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Office 365 – How to Stay Informed of Changes

As a consultant in our Office 365 practice, part of my role includes keeping up with the constant changes and features being added to the service by Microsoft.

When I worked with on-premises versions of Exchange and Lync, it was fairly easy to keep on top of things. You knew when changes came as they arrived in the form of an update that you or your client had to install. Office 365 - How to Stay Informed of  ChangesOutside of major service packs, you generally just had bug fixes with the occasional minor feature added in between. While the update release cadence has increased in recent years, each version of Exchange still receives only a couple of major service packs before the next version is released.

Office 365 is often referred to as “evergreen” meaning that it’s always the latest and greatest; it feels at times that there are changes occurring weekly. Trying to consume all the information about changes across the various workloads can be like drinking from a fire hose and you can quickly start to feel overwhelmed. Below are some sources that I use to stay aware of these changes and methods I use to sort through the information.
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Posted in Office 365

Microsoft-Salesforce Integrations as Cloud Giants Shake Hands

Microsoft and Salesforce has made significant progress to their strategic partnership announced in May. They unveiled new joint solutions—including Salesforce1 for Windows, Salesforce for Office, and Power BI for Office 365 and Excel integrations with Salesforce—at Dreamforce 2014. salesforce1microsoft1

The companies disclosed that in early 2015, they will release a Salesforce1 app for Windows Phone. Alongside, OneDrive will be linked to the Salesforce solutions. In addition, Office will also be incorporated with the Salesforce suite. Through the alliance, Microsoft will gain an opportunity to provide its user-friendly products to Salesforce users. Salesforce, on the other hand, will be able to sell its SaaS product in the more conservative enterprise channels, currently controlled by Microsoft.

The companies plan to integrate Salesforce into Office, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business on the Android and iOS platforms in the first half of 2015. Also, in the first half of 2015, the companies plan to ship a Salesforce app for Outlook. The second half of 2015 will also see a Salesforce1 app for Windows Phone along with a Salesforce app for Excel. Power BI for Office 365 and Excel integrations with Salesforce. With these new integrations, customers will be able to bi-directionally load data to Salesforce and Excel to build reports, visualize information and discover new insights.  Power BI integration with Salesforce is anticipated for the first half of 2015. A Salesforce app for Excel is anticipated for the second half of 2015.

Some key things to note for existing features (live and preview): Read the rest of this post »

Upcoming Webinar: Planning for a Lync 2013 on a Global Scale

At Perficient, we communicate via Lync 2013. As an end user, I can’t say enough about the ability to use it from anywhere I have internet access to take calls, instant message colleagues, customers and partners, and to hold meetings with content sharing and video. Webinar_1Using Lync 2013 is a simple, easy process for me, whether from my computer or my phone, but I know that’s due in part to our implementation team spending the necessary time planning the solution design and preparing to implement.

When it comes to planning for a global Lync deployment, there is a lot more to take into consideration to get your core Lync Server 2013 infrastructure ready to support voice, video and content sharing capabilities. It’s important that you understand the impacts Lync Server 2013 can have on the global IT infrastructure’s network, security, telephony and virtualization.

To understand how to get “Lync Ready,” join Perficient’s Microsoft Certified Masters Jason Sloan and Keenan Crockett on Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 1 p.m. CT for a webinar, How to Plan for a Lync Deployment on a Global Scale. They’ll cover topics like high-level server and pool design and placement, importance of the edge servers, the hardware vs. virtualized debate, and ultimately a high-level understanding of the impact Lync has on your network. Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 – Understanding Archiving in Lync Online

Understanding the archiving feature in Lync Online can be a bit confusing. Unlike an on-premises installation of Lync Server 2013, there is no option for storing archived data in SQL and thus the only option is integration with Microsoft Exchange.

Office 365 - Understanding Archiving in Lync OnlineWhile having only one option might sound like this should be easier to understand, a Lync Online user’s mailbox can fall into a number of categories depending on whether the mailbox is located on-premises or in Exchange Online. If the mailbox is located in the cloud, the mailbox licensing and archiving settings become relevant to its ability to retain Lync Online archive data.

Complicating the situation is that several articles and even Lync Online policies refer to “Conversation History” as “Archiving” when in fact they are completely separate concepts. With this article, I hope to clear up some of this confusion. Read the rest of this post »

Yammer’s Keyboard Shortcuts

Did you know that you can use Yammer pretty much without even touching your mouse? Yammer, first and foremost, is focused on bettering the user experience and making it more friendly to more people. That’s why there are several keyboard shortcuts to help you delete messages, like posts, and even switch between pages, all without taking your hands off of your keyboard.  To see a list of all Yammer’s shortcuts, simply hold shift and press the question mark button on any Yammer page. As pictured below, a list of all of Yammer’s keyboard shortcuts shows up.

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How many Personal sites do I have in my O365 tenant?

Cloud UserPersonal sites (formerly known as My Sites) are provisioned on demand in Office 365. Only when the user first clicks e.g. their OneDrive link in the suite bar is their personal site actually provisioned. This was a prudent architectural decision on Microsoft’s part to not provision space until it is actually needed. Anybody who managed pre-provisioned personal sites on premises will know that this can be unnecessarily expensive, especially when you have a very large number of users.

With this approach it is sometimes useful to know how many users have already provisioned their personal site, so as to get a measure of adoption.

Individually by User Profile

We can navigate to the ‘Manage User Profiles’ link and find this out individually for each user. When the user has a personal site we can click the drop down option to ‘Manage Personal Site’ and we are taken to the site settings.

Mange Personal Site

When the user does not have a personal site, a message is displayed saying they don’t have one.

PersonalSiteNotYetCreated

 O365 Reports 

For gathering a total count, there is a report under:

Admin > Office 365 > Reports > OneDrive for Business sites deployed

OneDriveSitesDeployed

 

Use Search to report on Personal Sites

We can also use Search to find all the personal sites e.g.

Path:https://chrishines-my.sharepoint.com AND contentclass:STS_Site

This will get all the personal sites under the My Site application (chrishines-my.sharepoint.com). The query will naturally return only one page of results at a time. However, we can use the search REST API to get creative and return large pages (maximum 500) and iterate through all pages to get a count. The REST API call would look like something like this:

http://chrishines.sharepoint.com/_api/search/query?querytext=’Path:https:%2f%2fchrishines-my.sharepoint.com+AND+contentclass:STS_Site’&trimduplicates=false&startrow=4500&rowlimit=500

This particular request will get all the personal sites from count 4,500 – 5,000. In my case this returned 239 results telling me that 4,739 personal sites had been created thus far.

You may be comfortable writing REST API calls to achieve this. Alternatively, I would highly recommend using the SharePoint 2013 Search tool to help out.

https://sp2013searchtool.codeplex.com

Remember to set trimduplicates=false as identification of duplicates can cause a lot of confusion with this type of query.

How Secure is Your Cloud? – Introduction to Office 365 Security

Who owns the data we store in your service? Will you use our data to build advertising products? Do you offer privacy controls in your service? Do we have visibility to know where our data is stored? Can we get our data out of your service if we decide to leave?

These questions are top of mind for any organization that is considering Office 365. Luckily for you, Microsoft publishes the Office 365 Trust Center to answer those and many more questions about security on the Office 365 service.

Office 365Microsoft has 4 core tenants for its approach to earning and maintaining your trust:

1. Built-in Security

  • Service-level security through defense-in-depth
  • Customer controls within the service
  • Security hardening and operational best practices

At the service level, Office 365 uses the defense-in-depth approach to provide physical, logical, and data layers of security features and operational best practices. In addition, Office 365 gives you enterprise-grade, user and admin controls to further secure your environment.

Physical Security – 24-hour monitoring of data centers, Multi-factor authentication, including biometric scanning for data center access, Internal data center network is segregated from the external network, Role separation renders location of specific customer data unintelligible to the personnel that have physical access, Faulty drives and hardware are demagnetized and destroyed

Logical Security – Lock box processes for strictly supervised escalation process greatly limits human access to your data, Servers run only processes on whitelist, Read the rest of this post »

Office 365 – Dynamic Distribution Groups in Exchange Hybrid

When running in an Exchange Hybrid configuration, DirSync/AADSync takes care of maintaining a consistent Global Address List (GAL) for both on-premises and cloud users. The one exception is with regards to Dynamic Distribution Groups; these objects need special care to ensure that the recipient filters produce the desired results and for the objects to show up in the cloud GAL.
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Upcoming Webinar: Governance and Yammer, Moving Beyond SharePoint

Enterprise social networks require some level of governance to operate most effectively. On one side of the equation, there is truth in the fact that a social network is most effective when users are allowed to communicate freely, and without restrictive policies. At the same time, there are some rules that must be enforced and adhered to – even more so for those of us in highly regulated industries. Yammer-logo

As my colleague Rich Wood so aptly wrote in a post on ViewDo Labs’ enterprise social blog, “Governance has a reputation in enterprise social for being kind of a dirty word.” Without a doubt, it’s a slippery slope – the more restrictive your governance policies, the less likely you are to see users collaborating naturally and often.

And when you’re so used to thinking of “governance” in a SharePoint context, it can be difficult to understand how to govern a Yammer network properly while still encouraging user engagement. The tools in Yammer might seem light compared to SharePoint, and they are – for good reason.

Governance options within Yammer include usage policies (which Rich discusses at length in the aforementioned ViewDo Labs’ post), password policies, group administration, keyword monitoring, and directory synchronization and single sign on integration, among others.

So, how exactly do you plan for governance in Yammer while still working like a network? Join us on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 to find out. During the webinar, Rich Wood, National Director of Modern Applications at Perficient and frequent speaker on all things Yammer, will help you understand how to govern an enterprise social network.  He’ll first consider the philosophical differences of governance in SharePoint and Yammer, and why sometimes less is actually more. Rich will then look at the various features and functions that Yammer provides for governing users and content, and conclude with audience Q&A as time permits.

You can also hear what Rich is talking about on Twitter @richOthewood.

To register for the webinar, click here.
Planning for Governance in Yammer While Working Like a Network
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
1:00 p.m. CT

 

Microsoft Azure SharePoint Architectures

Are you interested in cloud services, but aren’t quite ready to move all your data to a public, multi-tenant environment? Do you have a development or test environment that is costing you too much money to create/migrate/upgrade/maintain? Do you have a need to implement Disaster Recovery for your on premises SharePoint deployment?

You may be interested to know that Microsoft Azure IaaS (infrastructure as a service) provides many different hosted SharePoint options. Azure is a good environment for hosting a SharePoint Server solution. In most cases, we recommend Office 365, but a SharePoint Server farm hosted in Azure can be a good option for specific solutions.microsoft-azure-logo_11368901

Let’s have a look at a few examples and why they might be a good fit for Azure:

1. Development and test environments

Dev and test environments can be costly. They require hardware resources that your infrastructure team must manage and maintain. They also require human time in configuring, updating, and patching those servers. With Microsoft Azure, it’s easy to create and manage Dev and Test environments that can be scaled, easily updated, and deleted/recreated if necessary. Read the rest of this post »