Office 365 Snippets — November 17, 2016

PowerShell Turns 10 and Office 365 Says Thanks!

The world of technology was a different place in 2006 when PowerShell made its debut (Office 365 was still five years away). Exchange 2007 was the first major Microsoft server product to embrace PowerShell and has gained enormously from the association over the years. It’s a pity that some other applications – notably SharePoint – have been so slow and so limited in their PowerShell support.



Today, neither the Office 365 platform nor its tenants could function without scripts and PowerShell has spread to other platforms, including Linux. The 10th anniversary of “Monad” was celebrated with a series of live video events on Channel 9, including “Provision a Minecraft server with PowerShell DSC.” That program is less interesting to me than “PowerShell Evolution,” but to each their own. The recordings of all the sessions are available online.

Bitglass Survey Puts Office 365 First

Bitglass, who describe themselves as the “total data protection company,” regularly generate a survey of what’s happening across the public internet. As a security company, Bitglass is interested in finding out what applications companies are running and how those applications are protected. The most recent survey (November 15), which spanned some 120,000 domains, indicates that Office 365 leads Google’s G Suite when it comes to cloud suite deployments. 59 percent of domains scanned had deployed one or the other, with Office 365 found in 34.8 percent and G Suite in 24.5 percent. Comparing those results to last year, the share held by Office 365 has grown 10 points while G Suite (Google Apps) has stayed largely static. The battle for supremacy continues, but it looks as if Microsoft is accelerating a tad while Google is struggling a little.

Another interesting tidbit is that an estimated 33 percent of enterprises worldwide have tried Slack, making it the “fastest growing enterprise cloud service ever.” I wonder what the data will look like next year when Office 365 customers have had the chance to digest the free-and-pretty-capable Microsoft Teams application and make a decision between it and Slack?

Of course, this is just one report (copies are available from Bitglass) and it’s based on data that is not independently verified. However, Bitglass has been doing similar surveys for a couple of years and it’s a yardstick for comparison. No more than that, but still of interest nonetheless.

Outlook Customer Manager Delivers Mini-CRM

The advent of Outlook Customer Manager (OCM) adds some value to Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions. In some ways, OCM is similar to the older Business Contact Manager add-in for Outlook. A form of “CRM Lite” (as opposed to Dynamics CRM), OCM is designed to help small businesses manage customer relationships and is part of Microsoft’s general thrust to provide more functionality inside Office 365. (Bookings is another example.) Functionality creates stickiness, as tenants are more unlikely to want to move away from Office 365 if their business processes are built around the service.

Apparently, Microsoft will also make OCM available to the E3 and E5 enterprise plans in the future. I’ll look forward to that, but perhaps my customers won’t be quite so happy when I start to manage them better…

Non-Dynamic Teams and Planner

A question came in after I published my article about the technology used in Microsoft Teams to ask whether Teams supports dynamic Office 365 Groups for membership. The answer is no. Neither Teams nor Planner support dynamic Office 365 Groups. Both applications operate on the basis that membership is fixed, at least for a session. It’s a reasonable stance to take as the performance consequences of having to constantly reevaluate group membership would be horrendous. Dynamic groups are intended to serve in instances where group membership is highly volatile and communication is via email rather than in the somewhat staider world of plans or the although more hectic chatty environment for teams.

Windows Phone Authenticator

On November 14, Microsoft announced that the Windows Phone version of the Microsoft Authenticator app had reached general availability. The app requires the Windows 10 Anniversary edition. As seems to be the norm, the iOS and Android version of the app have been available for a while. Anyone involved in multi-factor authentication for Office 365 will appreciate the news. That is, if there are any Windows Phone users still out there (apart from me).

Office 365 Tenant Isolation

The “Tenant Isolation in Office 365” publication sets out to explain how “Microsoft implements logical isolation of customer data in a tenant within the Office 365 multi-tenant environment.” At this point, Office 365 is a massive environment that spreads across 12 data center regions and spans hundreds of thousands of servers (Exchange Online alone uses more than 100,000). As the document explains, “the two primary goals of maintaining tenant isolation in a multi-tenant environment are:

  1. Preventing leakage of, or unauthorized access to, customer content across tenants; and
  2. Preventing the actions of one tenant from adversely affecting the service for another tenant.”

Among the interesting facts discussed are that every Exchange mailbox database contains mailboxes from multiple tenants, how the Office Graph is organized, and how search prefixes containing the tenant identifier are used to ensure that searches performed by one tenant can’t affect other tenants.

The document also describes how Microsoft performs breach testing using teams of specialists within Microsoft to attack Azure and Office 365 with the aim of gaining access to tenant data.

Overall, the document is an interesting and worthwhile read for any tenant administrator.

Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna.

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