user information like “Created by or “Last modifed by” would exist in extranet with the same tokens. If it does not (more likely), you can create some other column for that (e.g. “Originally created by”) and map the fields to this column for information.
  • Changed files are transferred only on update. That means, you can define change subscriptions per-email or workflows in the cloud without any restrictions.

Next steps: Download a FREE shareware edition of the Layer2 Cloud Connector

You can download a free shareware edition of the Layer2 Cloud Connector for Office 365 and SharePoint 2010 after registration here.
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SharePoint & SAP: Integration was never that easy, seamless and cost effective

Integration of external line of business data is one of the hottest topic in each and every SharePoint project. Many issues still exists using Business Data Connectivity Services (BCS) and Web Services, especially with SAP: Configuration is quite complex, at some points programming is required and – it still remains “external” data. That means, not all SharePoint list features are available.

What about connecting SAP (and any other) data directly with NATIVE SharePoint lists, e.g. contacts, tasks, events or custom lists in just minutes without any coding required?

​With the Xtract Universal Designer you can select your SAP access method: Database table, SAP query, RFC function module or BAPI, ABAP report, BW Cube / Query, Open Hub Service extraction, BI / BW hierarchie or Delta Q is supported.

More about Xtract Universal see here:
http://www.theobald-software.com/en/index.htm

In this sample we will simply use the SAP table or view T101W to sync to a SharePoint contact list. You can freely define the fields to expose for SharePoint.

As a next step you have to create your data destination list directly in SharePoint. You can use any type of list, e.g. contacts, tasks, events – or simply a custom list. Then go to list settings and click “Connect to external data source”. Please note: This step requires the “Business Data List Connector for SharePoint 2007 and 2010” installed and activated:

http://www.layer2.de/en/products/Pages/SharePoint-Business-Data-List-Connector.aspx

The configuration is quite easy:

Please select the “Xtract Universal ADO.NET Provider” as a driver to access your pre-modeled data subsets from the Xtract Universal Designer. Please note that the driver is available as 32-bit and 64-bit, so MOSS / SharePoint 2007 is also supported. Please validate the provider.

The Xtract Universal Windows Service can run as a Windows Service on any machine, locally in this sample only. It is accessed per HTTP using the following connection string: host=http://localhost:8065. Please validate the connection string.

To select your data as a select statement simply input the previously defined extraction name, T001W in this case. SQL syntax is not supported here at this time, but planned for next versions. At this time please use the Xtract Universal Designer to form your data query. Please validate and preview the first rows of your data.

Take a look at the data and paste your primary key (a unique field) into the configuration. Please note: A primary key is not required. But if not available, SharePoint list items cannot be updated, but deleted and re-inserted on update. For best performance please use primary keys whenever possible. Please validate the primary key.

The SharePoint list structure is created in the next step. Simply press “Add Columns” in this case. Existing columns are mapped with fields by internal column names. Not existent columns are created automatically. You can delete or modify column type if required. Please check mapping until the mapping meets your requirements.

To insert the data first time or update later on for testing, please press “Update”. It can take a while, depending on data amount and configuration. When it is finished, simply save / close and enter the list view.

Please note: you can enable background update here (via timer job, e.g. every hour) or update manually via ribbon or action menu. Only changed data is updated in that native list.

Please note the native SharePoint list. All list features are fully available:

  •  Views (global and personal), sorting and grouping, filters, calculated fields, search, enterprise metadata, lookups can be created as usual.
  • All list types are supported: Contacts, tasks, events, custom lists etc. You can take the external data offline via Outlook and / or Workspace.
  • You can add additional SharePoint-only columns or attachments to the external data: Documents, comments, ratings, tagging or other Web 2.0 content.
  • List workflows (SPD-, VS- and Nintex-based) and notifications per RSS or email can be used to take business actions in SharePoint, when external business data records are changed in SAP.
  • Easy migration from SharePoint 2007 to 2010: All settings are kept working. Free upgrade for all customers with Software Assurance (SA).
  • The BDLC additionally makes available your external SAP data source for enterprise metadata management (tagging, content categorization) to use with the new SharePoint 2010 Knowledge Management and Social Networking features without any restrictions.
  • Works with any list-related SharePoint add-on.
  • Add-ons available: Use the “Key Value Lookup Column for SharePoint” to keep the foreign key relationships between SAP data source tables for SharePoint list lookups.

Please read here, what customers think about pros and cons of this product. To know more about Xtract Universal see here. To register and download the Business Data List Connector as free Shareware version see here. Please note, that this connection works in the same way also for Office 365 or SharePoint Online in the Microsoft Cloud using the Cloud Connector add-on.

Posted in Office 365, SAP, SharePoint, SharePoint 2010 | Leave a comment

Office 365: How to migrate or integrate enterprise data to the cloud?

A data-integration strategy needs to be within the foundation of every cloud computing plan. This integration needs to be innate to the architecture; it  can’t be something you’re reminded of at the rollout meeting😉

But migration and especially integration of external data to the Office 365 cloud is difficult using out-of-the-box features. No Business Connectivity Services are provided. And if it will be provided, in most cases it would not connect to remote corporate data sources for security reasons.

3rd party tools could help in this case. The Cloud Connector for Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and Office 365 takes local line-of-business data to the Office 365 cloud-based or any other hosted SharePoint. Content hosted in almost any corporate data source, e.g. databases, files, ERP/CRM/ECMS or other legacy platforms and on-premise applications like Exchange, Active Directory or even SharePoint itself is replicated to native SharePoint lists into the cloud via secure web services. All features of native SharePoint lists are completely available for the external data.

While the SharePoint Business Data Catalog (BDC), the SharePoint Business Data Connectivity Services (BCS) or the SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) out-of-the-box are not made for cloud-based scenarios, the SharePoint Cloud Connector was especially developed to solve the specific challenges of disconnected systems in the cloud without any direct access to corporate business data and very restricted feature customization capabilities.

Databases and files can easily connected to Office 365

SharePoint Cloud-Connector for Office 365 - Architecture

How does it work? Easy…

  • No programming or tools required. Setup in a few
    minutes
    guided by a wizard.
  • No installation or customizing in the SharePoint Office 365 cloud
    required.
  • Compatible to all SharePoint offerings, including on-premise, sandboxed,
    e.g. Microsoft SharePoint Online / Microsoft Office 365.
  • 100% Microsoft SharePoint 2010 compatible – Uses new CSOM API model for the cloud.
  • Secure data connection and transfer: Connection via Web
    Services (SSL). Disconnected systems: A connection is only required for data
    exchange – not for list usage. No direct access to external company data
    required (“push” – no “pull” strategy). The application runs where your
    data resides today – on any server or client inside your corporate network.
  • Virtually any data sources supported: ODBC, OLEDB,
    .NET-based providers, Files (Excel, XML, CSV), SQL databases like Oracle, MySQL, IBM DB2, IBM AS/400, IBM Informix, Notes, SharePoint😉, Exchange, Active Directory, Navision, SAP and many more. More complex data sources, e.g. web services, custom COM or .NET objects, can be connected using Enterprise Enabler or other 3rd party tools.
  • Start workflows in the cloud – on external data change: All
    features of native SharePoint lists are supported, e.g. RSS, change
    notifications per email or workflows on external data change.
  • Additional “SharePoint-only” columns can be created, e.g.
    for ranking, rating, comments or file attachments.
  • Data aggregation: Multiple connections can rollup several
    different data sources to one list.
  • High performance: Can manage large databases and lists.
  • Very costeffective solution – easy to setup and maintain.
  • The connector is based on another very successful Add-on, the Business Data List Connector für SharePoint (BDLC).

Just try it out. My personal fav is the SharePoint to SharePoint connection, e.g. for content deployment or aggregation. The Shareware is FREE, a Professional version available for download after registration:

http://www.layer2.de/en/products/Pages/Cloud-Connector-for-SharePoint-2010-Office365.aspx

Posted in Office 365, SharePoint, SharePoint 2010 | 1 Comment

IE9: How to display the page title in the windows title bar of Internet Explorer 9?

This post is about how to enable the web page title display in Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 windows title bar – as it was before with version 8.

Generally I like IE9. But removing the page title  “<title>My Website Title</title>” in the windows title bar of IE9 is one of the greatest disadvantages ever in IE history. It leaves an useless empty space on top of the browser window.

But page titles are very important in the web: They are shown in search engines, define ranking, are some kind of headline for the visitors. With IE9 page titles are displayed in page tabs only, shorten in almost any cases. To see the title, I have to move the mouse to the tab, to display some kind of tooltip. Mhmmhmh….

Here is what to do, to get the page title back as it was with IE8:

1. Install this add on (you can hide it later on, no side effects ;-)
http://www.quero.at/index.php

2. Configure it to display the page title in IE9

3. Configure it to display no additional buttons. Then the (not useful) Quero toolbar disappears completely. But keep the add-on activated.

The web page title is displayed again in the windows title bar in IE9 as it was before with IE8.

You can display the web page title bar in IE9 as it was before with IE8

How to display page title in IE9 windows title bar?

Next question: Why the IE9 back-button is cropped and how to repair?😉

Posted in IE9, Internet Explorer | 16 Comments

Hello WorldPress World!

Moved to WordPress.com today from MSN. Mhmhm, not so bad.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

SharePoint 2010 Knowledge Management Suite – Tagging Extensions and Knowledge Browsing

While Microsoft has provided a state of the art API-based backend solution for taxonomy management and search, the Knowledge Management Suite for Microsoft SharePoint 2010 offered by Layer2 is focused on improved content tagging, knowledge browsing, navigation and content discovery:
 
Tag Suggester for SharePoint 2010: While tagging an item or document, display a suggestion list based on given Term Store taxonomies, tagging rules, item properties, context and document content.
Installed IFilters are used. Microsoft .NET Framework based high-performance content categorization procedures.

Auto Tagger for SharePoint 2010:  Tag items and documents in background without any user interaction, based on given Term Store taxonomies, tagging rules, item properties, context and document content. Auto Tagger could be helpful for initial tagging, e.g. after content migration from any system to SharePoint 2010, as well as for daily background operation.

Taxonomy Manager for SharePoint 2010: Manage the Term Store with additional managed metadata properties (e.g. tagging rules, related tags), export and import, change management, workflows.

Tag Navigation Web Part for SharePoint 2010: Harvest the value of collaborative tagging by using the SharePoint 2010 managed metadata taxonomy tree directly for content discovery and navigation. Flexible link building, e.g. link to Tag Profile page or content result list. Optionally additional information, e.g. tag description and usage count. Template-based design.

Tag Directory Web Part for SharePoint 2010: Render the SharePoint 2010 managed metadata taxonomy tree as flat A-Z directory category index directly for content discovery and navigation.
Flexible link building, e.g. link to Tag Profile page or content result list. Optionally additional information, e.g. tag description and usage count. Template-based design.

Tag Cloud Web Part for SharePoint 2010: Navigate the content by its importance using a familiar taxonomy-based tag cloud. Flexible link building, e.g. link to Tag Profile page or content result list. Optionally additional information, e.g. tag description and usage count. Template-based design.

Related Content Web Part for SharePoint 2010: Automatically display related content in a given context using managed metadata. 

The solution was developed 100% based on the new SharePoint 2010 Server Enterprise Metadata Management API.

More info, screens and FREE download:
 
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Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – Facebook für’s Unternehmen?

Mit der Version 2010 kommt Microsoft SharePoint Server auf dem Weg von der Zusammenarbeit zum Wissensmanagement einen riesigen Schritt weiter: Neue Leistungsmerkmale ermöglichen jetzt die Implementierung von  Wissensmanagement Lösungen auf einem soliden technischen Fundament. Als "Betriebssystem 2.0" verbindet SharePoint 2010 Wissensmanagement mit Soziale Netzwerken im Unternehmen. Kollobaratives Wissensmanagement, den Anwendern bereits bekannt und sehr erfolgreich bei Xing, Facebook oder LinkedIn, zieht ins Unternehmen ein.
 
 
Abb.: SharePoint bietet ein interaktives Firmen-Organigramm auf der Basis von Silverlight.
 
Wie in sozialen Netzwerken üblich hat jeder Mitarbeiter ein umfangreiches Profil mit kategorie-basierten Angaben, für welche Themen er sich interessiert und auf welchen Gebieten er eventuell anderen Mitarbeitern helfen kann.
 
 
 
Abb.: Benutzerprofil in SharePoint 2010.
 
Die Wissens-Schwerpunkte des Benutzers werden in Form von Kategorien angeboten. Das vereinfacht die Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Mitarbeitern im Unternehmen. Man findet leicht heraus, wer sich zu einem Thema auskennt und kann sogar direkt Fragen stellen.
Tag Clouds (Wortwolken) bieten dem Benutzer eine Übersicht zu den aktuellen Aktivitäten im Portal, die seine Wissensgebiete betreffen.
 
 
 
Abb.: Über eine Wortwolke kann der Benutzer ihn betreffende Aktivitäten filtern.
 
Nicht nur die Benutzer, auch die einzelnen Kategorien / Tags der Taxonomie des Unternehmens haben eine Profilseite. Zur gewählten Kategorie können Notizen gemacht werden und auch Links zu externen Inhalten sind vorgesehen. So entstehen dynamische Inhaltsseiten, die ansonsten über das Portal verstreute Informationen zu Wissen zusammenfügen.
 
 
Abb.: Dynamische Inhaltsseite zu einer Kategorie in SharePoint 2010
 
Mit der Suche kann dann tiefer in das gewählte Thema eingestiegen werden. Auch eine Benachrichtigungs-Funktion für neue bzw. geänderte Inhalte in einer gewählten Kategorie wird angeboten: Als E-Mail odeer auch als RSS Feed. Die Abfrage kann auch gleich für den Windows Explorer verfügbar gemacht werden.
So behält man die Übersicht über alle Inhalte der gewählten Themen im Portal.
 
 
 Abb.: Die Suche nach Social Tags (Frei vergebene bzw. Kategorien aus der zentralen Taxonomie) ermöglicht ein Vertiefen der Ergebnisse über eine zusätzliche Navigation (linkerer Rand).

 

SharePoint 2010 erleichtert über den kollaborativen Ansatz den Schritt von der Zusammenarbeit im Portal hin zum Wissensmanagement im Unternehmen.

 

Mehr zum Thema Wissensmanagement mit SharePoint 2010 lesen Sie hier:
http://www.layer2.de/DE/LEISTUNGEN/SHAREPOINT-WISSENSMANAGEMENT/Seiten/default.aspx

 
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