Office 365 Group Management and Auto-Expiration Public Preview

If you’ve been working with Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies, you probably remember a utility that was made available as a part of SharePoint Server 2003 to automatically delete old site collections that hadn’t been worked with in a while. This was an incredibly helpful utility for system administrators that were watching their SharePoint systems grow virally with the use of Self Service Site Collection creation.

If you’re not familiar with Self Service Site Collection Creation, it’s probably because it was removed from the SharePoint Products and Technologies and then brought back. Self Service Site Collection creation was incredibly beneficial to when users needed to get something up and running as quickly as possible but typically meant that users were creating site collections that may or may not have necessarily fit within the taxonomy of sites that were being implemented by their organization. What does that mean? Well, in some instances duplicative sites and site collections that were owned by different individuals that perhaps weren’t knowledgeable of one another were created, nor did they always find out that the other site / site collection existed since SharePoint Search follows the permissions model and trims out things that you don’t have access to see.

With Office 365’s SharePoint Online, site collection followed a similar life cycle where only certain individuals (SharePoint Service Administraotrs) had the ability to create them. This helped to limit the sprawl of site collections and knowledge but in some instances caused end users to use other Rogue IT services as they found the process for creating a new site to be cumbersome.

Enter in Office 365 Groups and the ability for end users to quickly stand up a collaboration group without the need of an approval from an IT Manager or someone concerned with site taxonomy.  This effectively allows end users to provision a document library, a OneNote notebook, a calendar and a running history of messages that have been sent to the group. Sure it’s possible for the overarching administrator to turn this capability off (Groups) but the question then becomes, “Do you want to limit what your users can do with this Software as a Service platform and limit their ability to collaborate?” That’s a question that I know I comes up regularly – primarily when it comes to governance.

Back with SharePoint Server 2003 the added ability to have a script run and determine when a site collection was last modified which gave them the ability to then send an email to the site collection owner asking them if they were still using the site. Alternatively it was possible to just have the script watch and if it didn’t see a change over a certain period the site collection would be deleted.  Pretty handy – this actually was introduced with Office 365 in OneDrive for Business service for when a user’s license was removed for Office 365 (14 days later their OneDrive for Business went away). Fortunately Microsoft has worked on the tooling for the OneDrive for Business capability to allow a little more flexibility as to how this now works.

In similar fashion the Microsoft Office 365 Groups has a capability announced recently to allow for a similar function of a “soft delete” with a 30 day window to get an Office 365 Group back. The messages that this will send seem to be a bit friendlier based on the blog post from the Enterprise Mobility and Security Blog‘s article “Azure AD Automated Expiration for Office 365 Groups in Public Preview“.

Personally I see this as a great capability but also realize that there will be some gotchas. Specifically in that when a Group is created, an Exchange Distribution list is created. This is helpful since you’re able to have message traffic sent to this address. However if you think about the use case where a Group is deleted and the users fail to realize that the e-mail address that they received notifications on now no longer exists, there may be problems for end users.

Additionally it should be noted per the configuration documentation that an Azure AD Premium license is required to implement Office 365 Group Expiration – if you don’t have these they’re available at a per user cost and have several benefits in addition to this.

All in all, definitely an exciting feature and functionality but wondering how things will work for organizations where end users are truly business users that don’t quite understand all the components of an Office 365 Group or what the information lifecycle truly is…

Reston SharePoint User Group – August 2017

Every so often, I take a few nanoseconds and reflect on the activities within the community. Like everything in life, things ebb and flow. In the case of the SharePoint and Office Server and Services community though, it continues to thrive. This past weekend the Women in SharePoint Group within the DC area hosted a terrific set of sessions. The other SharePoint and Office 365 user groups in the area continue to grow in their respective communities, supporting their members and helping to continue to encourage growth in knowledge and practice.

This week at the Reston SharePoint User Group, we had the privilege of Matt Wade of H3 Solutions presenting on Microsoft’s Groups capability and how it relates to end users and the solutions that they are looking to build on top of the Office 365 platform.

Matt brings the topic down to earth and rather than getting muddied in the provisioning that takes place behind the scenes for Groups to work appropriately, he hones in on the end user and their interactions with Groups and their benefits to the users.

All in all, a decent turnout for the presentation and great engagement with the group. Thanks to Matt for presenting and also for the attendees for engaging and continuing to thrive! I look forward to having the honor of working with Microsoft and the local Community to continue to help users find benefit from tools that they’re provided with.

If you’re not engaged with one of the local area user groups in the DC area, check out Reston SPUG, they meet the first Monday of the month typically (holidays sometimes push the group to meet the second Monday).

Provisioning an Office 365 Tenant

During most Office 365 IT Pro sessions related to getting started with Office 365, a tenant is needed for demonstration purposes.  This usually only lasts about 5 minutes of the overarching presentation, but I’ve found it helpful for when an individual needs to see exactly how it’s completed.

As such, I’ve started a new series of sorts on the topic of IT Pro related topics and basic walk throughs.  For provisioning an Office 365 E3 / E5 tenant, there’s a quick walkthrough available here:

https://danusher.com/how-do-i-cloud/how-to-create-an-e3-e5-trial-tenant/

If you’ve got questions, don’t hesitate to add a comment or send a note via Twitter (@binarybrewery) and I’ll do my best to update or offer information.

Office 365 Developer Tenants

Are you a Developer? Do you write JavaScript code? Did you recently hear about the SharePoint Framework and you’re intrigued and you’re looking to learn more? Are you looking for somewhere to work on your code without necessarily having to consume resources from your Production tenant that you’re running Office 365 within?

Consider heading over to http://dev.office.com and setting up a development tenant. The tenant is limited to a small number of user licenses and is meant to allow you to develop in an environment where you don’t have to be worried about anything happening to your production environment.

Give it a try… and then head over to http://dev.office.com/sharepoint

SharePoint Saturday New York 2016 – Getting Started with Office 365

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been up to the Big Apple for a conference or technology show and once more the SPSNYC team without fail has pulled off a terrific show with a solid group of speakers and sponsors. This go round I had the privilege of presenting on a topic near and dear to my heart, good ole Office 365. The attendees of the session were incredible and engaging – nothing more as a speaker that I could have asked for (except perhaps more time)…

The Office 365 adoption story is one of continued evolution as new experiences come to be through Groups and Delve. What’s more interesting is when you begin to peal back the layers and begin working with capabilities such as the Office 365 Connectors within Groups to begin fostering information sharing with colleagues and team members that you might be working with.

In addition to presenting it was great to catch up with fellow technologists, speakers, MVPs and long time friends. Thanks to the SharePoint Saturday community for continuing to thrive and to Microsoft for continuing to support the community and its events! Look forward to seeing you all next year!

Nevertheless, if you’re here and you’re looking for the slides, look no further, they’re available here:

Office DevCamps

The other day while recording Episode 15 of Brewery.fm with Scott Hoag, I remembered something that was tweeted about during //Build and that I’d received an email about earlier in the day as well – Office DevCamp. So we included it in the show and hoped that folks would consider checking it out – it’s a great opportunity to meet folks from the Microsoft Office Developer team and to learn a thing or two… for free.

So what are Office DevCamp’s? Do I need a shovel? Will I need insect repellent? I sure hope not. I hope they’re going to teach us how to write Apps and use the Office 365 APIs.

If you’re done reading, head on over to http://aka.ms/msdevcamps and register.

For those of that are still here, good on you! Essentially the DevCamp is held at a Microsoft Office near you (in most instances) and it’s split out into a 5 part day. There are events all over the place in the US to include:

There are over a billion Office users out there in 147 countries (wow that’s a lot) and they’re all looking for ways to better use Office – so why not build an app for them?

Definitely sounds like an interesting day – hope that you’re able to make it out!

Brewery FM – Episode 7 – Delving About Delve… Again

MemeGenerator BreweryFMThis week has been a little hectic between work, life and community, but somehow Scott Hoag and I were still able to get together for an hour and record another session of Brewery.fm.

In this weeks episode, we call out Tim Ferro again – mostly because he asked us for some thoughts on an announcement from the Office 365 team on Azure ExpressRoute. Further, we discussed the intricacies of Azure’s RBAC features that were released a few months back (and how PowerShell is still the better way to implement RBAC if you need it with Azure) as well as a whole lot of other interesting topics.

If you’re not subscribed to the Podcast yet, point your favourite podcast software (whether that be iTunes, Podcast Lounge, DownCast, PocketCasts or OverCast over at our feed:

Brewery.fm Pub feed

Once you’ve done that, if you’re curious about something we mentioned, perhaps you should check out the show notes that Scott pulls together and publishes at http://www.brewery.fm each week with the specific episodes. If you want to get to a specific episode quickly, just use the link shortener pattern of http://pub.brewery.fm/breweryXXX where XXX refers to the episode number. This week would be http://pub.brewery.fm/brewery007.

As always, if you’ve got feedback for the show, ping us on Twitter at @breweryfm, leave a post on FaceBook or send us an e-mail at info@brewery.fm.

Oh and we double dog dare you to give us a rating on iTunes… come on you know you wanna 🙂

Needless to say, lots of exciting news in this episode! Quick download it now!