Office 365 Introduction – #guru365

Office365 has marginalised the gap between big business (enterprise) and the small to medium size businesses. For many this will increase the competitive advantage of smaller businesses, in my eyes, a fantastic opportunity to level the playing field.

SharePoint is a fantastic example of this playing field being levelled. Before the world of online SaaS – SharePoint was a huge investment, requiring dedicated servers, even farms to allow the kind of productivity that enterprise has been used to and invested in for years.

Even for enterprise there isn’t a stationary situation, Exchange Online allows enterprise to move their operationally important systems out into the cloud, allowing Microsoft to maintain and manage the hardware associated with these systems. This allows onsite technical staff to concentrate on the line of business applications and improve the productivity regard bespoke systems and settings on their infrastructure, leaving what could be seen as the mundane administration tasks of the Office infrastructure to Microsoft.

Exchange Online has been seen as one of the more popular components of Office365, one of the major advantages I see with regards to Exchange Online, you do not have the bottleneck of your broadband/internet connection. For Example, a on site hosted Exchange server requires an internet connection in order to send and recieve email, if this goes down you will need some sort of mail continuity service in order to queue mail until the internet is back online. Iin a situation where your emails are hosted in Exchange Online, you will simply need to connect a dongle or use a backup internet line to retrieve mail. Your mail will continue to flow inwards as the internet line of your business no longer effects the recieving of email to the server, just to your client, this makes a massive difference to administering and also the continuity is kind of built into Exchange Online, and even if that isn’t the case Microsoft financially back their uptime, which I’m very sure they will maintain through their excellent infrastructure.

Although setting up an Office 365 infrastructure from scratch is a fairly simple process, the migration to Office 365 can be a complicated process, depending on what you are currently using and how you wish to use Office 365. Don’t get me wrong, with reading and experience with Exchange it is fairly simple, but please don’t think this ‘Microsoft Service’ makes an Exchange Migration to the Cloud as simple as setting up an Outlook Profile. Hopefully my blog will shed some light on the ‘tricky’ parts of Office 365, ADFS appears to be one of the most commonly asked questions, which I have addressed in the ADFS section of my blog. If you do  have any further questions, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to delve into your particular question topic and answer with as much detail as I can.

Kind Regards

Steve Pothecary

Microsoft Office 365 for Small Business <25 Users (P-Plan)

Following on from the Product Comparison post I have decided to delve a little deeper into the individual offerings and offer some advice as to what would best suit your customer.

The Small Business offering is designed for companies with less than 25 users, although you may be restricted by user licenses, you are by no means restricted with the product.

The Small Business package has the following capabilities/benefits for the customer;

Email –

  • 25GB Mailbox and attachments up to 25MB
  • Shared Calendars
  • Works on Windows Phone, iPhone, Blackberry (BIS Only), and Android.

Websites –

  • Easy to build public facing website.
  • 10GB Site storage + a further 500MB per user (25x500MB = 12.5GB potentially extra)

Anywhere Access* – (an asterix is included here to highlight the fact it is an online service, so a internet connection to your chosen device is required and not a part of the agreement)

  • Share and collaborate on documents
  • Join online meetings and present from anywhere
  • Office Web Apps for light document editing

Security and Reliability –

  • Microsoft’s powerful security features help protect your data
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • Password protected team sites
  • Antivirus, anti-spam.

P-Plan

In order to receive the above benefits you will have the following as part of your P1-Plan

  • Exchange Email, Calendar, Contacts & Personal Archive
  • 25 GB Mailbox
  • ActiveSync Mobile Support
  • SharePoint Team Sites (One Site Collection, authenticated external user access enabled for up to 50 unique users/month.)
  • Office Web Apps
  • Simple Public Website (Includes ready-to-use templates, option to add custom domain.)
  • Online Access Databases
  • Lync Rich Client
  • Online Meetings (Limited to 50 participants)
  • Desktop Sharing
  • Multiparty IM & PC-to-PC Calling
  • Self-Help and Community Support.

For most small businesses this solution would be a great solution, however for a growing organisation you need to choose your plan carefully as the P-Plans do not have an upgrade path to move to an E-Plan (at the time of writing – remember it is a service and can change!). The service is still stored on the same datacentres as the E-Plan customers but you just have a few limitations as mentioned below;

  • Phone/Ticketed Support Not Included
  • Capacity Limited to 50 users (no movement above this limit)
  • Unable to Upgrade from P1 to E Plan
  • One SharePoint Site Collection
  • Cannot purchase additional SharePoint Storage
  • Directory Syncronisation is not allowed
  • Federation (Single Sign On) is not supported
  • Custom Domain Validation requires Microsoft Name Servers (A technical aspect on a plan designed to be ‘non technical’?)

Remote Connectivity Analyser

https://www.testexchangeconnectivity.com/

Remote Connectivity Analyzer is a free connectivity test platform for the cloud-based service. It tests the availability of the required Office 365 SSO service endpoint for expected behavior by acting on those services from the Internet.

Is simply the best way to check issues with Office365, and to be honest any Exchange platform.

It has many features as show in the below screenshots

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To verify that inbound mail, Exchange ActiveSync, Autodiscover, Outlook Anywhere (RPC/HTTP), and other connections are properly configured, you should consider using the Exchange Remote Connectivity Analyzer. The Remote Connectivity Analyzer is a Web-based tool that is designed to help you troubleshoot connectivity issues by testing your Exchange Online and on-premises configuration. You may want to become familiar at this tool in advance of your deployment to understand its capabilities and usage. For more information about the tool, see this TechNet article.

Additionally, if you already have ActiveSync, Outlook Anywhere, and Autodiscover enabled in your on-premises environment we highly recommend you run through the tests provided with the Remote Connectivity Analyzer to ensure your on-premises environment is functioning appropriately.

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