ballardchalmers - home

Contact us 01342 410223


June 2017

Azure Blueprint slashes the time it takes to move to the cloud from weeks to hours

20 June 2017

In March Microsoft unveiled a Blueprint reinforcing its cloud security principles, reducing the time it takes for public sector organisations to get up and running in Microsoft Azure being slashed from weeks to just hours.

Customers who join Microsoft’s cloud service can do so safe in the knowledge that they are abiding by the cloud security principles laid out by the UK government’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Recently Greater Manchester-based local authority, Salford City Council has adopted Azure as reported by Computer Weekly today, which states, "it plans to draw on Azure’s machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics capabilities to predict how demand for its services may change in the future."

Source: Microsoft News Centre UK, Computer Weekly

Ninety percent of the Fortune 500 now use Azure

15 June 2017

Ninety percent of the Fortune 500 now uses Azure says Microsoft.

With a growing number of cloud provider options, it can be difficult to understand their differences and the unique benefits of each. Find out here why Azure the most complete cloud solution and why the majority of the Fortune 500 trusts it: Azure vs Amazon Web Services.

Whether you're an established business or you're looking to push your first application to market, Ballard Chalmers can help you succeed. Get in touch.

Source: Microsoft

Watch Microsoft Data Insights Summit On Demand

14 June 2017

The Microsoft Data Insights Summit concluded yesterday.  If you missed a keynote or session you can catch up on demand via the YouTube Microsoft Power BI Community.

These sessions are good if you want insights on how to build a data culture at your organisation.

Source: Microsoft Data Insights Summit

.NET Core 2.0 Preview 2

13 June 2017

The .NET engineering team has been working on .NET Core 2.0 Preview 2 which is available now.

In the latest episode of ASP.NET Community Standup, Scott Hanselman, Microsoft Principal Community Architect for Web Platform and Tools, says, "[Release to Market] is the plan to be the next release after Preview 2. So Preview 2 is actually [Release Candidate] quality. Preview 2 is our feature complete, release candidate release...So if you haven't been trying out the bits, Preview 2 is the time to exercise them." For all the insights, the episode is available on YouTube.

If you would like to experiment with .NET Core Preview 2, you can install the latest daily build of the .NET Core SDK. Choose the appropriate package from the Installers and Binaries table. The daily builds will work with Visual Studio 2017 (15.3) Preview 1 and Preview 2.

Source: ASP.NET Community Standup, .NET Blog

Hybrid IT is becoming the norm

12 June 2017

Research by Dimension Data and 451 Research finds, "Hybrid IT is becoming the norm. Over the next two years, SaaS, IaaS, on-premise & hosted cloud are expected to increase the share of where organisations run their applications and workloads, from 63% to 68%. The move to the cloud continues, but on-premise non-cloud IT will remain significant at 32%."

Respondents from 1,503 enterprises from 14 countries from various industries were surveyed. 60% were IT decision makers with the remaining 40% involved in influencing decisions.

Download the PDF Hybrid IT: How to Simplify & Manage Multiple Enterprise Cloud Environments for more details.

Source: InsightBrief, Dimension Data and 451 Research

Microsoft Data Insights Summit

8 June 2017

The Microsoft Data Insights Summit is taking place 12-13 June in Seattle, USA. The keynotes and featured sessions will be livestreamed. Though the time difference may make it a little awkward, with keynotes beginning at 4pm BST and the last sessions scheduled to end around midnight, it may be worthwhile if you're invested in data!

Keynotes will be delivered by Microsoft Corporate Vice President James Phillips, special guest Alberto Cairo, and Freakonomics authors Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt. Featured sessions will cover the latest trends, tips and BI best practices, and learn how you can help your organisation transform data to insights and actions.

More details via Microsoft here.

Microsoft at London Tech Week

7 June 2017

London Tech Week 2017 is taking place next week, showcasing and celebrating the best of tech whilst providing networking, social, learning and business opportunities.

Microsoft has eight sessions lined up on 13, 14 and 15 June, where you can find out more about the latest technology that will be powering the future workplace. Sessions include Microsoft UK CEO, Cindy Rose's keynote "Facing the Fourth Industrial Revolution," and "Exploit your  own data to achieve competitive agility".

If you haven't registered you still have time to do so via Microsoft here.

New Blog article: Building a SharePoint Hybrid Environment

5 June 2017

"With the release of SharePoint 2016 last year, Microsoft signalled to all organisations that a move to the cloud is inevitable. They did not say everyone has to move right now or else, instead they made it a compelling discussion and move by ensuring that various components from Office 365 are now able to be used within your On-premises SharePoint environment..."

Continue reading our latest blog article by ten time SharePoint MVP Liam Cleary here: Building a SharePoint Hybrid Environment.

Azure BizTalk Services: Microsoft simplifying Azure offerings

1 June 2017

Microsoft has advised that Azure BizTalk Services capabilities have now been incorporated into Logic Apps and Azure App Service Hybrid Connections. Azure BizTalk Services has also been removed as an option for new subscribers. This is in order to simplify the customer experience across enterprise integration services.

For existing customer subscriptions, BizTalk Services will be retired on 31 May 2018. It is advised that all existing subscriptions should transition to Logic Apps and App Service Hybrid Connections before this date. To begin the process, follow the guidance in this documentation on the Azure website.

"This consolidation is not changing the BizTalk Server product," says Microsoft.

If you have questions or need help please feel free to get in touch with us.

Source: Microsoft

May 2017

Azure Red Shirt Dev Tour London

29 May 2017

The Azure Red Shirt Dev Tour with Scott Guthrie arrived in London last week. In case you missed it, catch up On-Demand via Channel 9 here > Azure Red Shirt Dev Tour London.

Source: Channel 9

Enterprise architecture is fastest growing tech skill in demand says Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey

25 May 2017

The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey is the world’s largest survey of IT leadership. Initial results of the 2017 report have just been released with one of the key findings that enterprise architecture is the fastest growing tech skill in demand.

"The proportion of organizations surveyed that have enterprise-wide digital strategies increased 52 percent in just two years...To help deliver these complex digital strategies, organizations also report a huge demand for Enterprise Architects - the fastest growing technology skill this year, up 26 percent compared to 2016," says the Harvey Nash/KPMG website.

While the fastest growing demand for a technology skill this year was enterprise architecture, big data/analytics remained the most in-demand skill at 42%, up 8% on last year.

Further, 64% of respondents say the political, business and economic environment is becoming more unpredictable with the top answer for mangaging it to create a more nimble technology platform (52%).

For more details, ot to request a copy of the report head over to the Harvey Nash/KPMG website (the full report will be released later in the summer).

Source: Harvey Nash/KPMG

SQL Server Data Tools in your DevOps pipeline

24 May 2017

In the most recent Channel 9 webisode, Dmitry Lyalin (Product Manger Visual Studio, Microsoft) is joined by Eric Kang (Program Manager for SQL Server Data Tools, Microsoft) who is back on the show to talk about how Visual Studio 2017, SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) and SQL Server 2016/SQL Database (on Azure) can be used in both migration and state based database development approaches. They also demonstrate how to make SQL development integrated into a Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment with Visual Studio Team Services as part of a DevOps pipeline: SQL Server Data Tools in your DevOps pipeline.

This episode is part two of a series on SSDT, so if you missed it be sure to check out the previous introductory episode SQL Server Data Tools for Visual Studio.

Source: Microsoft Channel 9

BizTalk Server 2013R2 Cumulative Update 6 now available

18 May 2017

The 6th Cumulative updates BizTalk Server 2013R2 were announced last week. In case you missed it, the cumulative update package for BizTalk Server 2013 R2 contains hotfixes for the BizTalk Server 2013 R2 issues that were resolved after the release of BizTalk Server 2013 R2.

Get all the details here on the MSDN BizTalk Blog.

Source: MSDN BizTalk Blog

Personalised, fast data delivers business outcomes your CEO cares about

18 May 2017

Data without context is just noise. For enterprise architecture pros, "today's data vision is to make data relevant, timely, and impactful to reach the CEO's mandate for the digital business," says Microsoft.

In this Forrester Research report, you’ll learn how companies are building data strategies and get advice such as how to achieve c-suite objectives by personalising data for users; Use customer journey maps to put a data vision in motion; Employ agile practices to make the business-to-data connection.


SharePoint Roadmap revealed

17 May 2017

The SharePoint Virtual Summit rolled out Microsoft's roadmap plans for the future.

Much of yesterday's event focussed on SharePoint Online for those organisations with Office 365 capabilities, though it was announced that the first components of the SharePoint Framework will be brought to SharePoint Server 2016 with a Feature Pack 2 later on in the year.

"This will enable developers to use an updated client-side development model to create web parts and solutions that can power new solutions on-premises, in hybrid experiences and in Office 365," says Microsoft in its Office Blog.

For a complete briefing watch the 2017 SharePoint Virtual Summit on the Microsoft website here (2 hours running time).

Source: Microsoft, Office Blogs: "New SharePoint and OneDrive capabilities accelerate your digital transformation"

Research reveals Lawyers being held back as firms fail to embrace technology

12 May 2017

"Lawyers are struggling to work to their full potential because their firms fail to give them the right technology..." This is one of the key findings of research conducted earlier this year by Microsoft and online magazine Legal Week.

Given the breadth of technology available today, the Microsoft-Legal Week research finds that more than 86% of those surveyed said they still used a pen and paper to complete legal work. This statistic is all the more intriguing given that around 83% of those surveyed said embracing new technology would lead to greater productivity.

In 2016, Microsoft released Digital Transformation: The Age of Innocence, Inertia or Innovation?, a 52 page in-depth report which revealed that almost half of UK bosses understood they needed to embrace digital transformation or their company would fail within five years.

One law firm that is leading the way in successfully embracing digital transformation is Shoosmiths. Find out in this case study why they opted to implement BizTalk into their business and why they say it is "a perfect solution" for providing integration for their business.

Source: Microsoft News Centre UK

Throwback to SQL Server 1.0

10 May 2017

With SQL Server 2017 set to be released later on this year we were reminiscing about "the old days" and stumbled across this annoucement from 1988 about the launch of SQL Server 1.0. Wait for the 30" mark to watch the advert - it's a must see!

There are plenty of other video's in Channel 9's " The History of Microsoft," spanning from 1976 to 2010. Find them all here.

Source: Channel 9

📄 SQL Server Cheatsheet

8 May 2017

Need a quick reference to commonly used SQL Server commands? No problem:


Research finds SharePoint future is Hybrid

4 May 2017

"According to our survey, by 2020, the hybrid market will be the most common SharePoint environment, growing from 32% in 2017 to 46% in 2020." This is one of the key findings of research conducted by CollabTalk, an independent research and technical marketing services company.

The study, “Understanding the State of the Hybrid SharePoint Ecosystem,” (registration required) was conducted with input from 626 experienced SharePoint professionals from 54 different countries, and over 500 companies represented.

The research provides a valuable insight into the current and future SharePoint strategies of respondents. Results indicate that among those organisations currently using SharePoint on-prem, 50% plan to move to hybrid, while only 17% plan to move entirely to SharePoint Online. This confirms that companies are looking at hybrid not only as a transition to the cloud, but a long-term strategy that fits their corporate goals better than a pure-cloud SharePoint solution.

Source: ReleaseWire, CollabTalk LLC

.NET Framework 4.7 now Generally Available

3 May 2017

Initially released as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update a month ago, the .NET Framework 4.7 is now Generally Available.

The .NET Framework 4.7 includes new features such as support for C# 7 and VB 15, performance and reliability improvements, and enhanced cryptography support.

For details on how to install, visit the Microsoft .NET Blog: Announcing the .NET Framework 4.7 General Availability.

Source: Microsoft .NET Blog

Updated database statistics increase SharePoint Server performance

2 May 2017

When database statistics become outdated, SharePoint Server installations will likely experience symptoms such as slow load times and decreased performance generating error messages on opening a site page; slower performance; long-running timer jobs; or an inability to open a SharePoint site.

"To prevent these symptoms and potential service outages, SQL Server maintenance plans should be implemented to keep SharePoint content database statistics updated," says Microsoft on its support website.

For more details read the article in full here: Outdated database statistics decrease SharePoint Server performance, cause time-outs, and generate run-time errors.

As a footnote we are experts in assisting our clients on these kinds of maintenance tasks, so if you would like some help feel free to give us a call.

Source: Microsoft

London Tech Week 2017

1 May 2017

London Tech Week is happening 12-16 June. Find out what's in store this year: London Tech Week

April 2017

BizTalk Server 2016 Feature Pack 1 released

26 April 2017

The BizTalk Server 2016 Feature Pack 1 has been released and extends functionality in key areas such as Deployment, Analytics, and Runtime.

Those organisations that have Software Assurance running the Enterprise or Developer editions of  BizTalk Server 2016 can use Feature Pack 1. No other editions are currently eligible, though it's also possible to use Feature Pack 1 if BizTalk Server is run in Azure with an Enterprise Agreement, as explained in the MSDN BizTalk Blog annoucement.

Source: MSDN BizTalk Blog

SQL Server 2017: Delivering AI with data

20 April 2017

Source: Twitter/@satyanadella

📅 25 May |Azure Red Shirt Dev Tour '17 lands in Twickenham

20 April 2017

Spend a day with Scott Guthrie exploring the latest in Azure Stack, Hybrid cloud, SQL Server, and more.

On 25 May, Guthrie (Executive VP of the Cloud and Enterprise group) will present an extended session in Twickenham on how you can do more on building for the intelligent cloud.

"This will be a fast-paced, demo-heavy session which will cover the length and breadth of Azure with an extended tips and tricks session," says the event website.

Register here.

Source: Microsoft

SQL Server 2017 announced

19 April 2017

There were several exciting announcements made at today's Microsoft Data Amp. The first was no surprise that the forthcoming version of SQL Server, which had for a long time been referred to as only "vNext", was confirmed officially as SQL Server 2017.

Also, from today you can download SQL Server Community Technology Preview (CTP) 2.0, the first production-quality preview, for Windows, Linux and Docker-based systems. This introduces new capabilities such as the ability to run advanced analytics using Python in a parallelized and scalable way, the ability to store and analyse graph data, Adaptive Query Processing and Resumable Online Indexing.

Also announced was the general availability of Azure Analysis Services, built on the business intelligence engine in SQL Server Analysis Services.

For a full overview, Scott Guthrie's (Executive VP of the Cloud and Enterprise group) keynote and demo at Data Amp is available on-demand here.

To get started, these Microsoft developer tutorials will show you how to install and use SQL Server 2017 CTP 2.0.

SQL Server 2017 will be available later on this year.

Source: Microsoft Data Amp, SQL Server Blog

Create network location-based conditional access policies in SharePoint Online

17 April 2017

Bill Baer is a Senior Technical Product Manager and Microsoft Certified Master for SharePoint in the SharePoint product group at Microsoft. Here he gives a quick demonstration (41 seconds!) on how to create network location-based conditional access policies in Online.

Source: Twitter/@williambaer

Get the latest updates from Microsoft's BizTalk Product Group

17 April 2017

The Microsoft BizTalk Product Group will shortly be sending out a regular product update newsletter. Sign up for it here.

Is the 'data driven enterprise' actually just the enterprise?

13 April 2017

"The more I think about it, the more I wonder how there can be such a thing as an enterprise that’s not data driven..." So says Dave Cartwright in his article on The Register. Have a read to see if you agree.

Source: , "The 'data driven enterprise' is actually just the enterprise" by Dave Cartwright

💻 | Microsoft Hands-on Labs

12 April 2017

Practice with the latest products and services in a live environment and advance your cloud skills for free with Microsoft Hands-on Labs.

Source: Microsoft

The CIO's role in enabling corporate growth

12 April 2017

"Formerly relegated to the back office, is now key to market domination."

This article from ISG (Information Services Group), a leading global technology research and advisory firm, highlights how the CIO can enable corporate growth. Worth a read if you're a CIO.

Source:, "Let's Talk Business: How The CIO Can Enable Corporate Growth" by Christopher Pflum

Let's Talk Business: How the CIO Can Enable Corporate Growth - See more at:
ISG (Information Services Group) (NASDAQ: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm - See more at:
ISG (Information Services Group) (NASDAQ: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm - See more at:
ISG (Information Services Group) (NASDAQ: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm - See more at:
ISG (Information Services Group) (NASDAQ: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. - See more at:
ISG (Information Services Group) (NASDAQ: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. - See more at:

Discover the 4 ways SQL Server stands above the competition

11 April 2017

We think there are far more than four, but this infographic from Microsoft, backed up by research from Gartner, shows four ways that SQL Server stands above the competition. Get it here.

Source: Twitter / @SQLServer

Latest Blog: "IT Services Market Booming"

10 April 2017

"Another (tax) year, another forecast. But at least this one is positive. According to a report from market research firm MarketsandMarkets, the IT services sector is booming. It states that the annual growth rate of 8% in 2016 is expected to continue through 2021 at least. What are the main drivers?"

Head over to our Blog page to read more of this latest article: IT Services Market Booming.

SharePoint placed as a leader in latest edition of Forrester Wave for Enterprise Content Management

8 April 2017

SharePoint 2016 has been recognised as a Leader in The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Content Management — Business Content Services, Q2 2017.

Assessing the state of the business content services segment of ECM, Forrester noted that longtime leaders are investing in new platforms, technology modernisation efforts, and cloud-first road maps to stay competitive against newer entrants. Further, it states:

"Microsoft’s launch of SharePoint 2016 and ongoing investment into Office 365 and SharePoint Online has proved to be a significant catalyst in enterprises’ decisions to move their enterprise content to cloud services. Support for hybrid deployments continues to be an area of focus, supporting firms adopting cloud in a phased approach, or for specific use cases."

Download the report via

Source: Microsoft

Put the business back in your Data Management business case

6 April 2017

Looking for ways to be more efficient with your ? Download this independent Forrester report to learn best practices.

Announcing .NET Framework 4.7

5 April 2017

Microsoft has announced the release of the .NET Framework 4.7.

You can start using .NET Framework 4.7 today on Windows 10 Creators Update, with its availablity to be announced on other Windows versions soon.

The .NET Framework 4.7 includes improvements in several areas:

  • High DPI support for Windows Forms applications on Windows 10
  • Touch support for WPF applications on Windows 10
  • Enhanced cryptography support
  • Performance and reliability improvements.

This release supports .NET Standard.

Additionally, much improved .NET Framework docs are now available on

Read the annoucement in full on the Microsoft .NET Blog.

Source: .NET Blog

Upgrade to SQL Server 2016 to bring new built-in capabilities to your database

5 April 2017

Source: Twitter/@SQLServer

The top 5 reasons to upgrade to SQL Server 2016

5 April 2017

SQL Server 2016 brings features appealing to virtually everyone wanting to build modern enterprise business applications e.g. support for JSON, integration with R for analytics, as well as in-memory processing.

There are many reasons to upgrade to SQL Server 2016, but here Microsoft offers you its top 5: The top 5 reasons to upgrade to SQL Server 2016.

Source: SQL Server Blog

Gartner Enterprise Architecture & Technology Innovation Summits Conference

4 April 2017

Gartner's Enterprise Architecture & Technology Innovation Summit looks to be a great event for CIOs, Enterprise Archictects and IT Strategists. It's taking place from 14-15 June in London (exact location yet to be announced) with the agenda set to cover digital business platforms, EA roadmaps, business architecture and more.

Microsoft outshining peers in the public cloud

3 April 2017 has published a 15 part web series titled "Is Microsoft Threatening Amazon’s Dominance in the Cloud?" In part four, Microsoft Outshines Its Peers in the Public Cloud in 2016 the article cites that, "Among enterprises, Azure’s adoption surged from 26% in 2016 to 43% in 2017...Overall, Azure’s adoption grew from 20% in 2016 to 34% in 2017."

There are lots of insights to be found in the above links - have a look and then get in touch with us to find out how we can help you with Azure!


March 2017

C# trending up in Stack Overflow 2017 Developer Survey Results

27 March 2017

Stack Overflow has released its Developer Survey Results 2017. Polling over 64,000 developers worldwide, the survey gives a good measure of industry trends, such as salaries, career satisfaction and favourite technology.

Of note in the Most Popular Technologies section is the trending up from 2016 of C#. Very well done to .NET!

Source: Stack Overflow

OWASP* Top 10 for .NET developers

23 March 2017

Earlier in the week we were catching up on the latest ASP.NET Community Standup ( These weekly gatherings provide useful insights from the absolute leaders in this field. In the episode (look for "Live at Treehouse") they reminded us about MVP Troy Hunt's still highly relevant web series / ebook OWASP Top 10 for .NET developers. Though this content is from 2011 it's a definite go-to refresher for those in web dev.

The ebook is free - no strings attached - with Troy saying on his website, "Please share it generously, chuck it on your eBook reader, email it to your mates, quote me, force your developers to print and read every page – whatever – it’s all yours."

*Open Web Application Security Project

Source: ASP.NET Community Standup,

SQL Server v.Next Preview 1.4 now available

22 March 2017

Microsoft has delivered version 1.4 of the SQL Server Customer Technical Preview (CTP), available on both Windows and Linux. Read the announcement from Microsoft on the SQL Server Blog, or get the preview here.

Source: Microsoft

Who really calls the shots on IT purchasing decisions?

22 March 2017

shed some light on IT purchasing decisions. Assessing between the IT Decision Maker (ITDM) and the Business Decision Maker (BDM), the report investigates who really calls the shots. Though it is aimed at marketers, there's plenty of information useful for us IT professionals. We'll leave it to Spiceworks to give you the details here > ITDMs and BDMs: Tech Purchase Superheroes

Source: Spiceworks

SharePoint roadmap to be revealed at Virtual Summit in May

21 March 2017

The SharePoint Virtual Summit is a free, global online event to be held on 16 May, 6pm BST onwards. At the event Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper will unveil the SharePoint roadmap and latest innovations, as well as show how industry-leading customers are leveraging these technologies to build their connected workplace.

Get the full details in the annoucement from Microsoft, or register in advance online now.

Source: Microsoft

Nightly Releases for the Visual F# Tools

20 March 2017

The new release model for the Visual F# is here. Get the details in the .NET Blog.

Source: .NET Blog

Chief Technology Officer Summit London

20 March 2017

You can now register for the Chief Technology Officer Summit, taking place on 30-31 March in London (Bishopsgate more precisely).

According to the event's website, this year's summit is "designed to bring together c-suite and senior level executives, web developers, technology innovators and solution providers to understand emerging trends, share innovative ideas and solutions, see new relevant technologies and network."

Get the details here.

Source: Chief Technology Officer Summit

Introducing Microsoft Data Amp

15 March 2017

Get the latest on big data and machine learning innovations via Microsoft Data Amp; a new, online event happening on 19 April at 4pm BST.

"The event will include exciting announcements that will help you derive even more value from the cloud, enable transformative application development, and ensure you can capitalize on intelligence from any data, any size, anywhere, across Linux and other open source technologies," says the announcement on the SQL Server Blog.

Keynote speakers are Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, and Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President.

Source: SQL Server Blog

ASP.NET Community Standup streaming live at 5pm GMT

14 March 2017

The next episode of the ASP.NET Community Standup is streaming live tonight at 5pm GMT:

About: ASP.NET Community Standup is a weekly, live short video-based discussion/Q&A with some of the leaders from the Microsoft ASP.NET development team. It's a great opportunity to get your questions answered live and unfiltered.

SELECT..INTO introduced to the SQL language of Azure SQL Data Warehouse

13 March 2017

The SQL Server team has introduced SELECT..INTO to the SQL language of Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Take a look.

Source: Microsoft Azure Blog

SharePoint Mobile app updates

13 March 2017

Microsoft has updated SharePoint mobile apps for Android and iOS devices.

The SharePoint iOS app now allows users to create news on the move. Clicking +Add in the News section on a team site users can now add a title, body text, images, embed documents, format and, of course, publish! The published story then appears across the news service as a recent story on SharePoint home in Office 365, within the personalised News tab of the SharePoint apps, and on the team site itself.

With the SharePoint Android app, users can now also use team news on the move. By tapping the News tab in the updated app, a list of tailored news is displayed via Microsoft Graph.

The iOS app is available for download from iTunes now, with the Android version available from the Google Play store.

Source: Microsoft Tech Community/SharePoint Blog

Tech CEOs bullish on growth

10 March 2017

PwC's 20th Annual Global CEO Survey finds an optimistic outlook with "82% of tech CEOs [thinking] global economic growth will improve or stay the same over the next year, with half confident that it will at least stay the same."

Further, "87% [are] saying they are very or somewhat confident of revenue growth in the next 12 months. When asked about prospects over the next three years, that number jumps to 91%. Clearly, the increasingly vital role technology plays in all industries is driving this confidence."

Read PwC's key findings from the technology industry on their website here.

Source: PwC

Want to try BizTalk Server 2016?

8 March 2017

The developer image of BizTalk Server 2016 is licensed for free to use in your test and development scenarios.

BizTalk Server 2016 is Microsoft’s latest release of the new hybrid integration software. Users can automate mission critical business processes, leverage support for latest first party platforms and gain newer capabilities within the BizTalk Administration console. With this release, users also have the flexibility to adopt a hybrid approach by choosing to connect to SaaS applications through Azure Logic Apps, or running BizTalk Server on Azure leveraging full support in production environments.

Follow the links to sign up for Visual Studio Dev Essentials and download BizTalk Server 2016 Developer edition for free today.

Source: BizTalk Team Blog

Step-by-step instructions: How to remove users from SharePoint Online

8 March 2017

There's a handy article over on the Microsoft Support website describing how to remove users from SharePoint Online in 2 scenarios:

  1. A user is removed from the Office 365 admin center but is still present in SharePoint Online.
  2. A mismatched Passport Unique ID.

Get the details here.

Source: Microsoft

New case study: Young Epilepsy

6 March 2017

We have partnered with Young Epilepsy since 2015, working together on several projects including SharePoint Intranet design consultancy, and website and software support.

In this case study we highlight the customisation of the charity's Incident Reporting System and how this is helping them the further enhance support for its clients: Young Epilepsy SharePoint Incident Reporting System Case Study

Introduction into Development using the SharePoint Framework

3 March 2017

The SharePoint Framework was made generally available (GA) at the end of last month. Prior to its GA, Microsoft's Senior Technical Product Manager and SharePoint MCM Bill Baer and Waldek Mastykarz, MVP at Rencore, previewed how your organisation will benefit the most from the new Framework. Check out the video on YouTube: Introduction into Development using the SharePoint Framework with Bill Baer.

Source: YouTube/Rencore

SharePoint Server 2007 Migration Guide

1 March 2017

Understand what end of support means for Office SharePoint Server 2007, why it is critical to migrate, migration options and resources available: Office SharePoint Server 2007 Migration Guide.

Source: Microsoft

February 2017

Cloud is catalyst for innovation

27 Feb 2017

Research from Futurecast finds the cloud is a catalyst for innovation in four foundational areas: optimising operations, engaging customers, empowering employees, and transforming products/services. Get the details in the infographic here.

Source: Futurecast

SharePoint Framework now generally available

23 February 2017

Microsoft has announced today the general availability of SharePoint Framework (SPFx 1.0). Quite the milestone!

Over on Office Dev Center there is a document called SharePoint Framework (SPFx) enterprise guidance, which offers a thorough rundown for developers. GitHub also has the release notes, which is recommended reading if you are going to install immediately. If you'd prefer your details lighter you can read the official SharePoint Framework release announcement from Microsoft on Office Blogs: SharePoint Framework reaches general availability—build and deploy engaging web parts today

Sources: Microsoft - Office Dev Center; Office Blogs & GitHub 

8 tips for Azure SQL Data Warehouse

21 February 2017

Microsoft Enterprise Services is one of the largest consulting and support businesses in the world. The team there has pulled together 8 useful tips for using Azure SQL Data Warehouse effectively. Learn more here

Source: Azure Blog, "Microsoft Enterprise Services Tips to using SQL Data Warehouse effectively," by Ellis Butterfield Program Manager Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Visual Studio 2017 launch

20 February 2017

Visual Studio 2017 will be released in just over 2 weeks time.

On Tuesday 7 March, Visual Studio 2017 will be available for download. Microsoft will be holding an online virtual event celebrating the release, with the likes of Miguel de Icaza and Scott Hanselman sharing the newest innovations in Visual Studio, .NET, Xamarin, Azure, and more. You can stay up to date with the details via the launch page here.

Later in the month, on Wednesday 29 March, the London community will be holding its own launch event. Register here.



Microsoft integrates Power BI reports in SharePoint Online

19 February 2017

Earlier in the month on the Power BI blog, Lukasz Pawlowski, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, announced the availability of the Power BI report web part for SharePoint Online. So SharePoint Online enterprises are now be able to take Power BI content and view it directly in SharePoint.

We note that the web part enables SharePoint authors to embed Power BI reports directly in SharePoint Online pages without any code required, perhaps further demonstrating Microsoft delivering on its ease of use proposition.

Get the details in the announcement here.

Source: Microsoft Power BI Blog, “Integrate Power BI reports in SharePoint Online,” by Lukasz Pawlowski

15 years of .NET

18 February 2017

Our favourite framework has just turned 15 years old. Monday 13 February marked the anniversary of the launch of the first version of .NET, having been released as part of Visual Studio.NET.

Many of us here have been working with .NET since first beta, so we especially liked this short video interview with Anders Hejlsberg, lead architect of C# at Microsoft, sharing some stories and thoughts on .NET, open source, and the upcoming release of Visual Studio 2017: Happy 15th Birthday .NET!

Source: Microsoft

SharePoint rolls out support for file copies up to 500MB

17 February 2017

Microsoft is removing the 50MB limit for file copies and boosting to 500MB! Read about this and other other updates to file management here.

Source: SharePoint Blog

SQL Server on Linux Microsoft Engineering Town Hall

15 February 2017

Microsoft holds monthly virtual town halls, where you can connect with the team behind SQL Server on Linux. Each month begins with a new topic, but all questions about SQL on Linux are welcome.

This month's event is being held on 23 February at 10am PST (6pm GMT) there will be a live demo walk-through on how to create an Always On Availability Group on SQL Server running on Linux, and how to add it as a clustered resource to a Pacemaker-based Linux cluster. There will also be information shared about new features supported with the mid-February release of the SQL Server v.Next Community Technology Preview (CTP) 1.3.

You can register for the event with Microsoft here.

Source: Microsoft

Azure customers can now use Microsoft’s UK data centres to protect their most important files

14 February 2017

UK Azure customers can now back up and restore files from data centres based in this country.

Microsoft has announced that Azure Backup and Site Recovery are now available from its multiple cloud regions in the UK.

"Both services are crucial for any firm storing information in the cloud. Azure Backup protects data on-premises and online, while Site Recovery allows customers to replicate on-premise physical servers in the cloud – so if their primary servers fail, they automatically switch to a secondary site to keep working," says the announcement from Microsoft.

Read the article from Microsoft in full here.

Source: Microsoft News Centre UK

Happy Birthday .NET!

13 February 2017

On this day in 2002 the .NET Framework was launched. Happy 15th Birthday .NET!

Testing trends in 2017

9 February 2017

Testing remains key to to releasing high quality software under very tight timelines. Sauce Labs has released its 2017 testing report, investigating trends in testing with modern development teams. Get the details here: Testing Trends in 2017: A Survey of Software Professionals.

Source: Sauce Labs

Sauce Lab’s 2017 testing report

Offline first?

8 February 2017

This recent article in the Software Development Times suggests that apps not reliant on constant Internet connectivity will own the future: App Developers: Time to cut the cord.

Source: SD Times, article by Stefan Kruger

App developers: Time to cut the cord
App developers: Time to cut the cord
App developers: Time to cut the cord

ASP.NET Community Standup streaming live this evening

7 February 2017

The next episode of the ASP.NET Community Standup is streaming live tonight at 6pm GMT:

About: ASP.NET Community Standup is a weekly, live short video-based discussion/Q&A with some of the leaders from the Microsoft ASP.NET development team. It's a great opportunity to get your questions answered live and unfiltered.

Microsoft's .NET Language Strategy

3 February 2017

"Our languages are a huge strength of the .NET platform, and a primary factor in people choosing to bet on it – and stay on it," says Mads Torgersen, Microsoft Program Manager for C#.

In this .NET Blog article, Torgersen sheds some light on Microsoft's decision-making framework for the .NET languages (C#, Visual Basic and F#), "to provide that additional context for the principles we use to make decisions for each language." Get the details here: The .NET Language Strategy.

It's definitely also worth following the lively comments section on this one!

Source: .NET Blog/The .NET Language Strategy by Mads Torgersen

What can the Azure Stack do for business?

3 February 2017

In this TechNet UK Blog, Gareth Jones takes a look at the Azure Stack, including what it is, what it does and how your business can best take advantage of it:

Azure Stack Comparison

Source: TechNet UK Blog

BizTalk Server 2016 vNext feedback

2 February 2017

The Microsoft BizTalk team wants your feedback, suggestions and ideas on its user voice forum page to help build BizTalk 2016 vNext. Have your say here.

January 2017

First Cumulative Update for BizTalk Server 2016 released

27 January 2017

BizTalk Server 2016 was released in October 2016, and was the tenth major release for the product that has been in the market serving various application integration customer needs for the past 15 years.

Microsoft today has released the first Cumulative Update for BizTalk Server 2016. Download and read more on the BizTalk Team Blog.

Source: BizTalk Team Blog

New SharePoint CSOM version released for SharePoint Online

27 January 2017

The new version of SharePoint Online Client Side Object Model (CSOM) NuGet package is now available. Get the details from Office Dev Center.

Source: Office Dev Center

SQL Server next version Community Technology Preview 1.2 now available

25 January 2017

Microsoft is bringing the power of SQL Server to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in CTP 1.2! Get the details via the SQL blog:

Source: SQL Server Blog

ASP.NET Community Standup streaming live this evening

24 January 2017

The next episode of the ASP.NET Community Standup is streaming live tonight at 6pm GMT:

About: ASP.NET Community Standup is a weekly, live short video-based discussion/Q&A with some of the leaders from the Microsoft ASP.NET development team. It's a great opportunity to get your questions answered live and unfiltered.

SQL Server vNext Early Adoption Program

23 January 2017

Microsoft has launched the SQL Server vNext Early Adoption Program, an initiative to help customers and partners adopt the next version of SQL Server before general availability.

Customers interested in deep engagements with the Microsoft Engineering team, and in particular those interested in validating new features and adopting SQL Server vNext on Windows or Linux in production. With successful validation these solutions could be supported in production prior to the general availability release.

Learn more and enroll here.

Source: Microsoft

Ruby on Rails Support for SQL Server is now out

19 January 2017

If you use your database in a Rails application served by SQL Server, there is a new Adapter available on GitHub which may be of use to you: GitHub

We suggest reading the notes to check for version compatability.

Source: Twitter/@SQL Server, GitHub

SharePoint Webhooks now Generally Available

18 January 2017

SharePoint Webhooks are Generally Available, which means developers can now use them against production sites.

In the announcement from Microsoft, Mike Ammerlaan of the Office Ecosystem team said, "Webhooks are based on industry standard patterns around how services fire notifications that developers can intercept and react to. In particular, within SharePoint we've added support for webhooks against SharePoint list data, including events like Item Added, Updated, and Deleted."

He continued, "A developer could then choose to kick off a process, or programmatically update a document, or fire off a tailored notification to users using information you can get from webhooks."

Read the announcement in full via the Microsoft Tech Community website.

Source: Microsoft Tech Community


Forrester report: The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Azure PaaS

17 January 2017

Read this free Forrester study for a deeper look at to see how you could reduce your time-to-market by up to 50%: The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Azure PaaS

Source: Microsoft Azure

The trillion dollar niche: IT-as-a-Service

16 January 2017

Deloitte has published its 2017 predictions for the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications (TMT) sectors. One of these is, "By the end of 2018...spending on IT-as-a-Service for data centers, software and services is likely to top £440 billion ($547 billion) worldwide. This would represent a rise of over half from a forecast 2016 level of £290 billion ($361 billion)."

Furthermore, it finds "Although flexible consumption-based business models will not be ubiquitous by 2018, at over a third of all IT spending, they are expected to exceed half a trillion dollars and grow rapidly."

Deloitte's TMT Predictions are designed to provide insight into what may offer disruption and growth opportunities across the technology, media and telecommunications sectors over the next 12-18 months.

To read more of the findings from Deloitte, click here.

Source: Deloitte

Why Microsoft BizTalk Server for application integration?

12 January 2017

With BizTalk Server you can increase productivity with enterprise application integration. Automate your business process execution and workflow by seamlessly connecting your on-premises systems to cloud-based applications with BizTalk Server — or extend your existing investments to the cloud with Azure Logic Apps.

Connect Seamlessly

  • Access comprehensive capabilities and tools to connect mission-critical, on-premises applications.

Extend to the cloud

  • Get hybrid connectivity between existing systems and cloud applications by extending your investments.

Go beyond integration

  • Get insights from your connected systems when you add Azure Services.

Ballard Chalmers is one of only a handful of experts in the country for BizTalk development, with 15+ years experience in successful development projects. Get in touch for a no-charge initial consultation.

Source: Microsoft/BizTalkServer


Peek behind the scenes of running and building SharePoint Online

9 January 2017

Microsoft SharePoint Online is the largest SharePoint deployment in the world. Take a behind the scenes tour of how Microsoft runs, builds and manages SharePoint Online throughout its datacentres with Zach Rosenfield, Principal Group Program Manager at Microsoft: Microsoft Tech Community.

Source: Microsoft

.NET: A deeper look at Reference Assemblies

9 January 2017

What are reference assemblies and how do they work? Watch this video with Immo Landwerth, .NET Program Manager at Microsoft, to find out: YouTube.

Source: YouTube/Immo Landwerth

Xamarin University

8 January 2017

Whether you’ve built a few Xamarin apps or are just getting started, check out the new intro webinar series covering iOS, Android, , and

Your Intranet in your pocket: The SharePoint mobile app

6 January 2017

Rock-solid, selective sync between your PC and Mac and offline files on your mobile device: YouTube

Source: YouTube/Microsoft Mechanics

Deep Learning with SQL Server

6 January 2017

Discover how 6 lines of code and can bring to any . Read: SQL Server Blog.

Source: Microsoft

How SQL Server became the surprise hit software of 2016

5 January 2017

Microsoft announced in March 2016 that it was bringing SQL Server to the open source Linux operating system. At the time Scott Guthrie, Executive VP of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Group said, "This will enable SQL Server to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, as well as on-premises and cloud."

Now is reporting that this release to helped to become the surprise hit software of 2016, citing that its popularity grew faster than any other database product for the year. Read via

[Cheatsheet] Productivity tips for Visual Studio 2017

4 January 2017

Happy New Year!

1 January 2017

Happy New Year from all of us at Ballard Chalmers. We look forward to working with you in 2017.


Ballard Chalmers is one of the UK’s leading enterprise software engineering companies, specialising in development for the Microsoft Enterprise Application Platform. We are principally dedicated to software development and integration for the Microsoft Cloud, as well as on-premises and hybrid systems. Our expertise is in Microsoft .NET, SQL Server, BizTalk Server and SharePoint Server.

Let's talk

  01342 410223

Find out more

Thank you for contacting us.

We will be in touch with you shortly.