January 6, 2022
3
min read

What Is Office 365 Hybrid?

“Office 365 Hybrid” is essentially a shorthand way of referring to a hybrid cloud Exchange environment in which your organization's Office 365 and on-premise (or on-prem) servers coexist. It allows you to connect your mailboxes, calendar, contacts, and more to Office 365 while also connecting your Active Directory (AD) to Office 365 — blending cloud capabilities with those of physical servers and subsequently boosting collaboration for all workers, regardless of location.

In an effort to further enhance this collaboration and expand opportunities for hybrid working, Jeff Teper — Corporate Vice President of Microsoft 365 Collaboration — announced a series of updates and upgrades to programs like OneDrive, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, and Office at an Ignite session, aptly titled “Rich, secure content and collaboration for hybrid work.” Specifically, the session dove into the investments Microsoft is making to help up level business leaders’ and IT administrators’ synergetic experiences with M365 (without sacrificing security and compliance).

Before we dive into what these updates are, and what they mean for IT administrators (and workers everywhere), you may be wondering how to create and establish an Office 365 hybrid environment. Right? We thought so.

It’s a relatively easy, two-step process:

  • From the Exchange Admin Center, find the Hybrid Configuration Wizard. On the left-hand side, select “Hybrid” and click “Enable.”
  • Sign in with your account and click “Accept.” The tool will then be downloaded and should install automatically. From there, follow the prompts on the screen, and voila! You’ll have a hybrid environment in no time.

Now that that’s covered, let’s talk about Microsoft's upgrades for hybrid environments, starting with Microsoft Loop.

Announced on November 2, 2021, Microsoft Loop is billed as “a new app that combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that stay in sync and move freely across Microsoft 365 apps.” In layman's terms, it’s a digital canvas that different teams can use simultaneously and collaboratively, with tools like a voting table (to help reach consensus on important decisions), a status tracker (to monitor progress on team projects), and Loop pages and workspaces (wherein teams and individuals can store key files for any given project or initiative).

Even beyond Loop, Microsoft wants to make it easier than ever to share and access content, no matter where you are. As a result, they also launched Content IQ, a “set of natively integrated AI experiences across Microsoft 365 that predict, seek, and suggest information people might need, right in the flow of their work.” When integrated with tools like Microsoft Editor, Content IQ will intuitively prompt users to share relevant files, recommend colleagues to tag in a given email, and suggest ideal meeting times based on team members’ calendars — all small shifts that will, hopefully, save a great deal of time in the long run (and improve synergy across teams).

Additionally, Microsoft introduced a number of features to OneDrive, designed to give users faster access to their most frequented libraries and boost visibility for resource sharing (such as the new Quick Access Feature). Oh, and better yet, Microsoft Teams recordings will now automatically be saved and transcribed (using AI!) in OneDrive, allowing users to easily recap meetings, keep track of and share action items, and refresh their memory on key points.

Advancements to Microsoft Lists are further enhancing collaboration. The new board view allows users to track workflows for any given project (similar to a project management tool like, say, Trello or Asana). Sharing capabilities have also expanded to allow users to set passwords, monitor and dictate who has edit access to a list or file, and so forth.

While Microsoft certainly understands that sharing is caring (as the above updates make clear), they also want to protect Office 365 users from oversharing, or unsafely granting access to high-security materials. To counter this, Microsoft has crafted new Data Access Governance insights, helping users better monitor sharing and view important information about a site’s sensitivity levels.

Collectively, Microsoft’s newest updates are empowering hybrid workers, and hybrid organizations, everywhere. They’re creating shortcuts to save time and energy, while also making sharing safer, more secure, and more simplistic than ever before. And if you want to take your Microsoft 365 experience to an even more secure and collaborative level (and really, why wouldn’t you?), be sure to schedule a CoreView demo today.

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