Tag Archives: Office365

The IF-Blueprint IoT Plant Application – Part 1

Or „how to avoid the office plant apocalypse”


Plants have a hard life in our office. They are in a constant state of dying. To avoid the slow death, we decided to use the power of the cloud and IoT. We started to develop an IoT environment that measures the humidity of each plant and push the collected data into an Azure Database. From this cloud based data pool we have endless possibilities to process and analyze this data, e.g. send notifications via twitter when a plant is thirsty. In the upcoming series of blog posts I will describe the hardware- and software setup of our IoT environment (you can follow the plants on twitter @IFBplant). The whole setup is kind of a prototype and a playground to explore interesting technologies like Microsoft Azure Services, Netduino / Arduino, REST Services, Office Add-ins and Power BI.

IoT Environment Overview

To collect the humidity values, we placed on each plant an Arduino board. This board is equipped with a humidity sensor and an 868Mhz radio sender. This sensor is powered by a battery.
IoT Arduino Sensor
Another Arduion board acts as receiver. Via the serial bus we transfer the data to a Netduino board, this device is connected to our WLAN and pushes the sensor values with an REST service into an Azure hosted MSSQL Database.
IoT Arduino Netduino Sensors
The REST service and the public facing website was implemented as an ASP.NET MVC / WebAPI site which is also hosted in Azure. On the website, everyone can observer the sensor values without a login.
Azure Website
As a logged in user you can configure parameters like threshold values for a specific plant, setup some timer jobs for alarm notifications and define twitter messages. To manager the users access we used the Azure AD.
To export the sensor data from the Azure hosted database into Excel we used the new awesome Office Add-in technology.
Excel Office Add-in
For the number guys in our company we provide the senor values also in Power BI.
Power BI
The following picture gives you an overview of the IoT environment. As written before this is just a prototype with lots of potential improvements. In the upcoming blog posts I will explain the different aspects of the development process in detail.
IoT Environment Overview

SharePoint predictions 2015 at the Dec, 30th #CollabTalk Tweetjam

shrpt-logo-isolatedSharePoint is dead – long live SharePoint

Christian Buckley (MVP) together with others MVPs from the SharePoint and Office365 community joined the #CollabTalk tweetjam on December 30.

The focus was to discuss the future of SharePoint. Developers from the Microsoft product group also joined the jam.

Focus questions of the SharePoint #CollabTalk tweetjam

You find my personal summary of the tweets in italic.

  1. Is SharePoint still relevant?
    Summary: Yes, SharePoint as a technology is still relevant, but in the future it will be more part of an overall collaboration story (Office365) for Microsoft. The brand “SharePoint” will become less important.
  2. How important is SharePoint’s hybrid support and on prem roadmap to your customers?
    Summary: Hybrid support for SharePoint is important to the customers. Microsoft needs to be much more transparent about vision, roadmap and functionalities for hybrid scenarios.
  3. What kind of impact is Office365 having on you and your customers?
    Summary: Customers take Office365 into consideration. Exchange and Lync are currently more relevant (easier to implement) than SharePoint. Adaption / deployment rates are still low, not only in Europe. Security is still an issue. Move to Office365 will happen faster in SMB than in larger Enterprises.
  4. What does the removal of Office365 features mean for the future?
    Summary: The feature reduction is not going over well. Transparency and communication of the roadmap needs to be much better.
  5. What 3 features (available or forthcoming) will have the biggest impact on SharePoint in 2015?
    Summary (no clear favorites): Azure AD Integration, better mobile UI and hybrid support, Office 365 API, One Drive for Business, just to name a few ….
  6. What are your predictions for SharePoint as a platform in 2015 and beyond?
    Summary: SharePoint (may be within Office365) will become more and more the integration platform for Enterprise business and productivity.
  7. If you could give one piece of advice to Microsoft re: SharePoint, what would it be?
    Summary: Better roadmap and communication for new features. and my favorite tweet: “While you push innovators to cloud, devices + services, don’t forget mainstream customers who got you here” via @resing

Read the whole summary with the tweets at https://storify.com/buckleyplanet/predictions-for-sharepoint-and-office-365-in-2015