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).

PowerApps Case Study

Microsoft’s underlying integration between Office 365 and Azure continues to allow Microsoft to develop experiences that tie in with services that we’re highly accustomed to within the SharePoint realm. One of the new capabilities recently added to the gamut of colors to paint your SharePoint environment’s feature set with is PowerApps.

If you’re interested in hearing more about PowerApps, come on out to the Reston SharePoint User Group next week. More details area available here:

PowerApps a Case Study

Monday, Jun 5, 2017, 11:30 AM

Microsoft
12012 Sunset Hills Road Reston, VA

29 SharePointeers Attending

PowerApps was a hot topic at Ignite 2016 and other recent Microsoft events. Much of the buzz with PowerApps has been surrounding when it can replace InfoPath Forms. To show one use for PowerApps, Brad will utilize a case study of a project at a nonprofit. He will provide some of the user stories, design considerations and show a quick demo of how p…

Check out this Meetup →

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.

Azure AD Connect – SSO

On a pretty regular basis I find myself discussing the merits of using AD FS with Office 365 when a customer or client has special requirements pertaining to their environment. Not only does it allow for instant user control ensuring a user authenticates against their local domain, but it also provides for capabilities pertaining to “complex” user scenarios.

One thing that AD FS does for user login’s is the idea of a “Simple Sign On” where the user’s identity is passed on their behalf in the background, similar to how a Kerberos ticket might be passed but in the terms of an authentication flow that ends up with the user having a resource token to pass to Office 365.

One of the downsides of AD FS is the requirement to have redundancy, proxies and oh right, still having Azure AD Connect running for identity synchronization from the on-premises environment to Office 365.

Enter the Pass-Through preview capability within Azure AD Connect.

Back in mid-December 2016, Microsoft introduced Azure AD Connect custom settings to allow for “Simple Sign On” through just using the Azure AD Connect preview functionality.

For more on this topic, I highly recommend reading the SSO / Pass-Through article Microsoft posted here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/connect/active-directory-aadconnect-sso

SharePoint Users Group of DC

This past week I had the pleasure of presenting at the SharePoint Users Group of DC. They’re a terrific group that meets in the McLean / Tyson’s Corner area of Northern Virginia. The focus of the group meeting was to discuss the benefits and gotchas of utilizing Office 365, primarily around SharePoint Online capabilities but expanding to areas such as Exchange integration with Office 365 Groups as well as security and compliance topics. All in all a terrific time to get together and engage with the vibrant DC community. Thanks to Nikkia and crew for having me!

Slides for the presentation are posted and available to snag here:

SUG DC – Getting Started with Office 365

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: