Office 365: So it begins

So setting up and configuring Office 365 is my next major project at my new company following the installation and configuration of a WSUS server.

We’ve signed up for the E1 Enterprise Plan which will gives us Sharepoint and Exchange Online. This project has been a long time in the planning and pre-dates my employment by several months and I will be liaising with one of my colleagues Jeff who has been working on the project since the start. The underlying purpose of the project is document management but there is I believe great benefits to moving our archaic email system to Exchange and having it based in the cloud gives us resiliency for Disaster Recovery (which is another of my major projects here). Jeff’s expertise is in document management so he will be overseeing the Sharepoint side of things and I will be configuring Exchange and administering my company’s entire use of Office 365.

The first part of the project was ensuring that all staff had a sufficiently up to date version of Microsoft Office on their laptop or desktop PC so I upgraded everyone that had Office 2007 or didn’t have any version of Microsoft Office to Microsoft Office 2013.

Second part of the project was creating the user accounts which was straightforward as I was able to output user account details from our Active Directory as a CSV file and then with a bit of editing to remove service accounts and format the CSV according to the guidance supplied by Microsoft I was then able to upload the edited CSV file and automate the creation of the accounts for everyone in the company.

Thirdly was adding domains and then configuring the Office 365 services to use the added domain names. This was where I hit problems. It is simple to add a domain but in order to prove ownership and configure to use the Office 365 services then certain DNS fields needed to be created and our ISP didn’t allow creation or editing of any fields other than the basic A, MX and CNAME.

Finally ideally we’d wish to use Single Sign-On through Active Directory Federation Services, but having now delved into the pre-requisites and resources required for this functionality I have decided that DirSync will provide a level of integration with Active Directory that would suit our needs.