Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Office365 Ignite training – Day 3


Today started off with information around Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. It now has the ability to not only view information but also make changes including things like white listing and creating email signatures. This will be quite handy and makes things more flexible than they currently are.

In Australia there will be an Office365 ‘P’ SKU which is aimed at small business and most likely designed to work with SBS 2011 Essentials. Personally, I can’t see myself ever recommending that option for customers.Why? It is simply too limiting. The ‘P’ SKU for example, doesn’t allow AD synchronization via Dirsync, it doesn’t have the provision for email archiving, it is limited to 50 licenses in total, doesn’t include Office Pro Plus, limits the amount of SharePoint storage and so on. To my mind the biggest appeal of Office365 for end users is going to be the version of Office Pro Plus they can download and install on their machines.

Another major point is the fact that Office 2003 will not be supported. This means Outlook 2003 won’t even be able to connect to Exchange Online under Office365. Given that Office 2003 is approaching almost 10 years I really think it is time people upgrade to Office 2010, but something to be aware of when doing migrations.

Interestingly, Office365 passwords can be 7 to 16 characters in length. We asked why there is an upper limit but no one seemed to know. This is sort of a bummer as many have been schooling customers to use pass phrases or more than 16 characters. Hopefully that will change before Office365 goes public.

As for the SharePoint stuff well there wasn’t too much I hadn’t already seen already having access to the beta. However, there were plenty of interesting questions thrown up by attendees which adds to the knowledge base.

So, was it worthwhile to take 3 days out of my business to learn about Office365? Definitely. Will I have to do more research and testing? Yes, but I happy to do this as I see Office365 being big and there are not many people out there with the skills, especially in the SBS world. Much of the information I learn about Office365 will find its way into my Cloud Guide (currently part of my SharePoint Guide). As Office365 grows so too will this information but focused on the SME market.

Finally, please remember that everything I mention here is still about a product that is yet to be released and is subject to change. However, I am really liking what I see and can’t wait to start tying it into SBS 2011 Essentials for starters.