In the last few years, we noticed that our SharePoint customers were getting more and more discouraged by the effort it requires to customize their SharePoint, both from a design and content management standpoint. Following the monitoring of this common pain point, we decided to partner with Powell-Software, a ¨Spin Off¨ of the European French service company Expertime, and add Powell 365 to our solution equation. We are very proud of this partnership that finally puts an end to this burden.
What is Powell 365?
Powell 365 enables you to easily create a portal from your Office 365 application stack. Its a web application, called ¨Manager¨, available on SAAS mode and hosted in Azure. That is its huge attraction. Powell is not intrusive in the SharePoint Online platform and does not depend on the platform to work, unlike LiveTiles for example. From the Powell 365 Manager, you are able to build, manipulate and set up the desired templates. You can thereafter ask the tool to publish in the Office 365 tenants of your choice. This is where the tool becomes very powerful for Negotium Technologies.
Currently, there are no available device in Office 365 that enables you to manipulate the various environment for development, testing and production purposes. Not only does Powell provide this type of feature, but it also enables you to reunite numerous deployed environment of different nature for you. This deployment capacity translates into huge time saving.
The configuration of Office 365 tenants
There are multiple available options in Powell 365 that are worth mentioning. First of all, each of your users can be attributed customized rights depending on the Office 365 tenants to which they are linked. Consequently, a user can log into multiple Office 365 environment that are completely different from the centralized setup. It is therefore possible to cover different types of scenarios, in a multi-company or multitenant environment, which enables the split of production from development and testing activities.
The rationalization of multiple tenants with the ability to duplicate the setup in totally different working environment represents a unique advantage. This allows development quality control and scenario testing activities prior to publishing on a live production environment. While maintaining multiple Office 365 environments may seem at first expensive, Powell 365 enables you to use testing tenants up to a limit of 180 days for each sprint. It is therefore not necessary to keep all the instances of Office 365 and its content once the testing has been done since the configuration information is registered into Powell’ Manager file.
Setting up multiple SharePoint Sites
So what happens if you do not wish to support the costs of multiple Office 365 tenants? When you desire to simplify to a minimum the management of the sites?Or if you do not wish to run your testing outside of the production area and have the users change their login connection?
It is still possible to use the integrated setup environment available within the Powell’ Manager to configure the SharePoint sites collection. From the centralized interface, all you need to do is to create a new collection of sites, which is quite similar to the creation of projects in SharePoint, and indicate at the bottom of the page the collections you wish to use and attribute to your production, testing and development environment. This setup, for example, enables the user to have a Google Analytics instance specific to each of his environment.
As for the other available setups and their specifics, they will be presented in more details in an upcoming blog available soon on my personal network (Link du blog)
How to deploy the content
The Microsoft SharePoint platform proves to still be a little complex when it comes to gathering and duplicating setups between a collection of Office 365 sites or environments. The ever evolving Microsoft development direction forces our administrators to constantly adapt to the new changes. In the case of Powell 365, the ¨Manager¨ takes care of this burden for you. You do not need to wait for the package details from the company administrators and their validation prior to the deployment in the production environment. The icon « ! » found at the top of the page launches for you the packaging and deployment of the modifications in the selected environment. The exclamation mark icon, which can be found in various areas of the ¨Manager¨ interface, enables a granular synchronization of the objects.
Of course, this feature is not the only interesting one offered through the solution.
Powell 365 enables you to deliver a portal that corresponds to the main requirements of the end users. When deploying your portal, never forget, to the detriment of technology, who your target audience is. Powell is a fantastic tool that keeps your team members from spending too much time setting up the platform. It leaves them more time to prototype directly in the final visual, making the user experience less technical. The goal here is to quickly deliver quick-wins to put the SharePoint end-user at ease with the platform. Powell 365 makes this possible mainly due to the out-of-the box templates and gadgets available in ¨Manager¨.
I think you will agree with me that this type of view is closer to the idea a typical user has when it comes to a portal. The fact that the templates that come out-of-the box with Powell 365 are fully adapted and compatible with the different mobile platform available on the market does not hurt either!
Why are we so proud of our partnership with Powell 365?
At Negotium Technologies, we now systematically propose Powell 365 as part of our Office 365 projects. Each time, the response is more than positive. Our users love the efficiency and time saving the tool offers during the prototyping phases. Not only from a SharePoint standpoint, but also from the positive portal experience Powell 365 brings by permitting a natural aggregation of the content of the other Office 365 suite applications, such as Outlook, Dynamics CRM, Yammer and PowerBI, just to name a few.
When it comes to portals, we share the same vision as Powell and applaud the know-how of their technical team. They have the capacity to present the aggregation of information in a simple and clear way to the user preventing them to get lost in the application and the “App Launcher” menu.
Powell 365 in the future
The future of Powell 365, just like SharePoint and Office 365, is very promising. With the upcoming arrival of Dynamics 365 and the SharePoint framework, Microsoft follows its application modernization plan, revisiting in the same breath the segmentation of application functionalities and their go-to-market strategies. This type of products will still mostly be sold individually which pressures the need for SharePoint to manage the documents and content aggregation. That is where Powell 365 can continue to grow, by continuously offering templates that shortens and simplifies the solution delivery. We could easily imagine the notion of hybrid infrastructures that would enable the Powell Manager of tomorrow pushing synchronisations to On-Premises SharePoint servers…