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Think Office 365 is a Maintenance-Free Environment? Not So Fast …
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Think Office 365 is a Maintenance-Free Environment? Not So Fast …

by Guest AuthorOctober 9, 2013

Guest Post by Chris Pyle, Champion Solutions Group

So you’ve made the move to Office 365. Great!

You think you’ve gone from worrying about procuring exchange hardware and storage capacity, being concerned about email recovery plans, and having to keep up with the constant maintenance of your exchange server farm and the backing up your data, to relying on Office 365 to provide virtually anywhere-access to Microsoft tools.

Sounds pretty good, and we won’t blame you if you’re thinking that your move to the cloud has just afforded you a maintenance-free environment, but not so fast.

While the cost-savings and convenience it may seem like a no-brainer, what many administrators often forget is that the cloud itself doesn’t make email management any easier – there are still a ton of tasks that need to be done to ensure usability and security.

Indeed while moving mailboxes to the cloud may be efficient and provide cost savings, it doesn’t mean administration ends there. Not by any means.

Not to worry, for starters Office 365 admins looking for a faster and easier way to handle mail administration tasks have a number of tools at their disposal, such as our 365 Command by MessageOps. 365Command replaces the command line interface of Windows® PowerShell with a rich, HTML5 graphical user interface that is easy to navigate and makes quick work of changing mailbox settings, monitoring usage and reporting (and did we say you don’t need to know PowerShell?).

From our users who manage about 1 million mail boxes we see the most effective 365 administrators break down maintenance and tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly buckets. Breaking down tasks this way simplifies work-flow, and the best part is that this can be easily implemented into your routine and should heighten the value and success utilizing Office 365.

Here are best practices for getting started:

Daily: Mailbox Administrators are constantly responding to any addition, change, and removal requests for their Office365 accounts. The most common are daily tasks that are quickly resolved, for example “forgot my password”, “need access to folder X”, “executive Y is on maternity leave, can you forward her files”, and so on:

  1. Modifying Passwords

  2. Modifying Folder Permissions

  3. Mailbox Forwarding

  4. Creating Single and Shared Mailboxes

Weekly: Weekly task groupings are geared toward helping Administrators keep a watchful eye on growth and scalability, security, speed and access. For example, checking for new devices that are being added to mailboxes, comparing them from previous weeks, and verifying that the user did indeed add a new device, and not incurring a potential risk of theft or fraud:

  1. Review Top Mailbox Growth by Size

  2. Review Office 365 Audit Logs

  3. Review Mobile Security

  4. Review Shared Mailbox Growth- (shared mailboxes only have 10GB limit!)

  5. Review the exact location of their servers and their mailboxes within the Microsoft data centers

Monthly: OK, now you’re cooking with gasoline — with those annoying daily tasks and cumbersome weekly tasks out of the way, top-level Administrators turn their full attention to security and access, which we can never have a lapse in attention:

  1. They run reports and lists of all users last login date. They are checking for people who may no longer be employed with the company, thus eliminating the need for that mailbox and its associated cost from Microsoft. Or if there is limited use, they could move the end user to a less expensive Office 365 SKU, again reducing their overall O365 costs.

  2. From a security standpoint, they are running reports to see who is forwarding their mailboxes to external mailboxes, such as sending their email to their home email account (Gmail/Yahoo/ Hotmail, etc.)

  3. Review password strength and the passwords that are set to expire on a monthly basis, ensuring their mailboxes are safe and secure.

  4. Review mailbox permissions, and review who has Send As privileges in their organization. They are confirming with the end user that they allowed these people to have the ability to send email as them.

  5. Review which employees have Full Mailbox access privileges. They confirm with the end user that they do want those additional users to have full access to their mail and calendar.

Quarterly: See how easy this is now? You’ve cleared out the clutter, and made sure every box on the system is secure. You’ve taken the steps to keep the system running fast and true, with consistent access and performance across the enterprise. Now kick back, light a fat stogie and do some light clean up and maintenance:

  1. Group Clean Up, review all email groups to ensure they have active members, as well as review which groups have people in them that are no longer employed, or contractors that are no longer involved, which groups aren’t being utilized, etc.

  2. Review the Edit Permissions list.

  3. Review Non Password changes in 90 days.

Conclusion

Just because you’ve moved to the cloud it doesn’t mean management and maintenance of your mail boxes stops there. Many of these best-practices would require the knowledge of PowerShell, but who wants to deal with that? Save yourself lots of trouble and find a tool that will manage these activities, streamline your work-flow and jump-start your productivity.

Chris Pyle headshot

Christopher Pyle is President & CEO for Champion Solutions Group. He is also an active member of Vistage International, an executive leadership organization, and is a Distinguished Guest Lecturer at Florida Atlantic University’s Executive Forum Lecture Series.
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AvePoint’s DocAve 6 Service Pack 2 Enhances SharePoint, Office 365 Support
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AvePoint’s DocAve 6 Service Pack 2 Enhances SharePoint, Office 365 Support

by RichardFebruary 20, 2013

AvePoint today announced the general availability of DocAve 6 Service Pack (SP) 2, the next generation of the management platform for SharePoint governance, with expanded SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 support.

Designed to increase business productivity without sacrificing on security and compliance, DocAve 6 SP2 will support the migration, protection, and administration of data in your SharePoint 2013 environment, whether it’s on-premises, in the cloud, or a hybrid deployment. DocAve 6 SP2 supports migration into the latest online or on-premises SharePoint release from a variety of legacy sources, including previous versions of SharePoint, file shares, EMC Documentum, Lotus Notes, and Open Text (Livelink).

Making the move to SharePoint 2013 is just the beginning. DocAve 6 SP2 extends SharePoint’s native capabilities, enabling application development, scalable storage, compliance and records management, and geo-distributed collaboration with confidence. New SharePoint capabilities such as business intelligence, eDiscovery, mobile device support, and social computing are also focuses of DocAve 6 SP2, as AvePoint continues its quest to enable customers to take advantage of the latest platform releases that Microsoft has to offer.

“As with each previous release, AvePoint is focused on ensuring that our more than 10,000 customers worldwide have all of the tools necessary to realize the full potential of Microsoft SharePoint 2013,” said George Petrou, Chief Technology Officer at AvePoint. “The landscape of business collaboration is ever-changing, and now more than ever organizations need a trusted solution to help them overcome any challenges that may arise. With DocAve 6 SP2, our customers can remove the roadblocks to enterprise-wide collaboration.”

DocAve 6 is built upon all Microsoft technologies and standards, including .NET, WCF, and Silverlight, utilizing only fully supported Microsoft methodologies and APIs. With robust protection, management, optimization, integration, compliance, reporting, and migration capabilities for SharePoint, DocAve is the enterprise-class management platform for SharePoint governance.

DocAve 6 SP2 is generally available to customers today, February 20. For more information about all of the new features and functionality in DocAve 6 SP2, please visit http://www.avepoint.com/docave6/.

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Swivel Secure launches in North America
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Swivel Secure launches in North America

by RichardNovember 7, 2012

Swivel Secure, a provider of tokenless authentication technology that is capable of securing Microsoft Office 365 as well as other cloud and virtual private network (VPN) remote access solutions, announced its expansion into North America and the opening of its first office in Seattle, Washington.

Swivel Secure is a UK network security solutions provider that has pioneered the development of tokenless, multi-factor authentication technology. The Swivel authentication platform, first launched in 2003, is now used in over 35 countries by governments and global enterprises in a range of sectors including healthcare, pharmaceuticals and logistics as well as in hundreds of smaller businesses around the world.

Swivel’s strategic entry into North America marks the launch of an aggressive channel expansion programme targeting value added resellers (VARs) in the Washington State area and beyond.

(more…)

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Mimecast: Email Regulation Issues Leaving Businesses Confused
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Mimecast: Email Regulation Issues Leaving Businesses Confused

by RichardOctober 4, 2012

Corporate email archiving and retention policies are muddled and unclear, with many businesses leaving themselves exposed to potential litigation or compliance issues, according to new research launched today by Mimecast®, the leading supplier of cloud-based email archiving, security and continuity for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365.

The research, which surveyed IT managers on their organizations’ email policies and archiving practices, found that just 20 percent of businesses (23 percent globally) retain archived email for three years or more, with one in four businesses (25 percent U.S.; 26 percent globally) admitting that they do not have a clear policy on retaining email at all.

Key findings:

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Mimecast Gets $62 Million for Email Archiving
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Mimecast Gets $62 Million for Email Archiving

by RichardSeptember 27, 2012

Mimecast, a provider of cloud-based email archiving, security and continuity for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365, has today announced that it has secured $62.15 million in Series C funding led by Global Private Equity Firm Insight Venture Partners, with existing investors Dawn Capital also participating. Mimecast plans to use the funding to accelerate the development and deployment of new technology, and to support plans for rapid expansion in the U.S. market.

Founded in the U.K. in 2003 by Peter Bauer (CEO) and Neil Murray (CTO), Mimecast has grown rapidly, with over 50 percent year on year revenue growth recorded in six of the past nine years. Today, the Company has over 6,000 customers globally – including 70 percent of the U.K.’s top 100 law firms – and over 1.5 million users worldwide.

In addition to growing its existing business within the European, American and South African markets, Mimecast intends to use the investment to drive innovations in corporate email. The Company’s technology has already played an instrumental role in changing the way businesses deploy email; leading the transition from fragmented LAN-based infrastructures to a single platform cloud solution, Unified Email Management (UEM). Mimecast will now focus on continuing this evolution, using its Software-as-a-Service technology to create an Information Banking platform that allows businesses to unlock the inherent value stored within corporate email.

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Cloud Competition: Microsoft Cuts Prices, Adds Platform
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Cloud Competition: Microsoft Cuts Prices, Adds Platform

by Guest AuthorMay 15, 2012

Guest Post by Sharon Shapiro of Cloud Sherpas

Although it only entered the cloud computing market in July 2011, Microsoft has already made a name for itself with Office 365, its hybrid cloud solution available to businesses.  But despite its initial climb, Microsoft has yet to catch up to Google when it comes to cloud computing.

Google has worked as a cloud service provider, with its fully-based cloud solution Google Apps, since 2006.  Google offers customers four different cloud computing platforms (business, education, government, and non-profit) and a 99.9% uptime guarantee, including service and updates, that it regularly exceeds.  In contrast, Office 365 is currently available only for businesses and has had issues meeting its promised 99.9% uptime, which does not include service and updates.  Google Apps pricing is also much lower than Office 365 pricing, with the highest priced Google Apps platform (business) operating at $50/user/year and the lowest Office 365 plan operating at $72/user/year.  But a lot of that is about to change as Microsoft has announced news that it hopes will bridge the gap.

First, Microsoft recently announced that it will be cutting the price of Office 365 by up to 20 percent.  Microsoft says this is because it now costs less to run the hybrid cloud platform than it did when Microsoft first introduced Office 365 last July.

Second, Microsoft says it will soon add a new plan – Office 365 for Education – which will widen the customer base.  The release of Office 365 is clearly an attempt to compete with the success of Google Apps’ free education platform.

Although lowering its prices and adding a plan for educational institutions are steps toward competing with Google Apps, Microsoft still has a big gap to close.  Google Apps will still boast more platforms (government and non-profit, in addition to the free version that many people use in their personal lives) and five more years of experience in the cloud.  With this greater experience, comes enhanced cloud service, as Google Apps is a fully cloud-based solution that offers its users complete universal access and proven reliability.  In contrast, it is important to remember that Office 365 is still a hybrid cloud solution that requires on premises servers and that, when it comes to document creating capabilities, works best in conjunction with Microsoft Office installed on a desktop.  Both of these necessities limit the mobile access that Office 365 users can enjoy.   Additionally, Office 365 has already been plagued with a number of outages that have resulted in significant amounts of downtime for users across the world.

These key differences between Office 365 and Google Apps may be part of the reason why the governments of major cities, like Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, trust Google Apps for their communication needs.

While Microsoft’s price cut and addition of an education plan will definitely improve the Office 365 cloud suite, these changes will certainly not put Microsoft and Google on an even playing field, as Google still boasts more authority, reliability, and a wider range of services.

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Office 365 Added to MasterCard Easy Savings Program
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Office 365 Added to MasterCard Easy Savings Program

by RichardDecember 20, 2011

MasterCard Worldwide and Microsoft Corp. today extended their ongoing commitment to deliver increased technology and payment services to small businesses, helping them succeed in today’s challenging business environment.

Through this new strategic initiative, MasterCard becomes a member of the partner program for Office 365, a cloud productivity service that gives small businesses access to e-mail, documents, contacts and calendars from virtually anywhere on almost any device, all backed by robust security, reliability and control. MasterCard will provide a 10 percent savings to eligible small business cardholders when they purchase Office 365 through the MasterCard Easy Savings® Program. The MasterCard Easy Savings Program provides eligible small business cardholders with savings on some of the most popular services that help them run their businesses. For terms and conditions, go to easysavings.com.

“Our goal is to help small businesses thrive, and Office 365 can help them do just that by providing technology that is trusted by many of the most successful businesses in the world,” said Giovanni Mezgec, GM of MSFT Office/Office 365. “Partners like MasterCard bring Office 365 to millions more small businesses and help them reduce costs while gaining access to critical business services.”

“MasterCard is committed to providing small businesses with innovative products and services that improve efficiencies and help them achieve their full potential,” said Eugene De Silva, senior business leader, Small and Medium Enterprise Global Products, MasterCard Worldwide. “The strength of our knowledge, insights and offerings will continue to drive real value for small businesses in two specific areas that are core to their business needs – payments and technologies.”

This collaboration between Microsoft and MasterCard builds on a history of launching and testing new consumer and merchant solutions together, and represents our shared commitment to small businesses.

Most recently, on October 11, MasterCard and Microsoft, in partnership with Dell, announced Shwood Handcrafted Wooden Eyewear as the winner of the “America’s Favorite Small Business” contest. The contest, created to spotlight the success of small business owners, invited businesses with 25 or fewer employees to create a short video explaining why they should be America’s Favorite Small Business. As part of the prize package, Shwood has been featured in a web reality show.

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Jack Henry & Associates Offers Microsoft Productivity Software Via Subscription
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Jack Henry & Associates Offers Microsoft Productivity Software Via Subscription

by RichardJuly 20, 2011

Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., a provider of computer systems and electronic payment solutions primarily for financial services organizations, today announced that it has been selected by Microsoft Corp. as an Office 365 syndication partner. Office 365 is the cloud-based offering of the Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, and Microsoft Lync. Jack Henry & Associates, the 2010 Microsoft ISV Partner of the Year, was selected to be an Office 365 syndication partner in the financial services sector.

Office 365 is a cloud solution that delivers Microsoft’s productivity solutions over the Internet. Cloud-based delivery reduces the demands on financial institutions’ IT departments for in-house hardware configurations; software installations; and ongoing support, maintenance, administration; and capacity planning. Another key benefit of the Office 365 suite is the hosting of Microsoft Exchange, the world’s leading enterprise mail server. An intuitive control panel enables even non-technical associates to configure and customize Office 365.

The Office 365 pay-as-you-go model enables financial organizations of all asset sizes to provide their employees with world-class business tools, including reliable and familiar email services, for an established, per-seat monthly fee. Office 365 also benefits from Microsoft’s uptime service-level agreement which is backed by financial guarantees.

Mark Forbis, vice president and chief technology officer of Jack Henry & Associates said, “As the economy continues to recover, virtually every financial institution is looking for solutions that will help them reduce operating costs while improving operating efficiencies. Office 365 clearly supports these industry-wide goals. This solution enables diverse financial institutions to ‘outsource’ another aspect of their technical infrastructure while adding a strategic component to our ‘serverless strategy.’ Implementing Office 365 means financial institutions will have more time and resources to focus on the actual business of banking and on serving their customers. We’re very excited to be working with Microsoft to bring this new delivery model to financial organizations around the country.”

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LiveOffice to Demonstrate Advanced Archiving, Compliance and E-Discovery Integration with Microsoft Office 365
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LiveOffice to Demonstrate Advanced Archiving, Compliance and E-Discovery Integration with Microsoft Office 365

by RichardJuly 8, 2011

LiveOffice, global provider of cloud-based email archiving, email compliance, email discovery and email continuity solutions will be presenting two sessions at the 2011 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Los Angeles, July 10–14. Rocco Seyboth, director, archiving and compliance services at LiveOffice, and co-presenter Don MacNeil, founder and managing partner at Strategic SaaS, will speak on the topic of “Advanced Cloud Archiving, Compliance and Discovery with Microsoft Office 365.”

WPC guests can attend the 20-minute overview session on Monday, July 11 or the in-depth session, including a live demo, on Tuesday, July 12. A repeat of the overview session is being held on Wednesday, July 13. The sessions will cover LiveOffice’s unique integration with Microsoft Office 365.

LiveOffice is also exhibiting at WPC and can be found at Booth #1210.