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Office 365 – Using Office ProPlus? Take Caution Upgrading To 2016

Office ProPlus has done a great job of getting many organizations in a position where they’re running a fully patched and current version of Microsoft Office. It’s a component of Office 365 that really brings great value to organizations that previously didn’t have a solid deployment or patching process for Office.

Quick Aside: If you’re still running Office 2010, mainstream support is up in October

While the current version of ProPlus is essentially Office 2013, there will come a time when Office ProPlus upgrades to Office 2016.

In the article below I’ll outline some of the reasons you’ll want to take some caution with this upgrade.
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Office 365 – Efficiently Connecting to Office 365 Via PowerShell

If you’re an administrator for Office 365, you’re likely very familiar with the fact that while some tasks can be performed in the portal, many need to be done via PowerShell. If you’ve managed to get this far in your IT life without using PowerShell, Office 365 is going to force you to learn it.

Even those that are savvy with PowerShell at times still do things in what I would consider a less than efficient manner. I’ve watched countless admins paste commands into the PowerShell window in order to connect to Office 365. They open up their OneNote or a Notepad file on the desktop every time they want to connect to Exchange Online and paste in the string of commands.

Below is an easier and more efficient way…
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Office 365 – A Deeper Look at the Microsoft “Send” App

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced a new Office 365 mobile app called “Send“. The idea behind the app is to be able to send quick and simple messages to other users via email.

The first question that came to mind was, “What problem is this app trying to solve?” My phone can already send emails, IMs and text messages, did we really need another option?

My thoughts then shifted to “How does this work?”, “What kind of security options are there?” and other questions that clients are bound to ask.

In the interest of peeking behind the scenes, I ran the app through Fiddler to see what the traffic looked like. Some thoughts based on the results are below…
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Azure Active Directory Reporting APIs Now Available

shutterstock_100605349 (2)One of the most common things we hear from our clients is their need to automatically access security related reports from Azure AD. With last week’s announcement from Microsoft about AAD Reporting APIs Public Preview, we now have that capability.

Azure AD already has a robust set of activity, security and audit reports, with some of the most useful provided within Azure AD Premium, and they can all easily be viewed within the Azure portal. With the new APIs, we can now programmatically access that data via “any tool or programming language which supports REST APIs with OAuth” and integrate it into a custom dashboard, Power BI/Excel, or your favorite SIEM solution.

The following reports can be accessed via the API:

  • AuditEvents
  • AccountProvisioningEvents
  • SignInsFromUnknownSourcesEvents
  • SignInsFromIPAddressesWithSuspiciousActivityEvents
  • SignInsFromMultipleGeographiesEvents
  • signInsAfterMultipleFailuresEvents
  • signInsFromPossiblyInfectedDevicesEvents (AAD Premium)
  • IrregularSignInActivityEvents (AAD Premium)
  • allUsersWithAnomalousSignInActivityEvents (AAD Premium)
  • CompromisedCredentialsEvent (AAD Premium)

Ready to get started? Check out this guide to Get Started with the Azure AD Reporting API.

MSFT US Partner & Industry Team Partner of the Year: Perficient!

Rich Figer quote with image

I am absolutely thrilled to share that Perficient has been named Microsoft EPG United States Partner and Industry Team Partner of the Year for 2015. This is a huge honor, and we are incredibly thankful to Microsoft, our customers and our partners for sharing in this recognition and working so closely with us this past year.

The newly created award recognizes Perficient for sweeping Microsoft’s regional Enterprise Platform Group (EPG) honors. In addition to the national award, Perficient was named Microsoft’s East Region National Solution Provider (NSP) Partner of the Year, Central Region NSP Partner of the Year and West Region NSP Partner of the Year.

From the press release:

“Perficient’s ability to deliver high-quality digital experiences, business optimization and industry solutions for our largest and most critical customers in the enterprise customer segment is what won them National Solution Provider Partner of the Year across East, Central and West regions in U.S. EPG,” said Rich Figer, Senior Director, U.S. Enterprise Partner Group Sales at Microsoft. “We are also honored to name Perficient the overall U.S. EPG Partner and Industry Team Partner of the Year in 2015 based on unanimous confidence across our partner sales executive teams in all three regions across the United States. They consistently deliver cloud-optimized solutions across our platforms and productivity services with complete customer and Microsoft sales executive satisfaction.”

Perficient has activated over 2.5 million Office 365 seats and has 26 Azure certified consultants, more than any other NSP.

“Microsoft’s enterprise offerings have grown increasingly cloud-based as companies move to adopt this innovative, efficient and secure technology,” said Mike Gersten, Vice President of Perficient’s Microsoft national business group. “Cloud computing lowers operating costs and provides agility and scalability options unavailable on limited legacy infrastructure. We are honored to receive these partner awards, which reflect the strength of Perficient’s Microsoft cloud consultation and delivery expertise at work across the country.”

While at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), it’s also been exciting to see the video highlighting how Perficient and Microsoft have worked together to empower our customers, and in this case, Partners In Health, to achieve more through technology. Dave Mayo, CIO at Partners In Health, spoke of the value of our partnership:

“Perficient’s proven track record in the health care industry, its Microsoft cloud services expertise, and its recognition as a top U.S. Microsoft partner all stood out prominently when we were looking at technology solutions providers,” said Dave Mayo, CIO of Partners In Health. “Thanks to our partnership with Perficient, we have adopted a consolidated, reliable platform for colleague interactions that enables us to more effectively serve the world’s most vulnerable. Perficient’s generosity and support of our efforts has earned our profound gratitude.”

Thanks to our entire team that helped to make this happen. What I love most about working here at Perficient is the people. Our team is second to none, and every single day, I’m amazed by the talent and passion they possess. Sweeping the nation with all three regional awards for Microsoft EPG PTU Partner of the Year is proof of their commitment to helping our customers scale operations and remain agile with Microsoft solutions. Well done, team! I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together in the coming year.

You can read the full news release here.

Office 365 – How to Handle Departed Users (Part 2 of 2)

As a result of a decision made by either the employee or the employer, users will inevitably leave your organization. Whether you call these user “separations”, “terminations” or “offboarding”, the impact to IT is the same: network access needs to be secured and the user’s data needs to be addressed.

When using cloud services such as Office 365, there are additional aspects to consider which will make your process different than in an on-premises scenario. There may be a licensing impact which can equate to costs and you are dependent upon another party (Microsoft) for handling the disposal of data.

In this two part series, I will cover some of the ways to handle Office 365 data for users that have left your organization. Part 1 of this series covered how to handle the user’s mailbox in Exchange Online. This article, part 2, will cover how to handle the user’s OneDrive for Business data.
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Nintex acquisition means tighter Salesforce integration with O365

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With the acquisition of Drawloop, we should expect to see additional capabilities added to Salesforce and Office 365 / SharePoint. In terms of Office 365 and SharePoint, Nintex is planning to add document generation (docGen) to the platform. And with SalesForce, we should see tighter coupling to the O365 space, and workflow and form automation capabilities. As a Top 10 paid app on the Salesforce AppExchange, Drawloop has consistent 5 star ratings and is a leader in the document generation category. More than 1,000 customers use Drawloop to streamline document creation and drive productivity.

From the news release:

Businesses rely on Drawloop to automate and standardize their document generation processes. Its LOOP Document Services solution, http://www.drawloop.com/solutions/salesforce-app/, utilizes existing structured and unstructured data to deliver the most commonly used sales and service documents, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint or PDF, and merges them with Salesforce data. This helps sales operations and sales and service professionals close deals, serve customers, and convert renewals more efficiently. As a result, companies achieve higher returns on their CRM investment by increasing adoption, improving data compliance and forecasting, and increasing deal visibility.

The company’s newly combined development team will immediately begin working to integrate Nintex’s platform which includes Nintex Workflow, Nintex Mobile, and Nintex Forms for SharePoint and Office 365, with Drawloop’s automated document generation capabilities. These combined offerings will be made available to SharePoint, Office 365, and Salesforce users in the future.

Aside from Perficient’s Microsoft team working closely with Nintex, we are also a Salesforce Platinum Cloud Alliance partner. The teams are excited to see how this acquisition plays out for both Salesforce and Office 365 / SharePoint.

You can review all the details of the announcement here.

Office 365 – Why Your UPN Should Match Your Primary SMTP Address

Since the early days of Office 365, the discussion of changing UPNs has been had between consultants and clients. The discussions range from “what is a UPN” to “this line-of-business application uses UPN for login, the application would need to be reinstalled and the vendor is no longer in business”.

During Office 365 deployments, I always try to follow the approach of minimizing change in the environment. However, there are some changes that are absolutely necessary and others that, while not absolutely necessary, will make your life easier down the road; this issue falls somewhere in between.

Below is some of the background around changing UPNs and why it should be strongly considered if possible.
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Office 365 – When to Consider a Third-Party Identity Provider

Office 365 offers several different identity options. Well known are the options to use “cloud identities” or directory synchronization from your on-premises Active Directory. For authentication, Microsoft offers the option to use “password hash sync” or Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) along with your on-premises Active Directory.

There is, however, another option when it comes to identity. There are several third-party identity providers (IdPs) that are validated for use with Office 365.

When does it make sense to use a third-party IdP?

What should you look for when considering one?
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New Microsoft Trend: “Intranet in a Box” Built on SharePoint

kid_in_box

If you walked the exhibit hall at last month’s Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago, you might have happened upon a conversation, or even a booth, touting the concept, “Intranet in a Box.” In fact, while attending Ignite, I recall talking about it with a colleague of mine, Rich Wood. Last week, he wrote an article over on CMSWire discussing the new trend.

Rich talks about how both inspiration – and confusion – came out of Ignite, as noted below:

Microsoft shared a lot about the future as Redmond sees it at last month’s Ignite conference. It’s a future that looks, by turns, both inspiring and somewhat confusing. When Microsoft peeks ahead into the space-time continuum, it sees the future of communication as Skype for Business, and the future of information discovery looking a good deal like Delve and other search-based applications.

The future of teamwork through this lens looks distinctly like Office 365 Groups. Except when it resembles Yammer… or maybe SharePoint. All three together in some sort of mashup? “Where the roadmap is heading,” we were told.

Interesting? Certainly.

Vague? Definitely.

Confusing? Absolutely — unless you find some good counsel to help make sense of how this can benefit your organization.

So, what’s to come? Rich sets us straight when it comes to SharePoint being synonymous with intranet solution (it’s NOT).

Let’s be clear: Microsoft has never claimed to offer an intranet solution. And it still isn’t. Sure, a whopping proportion of the world’s intranets are built on SharePoint every year — but Microsoft has always stopped short of calling SharePoint an intranet solution. That’s because it isn’t. SharePoint is a platform, not a packaged solution. We’ve been hearing that for years, because it’s true. But will it remain that way?

The times are definitely changing, and between Microsoft and its partners, Ignite showed us that more and more packaged solutions, using SharePoint as their baseline, are available to take some of the pain and cost out of intranet design and delivery. None of these solutions alone — these “Intranets in a box,” if you will — are being marketed as truly viable monolithic corporate intranet candidates, but they each address a specific business case that used to require moderate-to-heavy customization.

But times are changing. Business needs are changing, and Microsoft is not only getting on board with the boxed intranet trend – they are setting the agenda. Read the rest of this post »