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Hybrid email in Office 365
The integration in an O365 hybrid environment is remarkable, the following features work across mailboxes in the cloud and on premise: Free / Busy information is checked in real time for meeting scheduling, message tracking, multi mailbox searches and MailTips and Out of Office messages work. If you have delegates for a mailbox they need to be on the same side as the mailbox. If your in-house environment is Exchange 2003 you need to add the mailbox role to the on-premise Exchange 2010 server so that it can house the public folders that is used for Free/Busy calendar scheduling. In your planning for a hybrid environment take special care to determine the different namespaces that you need to setup and read through the instructions for setting up Exchange Federation and the organisation relationship with the Microsoft Federation gateway.
Mailbox moves to the cloud are initiated from on premise but O365 actually pulls the data from on premise to the cloud, this means the Mailbox Replication Service has to be running. When you go through the wizard to setup a move of a number of mailboxes you can pause it on the last screen and then start the data transfer at night, there’s also the option to use PowerShell to schedule mailbox moves. Mailbox moves in Exchange 2010 are online; meaning your Outlook can be connected to your mailbox while it’s being moved and you can keep using it, at the end of the move all you have to do is follow the prompt to restart Outlook.
Archiving & Journaling
The E set of plans includes a feature called an archive mailbox. In E3 and E4 this archive is unlimited in storage size and allows organisations to once and for all get rid of all those personal storage files (PST) files that litter many users hard drives. They’re the bane of many Exchange administrators and a nightmare for legal discovery and compliance reasons. You can only have one archive mailbox per user mailbox; administrators can configure policies to move items automatically after a set time.
O365 also offers single item recovery which allows administrators to recover emails or other objects up to 14 days after they’ve been deleted out of the mailbox deleted items folder. There’s an option to increase this to a longer time to provide a slightly different approach to being able to recover and track emails (as an alternative to legal hold), no longer than one year is recommended.
For those business that need to have a record of all communications between particular departments or individuals O365 offers intelligent journaling; this means that multiple emails with the same content are only stored once in the journaling store.
The bell should be tolling for those PST files now that Office 365 offers an unlimited online archive.
Information Rights Management
One feature that’s gaining traction in the enterprise is Information Rights Management (IRM) which allows the protection of Office and other documents while they’re “in flight”. Users can control whether emails can be forwarded or printed etc. as well as set expiration of documents after a certain amount of time. Exchange 2010 on premise offers the ability to use transport rules to apply IRM policies automatically, before this users had to apply IRM settings manually. O365 does NOT offer IRM policies in the cloud but will respect IRM encrypted communications. If you need the ability to apply normal transport rules and journal IRM messages there’s an option to upload your IRM encryption keys to O365.
In the next post we’ll examine Lync Online, which features it brings to the Office 365 experience as well as how IM, VOIP and web conferencing works along with necessary network configuration and how it’s administered.