Interlink Cloud Blog
Mark Rackley

Impactful Changes to Office 365 – SharePoint Sandbox Solutions [Time Sensitive]

Impactful Changes to Office 365 – SharePoint Sandbox Solutions [Time Sensitive]

Microsoft has recently made a significant change to the way they are handling SharePoint Sandbox Solutions in Office 365. This may have a major impact or your organization as these changes roll out across tenants.

If you have uploaded any Sandbox Solutions to your Office 365 tenant in the past week or so, you may have found that you are no longer able to activate these templates. That is because Microsoft is in the process of disabling the activation of any Sandbox Solutions that contain code. In addition, according to an article in Reddit - Microsoft has disabled activation of Sandboxed code solutions AND will disable all active solutions in 30 days on SharePoint Online.

Now, I’m skeptical of the statement that all Sandbox Solutions with code will be disabled in 30 days, as this will unlikely cause catastrophic consequences for some folks, but I don’t have any further information at this time.

What do disabled SharePoint Sandbox Solutions mean to me?

There are a few implications here. If you have any code-based Sandbox Solutions running in your environment in Office 365 you may start to see broken web-parts, pages, event receivers, or broken other functionality/errors in the next month or so. The implications could be as small as a missing web part on a page to a broken site collection. It really depends on what code has been deployed to your tenant.

In addition, if you’ve previously created any Site Templates that were created from sites that had activated code-based Sandbox Solutions, you will NOT be able to create sites from these templates after the solution has been disabled.

How can I tell if I have any SharePoint Sandbox Solutions?

You can go to your Solutions Gallery to see if you have any Sandbox Solutions deployed. You can get to the Solutions Gallery by going to the Site Settings of your Site Collection, then clicking on the “Solutions” link under the “Web Designer Galleries” section.

sandbox Solutions

Please note, this is also where things like Site Templates are stored, so don’t freak out of you see some solutions deployed and don’t know what they are. Hopefully they were named well as there are little details displayed from the Solutions Gallery itself.

Why weren’t we warned sooner?

Microsoft actually DID warn everyone back in January 2014 - one instance of this is on the SharePoint dev blog in an article titled Deprecation of Custom Code in Sandboxed Solutions. Plus we’ve been telling clients since then to stop doing code-based Sandbox Solutions.

Yet, it is a little surprising they would make sure a hard cut off of 30 days though. If I can get some confirmation I’ll be sure to update the post.

What do I do if this affects my company?

Excellent question. First of all, if you have any Site Templates that utilize code-based Sandbox Solutions, re-create those Site Templates with your code-based Sandbox Solutions disabled. I would do this immediately - if not sooner. Once a solution has been deactivated there is no way to create a site with a Site Template dependent on that feature.

Secondly, if you have any code-based Sandbox Solutions, evaluate their functionality and determine what will stop working. Some of the functionality (visual web parts) can be recreated with scripting, while other functionality (event receivers) may cause you a lot more heartburn to replicate without a Sandbox Solution.

You can also reach out to us at Interlink and we could help point you in the right direction for what to do in your particular scenario. It is important you do SOMETHING though. Interlink can assess your current environment, help point out possible pain points, and guide you through the re-creation of code-based Sandbox Solutions into a supported format.

Should I panic?

Hopefully, no, but honestly, if code-based Sandbox Solutions are forcibly disabled in 30 days you should be concerned if there is any chance you have them in your environment.

[Update as of 8/3/2016: Microsoft released a script that lets you check for sandbox solutions]

Matt Scherocman

Secure Productive Enterprise – The Ultimate License Bundle– The New Enterprise Cloud Suite

Secure Productive Enterprise – The Ultimate License Bundle– The New Enterprise Cloud Suite

What is Secure Productive Enterprise? 

Companies want to continue to use the most advanced technology to enable their employees to achieve more, but all of these new and different products have resulted in a licensing headache. We hear constantly that attempting to navigate around Microsoft licensing can be challenging and frustrating. Microsoft created the Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) a few years ago in an attempt to simplify this process. It was a single licensing option that included E3, the Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite and Windows Desktop upgrade. Building upon this initial base Microsoft is now continuing to simplify this process with the introduction of the Secure Productive Enterprise. This will be bringing together Office 365, Windows 10 Enterprise upgrade, and the Enterprise Mobility + Security suite into a single licensing offering called the Secure Productive Enterprise. This will be replacing the Enterprise Cloud Suite and Microsoft will be introducing even more options by also offering an Office 365 E5 option in the bundle.   

Moving forward Microsoft will be standardizing packaging offers across Office 365, Windows 10 Enterprise, and the Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite by offering two tiers of the Secure Productive Enterprise: E3 and E5. This is what it will look like:

Secure Productive Enterprise

Microsoft will continue to evolve the Windows E5 edition by adding more functionality. The first difference is the introduction of Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection for end point breach detection.

For more information, check out Microsoft's blog post Empower Your Employees with the Secure Productive Enterprise.


Interlink can help guide you through your options and help figure out what works for your users. We can help profile your users - remember that you don’t have to license everyone with the same license bundle in the cloud.  

Contact us for more information.

 
Sarah Bunt

Microsoft Office 365 Planner: Teamwork Organized

Microsoft Office 365 Planner: Teamwork Organized

Bring together teams and tasks and get more done with Planner in Office 365 

You and your teams always have projects that you need to get done and management always seems to be adding more “to do” tasks. With the Outlook tasks feature you can’t be as collaborative as you need, and your projects often don’t require the sophistication of Microsoft Project. Microsoft has developed the perfect in between solution for those who have an Office 365 subscription – Microsoft Planner. 

Office 365 Planner is now being rolled out to all eligible users in Office 365! Planner makes working together a lot more organized and fun. It helps users organize and structure their teamwork. Teams can create new plans, organize and assign tasks, set due dates and update status in just a few easy clicks. With Planner, users can attach files and have conversations around tasks. Planner’s visual dashboards and email notifications keep everyone informed on the overall progress of their initiative.

  • Get started quickly
  • Work together without chaos
  • Always stay informed

Pain Point #1 – Coordinating Tasks:

Today, the majority of information workers coordinate their team activities and team tasks using sub-optimal tools and methods such as email, post-it notes, Office Apps like Excel and PowerPoint, or by memory!

The Solution:

Microsoft Planner is simple and easy to use.

  • Engaging User Interface helps users create a plan, build a team, and assign tasks and set due dates in just a few simple clicks
  • Users can find benefit the very first time using it

 Pain Point #2 - Communicating:  

To get work done, team members share files, communicate back and forth via emails, engage in IM conversations, etc. As the number of tasks continue to grow, teamwork becomes harder to organize. Key insights and conversations related to tasks get locked away in disjointed apps, email attachments, etc.

The Solution:

Microsoft Planner is transparent and allows team members to work together without switching apps

  • Everyone has a clear sight into who is working on what
  • Users can attach files to tasks in a couple of clicks and start editing them together
  • Team members can initiate a group conversation thread right from the task

Pain Point #3– Big Picture View:

As the number of tasks and size of the team starts to grow, team members lose track of the big picture.

The Solution:

Microsoft Planner is mobile and provides insights

  • With Planner ‘Charts’, everyone knows where things are at all times
  • Email notifications alert team members when things change, new tasks are assigned to them, or they get pulled into conversation

 

mytasks Office 365 Planner 

Want a free demo?  CONTACT US TODAY


Q & A

Q. Which Office 365 plans are eligible for Planner?

A. Planner is included in the Office 365 Enterprise E1–E5 subscription plans (including corresponding Government and Non-Profit), Office 365 Business Essentials and Premium plans, and Office 365 Education.

 

Q. Is Planner available for customers on premise?

A. Microsoft Planner is an Office 365 cloud only solution and not available for customers on premises.

 

Q. Can Planner be purchased stand-alone?

A. Microsoft Planner is only be available through Office 365 Subscriptions, and cannot be purchased stand-alone.

 

Have additional questions -  CONTACT US TODAY

 

 

Guest Blogger

Top 5 Reasons You Should NOT Use Cloud Storage

Top 5 Reasons You Should NOT Use Cloud Storage

The value and benefits of cloud storage are so clear and compelling that I have found it difficult to understand why a business would choose not to embrace the cloud as a means of solving file sprawl. In the past, cloud fear was a major obstacle, but this is no longer the case. So I tried to put myself in the shoes of a change-averse enterprise to better understand their thinking. The result is a list of the top five reasons you should not move files to the cloud.

1. You love running big hardware datacenters.

We are all still kids at heart and a massive datacenter is essentially a giant playroom filled with very expensive and complex toys.

These toys, otherwise known as servers, do not take care of themselves. You get to oversee the maintenance of both the datacenter as a whole and the actual hardware. Heating, cooling, electricity, disaster planning – that’s all yours.  As time goes by and your employees and applications generate more and larger files, this hardware will start to run out of capacity.

But don’t worry about consolidating your data center. You can always buy a whole new set of big, shiny, expensive servers when you need more space. This makes your storage environment more complex. 

And don’t forget the budget planning that goes along with it – what’s not to love about complex financial spreadsheets?

2. Migrations are a joy!

Speaking of fun, who enjoys a good migration? 

Nothing is more thrilling than sitting at your workstation and managing the movement of files from one storage volume to another.  No matter which solution you have in place, migrations can be very complex affairs.  And IT professionals love nothing more than performing challenging, pull-out-your-hair tasks on nights and weekends when all their friends and families are doing normal activities (e.g. having a life). 

Don’t worry, you will not be going through this misery alone. You get to interact with your peers when they call you about the inevitable permissions problems that keep them from their data. Then you can be a hero and solve the problem they blamed you for in the first place.

3.  You have no need for backups.

Your users may have lost access to their files before.

Maybe they deleted a document they needed, or suddenly wanted an old project back. But you know that files are files.  Your users can always create new ones. In fact, you and your colleagues have been wondering whether it’s necessary to protect company files at all.  Sure, you may have heard about how the cloud can eliminate the need for backup, generating significant cost savings and improving protection, but why not just leave everything to chance instead?

Writing to tape is the Russian roulette of the IT world.  So go ahead, scrap protection, and inject a little do-or-die drama into your work place. 

state of cloud storage

 

4.  Your users work only at their desk.

Employees are constantly on the go. They need access to their files from any device or location. The right enterprise cloud storage solution makes this possible. 

But when you don’t use cloud storage, you’re operating as though your employees work only at their desks.  In fact, they never:

  • Go home at night
  • Visit clients
  • Work in conference rooms, common areas or off-site
  • Travel for business

You might as well shut your servers down at night while you’re at it.  

5. None of your employees collaborate on work. 

This especially gets complicated with users in different branches or those working remotely. When collaborating, users will need to access the same files that others are also working on. But in a company without cloud sharing, these collaborations are intensely more difficult, stressful and time-consuming.

On those rare occasions when a project requires the input of an employee who works in a different region, the standard operating procedure is to charter a jet, fly that person into the office for a few hours, then whisk them back again. If something comes up the next day, and that employee’s input is needed again, there are always more jets.

Personally, I still think cloud storage makes more sense, and Cloud NAS in particular, but this has been a helpful exercise for me. I am starting to understand why companies choose to avoid moving files to the cloud. That said, if you are the sort who would rather avoid migrations, reduce your dependence on expensive hardware, enhance protection and extend file access, you might want to take 90 seconds to watch this quick video on our complete storage solution leveraging the cloud.

 


Nasuni is a partner of Interlink. If you need help with a cloud storage solution, Interlink can help - contact us today.

 

Nasuni 2015 State of Cloud Storage Report Thumb no DS Web

Download this white paper to receive your copy of the The State of Cloud Storage in 2015.

 

Matt Scherocman

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

As business changes and technology evolves, the majority of organizations depend on IT systems to store their data and run critical workflows. Unfortunately, these systems can be a prime target for cyber-attacks as sophisticated hackers put the enterprise in a vulnerable position. Just take note of these especially stunning stats:

  • 76% of attacks stem from compromised user credentials
  • The average cost of a data breach to a company is $3.5 million and total cost of cybercrime on a global scale is as high as $500 billion
  • Because of dangerous IT security blind spots (shown in the image below), it could take over 200 days to detect an attack

    IT blind spots Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

Stats courtesy of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics Datasheet.

The reality is, businesses need to pay attention and adapt to this changing nature of data security threats.

Now available in the Enterprise Mobility Suite, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) helps to protect your company from attacks by leveraging machine learning. It uses behavioral analytics to uncover suspicious behavior, internally or from external attacks. It also detects known security issues and risks , the goal is to stay  one (or two, or three) steps ahead of the attackers.

Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

When you think of security software, your mind might immediately turn to configuring system rules and alerting. All of which take time and commitment from your team. With ATA, you don’t need to create rules, baselines, or thresholds. It’s streamlined from setup and works immediately. Once a threat is detected, it’s also easy to view a timeline of when the attack hit. It can help pinpoint where the breach took place. All of this insight can better prepare you for future attacks.

The thought of being hacked and not even knowing it is scary enough, but ATA also helps identify internal threats like why a user would be accessing files in accounting if they’re in the marketing department? Combined with online security reports, ATA can show anomalies for logins.  It will help detect when user credentials have been compromised by reporting geographically distant logins that occur at the time time – like a single user being logged in from Ohio and from Romania at the same time.  

The high-level benefits of using ATA at your business are obvious. Peace of mind goes a long way, and you also want it to help you adapt as cyber-attacks grow in frequency and sophistication. The features of ATA are even more appealing when you see exactly how it works for your business. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Timeline: We’ve already mentioned that timeline, but it’s worth noting again. In addition to listing the activities as they occur, ATA provides recommendations on how to handle that alert.
  • Organizational Security Graph: This maps out entity interactions which represents the context and activities of the users, devices, and resources. This will be a big driver in managing security for each of your users.
  • Email Alerts: There’s no need for one person to be continuously monitoring for cyber-attacks. With ATA, you can have emails sent to users or groups when suspicious activity is detected.
  • Leveraging the Cloud:  Microsoft cloud based correlation engine helps more quickly identify new attacks and reduce the amount of false positives. 

The cyber-attack threat is real and ATA can help you adapt to the changing cyber-attack world we live in.

Contact Interlink if you any questions.

 

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