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Three SharePoint and Yammer integration essentials admins should know

Microsoft has been working to integrate Yammer with other Microsoft products like SharePoint since its purchase in 2012.

Yammer is designed to provide social networking capabilities for business environments. But SharePoint

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has had its own social networking capabilities since SharePoint 2010. So why should an organization consider Yammer?

1. What are the benefits of using SharePoint and Yammer together?

It's important to understand that SharePoint has existed for far longer than its social networking capabilities. SharePoint's social networking capabilities consist of features that were bolted on in an effort to mimic what users were becoming accustomed to on Facebook and other social networking sites.

Yammer, on the other hand, was built from the ground up. It was designed from the very beginning to provide social networking for business, rather than social networking being an afterthought.

With that said, Yammer feeds can be embedded into SharePoint sites as a way of enabling company-wide or team-specific conversation. Yammer also supports private messaging and a dedicated tab is used to keep track of private messages.

Perhaps the most beneficial Yammer feature is a notifications tab that alerts end users to the latest activity relevant to them.

2. How can I integrate SharePoint and Yammer?

Yammer can be integrated with SharePoint 2010 or SharePoint 2013. SharePoint 2010 integration is based around the use of a Yammer Web app, while SharePoint 2013 uses a Yammer app.

Because the SharePoint 2013 version of Yammer is based around an app, the deployment process is deceptively simple. However, integrating Yammer into your SharePoint environment involves completing several different projects.

One disclaimer: Using Yammer is not a good option for organizations whose security policies prevent them from storing any data in the cloud. Yammer is a cloud app, and although it can integrate with an on-premises SharePoint deployment, it does store data in the cloud.

With that said, the first thing that you will have to do is to prevent access to SharePoint's social networking features. After all, you want end users to use Yammer. This means you'll have to prevent access to site newsfeeds and prevent end users from following people or tags (or seeing what someone else is following) or viewing trending tags (among other things).

The most important thing to do is to block the social networking features instead of removing them. If you permanently remove SharePoint's social networking features, you'll likely cause problems with future upgrades.

Once the social networking features have been blocked, it's time to integrate Yammer. This is done by opening the SharePoint Central Administration console, clicking Apps and then downloading the Yammer app. You shouldn't use the farm administrator account that was used to install and configure SharePoint, because Microsoft blocks this account from being able to import app licenses.

During the Yammer app installation process, you'll see an error message stating that the site does not support apps when you attempt to install the app. This is normal: The message is displayed because you can't install apps to the Central Administration console. Once you receive the error, you're able to deploy the Yammer app at the organization level.

Once the Yammer app is in place, the next steps are to install the Yammer home feed on your My Site. After that, you must configure the Yammer group feed for the team site.

Integrating Yammer into SharePoint involves a bit of work. Microsoft provides detailed instructions for the integration process here.

3. What does the future hold for SharePoint and Yammer?

In 2013, Microsoft presented its roadmap for future Yammer and SharePoint integration. Some of the new capabilities Microsoft expects to deliver include email integration that will allow users to participate in Yammer conversations through email (even without a Yammer account) and the ability to use Yammer groups as distribution lists.

The Yammer interface will also be updated to make it responsive in real time. Some of the updates will include indicators that can tell an end user when someone he's conversing with is typing, as well as introducing instant likes.

Microsoft also plans to update the Yammer apps for iOS, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Future Windows apps will offer Live Tile support for Yammer feeds.

About the author:
Brien Posey is an eight-time Microsoft MVP for his work with Windows Server, IIS, Exchange Server and file system storage technologies. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and was once responsible for IT operations at Fort Knox. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the nation's largest insurance companies.

This was first published in January 2014

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