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February 8, 2018updated 09 Feb 2018 4:09pm

How to realise the full benefits of Office 365

Balancing security and compliance with control key to getting most out of Microsoft’s productivity platform, says Ann Maya, Marketing Director for Quest Software.

By James Nunns

How to realise the full benefits of Office 365

Despite more and more workloads moving to Office 365, many businesses are failing to take full advantage of Microsoft’s platform. Speaking to CBR TV Ann Maya, Marketing Director for Quest Software said there are many benefits to moving workloads to Office 365 and the adoption has really exploded, though the potential compliance and security risks may not be fully realized. As organizations grow their Office 365 presence, they’ll still need to ensure that the data shared and access granted to users is compliant with business and regulatory compliance mandates and that their corporate data is secure from insider or external threats.

“The really sad thing is we talk to lots of organisations that have Office 365 licences but are not utilising them all,” she said.

Anytime, anywhere access to email and tools such as Skype for Business Online is driving increased adoption in Office 365. “Beautiful integration means that utilities are spreading across multiple devices and users are becoming more remote and able to work from anywhere which is brilliant,” Maya noted. However, security and compliance concerns will persist – and full adoption will not be realised – unless the environment is properly managed.

Specifically, some organisations are neglecting to manage Azure Active Directory users, groups and group membership, said Maya. Every instance of Office 365 is mirrored by an instance Azure Active Directory instance, so as one grows, so does the other. Failure to ensure the latter is fully covered by disaster recovery solutions means organisations will not be able to fully recover Office 365 access if there is an outage caused by accidental or malicious deletions and this will have a negative impact on productivity. Relying solely on syncing from on prem AD to Azure AD leaves out cloud only resources and is not a robust recovery solution.

For example, a proper disaster recovery response needs to include cloud-only objects such as Office 365 groups, cloud only license information and B2B and B2C user accounts. For companies offering web services, B2C accounts are necessary for doing business.

Interview with Ann Maya, Marketing Director for Quest Software

 

Third party SaaS (Software as a service) solutions allow remote administrative control across applications and across environments, said Maya. They also allow an administrator to set policies using Azure Active Directory groups to set, restrict and enforce policies for apps like Skype for Business Online and Exchange Online quickly and easily. Restricting anonymous users from Skype conversations, enabling remote wipe on mobile devices and applying encryption are all possible using this model, regardless of the size of the user base.

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But why use third party tools when Microsoft offers a native Office 365 solution for free? Maya said that while Microsoft’s own tools are good they leave gaps, third party alternatives allow you to do what you need. Firstly, they accommodate bulk tasks. “If you have thousands of B2C accounts to recover, right now there’s no way to do that with native tools,” she said. Secondly, native tools necessitate greater coding expertise. “They require PowerShell scripting which is brilliant if you have an advanced scripter but [not] if you need to manage those scripts and be able and get them up and running very quickly.” Being able to manage Office 365 workloads without over burdening existing IT is only really possible with third party tools and doing this with a SaaS application is the best approach to expanding your cloud presence to capture the value of cloud services without added security and compliance risks.

 

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