New Security Features Coming to Office 365

Microsoft has just announced a number of new security features coming to Office 365.

Advanced Security Alerts

Office 365 will now alert administrators based on unusual behavior such as logging in from a location they have not logged in before or if a user takes unusual administrative actions.

New security management and transparency capabilities 1b

Cloud App Discovery

Office 365 will now allow administrators to monitor use of third party cloud services such as DropBox or Box and to see how they are using these services to manage documents.

Revoke App Permissions

An “Add-In” in Office 365 is granted permissions to access data within the tenant based on the business user deploying the add-in.  Administrators will now see a dashboard that shows all the apps and provide a centralized management function so that access can be revoked by the administrator if the add-in is not sanctioned.

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Lockbox for SharePoint Online and OneDrive Arriving in Q2 2016

Microsoft has updated its timeline for rolling out Lockbox for SharePoint and OneDrive – the service will be arriving in Q2 of 2016.

Microsoft’s objective with Lockbox is to ensure there is 100% transparency with any access to your data by a Microsoft engineer.  In the vast majority of cases, management tasks are fully automated and therefore no access is ever required.  In the rare event that a Microsoft engineer needs to access your data, Microsoft will now ensure that you approve the request through an automated workflow.

Lockbox is now generally available for Exchange online.  SharePoint and OneDrive will be covered as part of the Q2 update of the feature.

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Microsoft Acquires Cross-Platform Mobile Framework Xamarin

Xamarin is a cross-platform development framework for mobile applications.  You write your applications in C# and the framework publishes your app to native IOS, Android or Windows Phone.

Microsoft announced yesterday that they have now acquired the Xamarin team and will be integrating the framework into Azure, TFS, Visual Studio and Office 365 development tools in the future.

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Azure Logic Apps Preview Updated With New Features

Microsoft has a new PAAS service for developing cloud based workflow applications called Azure Logic Apps.  The service is currently in preview but you can start trying it out within the Azure portal.

Like any business process workflow solution, Logic Apps is based on a designer that can connect different events and actions together into a business process.  In this case, Logic Apps is focused on creating connections between cloud services either hosted in Azure or elsewhere.  Logic Apps are triggered based on events such as the arrival of an email or a new file arriving in your Azure storage.

Microsoft has just released a refreshed Azure Logic Apps that has some new features.

Improved Designer Experience

The workflow authoring tool has been improved to make it easy to automate business process workflows.

Sample workflow

Managed API Connections

Microsoft has made it easier to setup connections to cloud services such as Office 365 or Azure.

Native Webhook Support

Logic Apps now supports webhook which allows for many different external notifications triggering a workflow.  For example, this could be an order being placed on your e-commerce web site, an email being received or a CRM record being created.  Any external web app that supports Webhook as a protocol can be integrated into the workflow.

Integrating services example

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If Your Hybrid Search Index lives in the Cloud, is this a Compliance Concern?

One of the new features in SharePoint 2016 is the ability to integrate content from on premise SharePoint Farms with Office 365.  

The Old Model

In the original SharePoint 2013 model, Hybrid Search worked by using a federated search approach where the SharePoint 2013 farm hosted the search index for on premise and Office 365 hosted the search index for SharePoint Online. 

While the search query executes within Office 365, the index is actually still on premise and is federated with the SharePoint online search index.  The content within the on premise index never leaves the on premise farm.

The New SharePoint 2016 Model

With the new SharePoint 2016 model and/or the latest SharePoint 2013 model (it requires the latest cumulative update), there is no longer an on premise index and a cloud index.  There is only a single integrated index running in the cloud.

The key point here is the content that is indexed is now in the cloud at least as represented as the stored index, even if it originated from an on premise SharePoint farm..

There are clear advantages to this approach in that SharePoint Online now has a single index to search and can use ranking, relevance, Delve, activity feeds, etc. against a consolidated index that covers content both on premise and in the cloud.

The Key Compliance Question: If Your Content is Indexed in the Cloud, is it in the Cloud?

Many regulated organizations have made it a policy that certain types of documents cannot be hosted in the cloud.  They implement SharePoint 2013 on premise to avoid the security and compliance risks associated with moving to the cloud.   A typical hybrid scenario involves for example a hospital that might allow for collaboration of non-patient records in Office 365 but keeps all patient records on premise for compliance and security reasons.

In this scenario, any document on premise would be crawled and indexed by SharePoint online using SharePoint 2016.  Crawled document content and metadata is now in the cloud – for example, all metadata attributes would be the index as well as all words/terms from the content of the document.  If your document contains patient identifiers as metadata or within the content of the document, those now presumably live in some form within the index (The original document stays on premise – when the user clicks on the link it sends them back to the on premise SharePoint farm).

Is this a compliance violation if the policy is no patient records can go to the cloud? 

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Major Increases to Available Storage for Office 365 SharePoint and OneDrive Users

Microsoft has announced several changes to the storage available to end-users for those subscribers to premium Office 365 plans including:

  • Office 365 Enterprise E3, E4 and E5

  • Office 365 Government E3, E4 and E5
  • Office 365 Education
  • OneDrive for Business Plan 2 and SharePoint Online Plan 2

The changes include increases to storage within OneDrive for Business and pooled storage available within SharePoint Online.

OneDrive for Business Storage: From 1 TB to 5 TB to Unlimited

The current 1 TB limit for One Drive for Business is increasing to 5 TB as of March 2016.  Microsoft is committing to increase the limit to unlimited in the near future.

More SharePoint Online Space: From 10 GB to 1 TB

The current model for allocating space to SharePoint Online starts with a pool of 10 GB + 0.5 GB for each user.  This space is then allocated to site collections.  If organizations need more than their pool, they can purchase additional storage.

Customers on the premium plans above will now have 1 TB + 0.5 GB, a major upgrade from the 10 GB previously provided.

New Storage Usage Model for SharePoint Online Site Collections

In the current model, organizations provision site collections and allocate storage to them.  This allocation is reserved for that site collection and is now unavailable for any other site collection.  In the new model, only the storage that is used is now reserved and all other storage is still available to the shared pool for the tenant.

How the new usage model applies to team sites and OneDrive for Business

There is also a new configuration setting to allow admins to have specific storage quotas on each site collection (manual) or simply have storage automatically increase as it is used (auto).

Site Collection Storage Management toggle switch to select Auto or Manual highlighted

Increase in Site Collection Limit: From 10K to 500K

Microsoft has also increased the limit for site collections from a maximum of 10,000 site collections to 500,000 site collections.

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Office 365 Increases Maximum File Size Limit to 10 GB

Microsoft has just announced that they are increasing the maximum file size limit from 2 GB to 10 GB.  This is a significant increase especially for customers who are managing large digital files such as engineering drawings, videos, or Photoshop files.

Improvements for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business 3b

The increase applies to SharePoint team sites, Office 365 groups, One Drive for Business files and Office 365 Video Portal videos.

SharePoint 2016 will also support the new 10 GB file size limit, up from the 2 GB limit in SharePoint 2013.

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New Office 365 Groups UI Enhancements

Microsoft Office 365 Groups are shared workspaces that combine a shared inbox, calendar, document library, and notes together for collaboration.  Office 365 Groups extend to CRM and Power BI as well for sharing information within these platforms.

Microsoft is enhancing the groups user experience to improve usability and groups discovery.  The new “header” provides a navigation experience to the core elements of the group.

Updates to Office 365 Groups 1

The new discover page provides a list of groups that you might want to join from your organization.

Updates to Office 365 Groups 2

There is also a new feature called Dynamic Membership that allows the group owner to add users based on business rules instead of needing to select each person individually.  For example, you can set a rule to add all people where their Job Title = Vice President.

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