Ensuring Microsoft Office 365 Administration Doesn’t Interfere with Productivity (part 1)

By Matthew Bretzius posted 08-28-2013 10:34


This is a guest post by Shyam Oza, AvePoint Sr. Product Manager

(Note: This is part of our series “Collaborate with Confidence”. Previous posts: Increasing Your Organization’s Productivity through Customer Relationship Management)

Just because an organization decides to switch to Office 365 doesn’t mean the woes of administration associated with the Microsoft stack magically disappear. Oftentimes, in addition to the reduced and more predictable costs of the cloud, people will switch to Microsoft’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering in order to benefit from a reduced need of “experts” to manage critical infrastructure from bare metal to Virtual Machines as well as components including SQL, Windows Server and IIS.

While this does lift a heavy burden, one truth will remain - your system has users who will never change. Content will be uploaded in the wrong place, critical emails will be lost, and conversations within SharePoint communities still need to be monitored. Infrastructure is a thing of the past, but governance and administration are still the realities of today.

As Office 365 deployments grow in scale and complexity, a constant question that is already common in on-premises scenarios comes to the fore: Do we need third-party administration tools for our deployment? While I am a firm believer that a successful deployment blends out-of-the-box functionality and third-party solutions, there is much that can be done on Day One to ensure your deployment is off to the right start. I’d like to cover a few of the basics any administrator should consider before assessing third-party software vendors.

To properly frame this conversation, I’m going to talk about issues that may arise AFTER provisioning your Office 365 service. Prior to deploying to Office 365, I strongly recommend that you research and make certain you’re picking the right plan for your company. If you think that this is an unnecessary waste of time, look no further than Dan Holme’s post on the Office 365 ‘P’ Plan.


While we are experiencing a vast shift in enterprise communication worldwide to Social Workloads, the reality is that today the majority of collaboration still occurs over email and instant message (IM). Microsoft Exchange and Lync are backbones of any organization, and are the most commonly deployed workloads for Office 365. They also harbor some of the greatest risks when it comes to Office 365 being a success or failure for the organization. There are a few key things to keep in mind when moving your email and IM to the cloud:

  • By default, deleted items are only recoverable for up to 14 days.
    • Messaging Records Management (MRM) allows you to tag Exchange containers and set up policies to archive and apply legal holds to Exchange content.
    • Messages can be preserved far beyond the 14 day default.


  • Once users reach their storage limit (default 25GB), they will be unable to send emails.
    • Content sent over email as an attachment is nowhere near as secure as content stored within SharePoint.
    • Encourage the use of SkyDrive Pro as an alternative to attachments.
    • Move conversations outside of email.

Not being proactive about these limits will likely result in a barrage of calls to the helpdesk, indiscriminate deletion of mail or content by the user so they are able to send their current “important” email out or, most likely, a mix of both. Unlike item retention, which is solved through configuration and enforcement on the part of the administrator, this is handled through user training and adoption of new features and behavior.

When it comes to email, 25GB of storage is still a great deal of space. What kills this space is the attachments sent with messages. Files like PDFs, office documents, and images will very quickly bloat any inbox. The frequency with which emails are forwarded or resent with attachments can also quickly cut into your allocated storage. Encouraging users to place content in SkyDrive Pro and provide links to the content achieves multiple goals:

  • Further encourages SharePoint to be the location of choice for uploading content, instead of an unmanaged file share, personal cloud account such as Box, your local machine, or a flash drive
  • Enables users to protect content with Information Rights Management (IRM) and SharePoint versioning
  • Reduces bloat in Exchange
  • Ensures there aren’t “multiple copies of the truth” floating around

Tomorrow we will tackle how to make the most out of your SharePoint deployment with Office 365.

#productivity #SharePoint #administration #office365 #sharepoint