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9 Problems System Admins Can Relate To

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From SMEs to large Enterprise multinationals, many organizations across a broad spectrum have embraced the SaaS Cloud model to deliver IT services to their staff and customers. This is especially true for communication, collaboration, and productivity applications like those in Microsoft 365. Microsoft operates over 200,000 Cloud Exchange servers today and has over 200,000 organizations using Azure AD and SharePoint Online services within Microsoft 365.

That’s a lot of organizations who have seen the benefits of using the Cloud or hybrid model to deliver services based on the Microsoft stack. At CoreView, we agree with the benefits that the Microsoft 365 product family provides for organizations. We also recognize that the configuration, monitoring, and management of Microsoft 365 deployments can quickly become a challenge for System Admins in Managed Service Providers (MSPs) or IT teams in organizations.

Here we highlight nine common problem areas that System Admins encounter when managing a Microsoft 365 based infrastructure.

Seeing the Big Picture

Microsoft 365 has lots of moving parts. There are multiple applications that have lots of users with different permissions, and probably a spread of users and data spread across various Microsoft Data Centers to keep them in their own geographic location. It can be challenging to maintain an overall view of the Microsoft 365 deployment and its use when using the standard Microsoft 365 reporting and admin tools.

CoreView is designed from the ground up to show the Microsoft 365 big picture. It delivers a unified dashboard that covers all management needs. All the information you need is available by starting from this single pane of glass (This is a metaphor. Lots of people can use the dashboard simultaneously on their devices. It’s not literally a single console!)

Comprehensive Reporting

CoreView’s management dashboard provides access to a comprehensive array of reports that are available to System Admins. If any information is required for IT management purposes, for reporting internally to executive teams, or for audit reporting, then a comprehensive report can deliver the needed information. This is a challenge in standard Microsoft 365 management; one that our reporting experts have solved by giving you multiple reports across these areas:

License ManagementSecurity Anomaly reportsOneDrive Activity
Email UsageSecurity ComplianceOneDrive Storage Use
Email message tracingAzure AD RiskSharePoint Usage
Microsoft Teams useAzure AD Sign-in ActivityYammer Activity
Application Use StatisticsSuspicious Sign-In ActivitySkype for Business use
Mobile Device usePassword ManagementMultiple Geo

These reports can be generated and distributed automatically using scheduling, and they can be run on an ad hoc basis when required. System Admins can also modify these reports and create their own to find information unique to their organizations, with new and modified reports also capable of automatic execution via scheduling. As part of scheduling, a workflow can also be triggered that will make changes to the results in the report.

Manage Multiple Tenants

Many MSPs manage the Microsoft  365 deployments for multiple client organizations. These deployments must be both manageable at the global level and also capable of having differences at the organizational level. The same is often true for larger organizations with a central IT function for multiple divisions within companies. This can be a challenge on a single Microsoft 365 tenant that often leads to many separate deployments and management accounts for particular groups of users. Making the Microsoft 365 management and reporting process more complex.

CoreSuite supports tenant segmentation capabilities to allow a global management layer that contains what we call Virtual Tenants (V-Tenants) to allow more granular control for each group where appropriate. With the single dashboard still showing everything for those authorized to see it and delegated management down to V-Tenants to allow management delegation. Assigning an administrator to a specific lower level V-Tenant means they only see the information and activities at that level on the console and in any reports they run.

Manage Licenses

The costs for Microsoft 365 licenses can quickly mount up. Managers in organizations will want to know from IT that the money spent on licenses is justified, and that all the licenses allocated to end users are required and used. It’s common for licenses to remain assigned to users who have left organizations. These licenses could be allocated to others or eliminated to reduce costs. This is especially true when multiple departments or locations assign licenses out of a single, global pool. Unused license costs can quickly mount up. CoreSuite pulls all licensing and activity information into the core dashboard view and reports, so it’s easy to see activity patterns and identify unused licenses.

CoreSuite also includes License Pools. These are similar to V-Tenants but only affect licensing. You can assign each department or location their own licenses and they can only assign licenses available in their “pool”. There is also reporting on License Pools making show-back or charge-back to the departments much easier for Microsoft 365 licenses.

Maximize Security

Cybersecurity is front and center as a concern for all System Admins in 2021. The increase in ransomware attacks in particular needs addressed. Microsoft 365 has a large surface area that provides a tempting target for cybercriminals. Particularly via Phishing and other social engineering based attacks. It’s often the case that gaining access to a user’s Microsoft   365 credentials can provide bad actors with a lot of access to data stored in Microsoft 365.

Setting permissions on a least required basis is a good way to reduce the risk and harden Microsoft 365 against data breaches and other cyberattacks. CoreSuite includes reports that highlight the granularity of permissions at various levels so they can be adjusted as required to reduce access to apps and data that people don’t need for their job. It also allows the activities of System Admins to be tracked so that risk is not introduced by inappropriate delegation. 

Control Shadow IT

System Admins have their hands full managing the official IT tools they deploy within organizations. The simplicity of signing up for Cloud-based SaaS applications means that many individuals and departments often use free, or paid for, applications that are not under the control of IT. Typical examples include project management websites users see advertised via Instagram and YouTube.

These unsanctioned apps constitute what is known as Shadow IT. It poses problems on several fronts. Security can be diminished as there may be flaws in the SaaS apps that criminals can exploit to access other services users use. Or login names and password security for these Shadow IT services may be reused, and corporate standards not enforced as IT are unaware of their use. Also, for chargeable Shadow IT services, they may be replicating functionality included in licenses for Microsoft 365. Meaning the organization is paying multiple times for tools to do the same thing. Lastly, having multiple tools reduces the potential for data sharing and collaboration across a company. Collaboration that could lead to synergies if everyone used a standard solution.

The CoreView CoreSuite Multi-SaaS Add-On discovers SaaS apps in use on the network. It allows System Admins to get a full view of what is in use, pulls together those SaaS products into one management interface, and allows companies to make decisions on which are really required or can be eliminated.

Tame Hybrid Deployments

Many organizations using Microsoft 365 Cloud applications evolved into that position after years of using applications such as Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint in on-premise deployments. They often still have hybrid infrastructure spread across on-premise and Microsoft 365. Some regulated businesses are required to have certain data on-premise and not in the Cloud, and they often deploy hybrid models to allow this. With some data in the Cloud and the rest on site and then using Active Directory federation to control authorization and authentication across the whole estate. This can be difficult for System Admins to manage.

The CoreView Hybrid Agent extends the single pane of glass management dashboard across the whole estate. It eliminates the management border between Microsoft 365 and on-premise Microsoft Active Directory and Exchange.

Maximizing the use of MS Teams

The forced home working due to the pandemic has accelerated the uptake of Microsoft Teams across organizations that have selected Microsoft 365 as their productivity suite of choice. Over the last 18 months Microsoft has introduced many enhancements and improvements to Microsoft Teams to make it easier for organizations to work online.

The pace of change means that many organizations are not using Microsoft Teams to the maximum amount. Core Suite includes comprehensive reporting on how Microsoft Teams is being used within an organization. Having this information allows IT and Executives to see who would benefit from training in Microsoft Teams features so that they can effectively use of all the functionality. In addition to the built-in Microsoft Teams reporting in CoreSuite, the Teams Advanced add-on enhances the core offering to give more detailed metrics on call and video quality, and costs associated with chargeable connectivity on PSTN sessions.

Demonstrate Good ROI for Microsoft 365 and IT Staff Numbers

System Admins in IT departments often get asked to justify their expenditure on tools and staff. The reporting and management enhancements provided by CoreSuite and its add-ons allow them to report to executives, clients, and others on the return of investment in Microsoft 365 licenses and to justify the staffing levels required to manage deployments.

Conclusion

Microsoft 365 provides the foundation for hundreds of thousands of organizations today. As the number of users managed in each deployment goes up, it becomes increasingly more challenging to control security, do daily operations, and ensure that everything is running as well as it should.

CoreView CoreSuite provides the management interface, reporting, and tools that allow System Admins to address the common management issues they have with Microsoft 365. Contact us today to arrange a demo and see how CoreView can help your System Admin teams deliver a better Microsoft 365 experience to users, and also free up Sys Admin time for other IT activities that can drive the business forward.

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