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Do You Know Your Office 365 Identity?
Jun12

Do You Know Your Office 365 Identity?

One of the first and most important decisions you’ll make when you first sign up for Office 365 is which identity is most appropriate for a successful onboarding. Your choice has an impact on several features of Office 365, such as where your user accounts will be managed and how user passwords necessary to sign in are verified. Fortunately, it’s simple to move between any of the three available identities should your needs change at any time. Choosing the Right Office 365 Identity One of the easiest ways to choose the right Office 365 identity is to start with the simplest model and move on to more complicated ones if your business requires it. Not only does this allow you to begin using Office 365 immediately, but it also keeps your options simple at the start. Cloud Identity: The Cloud Model creates and manages users in Office 365 and stores user data in your Azure Active Directory (the AAD also verifies password information). This works well for the cloud directory, but no equivalent user accounts are creates on-premise. In essence, administrators need only create users in the Office 365 admin center – nothing more must be configured. Most organizations that opt for the Cloud Identity: have less than 200 users have a complex on-premise directory and don’t want to integrate want a trial run of Office 365 Synchronized Identity: The Synchronized Identity model allows admins to manage user identities on an on-premise server. At the same time, accounts and hashes associated with passwords are synchronized to the cloud, hence the name of the identity. One advantage of this model is that users can enter the same password on-premise and remotely in the cloud. This model verifies passwords using the Azure Active Directory. Users that opt for the Cloud Identity: have an existing on-premise directory and want it to sync with the cloud have no need for the Federated Identity options Federated Identity: As the Federated model does not need the Azure Active Directory to verify password hash, user information is verified by the identity provider on-premise. Administrators can leverage a third-party identity verification tool in conjunction with Office 365 or utilize the Active Directory Federation Services. Federated Identity users generally meet one of the following requirements: currently use AD FS deployment use Forefront Identity Manager 2010 R2 use a third-party federated identity provider require custom hybrid application or hybrid search have multiple forests in the on-premise Active Directory Of the three identities, the Cloud model is the most simple, the Federated Identity has the most capability, and the Synchronized Identity is likely the ultimate goal for most small to...

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Justifying Your Website In The Cloud

The idea of putting your biggest marketing investment – your website in the cloud – might be a little scary. But that’s why you’re reading this post — you’re smart and know when to take a well-calculated risk. The cloud is built for those with a built-in taste for success – who want to provide their customers with an updated website that’s optimized for search and ready to handle the campaigns generated from your marketing and sales departments. THIS IS WHERE THE CLOUD COMES IN. For those who like official definitions, Gartner came up with a good one: “The cloud is a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service” to customers using Internet technologies.” Gartner crammed all the important key words in there: scalable, elastic, service, Internet and IT. It makes it a good definition, but what does that mean for your public-facing website? WHAT ARE THE BEST BETS IN THE CLOUD? If the cloud is a scalable and elastic IT service, everything should be a good fit for the cloud, right? While that might be eventually true, for now here are the top uses for the cloud. Public Websites with fluctuating traffic levels often require a big investment in an infrastructure (hardware, power and IT staff) that can accommodate short-term spikes. If your web analytics resembles a roller coaster, it might be a good idea to consider a cloud solution. B2B / Partner / Client Portals are becoming extremely popular. With the right security features in place, the cloud is the perfect place to host a partner portal as it can experience fluctuations in traffic with every new product rollout or change. Applications that can be pushed to the cloud are those that are a collection of services, like security services, mobile access, workflow integration, email, spam filtering, archiving, etc. Forrester recommends if you have an OLTP (online transaction processing) application – avoid the cloud for now. 3rd Party Integrations  Integrating 3rd party applications with your website becomes a no-brainer because the cloud acts as shield against your internal systems while providing the necessary scalability and cost savings. BENEFITS OF USING OFFICE 365 FOR A PUBLIC WEBSITE A content management system (CMS) makes the web more usable. It’s more important than ever these days to have your website be easy to manage, handle traffic fluctuations and be scalable with your business. Having a CMS solves many issues we face in business today. Easy to update – Most websites grow organically over time and we find much of the content is out-of-date. If pages were manually updated using tools like Dreamweaver, its likely...

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Should You Use The Cloud To Manage Content?

Like a new tree in the forest, every business has the capacity for growth – the trick is to find a break in the canopy. One of the ways to set your business up for a successful surge of growth is to create an information management strategy that makes it easier for people to sort through the forest of documents and find the content they need – use the cloud to manage content. Right now you might be thinking how easy it is to convey information to your key five people and keep everyone aligned with the business. But this kind of harmony doesn’t last forever. If you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you remember the days when we hosted websites off of an old laptop in the corner of our office. Believe it or not, this is what is happening now with documents. Your salient content is kept isolated from the rest of the company and sometimes information is being updated to some random shared location – but no one can find it. Oh, and did I mention there’s a duplicate somewhere else and your new employee is using it to Tweet about your new product? Are you moderately alarmed yet?   This is where the cloud comes in. For those who like official definitions, Gartner came up with a good one: “The cloud is a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service” to customers using Internet technologies.” Gartner crammed all the important key words in there: scalable, elastic, service, Internet and IT. It makes it a good definition, but often we’re asked: what does that mean?  What the cloud really refers to is the data in your server room down the hall (or maybe that laptop under your desk) has simply changed location. You choose which data moves to a secure facility and will be managed by IT experts. The whole premise behind the cloud is to provide permission-based access to content, freeing up people to access content anywhere, on any device – which is especially appealing to those of us who into gadgets and like to take advantage of email and presentations on the go. Is the cloud is a good match for Portals, Content and Collaboration? Yes, the cloud is well suited for portals, collaboration and collaboration (aka: document management technologies). First and foremost any content distribution technology has capabilities that need to be widely deployed. For example email is not reserved for just a select few in the organization, it needs to be widely distributed to be useful. The same thing happens...

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3 Ways To Create IT Flexibility And Scalability In The Cloud Era

When making decisions about replacing or upgrading business technologies in today’s competitive environment, it is crucial to consider your business strategy and how these technologies will help you adapt to changing market conditions. If the past decade is any indicator of changing marketing conditions, the best way to adapt is to build in flexibility and create your contingency plans through the scalability of IT and adding or adjusting business processes. Getting ahead of your IT is tough as the rate of technological change is fast. However, these strategic choices will be a key differentiator between you and your competitors in your ability to adapt your rhythm of business with the market demand. For most companies, the rapid change of technology sometimes means that technology drives business decisions, but to make the right decisions it is better for the CIO’s and CTO’s to work together to build a business strategy that uses technology to solve their business problems. Forrester is seeing a trend that business technologies are being increasingly managed outside of IT’s direct control. The best way to plan for the future and mitigate the risks inherent in being in the technology field is to allow IT to fully respond to the business strategy and implement flexible and adaptable business technologies. 3 Simple Ideas To Create Flexibility From Forrester Extra bandwidth or storage that provides a scalability option. Anytime an organization acquires excess capacity, whether on a server, in a network, or in a storage array, it acquires a scalability option — the ability to quickly increase use of the resource with more transactions from an existing system, or the addition of new functionality. Reusable components or extensible layers that add leverage options. Technology standards, defined service layers, and business process management tools all create the option to change the rate at which new applications are developed or implemented. When you purchase such an option with the adoption of any such standard, you can reduce licensing, integration costs, or testing requirements on future applications. Pilot projects and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. System or application pilots or prototypes represent this type of option. With these options, you reserve the right to cancel, change, or modify the investment prior to the total commitment of funds. The pilot is the creation of the option. Implementing or extending the pilot, if appropriate based on then-current market or business conditions, represents the exercising of the option. Additionally, short-duration contracts with SaaS providers also create the option to abandon a platform, should it prove less valuable than anticipated. The important thing to realize in the best-case scenario is you’re likely not going to use all of...

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Understanding Cloud Computing in Business

We can sometimes be so integrated into what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis, sometimes we forget to start from the beginning. Today, I’m going to write about just that – what on earth is cloud computing from a business standpoint? Moving to the cloud can be a tough decision for most businesses as the bigger the organization, the more impact technology has on your users if it just doesn’t work. So what do you need to start thinking about now to make sure the decisions you make are the right ones? The most functional starting point is understanding your users and determining what they need to do on a daily basis. This is not how IT decisions have typically been made in the past, which transforms the way we think about technology in a business environment. Today it is critical to think about the challenges your employees and customers face and how technology can help solve those problems. Some problems are fairly easy to solve and come with an agreeable price tag while others require more thought and analysis of the business value. The fortunate thing about the cloud is while it may have one name; the cloud is comprised of different services that can be rolled out as decisions are made about each problem. In 2009, Gartner defined cloud computing as a “style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ to customers using Internet technologies.” Currently, cloud services fall under one of three categories: SaaS, PaaS or IaaS. Software as a Service (SaaS) is the most common of cloud services. It is simply applications that are delivered over the Internet, which are paid for a “pay-per-use” basis. This subscription model can be rolled out and updated over the web, serve multiple machines and is typically measured by overall usage. Platform as a Service (PaaS) is essentially online development platforms focused on the app and where it runs. The benefit of PaaS is it updates the platform automatically and is built to expect and withstand failure. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the way business consumes IT and when you boil it down to the common purpose it is akin to renting space in a datacenter instead of owning it. Most people see the immediate benefit of scale as IaaS allows the infrastructure capacity to fluctuate dynamically based on demand. Once you understand the challenges your workplace faces and have aligned them to potential cloud services; the next step is determining the business value. It is important to calculate the total cost and look at the fine print of a cloud services...

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