The output from this planning activity is confirmation as to whether Exchange Online can meet the customer’s requirements together with an appreciation of what the customer would want the service to enable. The important thing to emphasize is the flexibility of the implementation – the customer does not have to commit to services that they do not feel they need.
Look at the customer’s requirements for Office 365 services and identify those factors that will indicate a good match between the customer’s needs and what the cloud-based service offers. This planning activity ensures that you have reached agreement with the customer about the service mix and roadmap for adoption, even if you are simply making suggestions for a possible implementation plan.
Planning Service – Exchange Online
Exchange Online is the service that is most likely to interest potential customers. Microsoft Exchange Online is a hosted messaging solution that delivers the capabilities of Microsoft Exchange Server as a cloud-based service. It gives users single sign-on access to email, calendar, contacts, and tasks from PCs, the web, and mobile devices.
Many customers become interested in Office 365 simply because of the fact that it enables them to outsource their email to an Exchange-based service that offers significant functionality improvements over other cloud-based and on-premises email systems. When planning Exchange Online and determining whether it is the right choice for your customers, you should address the following factors and plan around your customer’s responses:
- Architecture: Email organizations, domains, trusts, multi-forest considerations.
- Current email system: Type, version, features, support, mail clients.
- Features: Email, calendar, contacts, tasks, public folders.
- User requirements: Access, device support, message handing, rule configuration.
- Usability: Integration with other services, authentication, ease of connection.
- Reliability: Uptime guarantees, mailbox and message protection.
- Security: Authentication, authorization, delegation, proxy addresses.
- Manageability: Administration, ease of access, policy enforcement, user and group management.
- Regulatory: Compliance and eDiscovery.
Planning Service – Lync Online
Organizations are increasingly waking up to the benefits of communication services that go beyond email. The success of Skype as a collaboration tool and IP telephony application for personal and business use has enhanced the visibility of instant messaging and presence monitoring as a way for teams and individuals to collaborate across the world.
Microsoft Lync Online is a hosted communications service that connects people anytime and from virtually anywhere by delivering the collaboration capabilities of Lync Server 2013 as a cloud-based service. It gives users access to presence monitoring, instant messaging, audio and video calling, rich online meetings, and extensive web conferencing capabilities.
Because instant messaging and presence monitoring systems such as Lync Online tend not to be seen as mission-critical applications, planning tends to be less intense than with email. However, there are many planning factors to review when identifying whether a customer wants to implement Lync Online and to what extent. When discussing Lync Online and the suitability of the service with customers, you should review the following areas:
- Clients: Lync 2013 client, Lync Basic client, web client, Windows Store App, Lync for Mac 2011, mobile clients.
- Devices: Mobiles, tablets, conferencing devices.
- Features: IM, presence, contacts, audio, video, high definition (HD) video, media.
- Federation: Included and excluded domains, public IM connectivity, federating with Lync on-premises, federating with Office Communications Server.
- Meetings: Invitations, URLs, conference rooms, features.
- Security: Compliance and archiving.
- Interoperability: Exchange and SharePoint.
- Management: Administration, policies, console access.
Planning Service – SharePoint Online
Alongside email, document management and storage is another vital service that computer networks deliver to organizations. This facility was originally provided through file shares, which facilitated quick and simple access to all file types through a navigable folder structure. However, file shares are not well suited to a much more pertinent requirement for organizations, such as document management and team working.
Microsoft SharePoint Online enables an organization to create and manage custom team-focused and project-focused sites for document management and company-wide collaboration. It also improves group collaboration by providing organization-wide intranet portals to disseminate information and news across the company.
Documentation management systems do not enjoy the ubiquity of email, so when discussing the need for SharePoint online, you must prepare yourself for a range of possible reactions from total familiarity in organizations that have already deployed SharePoint on-premises to complete ignorance of the substantial benefits of this platform.
In many ways, SharePoint Online is easier to implement as a green field installation, because organizations that already have SharePoint Server installed on-premises may also be using enhancements that cannot readily be migrated to the online environment, such as full-trust code and other advanced customizations. In these situations, you may need to look at hybrid solutions. When planning SharePoint Online and whether it is the right choice for your customers, you should address the following factors and plan around your customers’ responses:
- Environment: Existing SharePoint deployment or third-party documentation management system.
- Scalability: Size, storage allocation, site collection limits, number of site collections, sub-site restrictions, external user numbers.
- Limitations: File upload, list and library limits, page limits, security limits, blocked file types.
- Developer support: Code trust levels, sandbox.
- External access: Security, delegation.
- Scalability: Creation, control, delegation.
- Mobile devices: Compatibility, features.
- SkyDrive Pro: Purpose, size limits.
- Hybrid: Integration with on-premises SharePoint.
- Management: Administration, policies, console access.
Planning Service – Office 365 ProPlus
Microsoft Office is the most popular desktop productivity suite in the world, not all Office customers have upgraded to the latest release. Office 365 ProPlus simplifies this upgrade process and provides additional applications that fully complement all the services in Office 365.
Office 365 ProPlus is a subscription service that provides users with the latest version of the Office desktop applications that they are already familiar with, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Office 365 ProPlus is included in most Office 365 plans, but is also available as an individual service.
Even though Office 365 ProPlus is a cloud-based service, these Office applications do not run in the cloud. Instead, users can download Office 365 ProPlus from the Office 365 portal and install it on their local computers. Microsoft uses Click-to-Run technology to make the download and installation of Office 365 ProPlus fast and simple.
Because Microsoft Office is such a widely-used productivity tool, you need to ensure that upgrading to the latest version will not cause disruption. However, the use of side-by-side installations with Click-to-Run technology significantly mitigates against this type of issue. When identifying if Office 365 ProPlus is suitable for your customers, you need to discuss the following areas:
- Features: Changes in Office 365 ProPlus, integration of SharePoint and Skydrive.
- Applications: Installation mix, training, support.
- Version: 32-or 64-bit, application compatibility.
- Installation: From Office 365, batch file, group policy, systems management, Windows Intune, deployment tool.
- Compliance and archiving: Spreadsheet inquire, spreadsheet compare, database compare.
- Security: Information Rights Management (IRM).
- Desktop Virtualization: Remote Desktop Infrastructure (RDI) only.
- Support: Roaming settings, telemetry, group policy.
Planning Service – Additional Services
Exchange Online Protection
Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is a cloud-based email filtering service that helps protect customers’ organizations against spam and malware, and includes features to safeguard organizations and users from messaging-policy violations. EOP can simplify the management of customers’ messaging environments and alleviate many of the burdens that come with maintaining on-premises hardware and software.
Office Web Apps
Microsoft Office Web Apps enable users to open Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents in a supported web browser. Office Web Apps make it easier to work and share Office files from anywhere with an Internet connection, from almost any device. All Microsoft Office 365 customers can view, create, and edit files with Office Web Apps.
Project Online provides equivalent functionality to an on-premises installation of Microsoft Project Server 2013, enabling organizations to carry out portfolio, program, and project management around the world. Project Online can also be supplied with Microsoft Project Pro for Office 365, which supports users who need full project management capabilities on the desktop and want to participate online from virtually anywhere on almost any device.
Stay tuned for the upcoming articles…