As part of the series of posts on Office365 this post will look Exchange Online.
Administration for all Office365 services are managed via a common site. The default for this is https://portal.onmicrosoft.com. When you sign in (and Office365 provides a really good update to the single sign-in client) you are shown initially the user centric view, clicking Admin will take you to the central services Administration screen.
Each service provides it’s own management pages with the central site providing user, group and domain management (future post will cover these aspects).
Manage Exchange Online
The administration user experience with Exchange Online is first class. The people who designed this have really done a lot of work providing the basic features within easy reach, and as you need more advanced features opening up these in an easy to find way.
User management is made very easy with the ability to search using free text and filter by types of mail boxe.
Room management is something that is embedded in Outlook/Exchange and its good to see it here and easy to find. The select view also gives an indication of the Advanced capabilities available with the option to choose Mailboxes on litigation hold.
Management of additional user information and features are provided via a comprehensive, but still very easy to use, dialog. Management of groups is also similar with membership and properties managed via simple dialogs.
External contacts can be also be added and made available to all users.
Migration options for Exchange Online are fairly extensive and will be covered in more detail in a future post in this series.
Roles & Auditing
For a lot of small businesses these features could be considered advanced options. You can happily use Exchange Online without ever having to look at or adjust these. They do however provide some comfort in that if you need them, you know the options exist.
The options available for auditing is something that you will be grateful for if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to perform an audit.
At it’s simplest you can look at who’s in the administrators group up to specific non-owner mailbox access reports.
Spam is a massive issue, if you have never received a spam email then your in the minority! Exchange Online provides its protection through Microsoft Forefront Online Protection. This application is a spam and anti-virus service that protects you from all sorts of nasty’s. The big benefit of the online service is that Microsoft are responsible for keeping these services up to date and tuned – as a user of the service you really don’t want to have to worry about this.
In addition to the external control Exchange Online allows you to manage internal rules. You can see from the screen shot below that this has been tested in Education with the anti bullying and closed campus rules and safety settings.
Journaling also features here giving you the confidence that should you need this, for compliance or other reasons, Office365 and Exchange Online have you covered.
Another example of good user experience in the delivery reports screen.
Phone and Voice
During the beta we have not tested the phone and voice integration, being a small hybrid organisation 21apps does not have an on premise phone system. It is understood that Microsoft are working with phone providers, including mobile operators to integrate their systems into the Office365 platform.
The ability to have a unified number and voice mail across all of my platforms is something that I am looking forward to.
Exchange Online provides enterprise class email in a hosted environment with the ease of use of even the best online applications. For business class email there really is no alternative.
The next post will look at Outlook Online and how the familiar Outlook features are available on the web.
More information about Office365 can be downloaded here.
Please note these screen shots are based on the Beta Release and there is no guarantee that this is what will be available in the final product.