Interlink Cloud Blog
Sarah Bunt

Is Office 365 International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) Compliant?

The simple answer is "no".

There are multiple flavors called Office 365 and the shared version (the most common) is not ITAR compliant. This comes from two different concerns around ITAR – 1) That only US citizens manage the data – Microsoft uses follow the sun support which includes non-Americans providing support and accessing the data 2) Is that the data stays in the US only. While this is typically true for Office 365, it does have the ability to fail over workloads to data centers located in other countries.

There are a few options:

  1. The ITAR compliant platform version of Office 365 is ITAR compliant, but it starts at 30,000 users and is considerable more expensive. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn270088.aspx
  2. Clients can split their users between platforms. Clients move everyone not working on defense contracts, including foreign nationals, out to the cloud and then hybrid the connection back to their existing Exchange installation where the ITAR restricted users and projects are housed.

Other Resources: Office 365 ITAR-support

This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights.

Matt Scherocman

Features of the next version of Office – Wave 15

Customers have been asking me about the new features of the next version of Office – the wave 15 release.  Here are 10 top changes to the platform in a quick read format.  Check it out…..

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/2012/sep12/09-10Office10Things.aspx

Matt Scherocman

What are the Differences Between Office Professional and Office Web Apps?

That’s a great question.  And unfortunately, a side by side comparison of the two is difficult to find.  In an effort to eliminate some of the mystery surrounding these products, I’ve created a quick summary that compares Office Professional Plus and Office Web Apps (both of which are available as part of the Office 365 product offering):

Essentially, Office Web Apps is a “light” version of Office Professional Plus.

Think of Office Professional Plus as your “traditional” Microsoft Office. It is the Office you are used to using – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.  It is a full copy of Office that sits on your machine and allows you to use each and every feature of the programs above.  If you have used Microsoft Office 2010 Professional (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, InfoPath, Lync, etc.) licensed in a traditional volume license manner, then you will find the two highly similar. See our next blog post which talks about the differences.      

On the other hand, Office Web Apps is a limited, online version of certain Office products including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.  It provides a copy of the Microsoft Office programs, but with less functionality. I’ll use Microsoft Word for example.  The Word web app allows basic functionality (the ability to type, change fonts, bold, underline, etc.) but doesn’t allow you to use the more complex features (for example, editing pictures). It would be similar for other programs as well.

The benefit of Web Apps is that it is less expensive than Office Professional Plus.  Also, because it is web based, it can be accessed from any computer that has internet connectivity and a compatible browser. The downside is it does not offer as much capability as Office Professional Plus.  Web Apps tends to be beneficial for quick, light editing and for people who are not heavy users of the Office Suite.   If you want to try out the technology it is available for free at https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/  Just open an account and upload some Office files.  You can also see the same technology if you add Office files to Facebook. 


These links also provide some useful information:

For Web Apps: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps/
These links also provide some useful information:
Detailed Guide - feature by feature comparison between the two products: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office-online-service-description.aspx

For Web Apps: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps/
For Office Professional Pro: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/office-professional-plus.aspx

Matt Scherocman

Exchange 2013 High Availbility revealed

Exchange 2013 has introduced some new features that bring great options for geographical disaster recovery and High availability.

1. You no longer need a layer 7 load balancing.  you can now use TCP based layer 4 transport load balancers.  These are typically cheaper, and is a clear reason the TMG is being eliminated

2. URL redirection is now built into Exchange 2013, as it is now a true HTTP proxy at the CAS.  It also serves as a stateless proxy for SMTP, which allows for pass through connections through to the mailbox server.

* Exchange will allow a client to cnnect to a CAS in one region, using a single namespace, then identify the URL of the CAS using URL redirection defined in Exchange 2013.  Once identified, it will redirect the client connecting to the CAS in the same AD site (assuming it's internet facing) as the mailbox server that users mailbox resides on.

3. Geographical load-balancing using DNS - Round Robin DNS is a way for you to allow external connections to cache multiple DNS entries, and if one is not available, the other will be pushed in 20 seconds.  What Microsoft also supports for single namespace HA is Geo Loadbalanced DNS, which will identify the DNS entry best suited for a client based on where they are connecting from (IP identification)

4. If you deploy a CAS with a DAG stetched across two sites - it will always route the SMTP connection to the DAG that your active mailbox sits on.  However, if the DAG member you are connecting to is not available, it will create multiple SMTP connections and write to both DAG members with a copy of the mailbox.  This feature is call Safety Net.

5. Managed Availability - All components of Exchange in terms of protocols on the mailbox servers has a recovery mechanism that is sequenced.  Many of the actions taken are automated, allowing for built in recovery mechanisms.

6. Maintenace Mode - you now have the ability to put a DAG member mailbox serveer into maintenace mode to allow for it to be temporarily be in service and not be active in the Exchange 2013 installation.

Matt Scherocman

MIcrosoft Office 365 Now Supports Removal of Directory Sync

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that Office 365 will now support the ability to break Directory Synchronization if a customer chooses to do so.

Though through the Office 365 Admin page, when enabling Directory Synchronization it still gives the warning that if it is enabled it cannot be disabled, the fact is you can use the Office 365 Online PowerShell module allows you to connect to your environment and disable it. 

In the past, if a user was brought over by Synchronization, that user was permanently managed from the Directory Sync (DirSync), and if DirSync was disabled or removed, the user account became stale. The only thing that you could do to manage that user online was to reset their password.  You could not delete the account, and couldn't modify other aspects of the user account.

The addition of this alleviates many headaches for those out there moving from BPOS (used DirSync as a migration tool) to eliminate the on premise server required to run it.  Moving to Office 365, former BPOS customers can now manage their users online without that need.  This applies to many small businesses that were frustrated with the need to continue to have another server that isn't a domain controller, on premise to run Cloud based mailboxes.

In addition to this, I recently ran into a similar scenario where I was extracting mailboxes from a an envioronment over the 1,000 limit to use the batch migration.  Since these mailboxes were being extracted for the purpose of an acquisition, the installation requirement of Directory Synchronization in the staged migration scenario (note that you can run a staged migration on 100 users or less without Directory Sync).  I then was required to run Directory Synchronization, at the risk that the mailboxes I was extracting would become stale longer term, and if not setup in the acquiring companies Directory, could eventually be removed by accident or deteled.  Note that I had to run a filter of MIIS to ensure that only users with a specific attribute in the Directory could be copied to the cloud.

By disabling Directory Synchrnization I can then modify those accounts, and evenutally make them Cloud only.  And longer term, enable a new Directory Synchronization to take place with no risk.

   

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