Demystifying Hybrid Free/Busy: what are the moving parts?

Hybrid Free/Busy is one of those things that many people do not fully understand. If everything works well, the complexity is hidden from view and people working in various parts of organization can seamlessly work together. But if things go wrong… you will appreciate deeper understanding of what makes it work. This is why we wanted to create the blog post series on the subject.

In this article, we will discuss how Free/Busy works in an Exchange Hybrid configuration. In next blog post, you will learn what are the most common problems along with how we go about diagnosing those (often) complex issues.

So, what is Free/Busy? Free/Busy is a feature that allows you to see when others are free (their calendar shows availability), busy (their calendar shows them as busy), or even Out of Office, or Something Else (tentative or working away) so that you can find an appropriate time for your meetings. Calling it all “Free/Busy/OOF/Something-Else” didn’t sound so cool to marketing hence “Free/Busy”. In a Hybrid deployment, we usually have some mailboxes in Exchange On-Premises and some mailboxes in Exchange Online (users are in different premises) and this has to work there too. Continue reading

Create an Office 365 Backup Policy

backup-cloud-button.jpgDon’t get stumped by a request to recover deleted email messages in Office 365. Know what Microsoft offers, and plan ahead to stop mailbox content from performing a disappearing act.

Some Office 365 adopters assume a move to Microsoft’s cloud comes with automatic data protection. But administrators must prepare backups or find out the hard way when messages and other important material are lost — with no chance of recovery. Continue reading

Security and compliance in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is built on the Office 365 hyper-scale, enterprise-grade cloud, delivering the advanced security and compliance capabilities our customers expect.

Teams is Tier C-compliant at launch. This includes the following standards: ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SSAE16 SOC 1 and SOC 2, HIPAA, and EU Model Clauses (EUMC). Within the Microsoft compliance framework, Microsoft classifies Office 365 applications and services into four categories. Each category is defined by specific compliance commitments that must be met for an Office 365 service, or a related Microsoft service, to be listed in that category.

Services in compliance categories C and D that have industry-leading compliance commitments are enabled by default. Services in categories A and B come with controls to turn on or turn off these services for an entire organization. Details can be found in the Compliance Framework for Industry Standards and Regulations. Teams also supports Cloud Security Alliance compliance.

Teams also enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Files are stored in SharePoint and are backed by SharePoint encryption. Notes are stored in OneNote and are backed by OneNote encryption. Continue reading

What Does GDPR Mean For You & Office 365

By now you will have heard about the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will be coming into effect shortly. This was started by the European Commission in 2012 and finally generally agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council in December 2016. This new plan is to replace the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/ec.

Most companies have already adopted privacy processes and procedures consistent with the Directive, the GDPR contains a number of new protections for EU data subjects and threatens significant fines and penalties for non-compliant data controllers and processors once it comes into force in the spring of 2018. There are some core areas that are of great importance when trying to understand this new policy, as well as seeing how it fits into existing policies and also platforms that you may be using. Continue reading

Microsoft Recommending Non Expiring Passwords to O365 Customers

My Office 365 admin portal displayed a new recommendation when I logged in last week. Microsoft is recommending that user account passwords be set to never expire. My tenant is currently set to an expiry period of 90 days, whereas a newer tenant I was doing some testing with last month has defaulted to 730 days. I am not sure whether a tenant created today will default to 720 days or to non-expiring passwords.

This recommendation has so far appeared only in tenants that I have access to that are configured with First Release for everyone, and that aren’t enabled for directory synchronization. I imagine that the recommendation is being rolled out slowly.

The thought of non-expiring passwords might raise a few eyebrows in some organizations. For a long time the accepted position for passwords was to change them regularly. This thinking comes from a time when passwords were the single factor of authentication for most systems, with multi-factor authentication being relatively rare. Times have changed though, and recent research has concluded that requiring users to change their passwords regularly will usually lead to them:

  • choosing weaker passwords to begin with, because they don’t want to learn complex new passwords each time they are forced to change it
  • choosing new passwords that are only a minor variation of their previous password, e.g. Monday01 changes to Monday02

So what should we do if we aren’t requiring our users to regularly change their passwords? Continue reading

How to Secure Conversations and Data in Microsoft Teams

ms-teams.jpgWith the news at Microsoft Ignite that Teams is here to stay, and going to be the primary collaboration client in Office 365, it is going to be important for organisations to understand how to secure the data and conversations stored within Microsoft Teams.

Where is the data?

The first key thing to understand what types of data you are talking about, and where it is actually stored. Every “Team” is build on an Office 365 Group, and this is where the majority of the Team related data will be stored. Each Channel in the Team will provision a new folder in the Group’s Document Library, and this is where files shared in Group conversations will be stored. Each Group also has a Group Mailbox, and this is where conversations held within channels are stored.

However, users can also communicate directly via chat, and share files from this interface. In this instance, the conversations will be stored in the user’s mailbox, and the files they share will be stored in OneDrive.

That’s great, but what does this mean when it comes to compliance? Continue reading

Microsoft Cloud Services Useful Links

Microsoft Cloud

AUDIENCE : IT DECISION MAKERS, ARCHITECT, OPS.

Microsoft Azure

AUDIENCE : ARCHITECT, OPS, DEV.

Azure Tools

Azure Docs/Guides/Articles

Microsoft Office 365

AUDIENCE : IT DECISION MAKERS, ARCHITECT, OPS.

Capacity Planning

AUDIENCE : ARCHITECT, OPS.

iOS 11 and Exchange 2016/Online: Not Loving the Love

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 10.48.04

An Easy Upgrade to iOS 11

The excitement barely stopped as I upgraded my iPhone 7s Plus to iOS 11 soon after Apple released the upgrade on September 19. The good news is that the upgrade was fast and seamless, which I expected because the phone is recent and I do not use any old 32-bit apps. All my apps worked after the upgrade, including those that I use with Office 365 such as Outlook for iOS (including support for multi-factor authentication), Outlook Groups, Yammer, Teams, Office 365 Admin (Figure 1), and so on. Continue reading

Expand your collaboration with guest access in Microsoft Teams

Since Microsoft Teams became generally available six months ago, more than 125,000 organizations have discovered how teamwork comes to life in Teams. Today, Teams is getting even better with the rollout of guest access to all Office 365 commercial and education customers. Now Office 365 users can add people from outside their company to a team, so guests can participate in chats, join meetings, collaborate on documents, and more.

Guest access has been one of the top requested features for Teams among Office365 customers, and Micrsosoft have been working hard to get it right. They have designed guest access in Teams with three principles at the forefront: Continue reading