Digital Transformation – the change, cloud and Microservices

When most businesses have claimed to turned into complete digital or going through digital transformation, It is important that we understand what it means actually. The change need to be in every aspect of business from HR to Sales, from marketing to IT, from finance to external communication. True Digital transformation strategy should aim to empower not only customers but also end-users, stakeholders, employees and everyone involved in supporting business process and organisation.

Digital transformation is continuous and ongoing process. Growth, getting more users and more usability of the service with maintaining quality is the heart of every business. Your business plan , product roadmap should lead towards (high -growth if you are a startup)  scalable services (scalable resources ), available from anywhere (cloud resources).

Change is constant

Executives need to build strategy around constant change. continuous improvement in the services and operation to reflect recent requirements. Companies need to build culture of embracing constant change by changing gradually by small improvements that lead to bigger outcome at the end. All small change that lead to be empowering your team, investing in your employees and customers, acquiring startups for innovations or investing in innovation and research. Taking little calculative risks to try new things is very essential for innovation and improvement in services and products.

Moving to Cloud

Most of the IT cost of business is in maintenance of software services and resources and towards man hours invested in this task. By storing software resources in the cloud you will only pay for the services or resources you use per hours. Cloud resources are scalable and reliable, hence you can scale up or down as per your business needs. Almost all businesses consider the upfront price of the software and fail to project real maintenance and support cost of the software services which lead to keep total ownership of everything in-house and it is really costly compare to cloud resources.

Iaas (Infrastructure as a service) – This provides basic compute processing, storage , networking services which can be accessed from anywhere. Owners get maximum control on resources and can choose their operating system, security rules. With control, owners also need to manage the resources like installing updates and patches. Example: Azure VMs, AWS compute instance etc.

Paas (Platform as a service) – This provides the platform to develop software and services using programming languages, apis and tools supported by providers. Owners have less control on infrastructure but they do not  manage them. Example : Azure app, website on AWS etc.

Saas (Software as a service) – Businesses buy the software as services and do not need to worry about managing infrastructure or developing software. They are already built application running in the cloud. Owners don’t have much option to customise it. Example: outlook, office 365, etc.

Microservices

To support digital transformation road-map our software infrastructure, services and product should lead to the next evolution in software architecture, which allow services to be faster, scalable and more manageable.

Traditional monolithic applications are built with tightly coupled components which are deployed as single entity. This makes development, testing and deployment difficult and therefore providing releases, new features and updates are very tedious and long process. Micro-services architecture breakdown this tightly coupled components and model them into individually deployable.

Because of being independent these components can be developed, tested and deployed separately and also can be scaled separately as well. You see your whole service or application does not need to be highly scaled most of the time only particular components and this can be achieved through Microservices. Isn’t that beautiful!!

Keeping components separate gives freedom to choose different technologies, languages and platforms. This makes it possible them to be build and managed by separate teams.

Containers provide better way to manage your IT infrastructure and better way to deploy and maintain your application, which will significantly speed up the digital transformation process. Containers provide isolated environment to run your services. It holds all necessary components like dlls, config files, environment files and variables to run that (micro) service or software. You can put constrains on how much physical resources – memory and CPU can be used by a container, so a single container can not consume beyond that limit. Beautiful again !! Control on machines is beautiful !!

In the era where DevOps is rising, It is important that we don’t forget continuous deployment and test driven development. DevOps is an approach that fills the gap between software development and delivery process. It encourages automating and monitoring build, deployment, testing , integration and releasing product/service or change. Let’s machines and bots take the repetitive task and let humans focus on solving real problems.

As a final note, Digital Transformation is just a new term of empowering and supporting our employees, customers, services, everyone and everything that supports Growth and helps to fulfil the organisation’s purpose. Growth without purpose is like a road to no where so make sure you don’t loose the purpose on your journey!! Embrace the change. Nothing is more beautiful than a change!!

Article 30 from 30 : Licensing your app

This post is article 30 from the 30 Articles App series for SharePoint

In this article, I will discuss about Licensing your SharePoint app on office store.

When you upload your app on the Office Store for publication, you can choose the terms of the license you want to offer, like offering your app for free, trial, or for purchase. Or your app can be acquired on a per-user or site basis.

SharePoint provides a licensing framework that lets you include code logic in your app to enforce whatever licensing restrictions you choose. For example, you can include code logic in your app that enables users to access certain app features if they have a paid license, but not if they have a trial license.

A user with a license for an app can use that app on any site for that particular SharePoint deployment. In general, for the purpose of app licenses, deployment is defined as the SharePoint farm for on-premises SharePoint installations, and the tenancy for SharePoint Online in Office 365. The app’s purchaser can manage the app license, assign those app licenses to other users within their deployment, and enable other users to manage the licenses. A user who is assigned an app license can access and use the app.

For apps for SharePoint that have a per-user license, each app license can be assigned to the specified number of SharePoint users. The app license applies only to the specified SharePoint deployment and the specified users.
For apps with a site license, that license is assigned to all users on that deployment automatically. You cannot programmatically assign app licenses.

App license query and validation process :
1. The user launches the app from within SharePoint.
2. This launches the app code in the cloud.
3. When the app needs to verify a user’s app license, it uses server-side code to query SharePoint, via the client object model, for the app license token.
4. It then passes that token to the Office Store verification service.
5. The verification service returns whether the license token is valid, and if it is, also returns the license properties.
6. The app can then take action, based on the validity of the license and its properties
OfLicAppSP

 

 

Finally, after you finish testing your app and are ready to move it to production, you need to add code to the license checks in your app so that the app no longer accepts test licenses.

Let’s validate app’s Validate the app license token in code:

Retrieving app license tokens using GetAppLicenseInformation :

productId = new Guid();
using(ClientContext ctx = new ClientContext(webUrl))
{
    ClientResult licensecollection = Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Utilities.Utility.GetAppLicenseInformation(ctx, productId);
    ctx.ExecuteQuery();
}

Validating the app license token
After you retrieve the appropriate app license token, pass that token to the Office Store verification web service for validation. The verification service is located at the following URL: https://verificationservice.officeapps.live.com/ova/verificationagent.svc

The Office Store license verification web service also supports verifying app license tokens using REST calls. To verify an app license by using REST, use the following syntax:

https://verificationservice.officeapps.live.com/ova/verificationagent.svc/rest/verify?token=token

Where {token} is the app license token

For test app licenses, the IsTest property returns true and the IsValid property returns false.
This sample requires a reference to Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.Utilities, and a web service reference to the Office Store verification service.

retrieving app license tokens : GetAppLicenseInformation

//Get the license token XML from SharePoint.
this.rawToken = GetLicenseTokenFromSP(this.productId, this.clientcontext);

//Call the Office Store verification service.
VerifyLicenseToken(this.rawToken);

private string GetLicenseTokenFromSP(Guid productId, ClientContext clientContext)
{
    //Get the license from SharePoint.
    ClientResult licenseCollection = Utility.GetAppLicenseInformation(clientContext, productId);
    clientContext.Load(clientContext.Web);
    clientContext.ExecuteQuery();

    foreach (AppLicense license in licenseCollection.Value)
    {
        //Just get the first license token for now.
        rawLicenseToken = license.RawXMLLicenseToken;
        break;
    }
    return (rawLicenseToken);
}

private void VerifyLicenseToken(string rawLicenseToken)
{    
    if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(rawLicenseToken))
    {
        licVerifyEndPoint.Text = "There is no valid license for this user in SharePoint (OR) license cannot be obtained due to some error - check ULS.";
        return;
    }

    VerificationServiceClient service = null;
    VerifyEntitlementTokenResponse result = null;
    VerifyEntitlementTokenRequest request = new VerifyEntitlementTokenRequest();
    request.RawToken = rawLicenseToken;
    lblSPLicenseText.Text = System.Web.HttpUtility.HtmlEncode(request.RawToken);   

    try
    {
        service = new VerificationServiceClient();
        result = service.VerifyEntitlementToken(request);
    }
    catch (EndpointNotFoundException)
    {
        licVerifyEndPoint.Text = "Cannot access verification service endpoint";
    }
    catch (FaultException)
    {
        licVerifyEndPoint.Text = "Error: entitlement verification service is unavailable.";
    }
    catch (FaultException internalFault)
    {
        licVerifyEndPoint.Text = "Error: entitlement verification service failed. Details: " + internalFault.Detail.Message;
    }
    catch (Exception exception)
    {
        licVerifyEndPoint.Text = "Error: entitlement verification service failed. Details: " + exception;
    }

    if (result != null && result.AssetId !=null)
    {
        string licenseDetails = string.Format("Asset Id: {0}; Product Id: {1}; License Type: {2}; Is Valid: {3}; License Acquisition Date: {4}; License Expiry Date: {5}; IsExpired: {6}; IsTest: {7}; IsSiteLicense: {8}; Seats: {9}; TokenExpiryDate: {10}",
                result.AssetId, result.ProductId, result.EntitlementType, result.IsValid, result.EntitlementAcquisitionDate, result.EntitlementExpiryDate, result.IsExpired, result.IsTest, result.IsSiteLicense, result.Seats, result.TokenExpiryDate);

        if (result.EntitlementType.ToUpper() == "FREE")
        {
          //Allow basic functionality
        }
        else if (result.EntitlementType.ToUpper() == "PAID")
        {
          //Allow all functionality
        }
        else //trial
        {
          //Allow limited functionality
        }
    }
            else
    {
        licVerifyEndPoint.Text = "Verification service didn't return any results";
    }
}

Hope you have enjoyed this series !!

Article 29 from 30 : SPC14 summary on App Development

This post is article 29 from the 30 Articles App series for SharePoint

Future of Auto-hosted apps :

A few blogs from SPC14  say about AutoHosted Apps are being deprecated, This could be a rumor as Microsoft has not yet confirmed anything officially on this. If they are not being deprecated in near future, for how long they will be supported or when they may go from preview to fully supported is still not clear. As they are still in Preview, they should be avoided for Production design and recommended for only prototyping .

Some new Infographics for Apps:

These infographics can be downloaded from here . They give good and quick understanding on Why to build SharePoint apps?, App Concepts, App – hosting options, Data storage/access options etc.

New Office Web Widgets:

These experimental UI widgets were announced at SPC14 and are intended to help building apps for Office and SharePoint. The first release includes People Picker and the List View widgets. As per the Office dev team, these widgets are “experimental” and its primary goal is to collect feedback. They plan to release these controls for production use soon. Download it from NuGet Manager (search for Office Widgets) . Try it and send your feedback on UserVoice using the Office Web Widgets category.

NugetOfficeWidget

New Office 365 SDK for Android Preview:

Finally Microsoft is thinking openly ;). this sdk is built by  MS Open Tech and provides access to:

• Microsoft SharePoint Lists

• Microsoft SharePoint Files

• Microsoft Exchange Calendar

• Microsoft Exchange Contacts

• Microsoft Exchange Mail

The SDK is composed of three independent packages, so that you can import only the SDK that you need in your project.

  • office365-files-sdk [depends on office365-base-sdk]
  • office365-lists-sdk [depends on office365-base-sdk]
  • office365-mail-calendar-contact-sdk

For more info on this refer to http://msopentech.com/blog/2014/03/03/new-open-source-sdk-for-android-brings-office-365-apps-to-life/

 

External links to SPC14 Summary articles from SharePoint Community folks: