Office 365 Admin Access in Exchange Online


Office 365 Wave 15 (the current release) brought with it a new admin console, that consolidates and streamlines access to most requirements. That said, one of the common worries for IT managers is around loss of control when compared to administering their on-site infrastructure.

A great tip from @12knocksinna shows how to gain access to an extra level of features:

image

To access this, simply fire up OWA and then change /OWA to /ECP in the URL an hey presto –  you’re in!

I’m sure I remember these features being available in the beta release of Wave 15 – anyone else?!

See Tony’s full blog about it her:

http://m.windowsitpro.com/blog/wave-15-office-365-admin-interface-unifies-applications-lacks-some-functionality

Office 365 Cross Family Transitions


At the 2013 WorldWide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft announced plans to make it easier for customers to switch between Office 365 plans – this was greeted by smiles & cheers from many!

The initial introduction worked only for a few cases but the supported switching scenarios have now been expanded to include:

From To
Small Business MidSize Business
Enterprise E1
Enterprise E3
Enterprise E4
Small Business Premium MidSize Business
Enterprise E3
Enterprise E4
Exchange Online Plan 1 Enterprise E1
Enterprise E3
Enterprise E4
MidSize Business
Exchange Online Plan 2
Enterprise E3
Enterprise E4

Microsoft say:

“We continue to work on transition solutions for both additional scenarios (e.g., Exchange Online to Midsize Business) as well as for Open subscriptions and Government/Academic SKUs”

So there will continue to be additions and improvements around this – making Office 365 even more relevant for businesses everywhere.

BPOS Exchange Online Extra Storage discontinued


Just a quick post to cover the fact that the Exchange Online Extra Storage SKU (TRA-00018 ) for BPOS is being discontinued.

The default mailbox size is being increased from 5GB to 25GB and, as this is the maximum storage a user can have, there’s simply no need to have the extra storage SKU.

Importing Journaled data into Exchange Online


I was asked a great question via the comments on my blog, which was:

“Can BPOS accept journal data that has been exported from an existing Exchange system?”

With some help from the great people in the Worldwide BPOS teams at Microsoft I have an answer…and that answer is YES :-) It is possible to import already journaled data into Exchange Online, meaning you can easily move from Exchange Onsite to Exchange Online.

How to do it:

  1. There are a few caveats to this process:Data must be in .PST format only. Alternative file format types such as MIME, EML, MSG, or Lotus Notes are not accepted.
  2. You must submit historical data files on an external hard drive or USB memory stick.

This one is a little bit odd-I assume the reason you can’t transfer the data online is due to the sheer volume of data that may well be in question and so “sneakernetting” it would be quicker; but couldn’t DVD’s be used? I suppose that an External HD would mean the data could all be read in without any human intervention along the way, while a bunch of DVD’s would require someone to insert/eject them? (Feel free to add your thoughts).

You need to create a “mapping” file which for Exchange 2000, 2003 & 2007 can be done via:

1.Start a command prompt. (Click Start, click Run, type Cmd, and then click OK.)
2. At the command prompt, type or copy and paste the following and press enter:
C:\> csvde -l “mail,legacyExchangeDN” -r “(objectClass=user)” -f customer_name-map-file.csv

For Exchange 5.5:

1. Open the Microsoft® Exchange Server 5.5 administrative program and choose the option for a tools-directory export.
Historical Data File Format and Submission Procedures Microsoft Exchange Server
4
2. There will be an option to choose mailboxes, custom recipients, and distribution lists (select all).
3. Select the export file option and choose a destination for the file you are about to create. The file that is exported will be in a CSV format.
Please remember to include this file with your historical data. The file should be named: customer_name-map-file.csv

Once you have all that it’s loaded onto your External drive/USB stick, you need to package it up and physically mail it off to Microsoft with the following details:

Bulk Data Services Group

Attn: Betti Johnson (Ticket Number)

Alias: bettijo

3720 159th Ave NE

Redmond, WA 98052

Ph. 1 (425) 703-3237

I am checking to see if there is a separate address for EMEA (and indeed other regions) and also how much this service costs, as the pdf datasheet hints at a charge. *Update* I’ve just been told that the charge is $50 per GB (one time fee) for the import and that you must send the data to the US.

The datasheet can be found here.

Exchange Online SMTP Enabled


It’s now possible to serve SMTP clients via Exchange Online-meaning you can have mail originating outside the online environment. I’ve had a few people ask me about this and the use has always been so that automated applications can send mail via Exchange Online…such as an SQL server auto sending a report etc.

To connect the SMTP client to Exchange Online you’ll need to give it the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) which will be:

  • North America: Smtp.mail.microsoftonline.com
  • Europe: Smtp.mail.emea.microsoftonline.com
  • Asia Pacific: Smtp.mail.apac.microsoftonline.com

You’ll also need to use Port 587 and TLS (Transport Layer Security).

Full info can be found over at the Technet BPOSitive blog.

Yet another great new feature that serves to make Exchange Online and BPOS a great choice for companies of all kinds & sizes…

Microsoft BPOS New Features – August 2009


August sees yet more additions to the feature list of Microsoft Exchange Online-helping make it an even better choice for customers. This month sees:

SMTP Relay: This allows SMTP enabled applications to send emails via Exchange Online. I’ve been asked about this a few times now so it’s good to be able to say “yes” :-)

Journaling: Exchange Online emails can now be journaled, both to Exchange Hosted Archiving and other 3rd party solutions*. Journaling can be turned on by contact Support and opening a service request.

*It’s worth noting that MS do not support or certify any of the 3rd party offerings.

The MS Online blog can be found here.

Microsoft Exchange Online and Shared Folders


As previous visitors will probably have noticed, I’m quite a fan of Microsoft’s Online Services AKA Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). I spend a fair amount of my time talking to customers about how they can online services to better serve their business and how BPOS can fit their needs.

Something that everyone needs to be aware of is that the online versions of the products aren’t quite as fully featured as their regular, on-site relatives. This means there can be certain situations where the MS hosted version just isn’t a viable option…however MS are constantly working to give them parity with the on-site versions, but it takes time transferring them into a multi-tenant environment. Exchange Online is very nearly feature complete but the biggest missing feature is Public Folders…

What are Public Folders?

“Public folders provide an effective way to collect, organize, and share information with others in your organization. They are central, shared folders that anyone can view to share information and ideas. Public folders can contain any Outlook item type, such as messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, journal entries, notes, forms, files, and posts.”

We use them at work for a number of purposes but once common use is as a repository for licence certificates, agreement details etc that can be accessed by the software team, sales account managers, customers services dept etc-without there being any duplication. Different people have different permissions so us in the software team have full permissions while others have just read only access. Sure, we could do this with Sharepoint (and for some things we do) but as these documents are all emailed-it is, at the minute, easier to keep them within Outlook.

A good guide to Public Folders can be found here.

Other things that aren’t technically Public Folders tasks but are inextricably linked are:

E-Mail Delegates: Delegate access to your mailbox to another individual, or delegate access to particular data with particular privileges. For example, allow an administrative assistant to accept or create calendar appointments on behalf of a manager.

Send As: Allow someone else to send mail from your mailbox. Your name will appear on the sent from line. For example, allow an administrator to send e-mail as a user (not on behalf of).

Shared Mailbox: Provide a group of people common access to a specific mailbox. For example, allow a single support alias to be monitored by multiple users.

Up until a few days ago-these were all impossible to do with Exchange online and that was often a stumbling block in discussions with customers. As the beginning of that sentence suggests-this has now changed :-)

I was speaking to a customer last week who was looking for the Shared Mailbox functionality and, after a call with MS, I was able to determine that this feature will become available “this quarter” so by the end of September. This made the customer very happy :-)

Shared mailboxes and email delegates will be available as standard functionality whereas Send As will need to be enabled via a Support escalation request.

A great whitepaper on Public Folders and BPOS can be found here.

Exchange Online & Sharepoint Online:

While the lack of Public Folders can at first, seem like a big hurdle to adopting BPOS-in many cases using Sharepoint Online instead is as good if not better!

Scenario Description

Exchange public folders are frequently used to set up calendars, task lists, and contact lists for team or company-wide collaboration. People with appropriate permissions are able to view and edit the lists.

While the Shared Mailbox feature is the traditional way of doing this and, for many people, will continue to be-it can also be done with Sharepoint Online:

Benefits
  • SharePoint lists provide more contexts for the data, and more flexible ways of working with the data, including combining data from multiple lists and rolling up summaries for reporting.
  • Moderation workflows are built into SharePoint lists, so items can be optionally made visible only after they are approved.
  • Item-level version history can be optionally enabled to track changes to individual items in these lists.
  • Users can subscribe to alerts and feeds to have change notifications automatically sent to them.

There are many different ways of using Sharepoint Online as a replacement for Exchange Public Folders which are covered in the whitepaper here.

Microsoft Online Single Sign On Oddity


I’ve been working with MS Online (BPOS) for quite some months but it’s only now, with more and more customers looking into it for their environments that we’re seeing the odd little questions etc we didn’t anticipate.

This is one that came up today and, while it might be obvious to some of you, it probably won’t to others :-)

BPOS provides users with a Single Sign On (SSO) client that logs them into the online services when they log into Windows, thus removing the need for repeated entering of credentials. If you right click the SSO icon in the System tray-it will launch you right into the app…unless it’s Outlook Web Access. When you try and run OWA, it requires you to enter your username and password each time; the reasoning behind it is a lack of pass-through authorization for increased security.

The upshot is…if you use Exchange Online but don’t have Outlook-you can’t use the Single Sign On to access your email. Maybe not the most common request but I’ve already have it once so you  never know :P

Microsoft Online/BPOS Guide


I’ve been working with Microsoft for months on BPOS, their Software Plus Services offering and getting the word out to customers etc…helping them align their business decisions with MS Online and more. I think that MS Online Services are excellent and will be a real game changer-allowing end users to increase profitability while simultaneously reducing costs and streamlining processes…what more could you want?! :-)

I’ve put together a guide to MS Online Services (collectively called BPOS) over at:

http://richfrombechtle.wordpress.com/ms-onlinebpos/

which should answer most questions you might have. I’m constantly updating it as I discover/remember more info but please feel free to leave a comment if you’re question hasn’t been answered.

Microsoft BPOS Trials Announced


Today at Cebit, Microsoft announced the availability of trials of their Online Services-BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) in 19 countries (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom). This follows on from the US launch in November 2008.

BPOS is an online offering of some of Microsoft’s most popular software including Exchange Online, Sharepoint Online, Live Meeting Online and Office Communications Server Online, and it is something I am very excited about.

As a Microsoft Partner I envision that Microsoft Online Services will help more customers access the benefits of these MS technologies, particularly the smaller customers as they will benefit greatly from the lower costs, reduced/removed hardware and management costs and the ease of implementation. Having said that these are all attractive benefits to even the largest customer who can use them to increase productivity and reduce costs, something which is even more important in today’s economic climate!

A great example of this is the case study that MS released today of their work with GlaxoSmithKline and their adoption of MS Online Services. GSK are migrating 100,000 users from Lotus Notes over to MS Exchange Online with a number of users taking the “Deskless Worker SKU”-a new product that gives limited access to Exchange and/or Sharepoint for users who don’t need full access and is thus available at a reduced cost:

“The move to Microsoft Online Services will help GlaxoSmithKline cut operational costs by an estimated 30 percent and create a variable cost model that will provide increased flexibility in the future,” said Ingo Elfering, vice president of Information Technology Strategy, GlaxoSmithKline.

A blog post by GSK about why they swapped to BPOS can be found over at the MS Online Blog here. A great Q&A with the GSK CIO can be found here.

On a personal note, I’ve been trialling BPOS at work for a few months now and it is absolutely fantastic. It gives me a lot more freedom that a standard premise based solution as well as cutting down on hassle such as VPN clients etc. We’ve had great success talking to our customers about it and I think we, as an industry, will see a great take up of this new way to consume MS technology.