QuickBooks on Azure RemoteApp

Over the last several months, MS Partners have asked me how to configure QuickBooks on Azure RemoteApp. Over the Christmas break, I put together a step-by-step for a workgroup configuration for the CanITPro blog. Stay tuned for the domain configuration in the following weeks.

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Come hang out with me for a day!

For those of you who have been patiently waiting for technical training on Azure, Win10, PowerBi plus other Microsoft goodies, you will be happy to know we have finalized the ModernBiz winter sessions.

Please register early. Full outlines for each day are listed on the registration page. You do not need to attend every day. Pick and choose the sessions that you are interested in. If you have any questions please feel to contact me.

Looking forward to working with you to help you build your business.


Location & Registration:

18-22 January 2016
Toronto – Microsoft Office, MPR Room 1950 Meadowvale Blvd, Mississauga ON


2-5 February 2016

Montreal – Microsoft Office, MPR Room 2000 McGill College Avenue, Montreal, QC


1-4 March 2016

Vancouver – Microsoft Office, MPR Room 1111 W Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC



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Shutting Down all Azure VM’s with a Simple Script

One of the most common questions I come across while working with MS partners is how to automatically shutdown Azure vm’s. I knew it could be done but had not gotten around to do it myself until a few weeks ago, after a large Azure invoice. I had created a kick-butt vm but forgot to shut it down.  Now that I have automated and scheduled this procedure, I never worry about leaving vm’s running and more importantly having a mild heart attack when viewing my Azure payment statement.

For the step by step you can find the article on the CanITPro site Step by Step Stopping All Azure VM’s website. This is where you will find most blog posts moving forward.

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Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) – Because We Have Control Issues

Last week at WPC, Microsoft’s COO Kevin Turner talked about the Enterprise Mobility Suite in his Achieving More Together presentation (48 minute mark) which was launched a few months ago. I have had the opportunity to demonstrate the suite to several partners since it was launched and the response has been very positive.

EMS combines 3 existing services into a unified management solution: Intune for Mobile Device Management, Azure Rights Management, and Azure Active Directory Premium.

Microsoft Intune allows you to control both domain and non-domain joined devices. This includes laptops, phones, and tablets. Before you ask, Intune supports both Android and IOS devices. You can push out applications and links, synchronize corporate data, and selectively wipe the device.


Azure Rights Management protects and controls the flow of information for Office 365, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and your on-premise directories as well. For example, if I had a document that had a SIN number in it, I could prevent that document from being sent to an external email address.

Azure Rights Managment

Azure Active Directory Premium (which, in my opinion, rocks!) provides single sign-on to thousands of SaaS applications, multifactor authentication, and rich reporting. Here is an example of the SaaS services I can access via my Azure portal. With a single click I can access any of these services without knowing the corporate credentials.

Azure AD

Azure Active Directory

I am not going to go into detail for each service; links are provided for more details. In short, EMS puts Office 365 on steroids.

EMS on O365

We all want the control we have with Server Active Directory, and EMS gets us pretty close. Using EMS provides control over your users, data, and devices.

If you have not had the opportunity to look at the EMS offering, I would highly recommend you do so.

Mattamy Homes shares their EMS experiences in this customer story.

If you would like more information on how EMS can help you manage your customers, please reach out to a Microsoft Partner and stay tuned for upcoming in-person sessions.

Azure 70-532: Failure is Always an Option

Failure Is Always An Option

My failure…and learning experience

I have always loved Mythbusters, right from day one! I took my son to see them in Toronto a few years ago, and I might have been more excited about the show than he was. One of the things that makes the Mythbusters team so appealing is that they stress that failure is not a bad thing; we learn from our mistakes and, as a result, we grow.

I learned this lesson well a few weeks ago when I wrote the Azure 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions exam.

As most of you know, I’ve been working my way through the Microsoft Azure certifications since Christmas. To date, I have completed 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions and 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions. Those were the only 2 of the 3 Azure exams that I had planned to write, as the 3rd exam is a Dev exam, and I can’t program my way out of a box. At Microsoft Ignite in May, it was announced that the 3 exams would make up a new MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect and I decided to give 70-532 a shot. I studied, had all the “book” knowledge, some basic Azure PowerShell, and after a few weeks of studying I figured it was time to take the exam. How hard could it be? After all, I have written 19 Microsoft exams and a number of other industry certifications. I have the studying procedure down to a fine art…or at least I thought I did.

Exam 70-532 was an education. This was not an exam that I could just study for, and my mark proved that. In this case, failure was my only option and I knew that about 30 minutes in. As someone who comes from an infrastructure background with little to no dev experience, I should have spent more time with the hands-on studying. The exam was like being in a foreign country and only being able to understand snippets of the language.

Was it a learning experience? Absolutely! Failure indicates where you are weak and where you need to improve. This does not only apply to exams, but to most of what we do.

After the exam, I wanted nothing to do with it ever again! I had no intentions of rewriting it, as the learning curve was too great…and I really did not enjoy studying for this exam. Now that I have had a few weeks to think about it and review the material, I am going to give it another try, knowing full well that I may fail again. (Aiming for later this week.)

As a parent, I need to set a good example and show my kids that we all fail and more importantly it’s OK to fail. I also need to show them that we need to learn from our failures. Whether that may be studying better for a test, improving on a skill, or testing our comfort zone, failing makes us stronger. It gives us the drive to try harder next time. Without our failures we would not grow. And without growing, we would all become very stagnant very quickly. If you have been putting something off because you are scared of failing, ask yourself “What’s the worse that could happen?” You fail and you learn and you grow…how bad is that?

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Last ModernBiz Azure Class in FY15

It’s been an amazing year at the office when it comes to Azure.

Microsoft AzureWe are seeing more and more interest in Azure. Our monthly partner sessions have been, for the most part, full. It’s hard to believe the last session until the fall is almost upon us.  If you are interested in Azure and learning how you can use Azure for your clients then come hang out for the day on June 16th at the Mississauga office. I promise we will keep you well hydrated and fed. Plus you will get a 30 day Azure pass.

Registration link…if you have any issues registering please let me know.  It’s also nice to have a second screen to reference for the labs.

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5 Azure Options for SMB

Microsoft AzureAs I speak to MS partners from across the country, a single theme always emerges from the discussions: “how do I make Azure work for my SMB clients?”

Azure is big and it is not like our traditional on-premise implementations. Back in the day, a typical implementation would consist of a few servers, desktops, switches, etc. We would set up the environment systematically, working through the checklist: install server, promote to DC, configure roles, setup member server with LOB applications, the checklist goes on. For the most part, it was the same basic procedure for each client. Once the client was setup, we would then explain to them how to work within the confines of the software and the implementation. It was a one-box-fits-all type of solution.

Azure has changed that. Now, instead of squeezing the client into the pre-defined box, we can apply different boxes to the client to give them the best possible solution. Azure provides boxes in several shapes and sizes that can be tailored to each client’s business needs.

Here are the five most popular Azure services that work well for the SMB client:

Azure Backup

Azure backup provides an easy and automatic backup for servers (2008 R2 and higher), client machines (Windows 7 and higher), and Azure virtual machines. These backups are encrypted, compressed, and most importantly, off-site.

Disaster Recovery

Azure Site Recovery, without the requirement for System Center, enables us to make a replica of our on-premise VMs in Azure. It is the perfect DR solution for SMBs, as it is easy to setup, and well within the budgets of SMB clients.

Enterprise Mobility Suite

EMS combines three standalone products: Azure Active Directory Premium, Intune, and Azure Rights Management. Combining these 3 services facilitates you to control and manage devices, users, and data.

  1. Azure Active Directory Premium – from multi-factor authentication, to reporting and single sign on to 2500 SAS apps, and on-premise synchronization, AAD is your identity management and control center in and for the cloud.
  2. Intune – manage the explosion of the BYOD movement in your clients’ environments. Register and manage these devices, including the option for selective wipe of devices, and password resets. Publish apps for your users and manage it all from a single pane of glass.
  3. Azure Rights Management – keep data safe as we move away from the traditional brick and mortar environment. ARM allows you to control where your data goes and who has access to it.

Azure Virtual Machines

Azure virtual machines enable the SMB clients to expand the datacenter to Azure. VMs can be used in a variety of ways, from production to test/dev. There are several advantages to using Azure VMs over on-premise virtual machines.

  1. Fast – a fully configured SQL server VM can be up and running in about 10 minutes.
  2. Scalable – scale up, or just as important, scale down as your environment changes.
  3. Consumption-based – you only pay for the resources you use.
  4. When finished with the VM, you can delete it.
  5. Licensing, for the most part, is included when you use a VM template. Please check the specific licensing details for non-MS VM templates.

Azure RemoteApp

Hosting Line of Business applications has never been easier. Using Remote App in Azure, you can offer the LOB applications to clients using the secure and familiar Remote App interface and keep the data secure in Azure or on-premise.

These are just a few of the services to help you help your clients. Keep in mind that they can be used separately or in combination with each other, depending on what is best for your client. Azure is a great option for SMBs as it provides a flexibility that SMB clients have never had previously. It enables these clients to grow as big as they want to; both they and you are no longer limited by resources, or on the other hand, the lack of. From app development to websites, SQL databases, and content streaming, Azure can be customized for each client. Now that your clients can focus on growing their businesses and not what they run on, their SMBs will be given the opportunity to grow.

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