Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 - Pre-conference Day 1

Microsoft reIMAGINE 2016 hosted by Dynamic Communities is now over, but I did not want to let this week go by without giving you an account of my experiences at the conference, which sure brought a lot of surprises to all the partners in attendance.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I'll save you the full details, but my first stop to Fargo was Terminal B's Gate 31 at Atlanta's Hartfield-Jackson International Airport, known by it's IATA airport code as ATL. Before reaching the gate, I stopped at the Fly Burger Bar Boutique, a gourmet burger joint that opened shop couple years ago. If you ever transiting through ATL and happen to be in or around Terminal B, I highly recommend you stop at this place. I had a cheese burger with fries and a beer and needless to say, it was cooked to perfection. However, note that you have your choice of mixing and matching any of the offered toppings, cheeses, etc., til your heart contents. Fly Burger is located next to Gate 27.

After eating, I proceeded to Gate 31 from where my flight was originally scheduled to depart from. After waiting for about 30 minutes, an announcement came up to let us know that the flight would be departing from, well Gate 27. After waiting for a bit to board, I ran into Joe Carroll, Executive Director of the Association of Dynamics Professionals, who was also on his way to Fargo, North Dakota.

My first leg to Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport (MSP) was devoid of any incidents, with just a minor bump somewhere over the Midwest, I guess in anticipation of the stormy week ahead (more on that later in the week). After landing in MSP, I went to find my new departure gate, which would be in the C concourse. I quickly realized I had checked my phone charger in my bag, so I got a spare at one of the stores close to the gate.

The flight to Fargo was again, quick and without any incidents. Upon landing, Jay Manley, coworker and my boss at Mekorma, Inc. was waiting for me. Joe and I grabbed a ride with him over to the Home2 Suites Fargo extended stay.

Upon arrival, the check-in process was straight forward. I had called earlier to make arrangements to add one more night to my stay as I had really reserved the room starting the following night (Sunday), not the night of my arrival. The reservation staff at H2 were kind enough, with the help of David Musgrave, to ensure that I wouldn't have to be switching rooms in the morning.

After dropping off my stuff, I went back to the lobby to meet up with my friends who had already arrived.

From Left to Right: Mariano Gomez, Sheila Jefferson-Ross, Leslie Vail, John Lowther
In the back: David Musgrave (left) and Jay Manley (right)

From Left to Right: Mariano Gomez, Sheila Jefferson-Ross, David Musgrave, Leslie Vail, Jay Manley, John Lowther
I don't think we did anything much after that, so the night was easy enough to get some rest for the following morning would have David and I reviewing our presentations and working on our timing.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Friday, June 3, 2016

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Day 3

Day 3 marks the end of the first GPUG Amplify conference. In cool fashion, this event went out with a bang by inviting none other than Bonnie Robertson to be the keynote speaker. Bonnie goes back to the days of Great Plains, Inc. and is now a renown speaker and strategists for CxOs around the world.

The closing session began with Bob McAdam, GPUG Program Director, thanking all the sponsors and speakers for their different degrees of collaboration and participation to bring this event together.
Next up was Pam Misialek to present the Microsoft Dynamics GP roadmap with some minor adjustments from what was presented in the General Session on Day 1.

Microsoft Dynamics GP Roadmap
To highlight are some of the major upcoming features in GP 2016 R2, due sometimes in late autumn (aka. fall in North America). You can revisit these in more detail in my Day 1 post.

Bonnie addressed a few questions from the audience to close the keynote and handed over to Bob, who updated the audience on the upcoming conferences, namely reIMAGINE 2016 and GPUG Summit 2016.

Amplify 2017 will be held at ... you will have to wait for an official announcement from Dynamics Communities and Microsoft for a date, time, and location for next spring. However, if you did fill out the suggestions survey, you will be majorly responsible for the selected location.

On a personal note, my day ended once more with a great dinner hosted by Mekorma at Ruth's Chris Stake House with the folks from Njevity and InterDyn BMI as guests to our party.

Jay Manley (Mekorma) entertains some folks before dinner

Left (front to back): Mark Jensen, Eric Karie, Ora Goldman, Scott Wiley, Angel Blum, Emily Roen, John Lowther
Right (front to back): Jay Manley, Melissa Sandrovich, Craig Klapman, Altonique Burton, Leslie Vail

Special Supplement: Getting Home

Earlier in the day, I checked out of the hotel to move closer to LAX for my next morning early flight. After much discussion with the team, we came to the conclusion that in order to avoid a sleepless night and possibly some horrendous traffic to the airport the next morning, it was probably a good idea to checkout and check in closer to the airport. So after dinner I returned to Jay's room to pick up my luggage, having made up my mind on the decision to check in closer to the airport.

I then grabbed a taxi cab back to the Marriott LAX. Having had a full week of activities, I was already running on empty, but the traffic back to LAX was impossible, spending about an hour and a quarter to get to my hotel. After a tortuous check-in at the hotel, I was finally in my room and ready to throw in the towel for the evening.

Next morning, I got up around 4:45 AM to be at the airport. I took a quick shower and went downstairs to catch the shuttle to the Delta terminal. Security at the airport was a breeze, so nothing to complain about. After picking up a bottle of water, I took my time to get to the departure gate where I sat and tried to relax for a bit before the flight -- except for the screaming child couple seats ahead of me.

Back in Atlanta, I had a rush hour traffic drive to home. Although our rush hour traffic isn't as bad as that of Los Angeles, it still stands among the worse in the country.

I-75 N in Atlanta
Anyways, I was home after about an hour driving and ready to get on with life.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Day 2

Day 2 had me down for 2 sessions. Also, I was invited to participate in an interview with the first GP Live @ #GPUGAmplify live TV stream. My first session, Microsoft Dynamics GP Web Client Architecture, started at 9 AM.

Note: I couldn't get the session name to be changed as the schedule had already been printed by the time I requested the name change.

Web Client Focus  (picture courtesy of Microsoft MVP Steve Endow)
This session covered 4 main topics: web client described, web client architecture, web client infrastructure, and the benefits of the web client.  From an architecture and infrastructure perspective, we dove into how the different web client components interact between each other when a browser request is submitted to the web server until a web client runtime process is spun up on a session host.

Web Client Infrastructure
Understanding this interaction, required explaining in more detail how the Dynamics GP runtime engine and the web client runtime interacted to translate notifications and actions (messages) between the Window Manager components in each runtime.

Web Client Messaging
Finally, my session covered the benefits and scalability of the web client, when compared to RDP mechanisms like Citrix or Terminal Server.

Web Client Scalability (picture courtesy of Microsoft MVP Steve Endow)
Following my session, I went back to the Mekorma Hub to coordinate my live stream interview with Bob McAdam and his team. I was scheduled to go on at 3:30 PM, just after my afternoon session, which would be a repeat of the GP Administration session, completed the day before.

I decided then to go for lunch and had a chance to catch up with my good friend Linda Rose from RoseASP. Our conversation went from personal to business, to how we spend our time at work. Linda is always a very interesting person to converse with as she has so much knowledge about the Dynamics GP application hosting space, plus she has some awesome anecdotes to go along.

After lunch, I decided to go check out the room where I will be delivering my next presentation, and lo and behold there was Linda, ready to deliver her session, Upgrading to Dynamics GP 2016 in the Cloud: 3 simple steps. I decided to show my support and sat into the session, where I learned a few interesting things about cloud hosting and licensing.

Linda Rose and I after her session
Following Linda's session, I delivered my repeat session on Microsoft Dynamics GP Administration. Frankly, I was surprised once more to have a standing room only attendance. As is customary, I treated the group to a picture and a little stretching exercise to overcome post lunch time food coma.

Microsoft Dynamics GP Administration (repeat) Session
You can read more about the topics I covered in this session from my Day 1 post.

Finalizing my session, I had to run quickly over to the Expo hall where I would be mic'ing up to be interviewed live for the first GPUG Amplify live stream event. This was actually a new and innovative approach by Dynamic Communities to get information out in real time to folks who were not able to attend Amplify. The live stream encompassed the views of customers, partners, Microsoft staff, and Microsoft MVPs alike on Amplify. The following is the interview I conducted with host Bob McAdam.

Following my interview, I met up with my good friend Kari-Anne Paterson with Briware Solutions in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Kari-Anne was up next for a live interview with Bob McAdam.

Me and Kari-Anne Paterson
You can listen to Kari-Anne's interview here.

After Kari-Anne's interview, we decided to go sit at the Mekorma Hub to decompress and catch up. Kari and I share our Caribbean heritage so talking about music and reggae came very natural to us - Kari is Jamaican born. We listened to a few tunes on my computer and the day was over by the time we decided to move on.

I had dinner with my Mekorma colleagues and Njevity folks over at McCormick & Schmick's Grille, where we got to enjoy some good shrimp kisses as you can tell by the picture below.

Chris Dobkins (Njevity), Me, and Craig Klapman (Mekorma)
It was time to go sleep and get some rest for the last day of the conference.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Day 1

The morning started out with the General Session, hosted by Bob McAdam (Twitter: @4mcadam). It was amazing to see all the folks who were in attendance, perhaps for the first time, in one place for this conference. The numbers really sunk in by looking at the crowd and it was really great to know that this conference will really take off in the next few years.

General Session
Bob did an excellent job taking the baton from Kim.

Bob McAdam
Pam Misialek was next to deliver a very impressive opening, showing the trends at Microsoft and how technologies like HoloLens will be used in the future to enable virtual reality technology for consumers and businesses.

Jeff Trosen and Chad Sogge (Twitter: @CSogge) were next to discuss the Microsoft Dynamics GP roadmap and the innovations that are being implemented in the product.

As is customary at the General Session, we were treated to some GP 2016 demos by the dynamic duo of Jody Christiansen (Twitter: @JodiChrist) and Jennifer Ranz (Twitter: @JenifferRanz1), both program managers with the Microsoft Dynamics GP team.

Jennifer Ranz and Jody Christiansen
The General Session ended with a list of features that are drafted for GP 2016 R2. Some major highlights are:

  • Multi-tenant support for OData Services
  • PowerBI in Web Client home page
  • SmartList Designer smart lists available in Advanced Lookups
  • OneDrive support for emailing documents from GP
  • SmartList favorite protection
  • Self-serve W2 printing
  • Disable garnishment reports in posting setup
  • Barcode field on Item Maintenance window
  • Link credit card invoices to original invoices
  • Cancel PO linked to requisition
  • Adjust customer balance calculation to use unapplied credit amount
  • PMATB w Options - print transactions where document number has special chars

After the General Session, it was time for my first presentation of the week: Microsoft Dynamics GP Administration (at 10:15 AM local time) which focused on 3 main areas: administering the environment, administering the application, and administering the web client. All in all it was an excellent presentation with a great (standing room only) attendees. This presentation mostly covered considerations for a trouble-free administrator and end-user experience in a Microsoft Dynamics GP setting, rather than re-hashing the different configuration elements within the application.

Microsoft Dynamics GP Administration attendees
After my session, I returned to the Mekorma Hub, only to find a great deal of customers and partners asking about our products. I sat in for a bit to assist with any questions on our newest product, Multi-batch Management (MMM) and the GP Power Tools which we represent on behalf of David Musgrave and Winthrop Development Consultants.

Mekorma Hub

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Pre-conference Day 3: Partner Day

It was a new day, Sunday, May 22 and it was time to register for Amplify. After meeting up with Pam for some brunch, I made my way to the registration area, with signs of the event placed throughout the corridors leading to the registration area.

Welcome and Registration banner
As it turned out, the Mekorma Hub was also in the process of being setup by the hotel staff. I came across a few of my colleagues at Mekorma, who were in the process of supervising The Hub setup.

Mekorma team - Left to right: Ora Goldman, Angel Blum, Eric Karie, Craig Clapman

Mekorma Hub being powered up
The registration area was just getting warmed up. Earlier, partners had signed up for a number of free training classes and were probably getting ready to swarm the registration desk. I went ahead and claimed my badge and went on tour throughout the different rooms checking to see what was going on.

Amplify Registration Desk

The first area I visited was the Expo booths, this time, a far cry from the big room that is customary or expected at events like GPUG Summit or the former Convergence. This was the first reality check as to what type of event Amplify would be. Seeing just a few booths was nonetheless encouraging as it reminds me that all major events we have today started out being small. But you could pretty much say the usual suspects were there: KwikTag, Olympic Systems, Rose ASP, Altec, eOne, Fastpath, Integrity Data, Journyx, to name a few. You can see the complete list of sponsors here.

Expo area
A short step ahead of the booths was the meal and general session area. There was space for about 400 people, again, a big contrast from the Convergence and Summit events.

Meal and General Session Area
On the way out, I came across one of DCE's audio/video engineers who was trying to connect some very sophisticated cameras to an Apple TV like receiver, but was not having success with the video feeding to the computer from the Apple device. This equipment was going to be used in the first ever live stream TV from the event -- more on this later.

Back at the booth, I came across Jay Manley, Director of Product Management and Altonique Burton, Executive Assistant at Mekorma. Jay had just arrived earlier to the hotel from his adventurous trip from Fargo.

Altonique Burton and Jay Manley
After a little kick back, it was time for the partner reception and update. We were treated to some really cool demos by John Dooley.
John Dooley on the future of software demos
Following John's presentation, it was time for Errol Schoenfish (Twitter: @eschoenfish) to talk about Project "Madeira". Madeira comes as Microsoft's SaaS only solution to compete with the likes of NetSuite and Quickbooks Online and to provide an entry level solution to products like Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and even Dynamics AX.

Madeira is currently in preview and is available via your Office 365 subscription. You can access Madeira here. You can also read my getting started article here.

Next up was Chris Dubkins with Njevity to talk about a brand new solution called PowerGP Online, built from the ground up to be a SaaS based solution to access and transact with Microsoft Dynamics GP. PowerGP Online is currently available for the iPad and will be seeing other platforms soon after its release.

Chris Dubkins / Njevity
After a few more drinks and hi's it was time to go for dinner. My dinner was going to be a one-on-one review with my manager and colleague Jay Manley at Morton's.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Pre-conference Day 2

On this Saturday morning, I got up and went downstairs around 10 AM. Of course, the days started out with a Tall Flat White, by far my favorite Starbucks cup of coffee. After ordering my coffee, I sat in the hotel lobby for an hour or so, trying to catch up on emails and some work. I then went around touring the place and making sure I would find the room where I would be presenting on Monday. Interestingly enough, the ballrooms were reserved for the California - Hawaii Elks Association who were hosting their 98th convention at the hotel from May 15 - May 18 with what I can only assume were "left overs" from that event. This great Association helps children with disabilities since 1950. Most of the members were checking out and the hotel staff was dismantling the ballrooms to quickly turn around and host a wedding.

I went back to my room and spent quite the rest of the afternoon sleeping and resting. Around 6 PM, I went down to the nFuse bar and met up with Craig and Pam who were wrapping up dinner. I munched on Pam's asparagus as I was quite hungry.

Pam Misialek with a plentiful order of asparagus
Craig and Pam left the area and I decided to order some dinner. In the meantime, I came across my good friend Jen Kuntz (Twitter: @JenKuntzGP) from Kuntz Consulting in Toronto, Canada. Jen joined in for a beer and kept me company while I was having dinner. Jen was just coming in from watching a baseball match as she's apparently a big fan of the game.

Jen Kuntz and I
I stayed down for a bit more and was joined by Kim Peterson, now with Interdyn BMI who began chatting for a bit. I moved over to the bar where I had a few more drinks while chatting with a Qatar Airways crew member who had just arrived in the hotel moments earlier from a 16-hour flight from Doha. It was around 2 AM and just about time to call it a night.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

GPUG Amplify Anaheim 2016 - Pre-conference Day 1

I did not want to let the opportunity pass without really transmitting my experiences at GPUG and Microsoft's first major venture after the now defunct Microsoft Convergence, which I attended for several, several years as a presenter. So here is what Amplify 2016 Anaheim was like for me.

I decided to arrive into Anaheim on Friday, May 20 to basically get some rest and stave off jet lag. Although, Atlanta is on the East Coast of the United States and its only 3 hours ahead of the Pacific timezone, you would be surprised at how those 3 hours can throw your system completely off. Upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from yet another uneventful trip on Delta Airlines, I proceeded to baggage claim to get my luggage. Exiting the airport, I was trying to figure out how I would get to Anaheim. As it turned out, there are a couple of ways: a) your traditional taxi cab, which would cost on or around $120 - $130, b) a shared van service, which can be hired either for private transport at $110 or as a shared ride for about $30. However, if you do decide to go the shared ride, you are in for a treat as there are about 10 to 15 stops to pick up additional passengers from various locations throughout Los Angeles, adding several hours to your trip, and c) Uber, however this service can be quite controversial from the airport and you may be looked upon by all taxi cab drivers as a traitor.

I personally decided to go the van route, although as a private service. My driver, Cesar Chavez from Philippines was very delightful and entertaining. He was quite the character, playing 80's music and telling me stories from his early days living in Manila.

Cesar Chavez
The drive was surprisingly quick, at only 45 minutes from LAX to the Anaheim Marriott. Frankly, I had never been to Anaheim, but had heard about the traffic horror stories. Thank goodness this was not my case.

Check in at the Marriott was a breeze (as its customary). I received my keys, went upstairs and began the usual unpacking ritual that follows a long trip. I pretty much setup my computer and accessories in a very methodical way (OK, I admit, I trouble with OCD!).

Computer, Accessories, and a bit more
After getting all my stuff together, it was time to go down stairs to pickup some coffee at the Starbucks within the hotel -- very convenient, if you ask me. After picking up my coffee, I sat in the lobby of the hotel and relaxed for a bit, before running into Microsoft's Pam Misialek (Twitter: @PamMisialek) and Mekorma's Craig Klapman (Twitter: @MekormaCraig). We quickly arranged to go to dinner at Joe's Crab Shack, just about a mile away from the hotel.

Pam Misialek enjoying a mighty lobster
At Joe's Crab Shack, a mighty controversy was born as a result of ordering a simple house salad. Craig requested a salad and asked what dressings were available to garnish it. The waitress proceeded to mention all the usual suspects: vinaigrette, ranch, blue cheese, vinegar, and maybe a couple more. Craig was very undecided so the waitress proceeded to offer Caesar dressing, to which Craig replied, "Yes!". The waitress proceeded to ask if Craig wanted a Caesar salad. We all stared at each other with this dumbfounded look in our faces, not quite sure what to make of the waitress' suggestion. Craig responded without hesitation, "No! I want a house salad with Caesar dressing.". The waitress once more replied, "So, a Caesar salad.". Craig once more said, "No!". The waitress proceeded to bring a house salad with a side of Caesar dressing as requested by Craig, but the damage was already done. Never had I been involved in such a deep philosophical conversation as to what constitutes or doesn't constitute a Caesar salad, but as it turned out, many people had agreed with Craig. In other words, not because you order a side of Caesar dressing it means you want a Caesar salad if that makes sense at all... See? Half of this article is already dedicated to the topic.

Anyways, back to the hotel to get some rest, but not without a quick view shot from the room I was in.

View from the 17th floor of the Anaheim Marriott
Stay tuned for Pre-conference Day 2.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP

Monday, May 9, 2016

5 Reasons to attend #GPUGAmplify 2016 in Anaheim, California

If you are not excited about the upcoming #GPUGAmplify conference, here are 5 reasons to attend:

1. It's in Anaheim, California. Yes, the home of Disneyland! Not only is Anaheim a great fun and entertaining place, but they also have an enviable weather, 5-star restaurants and food, and plenty to see. Anaheim's at the outskirts of Los Angeles, for those of us with big city mentality, so if you feel claustrophobic, a quick ride to LA and you will be in a totally different atmosphere.

2. Microsoft Support will be there! Have a chance to inquiry about upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016, or the new HTML5 web client, or even that nagging issue in your environment that you've been dealing with for a while. In addition, those Fargo guys always seem to know where the cool bars are... don't ask!

3. Bob McAdam is busted his butt putting this thing together! We no longer have mama Kim, but we have one dedicated Bob McAdam who is been rallying up all the troops, from presenters, to facilities, to coordinating sponsors, to registering folks. The man has done it all! Why would you not correspond with your presence at the event? Take a look at the following articles by Bob to go deeper into what's coming:

GPUG Amplify Agenda Deep Dive (1/3)
GPUG Amplify Agenda Deep Dive (2/3)

4. Microsoft Business Solutions MVPs will be on site too! Now, talking about smart people with real life experience? How about the likes of Belinda Allen, Mark Polino, John Lowther, and yes, ME! We are all coming in strong with great sessions that you sure won't want to miss.

5. The final and most important reason is, you have a chance to make of Amplify what Convergence once represented to you and your company. Yes, granted, we are starting out small, but that does not mean we are not going to grow. We need you to make that happen! Register today!

See you from May 23 to May 25, 2016.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP