BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), Microsoft’s Online Services offering has been somewhat successful over the last year or so, but it is about to become a much more robust platform. Over the next few months the “Wave 14” rollout will begin, with an aim to being completed by the end of 2010.
The biggest update is that the products will match the versions that are available to purchase “on-site”. That is, BPOS will offer Exchange 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 with near feature parity; removing one of the biggest hurdles to BPOS adoption…at least in my experience.
However, there are a number of other additions and improvements coming…
Identity and authentication has been an issue for many people, as this whole area is quite clunky & “un-modern”. As Program Manager Dan Kershaw says:
“the password policy isn’t configurable, you can’t use the same credentials used inside the company for single sign-on with BPOS so admins have to maintain separate credentials, there’s no two-factor authentication and no role-based administration”.
The fact that Microsoft recognise these limitations is great as that means they’re also working on fixes. The update will bring:
- Password Policy controls
- Five admin roles
- Federated ID’s w/ 2 factor authentication for single sign-on
- New Admin Console
- Service connector for managing Pcs & apps.
Powershell is definitely the way forward for 21st century system admins and, while it can be used for certain things with the current iteration of BPOS, more is coming soon.
I covered off some of the new features of Sharepoint Online 2010 in this post but now there is more information on what’s coming for Office Communications Online (OCO) over the next year.
Currently OCO gives IM and presence, along with peer to peer video, only within the customer’s domain. One of it’s biggest limitations is the inability to “federate” with on-premise OCS servers…this slightly puzzling block will be removed with Wave 14.
It’s said there will be “full integration” with Exchange & Sharepoint, both on-site and online.
This will lead to:
- using the calendars on Exchange/Sharepoint to determine someone’s IM availability
- voicemail in Exchange Online
- IM functionality in OWA 2010.
One of the biggest questions people have is whether Office Comms Online will have VOIP/Voice capabilities.
"it might be more than a year later," says Ziv Fass, Senior Product Manager in the OCS team "but it won’t be years".
From a reseller AND a customer point of view, the updated versions of Microsoft’s Online Services will be a real benefit to us all.