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Six Mega Office 365 Problems

CoreView Co-Founder On Solving Each

David Mascarella has been in the Microsoft ecosystems since the early 2000s, helping start an ISV names named Microsoft partner of the year in Italy several times. 

As Microsoft moved to the cloud, Mascarella spotted the challenges with reporting on Office 365, and developed the first SaaS management platform to address reporting. Next up was governance. For instance, Office 365 Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) was very weak, so the ISV built more ranular RBAC capabilities, later moving to security, and more recently application and service adoption.

Recently Mascarella lent his near two decades of Microsoft cloud experience to explaining common, yet critical problems Office 365 environments face, and penned a detailed white paper The Six Biggest Microsoft Office 365 Challenges — and How to Solve Each explaining exactly how to solve them.

1. Visibility – Prevent and Fix Problems, Insure Smooth Operation

Operating your Office 365 environment without visibility leads to difficulty, including:

  • Fines due to noncompliance or running afoul of other government regulations
  • Security risks and breaches due to misconfiguration or improper user behavior
  • Excessive financial waste due to over-provisioned or inactive licenses

While Microsoft provides some Office 365 deployment information via its API and PowerShell, it is up to an IT admin to collect, aggregate, and utilize such data to properly manage the Office 365 environment. With the Office 365 built-in tools, this takes tremendous manual effort, and the approaches to such data gathering differ greatly from application to application.

The Solution – a Single View into Your Entire Office 365 Environment

A single dashboard, pane of glass if you like, that offers IT visibility into the health and operation of the entire Office 365 environment, turns managing Office 365 from a bear to a breeze.

Instead of using the Microsoft Office 365 Admin Center, which is really a set of a dozen or so distinctly different management tools that change based on application, IT can have one unified interface that analyzes and controls all Office 365 services.

CoreView offers a single platform approach makes it easy to delegate admin tasks, automate alerts, and facilitate adoption.

2. Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

‘Least privilege’ means restricting access rights for users, accounts, and computing processes to only the resources absolutely required to perform legitimate administrative activities.

Least privilege is hard to apply to Office 365 – at least out of the box. There is a limited range of Microsoft Office 365 admin roles, and these lack the flexibility in defining what an admin can (and cannot) do – the precise flexibility leading edge IT organizations absolutely require. Microsoft does offers some pre-made roles to limit admin rights to specific workloads — but not across all workloads. For instance, you can configure an Operator account as an Exchange admin and another account as a SharePoint admin.

The problem is that both types of operators have access to all company users, as well as access to all configuration capabilities for the assigned workload.

The Solution – Fine Tuning Office 365 Admin Permissions and Delegation 

Today, CoreView offer a single pane of glass to create, control, and delegate admin permissions across the entire Office 365 set of applications. Instead of using the Microsoft Office 365 Admin Center console, CoreView uses a single Global Administrator account, and then has the CoreView portal grant permissions that are highly granular to administrators.

3. License Management – Only Pay For What You Actually Use

With Microsoft Office 365, you pay for users through individual licenses. However, Microsoft does not consider whether all your selected users indeed use the services allocated. That is the job of IT.

Whether paid for licenses are used or not is a huge consideration, and source of immense savings when you downsize to only the licenses you truly need. CoreView finds that, on average, organizations cut licensing costs by 30% after they analyze actual Office 365 usage.

The Solution: Find Inactive Office 365 Licenses and Reallocate Them with Ease

With CoreView, you easily discover all inactive, oversized and duplicated Office 365 licenses and can cancel or reallocate them without ever leaving the CoreView management platform. This stops overspending, and at the same time identifies departments with low application adoption.

You can get a free CoreView Office 365 Health Assessment to discover license savings, application usage, and the security state of your Office 365 environment.

4. Adoption – Maximize Application Use and Office 365 Investment

Driving application adoption is essential to maximizing Office 365 investment.

Key to a successful adoption plan is clustering users based on different service usage and behavior – which helps drive targeted adoption and training campaigns.

Once you have an adoption strategy, it is time to train your users. Experts have found that standard training (classroom and eLearning) are not optimal since users forget 70% of what they learned within 24 hours.

The Solution – Adoption Campaigns and Just in Time Learning (JITL)

CoreView’s CoreAdoption usage insights and adoption campaigns ensures all employees keep pace as things change.

Meanwhile, CoreView’s CoreLearning is a Just in Time Learning (JITL) system with 2,000+ how-to videos lasting from 30 second to 3 minutes. The secret sauce is these videos are context sensitive, and play as the user is working with the application.

Read our Just in Time Learning (JITL) whitepaper to find out more.

5. Process Automation (Smarter Provisioning and De-provisioning)

Process automation is a best practice that reduces human error, and delegates complex automation to lower skilled operators. While you can automate hundreds of different processes, provisioning and de-provisioning are critical processes to prioritize.

Automating those processes improves key operations, generates opportunities to save money through efficient license management, while reducing overall security risks.

The Solution – Know Who Your Users Are, And Provision/De-Provision Properly

With CoreView, Workflow Templates automate provisioning and deprovisioning operations. Our CoreAdmin solution supports automated provisioning and deprovisioning processes. This ensures your users have correct licenses and permissions and access to the right applications and infrastructure.

5. Policy Management (Avoiding and Fixing Misconfiguration)

Gartner and Forrester both indicate that 80% of SaaS breaches stem from misconfiguration, inappropriate user behaviors, or incorrectly elevated user permissions.

For enterprises, correctly defining configurations and appropriate user behaviors are best practices. However, misconfiguration is still possible due to operator workarounds or operator error.

The Solution – Understand Who Your Users Are and What They Are Doing

CoreView  helps set up administrators that are specific to a location, functional set of users, or other attributes. This means admins know who their users are, and have a manageable set of end users to handle.

At the same time, CoreView tracks application usage, so you know which applications handle the most work, and when end users are misusing the system. The ‘single pane of glass’ CoreView console offers deep insight into how end users are configured, and where they might be misconfigured.

With CoreView, policy management moves from a manual and error-prone process to one that is intuitive, easy and automated.

Learn More about Managing Office 365 Using CoreView

Learn more about Office 365 administration with a CoreView demo.

You can also get a free CoreView Office 365 Health Assessment  that details license savings, state of  application usage, and pinpoints security problems in your Office 365 environment.

Find out how to make your cloud environment more efficient by reading out Opportunities for Office 365 Cost savings white paper.

And of course, don’t forget to read  The Six Biggest Microsoft Office 365 Challenges — and How to Solve Each.

David Mascarella is Chief Global Strategist, co-founder and Managing Director at CoreView