Cloud Busting – Expert tips for businesses deploying office 365

Microsoft Office 365 delivers a super set of productivity and business tools that make your life easier and free you up to focus on your core business. The list of benefits may not be endless, but it is extensive. You can improve your business image with a custom website, share information such as calendars and contacts, stay connected anywhere in the world, chat in real-time no matter where you are, and gain access to superb collaboration and file sharing tools.

However, while Microsoft Office 365 has a stable of delightful productivity ponies on offer, there will always be some issues that filter through and cause a measure of mayhem. Thanks to experts in the field and top Microsoft minds, this guide provides you with answers, advice and guidance that will prepare you for almost anything.

Troubleshooting Outlook 2010: Issues with auto-connecting Outlook to the Office 365 Exchange Server.

Peter Chadha, chief executive and founder of DrPete Inc, Independent Strategic Technology Advisors, suggests that this can be quite a common issue, but one that can be resolved. "You need to make very specific changes to your DNS settings to enable the auto-search facility to work correctly," he says, "It may be worth reducing the time to live (TTL) of your DNS records so that changes can be propagated very quickly."

Microsoft Office 365 support has this to add to the solution, "Before setting up your Outlook desktop application to Office 365 make sure that either your company is using the domain automatically created for it when they signed up for Office 365, or that your company is using a custom domain and has already created the DNS record at the domain registrar to enable Autodiscover. If this has not been done, your company must create a CNAME record so that Outlook can connect to the correct server running Microsoft Exchange Server."

Should you find that you continue to have issues connecting to the Office 365 Exchange Server, or that this is not your particular problem, then visit the Troubleshoot update and configuration issues guide at Microsoft which covers most points in detail. In addition, go here for a detailed examination of Outlook configuring a new profile using Exchange Autodiscover and the issues surrounding it.

Have you updated your software?

Jeremy Neal, head of online services at IMGROUP, says, "You need your migration to go smoothly and deliver on user expectations, so it is vital the desktops have the latest Microsoft patches applied and all Office 365 updates are installed. This is key in making sure that Office 365 services and applications work as expected."

Some of the most common issues surrounding the update of software in a business to become Office 365 compatible include; updates not downloading, an incompatible desktop program or operating system, a failed update, and the error message, "Application configuration incomplete." Most of these issues are covered in detail on the Microsoft Office 365 online support blog along with step-by-step instructions on how to overcome them.

However, before you leap into the morass of error messages and failed updates and wonder why you decided to undertake this task in the first place, it's worth checking the definitive guide to all the Microsoft Office 365 supported operating systems and software first. This way you can immediately tell if one of your programs is liable to cause a problem and fix the issue before you begin the upgrade process.

What's your IT team doing?

The IT teams that handle the myriad of issues filtering through any large organisation are not sitting idle, waiting for an Office 365 migration to come along. So your project planning and migration timescales must be thought through, considering the other demands on your IT team.

"Using internal IT resources makes sense as the skills they have are relevant to Office 365, and this reduces migration cost," adds Neal, "However, those skills are often in demand elsewhere and you need to be realistic about resource plans."

Should your IT department be under a lot of pressure keeping up with user demands on an average day, then it is worth looking into external support or help for the large-scale migration and pilot of Office 365. Limited staff and issues with users during the final phases will only stretch the time it takes to make the shift and any major issues will take longer to resolve.

Microsoft Exchange Online dependencies

"Exchange dependencies may also be an issue," says Chadha, "Where an exchange connector is used by another application this can prevent wholesale migration to Microsoft Office 365. You may have to consider running a more complex hybrid configuration."

For customers planning to adopt a hybrid messaging model or understanding how the above issue occurs, you need an understanding of application technology dependencies and how it will impact the migration, deployment and running of the system. Fortunately Microsoft has provided plenty of extra support for businesses planning to move into the cloud or adopt a hybrid solution. In this particular instance, a white paper developed by the Office 365 team - Cloud Migration: Office 365 Capability and Technical Fit Assessment - goes through the planning processes as well as offering a detailed review of both current and future technology needs. If this is not detailed enough and doesn't help resolve your Exchange Server dependency issues, then a great resource is the Microsoft Office 365 Deployment Guide.

While these issues hardly scratch the surface, they have been cited as some of the most common found by businesses as they've migrated to Microsoft Office 365. Hopefully these solutions and links to reliable resources will ease the transition for your business, or provide you with solid stepping stones to the next phase of your migration.

Sources: Microsoft Support Centre:

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