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.

 

SharePoint Decription
I’d like to call SharePoint the ‘mother of all file storage’, but that might technically be Azure – we won’t go there. Within SharePoint are hidden document libraries that we know as our personal OneDrive repositories, primarily for ‘works in progress’ by individuals within the organization. But the files kept in SharePoint have been published by individuals from their OneDrive location, and now reside within the shared SharePoint space as commonly available to all members of that particular SharePoint team site.

 

What is a ‘team site’?: A ‘team site’ can be created as opposed to a ‘communications site’ in SharePoint. A ‘communication site’ would be where a company might post news or relevant information for the greater good. A ‘team site’ is more of a collaborative workspace with many features, one of which is a ‘document library’, which is the common document library that we might have synced to our computers for published items.

 

When you create a team in Microsoft Teams, a SharePoint team site is automatically created for members of the team to share their files. So now you would have another team site in SharePoint named after the Team’s name. You can jump to that SharePoint team site while within Teams by going to the Files tab in Teams and clicking on Open in SharePoint.

 

Within the Outlook ribbon, there’s a big button that says Archive. If you select a message and click that button, the message will be sent to the Archive folder. This is a system folder and cannot be deleted, but it’s really just a folder under your primary Inbox, so this particular Archive still uses up your allotment of space on the mail server.

 

Depending on your Office 365 subscription plan, there are differing capacities for the primary mailbox. But all Office 365 plans that include Exchange Online (basic cloud-based email service) have another Archive location, which is essentially another mailbox, just tied to your own email account.

 

This other Archive location effectively doubles the size of your mailbox. For example, if you have Office 365 Business Premium, then you get 50 GB of storage space for your primary mailbox and 50 GB of storage space for your Online Archive or In-Place Archive – no one seems to agree on which is the most current or correct name. (In the Outlook for Mac email client, this online archive folder shows up as ‘Online Archive’. In Outlook for Windows, it shows up as ‘Online Archive – [email protected]’. In Outlook on the web, it shows up as ‘In-Place Archive – Your Name’.) Whatever you call it, its capacity is also 50 GB, however, it’s an ever-expanding capacity, automatically adjusting at 10 GB intervals, so it’s really an unlimited repository.

 

The way that you offload mail items to this ever-expanding online repository is by way of retention policies. You might have a policy that dictates all mail items under your Inbox older than 1 year will automatically be moved to the Online Archive. When all of these items arrive in the Online archive according to the policy, the sub-folder hierarchy reflects your primary Inbox and its folders. So if you have a folder called News under your Inbox, then a News folder will be created in the Online Archive along with the contents that are older than one year.

 

So similar to Inbox Rules, a Retention Policy is an automatic way to organize your email and take advantage of a vast storage space.