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

webinar-learn-how-to-deal-with-5-common-o365-technical-issues

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.

Security and legal concerns with Office 365

Security and legal concerns with Office 365

Security concerns about the public cloud are on the decline – but they continue to slow down adoption.

In fact, in a recent survey of hundreds of IT decision makers, security was the leading reason (48.5% of respondents) why businesses haven’t yet made the leap to the cloud.

why businesses haven't yet made the leap to the cloud

In a strange twist, though, that same study — conducted by a cloud migration expert SADA — showed that cloud security was also the key driver of its adoption (51.5%). So, simply put: cloud security is both scaring business away and attracting it en masse.

What gives? Office 365 Adoption Shift is slow-moving.

As the ZDnet writer Joe McKendrick puts it, public opinion about the public cloud is shifting, but it’s a trend that has been evolving — slowly — over the last few years.

The reality is that public cloud has its own security risks and concerns, just like anything. But when closely examined, most leaders would have to agree the cloud offers more security, better compliance options, far more control and transparency than the fears would have you believe.

This was the key topic of discussion in our latest webinar on Office 365, where we dug into the security and legal concerns present with adopting the cloud productivity suite.

Key Security Concerns with Office 365: 

The core concerns about Office 365 centre around security, access, visibility, and encryption, namely:

  • Is my content safe in your data centers?
  • Who has access to my organization’s content in the service?
  • What visibility do I have into the activity on my content in the service?
  • Can I encrypt everything so that it’s not possible for you (Microsoft) to have access to my content?

As we have shown in our expert-hosted webinar, which was attended by IT leaders from across North America, is that under each of those key categories, Office 365 delivers a safe, secure and business friendly set of tools and solutions.

  • Security: Office 365 offers the highest security on all levels, from content to the network to the admin and all things in between. On top of this, it offers continuous security best practices and services, like penetration testing and granular end-user controls over configurations.
  • Privacy: With it’s “privacy by design” ethos, no one is ever able to use your data in a way that you do not approve of. This means Microsoft builds no back doors and provides no unfettered governmental access to your data.
  • Compliance: Microsoft’s broad and thorough approach to compliance is a big positive and helps to relieve a major concern many businesses are struggling to overcome. With it, you meet out-of-the-box standards such ISO 27001, HIPAA, FedRAMP/FISMA and SOC. You also have access to deep analytical auditing and reporting and much control over how your data is handled and where.
  • Transparency: With the “Transparency Hub” you get up to date insight on how law enforcement and other agencies attempt to request data and what Microsoft provided. You can easily see where your data is stored geographically, too, at any given time.

Of course, this does not mean that you are completely “off the hook.” Security on the cloud is always a shared responsibility — and you are still charged with much of the access, admin, and connections with the cloud applications that could provide other security issues not handled by Microsoft.

For a much deeper dive into all of the topics above, watch the recorded webinar above.

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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A roadmap every CIO needs when launching Office 365

A Roadmap Every CIO Needs When Launching Office 365

Picture this: It’s your tenth birthday, and you’ve just unwrapped the gift you had begged for all year. A brand new Lego set of your favorite NASA space shuttle. You tear open the box, spread the blocks around the carpet, ready to build, and then you notice it… The instructions are missing.

The example above might seem like a trivial childhood drama – but IT leaders embarking on an Office 365 project are facing a similar sort of surprise. We’ve opened the box, so to speak, expecting huge productivity, simplicity and licensing gains, only to discover we’ve got no user-manual to this complicated, unknown new technology.

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