Understanding Office 365

What Office 365 offers

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From the beginning, I'd like to cover some basics. Office 365, or the Office 365 offering from Microsoft, what is it? I want to make sure that we understand all of the components that are built into Office 365. So, Office 365, first of all, it is not a single product. It is a suite of products. And that's very important because people say things like I need to install Office 365. There is no such thing; there is now downloadable Office 365. Microsoft sometimes likes to refer to it that way in order to have it seem like more of a single entity, but the reality is that Office 365, it is a suite of products, and we can pick which products our Office 365 flavor, is going to be built of.

It is built on a subscription-based model. Now what does that mean? It means that we don't need to invest in a full functioning Office and enterprise-level infrastructure. We can purchase on a monthly basis Office 365 products. Now, this subscription-based model offers the ability to grow. We can change our model, we can purchase additional services in our model, we can downgrade our model, it's a very flexible subscription-based model, and it is picked on a per-month basis, though you have yearly contracts typically.

There's enterprise-level contracts, or pay-as-you-go solutions, depending on the agreement that you have with Microsoft, you'll have different lengths of contracts. Now the subscription-based model is one of those models that is very advantageous for companies that are starting up, that are growing, and definitely caters well to startup organizations. Office 365 is built on separate tiers. So whether you're a student that has specific needs of word processing and spreadsheets, small business that has some basic email needs and some basic file-sharing needs, all the way up to large organizations that have very specific requirements around the messaging and compliance.

All of those solutions are built into Office 365 but you only pay for what you need. You don't need to buy the large organization solution if you have a small business, and that is where the flexibility really comes in is the ability to purchase only the services and the functionalities that you require for your business and for your needs, and therefore your bill will be a lot smaller at the end of the month. So Office 365 has that flexibility not only in length of contract, in types of services, but also in the breadth of services that we can purchase for our organization, based on what we truly need.

Now where is Office 365? So you've heard about the cloud, and I like to say that the cloud is not really a thing, it is really servers and computers that are managed by someone else. Having a cloud means that someone else is in charge of the hardware, and you pay them for the right to use their hardware. That is what the cloud premise is built on. There's a certain amount of trust. You trust the organization that manages the hardware, in this case, Microsoft. So where does Microsoft keep its hardware? Well, they have redundant data centers that are all over the world.

These data centers are in secure locations, that are both physically secure and also secured over the internet with dedicated links to major internet providers, the Microsoft data centers, some of them are known, and some of them are unknown in terms of their location for security reasons. They are truly redundant in the sense that if certain services become unavailable at one data center, you're not likely to know about it because your data is going to be synchronized over multiple locations.

Now, it also shares its storage and its data centers with Azure. So that's interesting because Microsoft's cloud, as Microsoft refers to it, contains both Azure and Office 365. And as you'll see in this course, we talk quite a bit about the fact that Office 365 uses Azure active directory, and so the functionalities of Azure are part of the foundation of Office 365, so it makes sense for them to be in the same data centers, access similar storage, and to be managed as a single entity.

They are all part of Microsoft's cloud-based solution. Now, what is made up, or what are the components, the primary components inside of Office 365? So let's take a look at it from first the basic services that initially made up Office 365, and it had a horrible name when it was first introduced, but it essentially made up of Exchange, SharePoint, and at the time, Communication Server, and then was renamed to Lync, and is now renamed to Skype for Business. So, Exchange, the email solution, SharePoint, the file document sharing or collaboration solution, and Skype for Business, those three components are the cornerstones of Office 365.

Those are the three enterprise-level solutions that are also part of Office 365. Now, SharePoint you might know it also as OneDrive, or OneDrive for Business more specifically. Microsoft, just like it has Skype and Skype for Business, it has OneDrive and OneDrive for Business. OneDrive is the personal sharing for file storage, and OneDrive for Business is really SharePoint online. So these are the primary basic technologies or enterprise-level technologies that are included in Office 365, but another component that's always included in Office 365 is Office Online.

Now that's the ability of using your familiar Office applications like Outlook, and Word, and Excel, and Powerpoint, all of those, within a browser. So it's called Office Online, but it's basically a browser-based version of all of your familiar Office applications. Now we have some newer applications that you may not be familiar with, but that are also included in Office 365, depending on the flavor that you purchase. Yammer, Microsoft's version of enterprise-level social networking.

So imagine Facebook for your company, or Facebook for business, well that's Yammer. Sway is a great way to create mini website or web-based presentations. So if you want to create a presentation that's a little bit more dynamic than a PowerPoint presentation, well Sway is a HTML-based method for creating presentations which is quite interesting. And Delve is an email management solution also that's a little bit still in development and quite interesting to look at within your email client.

Now, there's also some more deep enterprise-level solutions, such as Power BI, business intelligence, which allows you to dive into your data and have some great data representation and be able to extract a lot of good business intelligence information out of your Excel spreadsheets. Power BI is a great tool that is available also from Microsoft and that can be included into your Office 365 subscription. Intune, a method for managing devices such as MDM or Microsoft Device Management, and the device management is one of those solutions that is becoming more and more important for organizations that are moving to the cloud, where essentially, the only line of defense that they have is managing the devices, because all the data is in the cloud.

So if they want to control the data that the users access or the ones that they make available offline, then their MDM solution is going to be key for that, and Intune is really part of that MDM solution, Microsoft Intune, which really allows you to update clients and control the client computers that are part of your infrastructure. Now what is the primary benefit of Office 365? Well one of the greatest benefits of Office 365, and in my opinion one of the things that have really helped Microsoft sell Office 365 as a viable subscription-based solution for many organization is the downloadable Office applications.

With Office 365, again, not all flavors of Office 365, you can download all of your Office applications and pay for them on a monthly basis. So if you remember, a good version of Office or full Office can be several hundred dollars to purchase from Microsoft, and that is quite a large financial investment if you have hundreds or thousands of users on your infrastructure, though, being able to apply them in a different line in your balance sheet and purchase them on a monthly basis, well that could be very appealing to many, many organizations.

So downloadable Office applications, also available with Office 365, and many organizations use that as a primary benefit of Office 365.

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For businesses with 150+ licenses Request Office 365 onboarding assistance from FastTrack

You can request remote and personalized assistance with onboarding. Our FastTrack engineers will help you plan your Office 365 project, assess your technical environment, provide remediation guidance, and provide user adoption assistance. For businesses with at least 500 licenses, Microsoft also provides personalized assistance to migrate data to Office 365.

See the FastTrack Center Video: http://aka.ms/meetfasttrack

Get started today: http://fasttrack.microsoft.com

Tip: Businesses with 1-149 licenses still have access to FastTrack guidance via links in the Admin Center and also available at https://aka.ms/setupguidance.

Office 365 has become the flagship solution for Microsoft's cloud-based services—a one-stop shop for user management, email, real-time collaboration, and secure file storage. This simple-to-deploy, simple-to-manage approach has won over millions of users. As more organizations move toward the cloud, being able to deploy Office 365 is a skill all network and system admins will need to know.

This course details the process of moving your network to Office 365 by deploying a new Office 365 subscription. David Elfassy covers creating user accounts, adding domains, and configuring email, directories, conferencing, file sharing, and valuable business services such as PowerShell and SharePoint. Watch these tutorials to deploy your own implementation of Office 365 or to see if this technology fits your enterprise needs.

Topics include:

  • Using FastTrack to prepare for Office 365

  • Creating Office 365 user accounts

  • Adding domains

  • Configuring Outlook and Skype

  • Configuring sharing and shared mailboxes

  • Troubleshooting an Office 365 deployment

  • Configuring PowerShell

  • Creating SharePoint services

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