Category Archives: Microsoft Office 365

Equinix and Telecity to offer Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365

datacentre cloudData centre operators Equinix and TelecityGroup are both now offering Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 as part of their cloud offerings. Microsoft is understood to be announcing as many as five such partnerships with data centre operators.

Co-location specialist TelecityGroup said it is offering the cloud service to three distinct types of customer, these being enterprise customers, co-location partners and a reseller channel. The reseller channel itself is broken down three groups of telcos, managed service providers and systems integrators.

The nature of the market for Office 365 is broadening, according to Adi Ayyagani, the group head of market development for TelecityGroup. “Once interest was restricted to financial services and a couple of other early adopters, but now enterprises from every vertical market are showing an interest.”

TelecityGroup is offering the Office365 service on its software defined networking Cloud-IX platform. Though a number of operators are reportedly making ExpressRoute for Office 365 available, Ayyagani claimed that the Level 3 MPLS network that underpins Cloud-IX will make all the difference. “It means customers can get the service from anywhere, it’s more robust and there’s a greater level of integration available, so that configuration of the service is a lot simpler for service providers,” said Ayyagani.

The managed service providers, telcos and systems integrators reselling the cloud service will be able to use TelecityGroup’s broad footprint to access almost any market in Europe, the Middle East or African, said Ayyagani.

Meanwhile, global data centre operator Equinix has now announced worldwide availability of the cloud version of Microsoft Office for enterprises. The service improves the levels of data privacy since ExpressRoute enables most Office 365 network traffic to avoid the public Internet. Enterprises that use ExpressRoute in an Equinix data centre also get the benefit of being able to run hybrid and multi-cloud services that didn’t previously scale well over the Internet or over typical WAN works, it says.

“Office 365 customers can now benefit from predictable network performance and the ability to better manage network availability,” said Ross Ortega, Microsoft’s Principal Program Manager for Azure Networking.

Think Office 365 is a Maintenance-Free Environment? Not So Fast …

Guest Post by Chris Pyle, Champion Solutions Group

So you’ve made the move to Office 365. Great!

You think you’ve gone from worrying about procuring exchange hardware and storage capacity, being concerned about email recovery plans, and having to keep up with the constant maintenance of your exchange server farm and the backing up your data, to relying on Office 365 to provide virtually anywhere-access to Microsoft tools.

Sounds pretty good, and we won’t blame you if you’re thinking that your move to the cloud has just afforded you a maintenance-free environment, but not so fast.

While the cost-savings and convenience it may seem like a no-brainer, what many administrators often forget is that the cloud itself doesn’t make email management any easier – there are still a ton of tasks that need to be done to ensure usability and security.

Indeed while moving mailboxes to the cloud may be efficient and provide cost savings, it doesn’t mean administration ends there. Not by any means.

Not to worry, for starters Office 365 admins looking for a faster and easier way to handle mail administration tasks have a number of tools at their disposal, such as our 365 Command by MessageOps. 365Command replaces the command line interface of Windows® PowerShell with a rich, HTML5 graphical user interface that is easy to navigate and makes quick work of changing mailbox settings, monitoring usage and reporting (and did we say you don’t need to know PowerShell?).

From our users who manage about 1 million mail boxes we see the most effective 365 administrators break down maintenance and tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly buckets. Breaking down tasks this way simplifies work-flow, and the best part is that this can be easily implemented into your routine and should heighten the value and success utilizing Office 365.

Here are best practices for getting started:

Daily: Mailbox Administrators are constantly responding to any addition, change, and removal requests for their Office365 accounts. The most common are daily tasks that are quickly resolved, for example “forgot my password”, “need access to folder X”, “executive Y is on maternity leave, can you forward her files”, and so on:

  1. Modifying Passwords

  2. Modifying Folder Permissions

  3. Mailbox Forwarding

  4. Creating Single and Shared Mailboxes

Weekly: Weekly task groupings are geared toward helping Administrators keep a watchful eye on growth and scalability, security, speed and access. For example, checking for new devices that are being added to mailboxes, comparing them from previous weeks, and verifying that the user did indeed add a new device, and not incurring a potential risk of theft or fraud:

  1. Review Top Mailbox Growth by Size

  2. Review Office 365 Audit Logs

  3. Review Mobile Security

  4. Review Shared Mailbox Growth- (shared mailboxes only have 10GB limit!)

  5. Review the exact location of their servers and their mailboxes within the Microsoft data centers

Monthly: OK, now you’re cooking with gasoline — with those annoying daily tasks and cumbersome weekly tasks out of the way, top-level Administrators turn their full attention to security and access, which we can never have a lapse in attention:

  1. They run reports and lists of all users last login date. They are checking for people who may no longer be employed with the company, thus eliminating the need for that mailbox and its associated cost from Microsoft. Or if there is limited use, they could move the end user to a less expensive Office 365 SKU, again reducing their overall O365 costs.

  2. From a security standpoint, they are running reports to see who is forwarding their mailboxes to external mailboxes, such as sending their email to their home email account (Gmail/Yahoo/ Hotmail, etc.)

  3. Review password strength and the passwords that are set to expire on a monthly basis, ensuring their mailboxes are safe and secure.

  4. Review mailbox permissions, and review who has Send As privileges in their organization. They are confirming with the end user that they allowed these people to have the ability to send email as them.

  5. Review which employees have Full Mailbox access privileges. They confirm with the end user that they do want those additional users to have full access to their mail and calendar.

Quarterly: See how easy this is now? You’ve cleared out the clutter, and made sure every box on the system is secure. You’ve taken the steps to keep the system running fast and true, with consistent access and performance across the enterprise. Now kick back, light a fat stogie and do some light clean up and maintenance:

  1. Group Clean Up, review all email groups to ensure they have active members, as well as review which groups have people in them that are no longer employed, or contractors that are no longer involved, which groups aren’t being utilized, etc.

  2. Review the Edit Permissions list.

  3. Review Non Password changes in 90 days.


Just because you’ve moved to the cloud it doesn’t mean management and maintenance of your mail boxes stops there. Many of these best-practices would require the knowledge of PowerShell, but who wants to deal with that? Save yourself lots of trouble and find a tool that will manage these activities, streamline your work-flow and jump-start your productivity.

Chris Pyle headshot

Christopher Pyle is President & CEO for Champion Solutions Group. He is also an active member of Vistage International, an executive leadership organization, and is a Distinguished Guest Lecturer at Florida Atlantic University’s Executive Forum Lecture Series.

AvePoint’s DocAve 6 Service Pack 2 Enhances SharePoint, Office 365 Support

AvePoint today announced the general availability of DocAve 6 Service Pack (SP) 2, the next generation of the management platform for SharePoint governance, with expanded SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 support.

Designed to increase business productivity without sacrificing on security and compliance, DocAve 6 SP2 will support the migration, protection, and administration of data in your SharePoint 2013 environment, whether it’s on-premises, in the cloud, or a hybrid deployment. DocAve 6 SP2 supports migration into the latest online or on-premises SharePoint release from a variety of legacy sources, including previous versions of SharePoint, file shares, EMC Documentum, Lotus Notes, and Open Text (Livelink).

Making the move to SharePoint 2013 is just the beginning. DocAve 6 SP2 extends SharePoint’s native capabilities, enabling application development, scalable storage, compliance and records management, and geo-distributed collaboration with confidence. New SharePoint capabilities such as business intelligence, eDiscovery, mobile device support, and social computing are also focuses of DocAve 6 SP2, as AvePoint continues its quest to enable customers to take advantage of the latest platform releases that Microsoft has to offer.

“As with each previous release, AvePoint is focused on ensuring that our more than 10,000 customers worldwide have all of the tools necessary to realize the full potential of Microsoft SharePoint 2013,” said George Petrou, Chief Technology Officer at AvePoint. “The landscape of business collaboration is ever-changing, and now more than ever organizations need a trusted solution to help them overcome any challenges that may arise. With DocAve 6 SP2, our customers can remove the roadblocks to enterprise-wide collaboration.”

DocAve 6 is built upon all Microsoft technologies and standards, including .NET, WCF, and Silverlight, utilizing only fully supported Microsoft methodologies and APIs. With robust protection, management, optimization, integration, compliance, reporting, and migration capabilities for SharePoint, DocAve is the enterprise-class management platform for SharePoint governance.

DocAve 6 SP2 is generally available to customers today, February 20. For more information about all of the new features and functionality in DocAve 6 SP2, please visit

Swivel Secure launches in North America

Swivel Secure, a provider of tokenless authentication technology that is capable of securing Microsoft Office 365 as well as other cloud and virtual private network (VPN) remote access solutions, announced its expansion into North America and the opening of its first office in Seattle, Washington.

Swivel Secure is a UK network security solutions provider that has pioneered the development of tokenless, multi-factor authentication technology. The Swivel authentication platform, first launched in 2003, is now used in over 35 countries by governments and global enterprises in a range of sectors including healthcare, pharmaceuticals and logistics as well as in hundreds of smaller businesses around the world.

Swivel’s strategic entry into North America marks the launch of an aggressive channel expansion programme targeting value added resellers (VARs) in the Washington State area and beyond.

“The market for tokenless authentication is growing rapidly as US businesses start to take cloud solutions seriously,” comments Fraser Thomas, VP International, Swivel Secure, who is spearheading the US expansion and VAR recruitment programme. “Given that Swivel is an approved tokenless provider for Microsoft Office 365, a Swivel partnership will enable VARs to offer a compelling remote access proposition for businesses that are migrating to the cloud, together with those that are employing more traditional VPN solutions.”

The unauthorised access of sensitive corporate data is one of the biggest fear factors holding businesses back from migrating to the cloud. Securing a corporate infrastructure with multi-factor authentication means that business owners can be assured that only permitted individuals will be able to gain access to their corporate systems.

Mimecast: Email Regulation Issues Leaving Businesses Confused

Corporate email archiving and retention policies are muddled and unclear, with many businesses leaving themselves exposed to potential litigation or compliance issues, according to new research launched today by Mimecast®, the leading supplier of cloud-based email archiving, security and continuity for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365.

The research, which surveyed IT managers on their organizations’ email policies and archiving practices, found that just 20 percent of businesses (23 percent globally) retain archived email for three years or more, with one in four businesses (25 percent U.S.; 26 percent globally) admitting that they do not have a clear policy on retaining email at all.

Key findings:

  • Email retention policies are often ad hoc or based on guesswork – Just
    one in four IT departments (30 percent U.S.; 26 percent globally) have
    an email retention policy designed to comply with industry regulations:
  • Forty-one percent of businesses surveyed (43 percent globally) say
    their archiving policies are based on ‘internal best practice’
    with no consideration given to industry or country specific
  • Six percent of U.S. and global businesses admit to deciding their
    email retention policy around a ‘random future date’ with ‘no
  • eDiscovery for email is a major area of concern – Many
    businesses are not confident that they would be able to identify all
    emails relating to a specific customer in a timely manner:

    • On average, it would take a U.S. business 15 working days to
      identify all emails relating to a potential litigation
    • Eighteen percent of U.S. businesses do not think they would be
      able to comply with this kind of email eDiscovery request within a
  • Forty-one percent of businesses surveyed (43 percent globally) say
    their archiving policies are based on ‘internal best practice’
    with no consideration given to industry or country specific
  • Six percent of U.S. and global businesses admit to deciding their
    email retention policy around a ‘random future date’ with ‘no
  • On average, it would take a U.S. business 15 working days to
    identify all emails relating to a potential litigation
  • Eighteen percent of U.S. businesses do not think they would be
    able to comply with this kind of email eDiscovery request within a
  • Concern around email compliance – IT departments are concerned
    that they are leaving their businesses exposed:

    • Just one in four (24 percent U.S.; 27 percent globally) IT teams
      are ‘completely confident’ that their email policies comply with
      all relevant regulations
    • Forty-eight percent (46 percent globally) are ‘mostly confident’
      with 34 percent (23 percent globally) ‘minimally confident’ or
      ‘not at all confident’
  • Just one in four (24 percent U.S.; 27 percent globally) IT teams
    are ‘completely confident’ that their email policies comply with
    all relevant regulations
  • Forty-eight percent (46 percent globally) are ‘mostly confident’
    with 34 percent (23 percent globally) ‘minimally confident’ or
    ‘not at all confident’

“Taking fifteen days to identify all relevant emails sent and received by a client is a massive and unnecessary resource drain,” said Jim Darsigny, CIO, Brown Rudnick LLP. “For IT departments, managing and enforcing email policies can no longer be an ad-hoc approach as the risk potential and time wasted is too high to ignore. In our organization, the cloud enables our business to significantly reduce the pain, costs and resources normally dedicated to sourcing archived email data. With a solid email eDiscovery strategy in place, we are not only able to better serve our clients, but we can also more accurately assess their level of risk.”

“IT departments can and should be doing more to protect their organizations by adopting a more rigorous approach to email archiving,” Eliza Hedegaard, Account Director Legal, Mimecast. “However, the businesses I speak to are not being helped by a regulatory system that is incredibly confusing and difficult to navigate. Regulators should be helping businesses by simplifying the regulatory framework and putting greater emphasis on clearly communicating what organizations need to do to in order to comply instead of adopting scare tactics that focus on what will happen if organizations fall foul of the rules.”


Mimecast Gets $62 Million for Email Archiving

Mimecast, a provider of cloud-based email archiving, security and continuity for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365, has today announced that it has secured $62.15 million in Series C funding led by Global Private Equity Firm Insight Venture Partners, with existing investors Dawn Capital also participating. Mimecast plans to use the funding to accelerate the development and deployment of new technology, and to support plans for rapid expansion in the U.S. market.

Founded in the U.K. in 2003 by Peter Bauer (CEO) and Neil Murray (CTO), Mimecast has grown rapidly, with over 50 percent year on year revenue growth recorded in six of the past nine years. Today, the Company has over 6,000 customers globally – including 70 percent of the U.K.’s top 100 law firms – and over 1.5 million users worldwide.

In addition to growing its existing business within the European, American and South African markets, Mimecast intends to use the investment to drive innovations in corporate email. The Company’s technology has already played an instrumental role in changing the way businesses deploy email; leading the transition from fragmented LAN-based infrastructures to a single platform cloud solution, Unified Email Management (UEM). Mimecast will now focus on continuing this evolution, using its Software-as-a-Service technology to create an Information Banking platform that allows businesses to unlock the inherent value stored within corporate email.

“Today’s businesses are as dependent on email as ever but, increasingly, email struggles to keep up as the way we create, store and share information changes,” Peter Bauer, CEO and co-founder, Mimecast. “At Mimecast, we believe email needs to be rewired if it is to continue to deliver real value to businesses. Building on our history of innovation, we are working to make email more collaborative and more interactive to realize the true value of the vast amount of unstructured data in email stores. We believe that the future is a more interactive archiving model, where IT folk and end users alike can derive more value in real time, on a day-to-day basis on any technology platform they choose to use. The cloud has the potential to democratize information management and deliver these kinds of powerful productivity tools to businesses of all sizes, rather than just being the preserve of the largest enterprises.”

“Email is the most important means of business communication and, better than anyone else, Mimecast delivers a true integrated solution for secure and accessible email,” said Jeff Lieberman, managing director, Insight Venture Partners. “Mimecast has already achieved strong success and with their product superiority, the industry’s move towards cloud solutions and a very large market opportunity, we believe that Mimecast is poised to achieve high growth and become the global leader in unified email management. Insight is delighted to share in this journey with management and existing shareholders.”

Cloud Competition: Microsoft Cuts Prices, Adds Platform

Guest Post by Sharon Shapiro of Cloud Sherpas

Although it only entered the cloud computing market in July 2011, Microsoft has already made a name for itself with Office 365, its hybrid cloud solution available to businesses.  But despite its initial climb, Microsoft has yet to catch up to Google when it comes to cloud computing.

Google has worked as a cloud service provider, with its fully-based cloud solution Google Apps, since 2006.  Google offers customers four different cloud computing platforms (business, education, government, and non-profit) and a 99.9% uptime guarantee, including service and updates, that it regularly exceeds.  In contrast, Office 365 is currently available only for businesses and has had issues meeting its promised 99.9% uptime, which does not include service and updates.  Google Apps pricing is also much lower than Office 365 pricing, with the highest priced Google Apps platform (business) operating at $50/user/year and the lowest Office 365 plan operating at $72/user/year.  But a lot of that is about to change as Microsoft has announced news that it hopes will bridge the gap.

First, Microsoft recently announced that it will be cutting the price of Office 365 by up to 20 percent.  Microsoft says this is because it now costs less to run the hybrid cloud platform than it did when Microsoft first introduced Office 365 last July.

Second, Microsoft says it will soon add a new plan – Office 365 for Education – which will widen the customer base.  The release of Office 365 is clearly an attempt to compete with the success of Google Apps’ free education platform.

Although lowering its prices and adding a plan for educational institutions are steps toward competing with Google Apps, Microsoft still has a big gap to close.  Google Apps will still boast more platforms (government and non-profit, in addition to the free version that many people use in their personal lives) and five more years of experience in the cloud.  With this greater experience, comes enhanced cloud service, as Google Apps is a fully cloud-based solution that offers its users complete universal access and proven reliability.  In contrast, it is important to remember that Office 365 is still a hybrid cloud solution that requires on premises servers and that, when it comes to document creating capabilities, works best in conjunction with Microsoft Office installed on a desktop.  Both of these necessities limit the mobile access that Office 365 users can enjoy.   Additionally, Office 365 has already been plagued with a number of outages that have resulted in significant amounts of downtime for users across the world.

These key differences between Office 365 and Google Apps may be part of the reason why the governments of major cities, like Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, trust Google Apps for their communication needs.

While Microsoft’s price cut and addition of an education plan will definitely improve the Office 365 cloud suite, these changes will certainly not put Microsoft and Google on an even playing field, as Google still boasts more authority, reliability, and a wider range of services.