Toward the end of 2008, a bit more than ten years ago, I shut down my previous business on Cape Cod, shut down the old Microsoft Small Business Server 2003, and shut down a few other servers for the last time. Instead, I went to the cloud. Ironically, I became certified with Microsoft as a Small Business Specialist in mid-2008, the same year that I abandoned Small Business Server for myself.

To replace the email functionality of SBS 2003, I went to Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange, actually provided by a Canadian company, SherWeb, who is still very much in business and still a Gold Microsoft Partner. For only a few dollars (I think it was $10-12) a month, I had all the features of the on-premises server-based Exchange, as well as document storage in the cloud with SharePoint, which came with the subscription as part of the packaged bundle.

For my two line-of-business (LOB) IT management tools, I elected each of their cloud-based versions. Same with the phone system – the IP PBX was now placed in the cloud.

I kept running QuickBooks locally for some time, although the data file and the backup file were both stored in SharePoint. Inuit doesn’t recommend this, but I was solo at that point, so there was no sharing of the working QuickBooks file. Eventually, though, I moved to QuickBooks Online.

Microsoft Office 365 was officially launched in late June 2011. I stayed with Microsoft’s Hosted Exchange for about six months but then moved to this new platform in January of 2012. That was over 7 years ago.

Since then, I have been introducing Office 365 to my customers, and no one is left that isn’t subscribed to this cloud-based platform.

When I first started with Office 365, what is now OneDrive for Business was then called SkyDrive Pro. I can’t tell you what improvements I’ve seen since then. What an evolution that I’ve experienced first-hand.

And now I use Microsoft 365 Business, which is a bundle of Office 365 Business Premium, Windows 10 Pro, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). EMS is the umbrella for several Microsoft technologies, such as Intune for device management, Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, Azure AD, and Azure Information Protection. My subscription was a break-even upgrade from Office 365 Enterprise E3, which was also $20 per month.

I also have an Office 365 Enterprise E1 account for [email protected], which is more closely related to the Hosted Exchange account I had long ago with SherWeb. But with this Enterprise account, I can associate my Phone System and Calling Plan subscriptions. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s VoIP offering cannot be added to Microsoft 365 Business, but only available as an add-on to an E-level plan. I have to say that after using many VoIP systems in the past, I am very pleased with this Office 365 and Microsoft Teams-integrated phone system.

It’s been a long ride and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

 

Microsoft TeamsI posted an article yesterday about the two-year anniversary of Microsoft Teams. My guess was that there were well more than 400,000 organizations using Teams now. This morning, Microsoft posted the infographic above to prove my guess as correct – over 500,000 organizations are onboard with Microsoft Teams.

The graphic also shows that Microsoft Teams has grown to 181 markets using over 44 languages. And it states that 150 organizations have more than 10,000 active users under their respective tenants.

But the one statistic that I would speak to is the 91 of the Fortune 100 companies who are using Teams. And yes, it once again shows that Microsoft Teams has established a massive presence within the enterprise sector of business. But what about small to medium-sized businesses (SMB)?

If the SMB market can learn anything from the enterprise, it must that Microsoft Teams within the Modern Workplace is the new norm. Enterprises still represent a massive hulk when it comes to their ability to adapt to technological change, but smaller businesses are more agile. For example:

  • The nonprofit can now get Microsoft 365 Business for $5 per user per month, as well as they can obtain Office 365 Enterprise E1 licenses for $0. These $0 licenses enable peripheral individuals within the organization to remain involved with improved communications not only with Exchange-based email accounts, but by using Microsoft Teams chat and real-time conversations, one-to-one ad hoc meetings, and scheduled group meetings (such as board meetings). These peripheral members can also access SharePoint and OneDrive documents that pertain to their team within Teams, as well as they can create and store their own data with Office Online (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Teams).
  • Many small businesses are consulting organizations with individual consultants located across the US, as well as abroad. They often have little to no staff within their HQ location. But Microsoft Teams enables these associates to remain connected to the parent organization and all of its digital resources. Sales meetings can happen as scheduled events or new agents can be mentored by colleagues as if they were down the hall. And with Phone System and Calling Plan within Teams, they can use traditional IP desk phones or use their mobile devices as softphones with the Microsoft Teams mobile app for Android or iOS.

So it shouldn’t be considered that Microsoft Teams is only for enterprise – there are many ways that the SMB can leverage the power of the cloud.

If we have communicated and agreed upon the best Office 365 services plan for you going forward and the option is available below, then please choose the respective PURCHASE button. Otherwise, a customized invoice will be sent to you as it’s considered appropriate for the given scope of services to be provided. If we haven’t spoken yet, then please schedule a free 15-30 minute meeting to initiate a preliminary plan.

Professional Services – $120 Per Hour Pre-Paid

  • Hourly Remediation and Professional Consulting Services:
    • Per request and approved proposal.
    • Minimum one hour required to initiate Monthly HelpDesk.
    • Same rate for remote and onsite.
      • Minimum 1 hour for remote control.
      • Minimum 4 hours for on-site visit.

 

Complete Cloud Backup – $10 Per End-User Per Month ($100 Per Year)

  • One User License:
    • 1 year of cloud-to-cloud, unlimited backup with lightning-fast search and one-click restore of Office 365 data:
      • SharePoint, OneDrive, Exchange, Office 365 Groups, and Microsoft Teams.
        • Microsoft Teams conversations, calendar, files, and notebook.
    • Six daily snapshots.

Managed IT Services – $120 Per End-User Per Month

  • All-inclusive and proactive IT services (per user per month):
    • 24/7 remote included.
    • Vendor liaison and purchasing agent roles.
    • Network documentation.
    • Network health reporting.
    • Customer support ticketing portal and knowledge base.
    • Security hardening with best practices.
    • Microsoft 365 Business subscription included!
    • Complete Cloud Backup included.
    • One license for one user and *all* of their devices to enjoy on-demand support throughout the year.
    • Unlimited support incidents (tickets) per month.
    • Covers Windows 10 Pro, MacOS, iOS, Android, all Office 365 plans (software and services), and cloud-to-cloud backup offered by RIT.
    • Support of Line of Business (LOB) applications included.
      • Must have current maintenance or service plan
      • Must have proper & complete licensing for every user
    • Infrastructure ramp-up project required prior to start of agreement.
      • Computers and servers fully updated and running optimally
      • Printers under service plan
      • Mobile devices (phones and tablets) updated to recent model and current OS
        • Only iOS and Android
      • Internet service(s)
        • Two for failover and load-balancing
      • Local Area Network (wired and secured wireless)
        • Gigabit certification
        • Clean and orderly communications closet
        • Separate guest WiFi network
      • Billed as an hourly project under Professional Services
    • Ongoing training & coaching.
    • Servers and network-attached devices not included.

Documents and Mailbox Migration – $250 Per End-User One-Time Fee

  • One Seat – covers all of the following:
    • Automatically discover email environment and configure a migration plan that’s right for you.
    • Identify the impact of migrating your file server to SharePoint Online with Office 365.
    • Perform identity mapping by scanning SharePoint, Active Directory, and Azure Active Directory.
    • Monitor progress and output files into the Logs directory showing the summary and more detailed insights into the scenarios that could be impacted by migration.
    • Data automatically synced before, during and after migration cutover.
    • Full fidelity sync technology ensures no data loss on final data sync post-cutover.
    • Account provisioning and DNS updates take place during Migration Sync.
    • Desktop readiness and remediation:
      • Outlook configured to work with Office 365.
      • Local data moved as required.
      • User’s previous Outlook experience recreated as closely as possible post-migration.
    • Seat defined:
      • For billing purposes, any migrating top-level Public Folder or Mailbox (Individual, Shared, or Resource Room/Equipment) is considered a seat.

 

“Currently, according to Microsoft, more than half of all commercial (business) Office users are using Office 365 rather than standalone/perpetual Office. But during some point in the company’s fiscal 2019 (which kicks off on July 1, 2018), Microsoft is expecting two-thirds of its business Office customers will be using Office 365.“ – Mary Jo Foley  (10/10/2017)

Okay, so let’s just say that we remain just past the halfway point. Somewhere else I picked up another tidbit from Redmond VP, Brad Anderson, who told of Microsoft billing for more than 120 million Office 365 licenses (users) per month. Doing the math, when it hits the 2/3 mark, then there will be an additional 40 million people using Office 365 during this fiscal year topping out at 160 million licensed users per month.

Dollar amounts and corporate earnings aside, this is a massive demographic, especially in consideration of all the servers that will be retired, all the documents that will be uploaded, and all 40 million email accounts along with each account’s respective messages, contacts, calendars and tasks that will migrated from on-premise machines to data centers.

But with the new cloud platform brings new ways of getting things done. You’ll no longer save to the S:\ (shared) drive; instead you’ll save to a SharePoint library, that is, if you’re saving to a common repository of shared documents. Your own documents – those that you’re still getting ready to publish for the rest to view and modify – will be saved to your respective OneDrive, which is actually a hidden SharePoint document library itself.

And now that your original files sit in the cloud, they can be shared with a link, not by attachment to an email. When they’re shared in this manner, then multiple users can co-author the document simultaneously. No more passing around various versions of the same file. The real file gets modified right in front of you as you share it with colleagues.

Not much will change with email, except that you’ll likely spend less time in Outlook. Instead, you’ll be chatting away in Microsoft Teams, either by text in private or within a group chat scenario, perhaps while several are co-authoring a document and tossing ideas back and forth. And if the conversation dictates a meeting, then that can happen in an ad hoc private manner with up to 20 attendees or later on as a scheduled meeting. And the scheduled meeting can be audio only, or it can be a video meeting with up to 250 attendees.

“There is also an option for recordings to have automatic transcription, so that users can play back meeting recordings with closed captions and search for important discussion items in the transcript.” – Microsoft

And more than ever, we will work from anywhere. Teams meetings, for example, can be attended using your mobile device.

40 million more Office 365 users – that’s equivalent to the entire population of California.

“On August 17, 1908, the new Bank of Italy (now Bank of America) Headquarters at 552 Montgomery Street (San Francisco) was opened to the public. Here, on the first floor in an open area, A.P. Giannini had his office where all comers were invited to stop and chat about not only financial but family matters as well.” – US Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places.

In this same spirit, I kept my desk near the door when I had an office on Cape Cod. I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to have a steady stream of people dropping in to sit down and chat with me.

And now that I work solely as a remote consultant, I am opening a client-facing portal on an always-open basis in Microsoft Teams.

As Microsoft announced the free offering of Microsoft Teams yesterday, I feel that people are now unencumbered for the lack of this tool – Teams is free to download for desktop and mobile, and very simple to create an account in a matter of seconds.

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A recent study predicts that 42% of the global workforce will be mobile by 2020. I wonder if we aren’t already there.. Another finding says that the number will be 75% by 2025.

Who really wants to get up, get ready, and walk into an office by 9am or earlier? We can easily attend a 10am office meeting using Microsoft Teams, so we can remain at home or in a coffee shop using a laptop, tablet or even a phone to share our presence, our Office documents, and our enthusiasm with colleagues. And of course, we don’t even have to be in the same country as the other attendees. 

While in the meeting, we can easily share the document that we’d been creating over the weekend. Teams allows you to present your original document for others to view within the Teams interface and co-author or co-edit it there. While collaborating on this document, team members can exchange chat messages alongside the open document. Or better yet, collaborating members can start an impromptu video meeting, while other members of the team can join the meeting and participate by co-authoring the document. You can even record the meeting for later review.

So the future is here. Where you are is irrelevant. But how you’re able to interact is key.

In its July 2018 roundup   of Microsoft Teams news, they announced a new feature that I dismissed at first. “Visio in Teams”, I thought. “So what – it’s just read-only with Visio Online.” But this is *not* Visio Online. Or is it?

At the bottom of this article it says, “Viewing diagrams within Teams is free for most Office 365 customers  , but editing is only available for those with a Visio Online Plan 1 or Plan 2 subscription.”

I’ve searched through the articles for ‘co-authoring’, but all it says is “Team members can work together on diagrams through in-app conversations to provide feedback in real time.” But can we edit the same diagram with another member in real time? One article compares the new editing feature to other Office co-authoring capabilities within Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. “We’ve extended these editing capabilities to Visio files, enabling you to make simple changes to your diagrams without leaving the Teams app.

So does this mean we can also co-author as we would in Word? I think not. Oh, but wait…

On one page of Microsoft’s website it says, “Real-time co-authoring – Not available in Visio Online. Advanced reviewer features, such as merge conflicts and compare diagrams, are only available in the Visio desktop application. With Visio Online, you can view, add, or delete comments.”

But on the features page for Visio Online 2 (not Visio Online 1) it says, “Complete diagrams faster with multiple people working on the same diagram at the same time.”

And in order for members to see any changes, they have to refresh the diagram in Teams.

In order to perform with full functionality, we are advised to use the desktop version of Visio. For ‘almost desktop’ functionality, we can subscribe to Visio Online 2.

Update 07/07/2018: Direct from Microsoft: “At this point in time Visio Online does not support co-authoring inside Teams, irrespective of the license. But this is part of our roadmap and we are working to enable this in future.”

In the May 2018 results at the security lab of AV Comparatives  , Microsoft Windows Defender Antivirus performed very well. Often seen as a mediocre solution over the years, Microsoft’s solution is stepping to the plate.

But it isn’t just one solution. Microsoft’s answer has to be seen as a holistic approach as it integrates with Office 365 and its other defense layers as the company depicts here:

Physical security

  • 24-hour monitoring of datacenters.
  • Multi-factor authentication, including biometric scanning for datacenter access.
  • Internal datacenter network is segregated from the external network.
  • Role separation renders location of specific customer data unintelligible to the personnel that have physical access.
  • Faulty drives and hardware are demagnetized and destroyed.

Logical security

  • Lockbox processes  for a strictly supervised escalation process greatly limit human access to your data. Learn how to activate Lockbox .
  • Servers run only processes that are whitelisted, minimizing risk from malicious code.
  • Dedicated threat management teams proactively anticipate, prevent, and mitigate malicious access.
  • Port scanning, perimeter vulnerability scanning, and intrusion detection prevent or detect any malicious access.

Data security

  • Encryption at rest protects your data on our servers.
  • Encryption in transit with SSL/TLS protects your data when it’s transmitted between you and Microsoft.
  • Threat management  , security monitoring, and file/data integrity prevent or detect any tampering of data.
  • Exchange Online Protection   provides advanced security and reliability against spam and malware to help protect your information and access to email.

User controls

  • Office 365 Message Encryption  allows users to send encrypted email to anyone, whatever email service recipients may use.
  • Data loss prevention can be combined with Rights Management and Office 365 Message Encryption to give greater controls to your admins to apply appropriate policies to protect sensitive data.
  • S/MIME provides message security with certificate-based email access.
  • Azure Rights Management  prevents file-level access without the right user credentials.

Admin controls

Tab panel for expanded tab number5

  • Multi-factor authentication protects access to the service with a second factor such as phone.
  • Data loss prevention prevents sensitive data from leaking either inside or outside the organization while providing user education and empowerment.
  • Built-in mobile device management capabilities allow you to manage access to corporate data.
  • Mobile application management within Office mobile apps powered by Intune provides granular controls to secure data contained in these apps.
  • Built in antivirus and antispam protection along with advanced threat protection safeguard against external threats.
  • Office 365 Cloud App Security provides enhanced visibility and control into your Office 365 environment.

 

The last article that I wrote was about the Microsoft Office 365 terminology change from “Preservation” to “Retention” in regard to how your data is held – or not – within Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive.

But when you want to hold your Microsoft Teams data with a retention policy, that policy must be exclusive to Teams – no other service can be part of that policy.

Teams holds its chats, conversations and emails forever by default, but your company might have another inclination to delete data, save it for 7-10 years, or both for whatever reason. Policies can be created and applied in a granular fashion.

Microsoft  unveiled  its new Teams Retention policies at the end of March 2018 and rolled them out to tenants over the month of April. This is evidently part of the move to bring Skype functionality into the Teams fold.

The next step on the roadmap for Teams data management is eDiscovery.

Scott Abbotts | https://resolute-it.com | https://office365techguy.com