3 Secrets to Getting the Most Business Value from Office 365

3 Secrets to Getting the Most Business Value from Office 365

We just did an entire webinar on how to get the most value out of Office 365 — and we did it all without mentioning a single feature. Not one.

How on Earth is that possible?

For the same reasons every technology project, ever, succeeds or fails: it isn’t about the speeds, feeds or special features. It’s about achieving a business use case and bringing value to end-users. Features are just the details to be worked out after!

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Avoid Office 365 gotchas with these key considerations

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One C-level executive was so excited to get going on her company’s new Office 365 bundle, that she asked to be first on the list to adopt it.

Everything was going great until a week later when she started missing important calls and meetings. Uh oh… All of a sudden IT leaders were scrambling to figure out what went wrong.

Can you guess it?

In the rush to get her on the platform, IT failed to give the proper permissions to the executive’s assistant. As a result, all the meeting requests the assistant usually handled never got read.

Sounds obvious, but we’ve seen plenty of examples just like this one. Unfortunately, this story points to a much larger phenomenon. Too many businesses make the switch to Office 365 without thinking through all the key considerations that might get in the way of success — and it’s not just the end-user perspective like the example above. These are serious issues, from infrastructure, finances and security.

At a glance: key considerations to make before adopting Office 365

So what can be done? We discussed this at length in our latest webinar – which you can watch below.

Shared Responsibility:

In the chart below, everything on the left-hand side is Microsoft’s job with Office 365. The rest is up to you. As soon as “the copper leaves the building” it’s on you to ensure your business is properly set up.

Security and data are a major concern here. But so is how your business processes need to adapt to Microsoft’s ongoing software updates. Last year alone there were nearly 500 updates released — each one would have to be vetted to ensure your individual Office 365 implementation and processes would continue, unfettered.

office-365-shared-responsibility

Internal Silos

Traditional businesses split roles into silos, from your server to storage to networking, right up to applications, telephony, and security. But when you switch to Office 365, these roles are merged and sometimes completely off-loaded to Microsoft’s team.

IT leaders must consider how this impacts their teams, and make a plan to include existing team members in future plans to ensure their own success and avoid fighting and loss of productivity.

Infrastructure and the network

Your data center is no longer down the hall, it’s in another part of the country. This has a significant impact on your line of sight when issues arise.

Simultaneously, this puts a drastically increased importance on the strength of your network. It is now more important than ever that you can handle the bandwidth to support cloud, ensuring reliability, scalability and end-user satisfaction (i.e. speed.)

Data Considerations

Office 365 is often thought of simply a new way to license – when in reality it has enormous implications on your data and the infrastructure used to store and move it. This cannot be overlooked.

You need to think through such things as the size of mailboxes and detailed user permissions. Use the 3 W’s and an H approach: What data do we need to migrate, Who has access to it, Why are we moving it, and How will we move it?

Operational Challenges

It would be incredibly rare if you had an Office 365 veteran in-house already. Therefore it is extremely likely mistakes will be made in both the configuration and ongoing management of Office 365, causing you undue costs and wasting your time in the process.

Understanding the skills gaps, and the need for expert guidance upfront and perhaps on an ongoing basis are crucial questions to address from the start.

Want more details on the considerations, and how Softchoice’s Office 365 tools and managed services can help you? Watch the full webinar recording now or contact your representative today.

Important Notice about Certificate Expiration for Exchange 2013 Hybrid Customers

 Important Office 365 Certificate Update for Exchange 2013 with hybrid deployments

If you’re running Exchange 2013 and you’ve configured a hybrid deployment with Office 365, this post contains important information that might impact you. Please evaluate this information and take any necessary action before April 15, 2016.

On 19th February 2016, the Microsoft Exchange Team issued a technical advisory notice on the Exchange Team Blog.

On April 15 2016, the Office 365 TLS certificate will be renewed in the Office 365 datacenter. This certificate is used by Office 365 to provide TLS encryption between Office 365 and external SMTP servers. The new certificate, which will help improve the security of mail sent to and from Office 365, will be issued by a new Certificate Authority and it will have a new Issuer and Subject.

This change has the potential to stop hybrid mailflow between Office 365 and your on-premises Exchange servers if one of the following conditions applies to you:

  • Your on-premises Exchange servers are running Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 8 (CU8) or lower.
  • You’ve upgraded the Exchange 2013 servers that handle hybrid mailflow to Exchange 2013 CU9 or higher. However, since upgrading to CU9, you HAVE NOT re-run the Hybrid Configuration wizard.

If one of the previous conditions applies to your organization, hybrid mailflow between Office 365 and your organization will stop working after April 15, 2016.  This only affects hybrid mailflow. Regular mailflow and TLS encryption is NOT affected.

Solution:

1. Use Hybrid Configuration Wizard (HCW)

  • If you are running Exchange 2013 CU8 or lower, follow these instructions to update to the latest version of Exchange 2013
  • When you update Exchange 2013, download the new HCW and run the wizard (Instructions are here)

2. Manual Update (if #1 fails)

  • Open Exchange Management Shell and within each Exchange 2013 server (hybrid mail flow only), run the following commands:

$rc=Get-ReceiveConnector |where {$_.TlsDomainCapabilities -like “*<I>*”}
Set-ReceiveConnector -Identity $rc.Identity -TlsDomainCapabilities “mail.protection.outlook.com:AcceptCloudServicesMail

3. Let Softchoice help you

  • We have Microsoft Exchange experts who can assist you with this, by scheduling a short virtual engagement to walk through this update with you or perform it for you. This typically doesn’t take longer than 2 hours.
  • We also recommend to take this opportunity to do a broader assessment of your Office 365 Exchange Online and On Premise hybrid deployment. We call this a Health Analyzer service that is designed to audit your features and functions configurations. Based on the results of that check, we then will provide you with recommendations and best practices. This engagement will typically last a day to 3 days depending on the scale of your environment and is typically done remotely.
  • Download this to learn more about our Office 365 services.

Did Microsoft just enter the telephony game? Plus, everything else you need to know about Office 365 E5

Did Microsoft just enter the telephony game? Plus, everything else you need to know about Office 365 E5

Enterprises now have access to the new Office 365 E5 Suite, Microsoft’s most comprehensive set of productivity, collaboration, analytics, security and compliance capabilities, of any Office 365 plan ever.

And while the premium SKU – which became available December 1, 2015 – brings with it some impressive new features, it’s the attractive price tag and new communications services that are causing the biggest waves. In E5, Microsoft is rolling out Cloud PBX and PSTN Conferencing services, designed to eliminate the need for legacy telephony systems and third party conferencing providers.

Coming in at $35 for the standard E5 plan, Microsoft estimates it costs just one-third of what enterprises are already paying for all the combined services.

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Why you should do more than just licensing with Office 365

Why you should do more than just licensing with Office 365

This is going to sound like a dumb question, but is Office 365 a cloud productivity solution? Or simply an easier way to license Microsoft apps across the enterprise?

Take a look around and the answer isn’t quite so clear.

While using the Office cloud suite has been shown to unlock a more connected, collaborative and efficient business, there is evidence that many organizations are simply not using it that way. Instead, they’ve bought Office 365 simply to take advantage of a more simplified licensing solution.

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How to prepare for Office 365 outages

How to prepare for Office 365 outages

Failing to plan for a cloud service outage is a plan to fail.

And with worker productivity and thousands of dollars on the line for every second of lost connectivity, this worst-case scenario is a costly one – unless the proper steps are taken upfront.

This is one topic top of mind with organizations, especially if you are running on Office 365. So what can they do to prevent and mitigate the risk of downtimes?

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