Sunday, August 31, 2014

Managing Exchange Online MVA Series

When it comes to Exchange Server Administration On premises we tend to rely on EMC with Exchange Server 2007 and 2010 environments and EAC with Exchange Server 2013 for GUI and our Exchange Management Shell (EMS) for managing all these environments in common from Command line. For most of the Administrators managing the environment using PowerShell seems to be an easy and a reliable way wherein few are still preferring the GUI for most of the common tasks. Eventually both of these becomes your daily bread and butter for managing the Exchange environment and the same are carried out for managing Exchange Online.

Exchange Online management is similar to your On premises management but you will not have a complete control over everything and managing things as you would do in your traditional On premises environment. Since all your Servers are hosted in Microsoft datacenters in Cloud you will have minimum control over their management this applies to both fully hosted and Hybrid deployment. Exchange Online on the other hand gives you the flexibility of managing most of the critical configurations and recipient management for your day to day activities using Office 365 Admin Portal and via Remote PowerShell connecting to Exchange Online.

Today I am sharing reference to two vital video series available from Microsoft Virtual academy on Managing Exchange Online through Online Console and PowerShell which will give you an Overview of how both the management methods help you to manage Exchange Online effectively and both the series shows some vital management tasks in detail. Review both of the these video series to get more insight on Exchange Online management.

Topics Covered
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using Microsoft Online Console: (01) Getting Started with Exchange Online
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using Microsoft Online Console: (02) Configuring Mail Flow
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using Microsoft Online Console: (03) Managing Recipients
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using Microsoft Online Console: (04) Managing Client Connectivity
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using Microsoft Online Console: (05) Configuring Administrative Security
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using Microsoft Online Console: (06) Compliance, Auditing, Journaling, and More
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using Microsoft Online Console: (07) Protection Settings

Access the Course here : Managing Exchange Online Using Microsoft Online Console

Topics Covered
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using PowerShell: (01) Getting Started with Exchange Online
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using PowerShell: (02) Configuring Mail Flow
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using PowerShell: (03) Managing Recipients
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using PowerShell: (04) Managing Client Connectivity
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using PowerShell: (05) Configuring Administrative Security
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using PowerShell: (06) Compliance, Auditing, Journaling, and More
  •     Managing Exchange Online Using PowerShell: (07) Protection Settings

Access the Course here : Managing Exchange Online Using PowerShell

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Exchange Server 2013 CU6 Released!!!

Microsoft team released Exchange Server 2013 CU6 today along with Update Roll-up 7 for Exchange 2010 SP3 and Update Roll-Up 14 for Exchange Server 2007 SP3 with various fixes and new significant updates. Along with these traditional updates this time we have new Exchange Server 2013 CU6 UM Language Packs released as an add-on.

More information is available on the Exchange Team Blog posts referenced below along with the links for downloading the Updates and Issues Fixed Article IDs.


Direct Download Link: Cumulative Update 6 for Exchange Server 2013 (KB2961810)

Issues fixed - Article ID: 2961810

Direct Download Link: Exchange Server 2013 CU6 UM Language Packs


Direct Download Link: Update Rollup 7 For Exchange 2010 SP3 (KB2961522)

Issues fixed - Article ID: 2961522


Direct Download Link: Update Rollup 14 for Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 3 (KB2936861)

Issues fixed - Article ID: 2936861


Also Microsoft team published an other significant blog post to provide us an insight on the new enhancements made to Public Folders with CU6 for Exchange Server 2013.

Public Folder Updates in Exchange 2013 CU6: Improving Scale and More

As usual first try to install the CU and Update Roll-up in your Lab environment and perform thorough testing to validate the Issues Fixed as stated under each update and also look out for any new issues you might experience to report to Microsoft on time and get it fixed before you roll out these updates to your Production Environment.


Unfortunately Exchange Server 2013 CU6 couldn't keep itself up to the standard as its predecessor CU5, It caused two major issues within few days post its release identified by our renowned MVPs. Microsoft acknowledged and confirmed that these are bugs from their end which caused a huge disappointment to the Exchange Community. Still Microsoft needs more testing and bug fixing on their end before releasing any updates to avoid unexpected issues.

Exchange Server 2013 databases unexpectedly fail over in a co-existence environment with Exchange Server 2007 - MS KB published with hot fix discovered by Ratish Nair MVP

Don't Deploy Exchange 2013 CU6 If You're a Hybrid Customer - Jeff Guillet MVP

Microsoft team released a new script that addresses the above problem updated by Jeff and fixes EAC for managing Exchange Online. 

Exchange Online mailboxes cannot be managed by using EAC after you deploy Exchange Server 2013 CU6 - MS KB published with the script.

One more new issue with ActiveSync with Exchange 2007 Co-existence environment after upgrading to CU6.

You cannot route ActiveSync traffic to Exchange 2007 mailboxes after you upgrade to Exchange 2013 CU6 - MS KB with Workaround

* One common issue with Exchange Server 2013 Litigation / In-place hold is identified recently and Microsoft team published a KB with the workaround.

Folder deletions are not preserved for mailboxes put on litigation or in-place hold in Exchange Server 2013 OWA

*One more new issue caused with CU6 below with the workaround 

Load balancer marks Exchange server as down in an Exchange Server 2013 Cumulative Update 6 environment

*Utilize this below script from MVP Michel de Rooij to install CU6 unattended, This updated script includes the above published fix for managing Exchange Online Mailboxes from EAC.

Exchange 2013 Unattended Installation Script

Monday, August 25, 2014

Migrating to a Hybrid Server Environment with Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is the World's biggest and the best Cloud platform that's ruling today's IT World in Cloud Computing. Microsoft has made significant enhancements to Azure in the last few months that took Azure adoption to the next level making it one of the most prominent Cloud platform in the market that addresses the On demand needs of the customer and expands its features day by day adding more value to the IT business.


Microsoft team themselves migrated to Azure as they need to be their own primary customer in first place to evaluate the performance, cost benefits and reliability over the product through which they can tweak the product at various stages and also its a real time experience for them to understand things much better and show case the same to customers and provide them a service that meets their requirement.

As all of us know that we cannot completely rely on Cloud for everything and there are few dependencies with On premises and the best way to benefit out of the new Cloud platform and the existing On premises Platform is to unite them together in terms of "Hybrid" and mange both the environment seamlessly unified as one. Microsoft team used this Hybrid model with Azure and successfully moved their workloads to cloud.

Best thing about Microsoft is they do provide guidance in abundance when you plan to use their product or service that makes you gain the required knowledge and the prescribed guideline over which you can successfully test and implement their solution. The next good part is you can share your experience through customer or service improvements programme periodically over which the next version of the product is designed to address the needs of the customers on demand as "one size fits all" is not possible with the current Technology as its expanding in a rapid scale than ever before.

Today I write this post with reference to the new Business Case Study from Microsoft explaining how they successfully migrated their workload to Azure with Hybrid Cloud and provides you a clear understanding of how things occurred behind the screens during their migration, challenges faced and much more explained in a nutshell. I read this and found it useful and would say its a must read for Organizations and Administrators who are interested in adopting Cloud Computing to advance their knowledge and to know the benefits of Hybrid deployment with Microsoft Azure.

Download the case study here: Migrating to a Hybrid Server Environment with Microsoft Azure

Here comes the six part blog series  presenting how Microsoft IT is modernizing its datacenter showing the above said experience in detail.

Review the Series here: How Microsoft IT is Modernizing its Datacenter

Additionally, Microsoft team has provided various other resources that make you understand more on Hybrid Cloud and I would recommend you to review the below vital resources to know more on the topic, which puts you on the edge when you go through each one of these to experience the future of Cloud Computing with Microsoft Azure and a complete insight of how Hybrid Cloud is going to design the next version of Information Technology .

Success with Hybrid Cloud Series, Cloud Insights from Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise Client & Mobility

Access the Table of Contents here: Table of Contents: Success with Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud Webinar Series, Live Interview series on Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich and Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson

Access the On demand Video session from Channel 9 here: Hybrid Cloud Series

Lets Demo IronPort today!!!

Most of you out there are familiar in working with IronPort and after Cisco acquired IronPort its now referred as Cisco Email Security and Cisco Web Security Appliance. I started reading on IronPort few days ago with my new engagement and came across various rich resources available for reading and experiencing the product from basic to advanced. While reading I came across an excellent Demo available for experiencing the IronPort management interface and see what is available inside the product for Email Security.

Though this demo is not a real time demo where you can test everything similar to your Lab environment its a great one to see how the management console looks and what are the options available for management with real time view and makes you check the options under each section for managing the configuration, reports etc. I believe this demo can be slight different than your production console but the options are quite the same.  If you don't want to mess around with your Production ESA console then this is a best one to experience the product, in case there is no Lab environment to play around. I found this quite useful and thought of writing a post to share this with you.

Access the demo here: IronPort C600 Demo

Additionally, you can register with Cisco and test the virtual appliance with a 45 day trial and also you can register with  to demo any Cisco IronPort product with 30 day trial period. Both applies to customers who are going to test the product and implement it in their environment and not just to use this trail for reading as there are other alternate resources available in the community.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Getting the Most out of Your Office 365 Trial MVA Course

Get ready to experience Office 365 with the help of the new MVA course scheduled this August 26, 2014 from Microsoft. Office 365 is still new to most of our IT Folks out there as most of them know what it is but didn't get chance to explore this and in need of a visual Walk-through that will help them understand and make them experience this new Technology.

Register for the course here: Getting the Most out of Your Office 365 Trial

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Azure AD Connect Overview

When it comes to Microsoft Technologies change is constant and inevitable overtime. The best thing about these changes are they bring some new enhancements and other add-on that adds more value to the existing Technology and addresses the on-demand needs of the customers and takes their business to the next level.

Office 365 is once such great offering from Microsoft that is constantly changing, bringing new enhancements to the customers to address their on-demand needs and gained momentum in the Industry that made it now a widely adopted Cloud Offering by many Organizations around the world and some are getting prepared to move to Microsoft Cloud on their Road-map. To make things easier Microsoft team continue to innovate new enhancements to the product line in terms of both Service Offerings and Transition tools that makes the adoption a seamless experience. 

Lets get in to our topic, I already wrote a post when Microsoft team introduced the new AAD Sync tool which will be replacing the current Directory Synchronization Tool ( DirSync) which will have some advanced capabilities that are not available with the Existing version to address the customer requirements like advanced attribute filtering, Multi-forest synchronization support etc.

Review the post here to know more with the recent updates : New Azure Active Directory Sync Services Tool

If you read the above post I referenced along with the updates marked inside it, you will see an update regarding the new release of Azure AD Connect tool  introduced by Microsoft team. This blog post is a related post written separately with an other vital reference and to make it available as an Individual topic under my Office 365 section for readers to review this great tool without missing it as this will be the one that is going to make the Office 365 deployment a bit easier than ever.

When moving the Office 365 out of all configuration Identify management becomes the first priority and as we all know Integrating your On premise AD with Azure is not an easy task and if you go for SSO with ADFS then it adds more work than normal deployment. Performing all these requires you to have more knowledge and you need to refer a bunch of documents to begin the integration and this made most of the Organization a bit delay in moving to Cloud. To address this Microsoft launched this new Azure AD Connect tool that makes this possible with simple clicks and gets you ready to move to Cloud.

Review the below post from Active Directory team to know more on this Tool and its in Beta and you can register yourself with Microsoft Connect and download the tool and test it with your Lab Environment and share your feed back to Microsoft team

Register and Download here: Azure Active Directory Connect Beta

Microsoft Active Directory team has written an excellent article and provides you clear insight on the Tool and also gives you a visual appeal on how this Tool can be used to Integrate your On premises AD with Azure.

Review here: Connecting AD and Azure AD: Only 4 clicks with Azure AD Connect

Once your reading is completed, Its time for some Walk-through video session on the topic obtained from Edge Show on Azure AD Connect and hosted by Simon May with Jen Field MSFT from the Azure AD Fabric team.

View here: Edge Show 115: Azure AD Connect

These resources I shared above will provide you suffice information on the new Tool and I will continue to update this post once I came across any new updates. Start your testing on the Tool and share your feedback to Microsoft team to add more value to the Tool before its General Availability.


Microsoft team released the Public preview of the "new" Azure AD Connect recently which is the next gen all in one tool that is going to replace the DirSync, ADFS, the newly launched AAD Sync etc. in the road-map.

Download here:  Azure AD Connect Public  Preview

Currently this public preview version is not supported for production deployments until the next release and we can expect more in the GA which is expected in the next 90 days.

Review here for more information : Azure AD Connect: One simple, fast, lightweight tool to connect Active Directory and Azure Active Directory


*Azure Active Directory Connect Public Preview - March 2015 update released with few significant updates.

Download here: Azure Active Directory Connect Public Preview - March 2015 update

Access the AD Team Blog post on the release below,

Azure AD Connect Preview 2 is available!

Stay tuned for more updates...

Windows PowerShell Best Practices E-Book

Its time for reading one more vital E-book on Windows PowerShell, This new E-book is a great resource that teach you how to utilize the power of Windows PowerShell to automate system administration and clearly explains you with the best practices to follow with real time examples.

Download here: Windows PowerShell Best Practices E-Book

You can get the paper back from and have it handy to complete most of the administration tasks with Windows PowerShell effectively.

Access here:   Windows PowerShell Best Practices

Networking Fundamentals MVA Course

Its always good to recollect thing we learned during the early stages of our career and if you are individual working as an IT Administrator or a Consultant then you would have begin your Fundamentals with Networking. As we all know Networking is the basis of what we do today in the Industry and also know how it has transformed the world to the next generation of computing in the recent years. As I said earlier it will be good if we get this fundamental knowledge refreshed once by chance to make ourselves strong with the basics again.

I recently came across this new Microsoft Virtual Academy course on Networking Fundamentals and reviewed few videos during me free time and felt good and thought of writing a post to share this with you today. This course is also helpful for you to prepare for the new MTA Exam on Networking Fundamentals.

Access the Course here: Networking Fundamentals

Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting Ready to Become an MCSA Office 365

Microsoft Certifications are not new and they are one of the highly recognized Certifications in the world today. Innovations at Microsoft is now occurring at a rapid rate to address the needs of today's Technology at every level. Having a Microsoft Certification puts you one step further in to this new era.

Microsoft team launched their "Microsoft IT Academy" and "Microsoft Certification Challenge" programme to assist Students and IT pros who are interested to become a Microsoft Certified Professional by providing adequate guidance and to motivate people to get certified and excel in today's Technology.

Lets get in to our topic for the day, I wrote this post to share some vital resources available to become a Microsoft Certified Solution Associate - Office 365.  These resources are helping me to get prepared for the exam, which I will be completing soon and thought of writing this post today to guide other aspiring individuals like me to get certified with Office 365.

Being a Office 365 Consultant and an Administrator for awhile now supporting major customers, I can very well say that to be inline with the future of Microsoft Technology you need learn and get to know how to work with Office 365. Many Major Organizations are moving to Cloud and its evident that within few years you will see Cloud occupying a huge area in Technology and people who know and work with Cloud get employed everywhere and get recognized, this doesn't mean that On premises Environment is no more. Cloud is a new emerging Technology which everyone need to be aware of and start to experience its benefits and earning a certification on this new Technology takes you to the next step.

As everyone aware that Microsoft team recently changed their Certification path and Introduced their new Certification programme like MTA, MOS etc. and also Revamped the MCSA and MCSE Exams to the next level. For our topic lets begin by understanding the Certification path available for MCSA Office 365.

Review here: Microsoft Certified Solution Associate - Office 365

As with every other Microsoft Certifications, Instructor Led training is available for this course to get prepared. Review the certification details for more information. 

20346A: Managing Office 365 Identities and Services

10968B: Designing for Office 365 Infrastructure

Next, Take a look at the Exam Prep video session from Microsoft hosted recently in Teched NA 2014 covering key aspects over the Examination which gets you  and Idea on how the Exam will be and makes you ready to attend the same with confidence.

View here: Exam Prep: 70-346 and 70-347: MCSA: Microsoft Office 365

Once you gain some insight on the Examination, Its time for us to begin our Learning with the available resources. I am sharing the resources that I use to get prepared one by one, There are more than this and these a few vital resources to my knowledge that helps you get prepared.

Apart from the Instructor led training mentioned above, Microsoft team has provided us the real time walk-through guides to learn their Technology and Experience the real time deployment and Administration via Office Ignite Guides. You can utilize this as a first resource to experience Office 365 Deployment, Migration and Administration.

Access the Guides here: Office 365 Guides

Up Next is the new Microsoft Virtual Academy course launched recently to get you prepared for the first Exam "70-346 - Managing Office 365 Identities and Services"

Access the Course here: Managing Office 365 Identities and Services

Next is your TechNet and Office Blogs which plays a major role and I believe everyone begins learning here, So I made this as the last item and included here along with other vital resources mentioned above.

Microsoft  now made these important resources available under a single window in Office TechCenter for your ease of Learning.

Access TechCenter here: Office 365 for IT pros

Office 365 Garage Series

A new add-on to the above resources from Microsoft team taking Office 365 Learning to the next level through live video series every week which is going one step further and updates us more on the latest happenings with Office 365.

Access the video Archive here: The Garage Series for Office 365

Watch out Office blogs updates on the new series every week and stay updated with the latest happenings with Office 365.

You can setup your Office 365 Trial tenant and have hands-on experience using the available resources before you appear for the Exam.

Finally, Its always good to learn from External resources, by saying this I refer to some of the Key websites, Blogs and Forums available in the Community from various MVPs and Technical Experts across the Globe who share their expertise in Office 365 Technology which puts you ahead of your Learning to know more and stay up-to date.

Refer this below Blog post related to our topic for example.

Learning guide for the Office 365 exam 70-346 

Follow Office 365 Tech in twitter and  Office 365 IT Pro Network in Yammer to get real time updates from Microsoft on Office 365.


Here is the New update from Microsoft team announced yesterday, MCSA Office 365 will now get credited towards your MCSE certification path for Exchange, Lync and SharePoint.

Review the announcement here:  MCSA Office 365: Now an optional path to three MCSE tracks

*Also Microsoft team recently changed their Exam provider from Prometric to Pearson VUE and from September 4 2014 you can choose any of these Exam providers and effective January 1 2015 you need to register with Pearson VUE to register for the Examination.

Review the announcement here: Training Spotlight: New exam provider announced

*Get 15 % discount on MCP Exams till this year end, register to save the date.

Check here: Get Your 15% MCP Exam Discount Code

*Microsoft now offering MCSA Office365 Exam vouchers for free grab yours soon...

Get Certified on Microsoft Azure or Office365 with Free Exams

*If you miss the free Exam Voucher you can now register with Pearson VUE to get free MCP practice test

Free MCP Practice Test Offer from Pearson VUE

*Get a free Second Shot on your MCP exam !!!

You can take any Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exam between January 5, 2015, and May 31, 2015. with free exam retake!

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) is eligible for this program and you are now all set to register and face the exam challenge.

Access here for more information : Get a free Second Shot on your MCP exam


Access the new Exam prep guidance sessions from Microsoft Ignite Conference 2016.

BRK3255 - Cert Exam Prep: Exam 70-346: Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements

BRK3256 - Cert Exam Prep: Exam 70-347: Enabling Office 365 Services

Be sure to know the latest Microsoft Certification updates and advance your learning path.

I believe these resources mentioned above will assist you to get prepared for the Exam and I have utilized the same and completed my MCSA Office 365 Certification successfully.  Happy Certifying !!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Experience The Future of Technology!!!

Technology is robust it gets updated every "nano second" I can say in every corner of the world and in Today's technology driven world we need to stay up to-date on what is happening now and what is yet to come to get prepared for experiencing the new innovations. I wrote this post today after reading the latest Citrix CTO article which amazed me and wanted to share this to you to join with me to a joyful journey of how our World will be in the next 5 years with the advancement of the Technology in various fields. This is a great read for you to gain an experience that you never imagined and an opportunity to see the future.

Below is the synopsis:

Each year at Citrix, we create a five-year vision of where technology is headed and its impact on people and society. The theme of last year’s technology landscape was Insights for Inspiration. This year’s landscape theme is the Joie De Vivre, which in French has two meanings:

1. Joy of Life
2. Self-Actualization

We want to help companies and individuals reach their ultimate potential. This year we will provide an update on unfolding trends, explore the future of work, and explore the future of life.

Top Icons for the chapters

Download from Slideshare here: Citrix CTO Office 2019 Technology Landscape

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Exchange Online Throttling Policy Overview

Throttling is not a new term for Exchange Administrators as this is a key feature we configure to tweak the environment performance by controlling how the clients consumes the resources. If you are an On premises Exchange customer its easy for you to configure these limits and modify them according to your needs when requirement changes but, If you are an Office 365 customer using Exchange Online then this becomes impossible from your end as this is a limit set by Microsoft and you no longer have control over it.

I write this post today to reference two vital articles available on the topic. You will normally experience the effect of throttling while executing some powershell cmdlets or scripts using remote powershell connected to Exchange Online. You will see some delay in execution of each result and also some times you'll get the ""Micro delay applied" warning. Microsoft team says this is due to the Throttling policy set in Exchange Online by design, and this below Knowledge base article is based on this warning, this article also says that you can contact support and increase the value with proper business justification.

Check here: "Micro delay applied" warning or delays when you run scripts and cmdlets in Exchange Online

Though this KB article outlines the issue cause and workaround it is not complete, we still miss some important part which is covered by MVP Alan Byrne on his below Blog post from The information he shares here on the topic is quite useful and you need to review and use it as a guideline when working with Exchange Online using remote powershell and even I felt this personally useful when my scripts are throttled by the service.

Read here: Exchange Online PowerShell Throttling in Office 365

Its not powershell alone that is getting throttled, we have other services too like EWS and MAPI which occupies the other major part and to know more on this review the below Exchange Dev Blog post from Microsoft.

Read here: Exchange Online Throttling and Limits FAQ

Understanding Throttling policy is really useful when you configure your environment with Office 365 to know the limits set on the service and make sure you use the resources inline with that limit, Also keeping one thing in mind that we cannot change these limits as we used to do normally and  from my experience its not easy to get it modified through Microsoft support. I have added this crucial topic to my Office 365 section now along with other vital posts.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Microsoft Cloud Ecosystem Poster

Microsoft team released a new Cloud Ecosystem Poster today, Review this poster to know the features of Microsoft Azure, System Center 2012 R2 and Window Server 2012 R2.

This poster is a visual reference for understanding key Microsoft Private Cloud and On-premises Cloud. technologies

Downlaod here:  Cloud Ecosystem Poster: Microsoft Azure, Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Office 365 Availability and Performance Monitoring

How good are your monitoring your Office 365 Environment for High availability? is a question asked at various instances to an Office 365 Administrator since this is quite different from the traditional On premises monitoring as we rely more on Microsoft Cloud services in comparison with our own resources in a fully hosted scenario and we rely on both in a Hybrid environment.

Microsoft Office 365 Dashboard provides you updates over various service degradation, performance issues and outages as and when they occur, but most of the time it is not updated immediately for your visibility. Whenever there is an issue reported, Microsoft team needs to have proper update in hand before they update the Dashboard and also they will update it only for issues that's  impacting customers on a large scale and you will get more information in scenarios on which they confirmed the issue is from their service end, else the issue will become false positive.

You can subscribe for Office 365 Service Health RSS Feeds to get the service health updates directly to your Inbox for quick review.

This post is written with respect to Monitoring Messaging Environment and applies to both fully hosted and Hybrid deployment with Office 365 some components like Dirsync, ADFS are in common for other Online services.

Monitoring Office 365 Synthetic transactions is quite vital to determine the performance and availability of the service and we have few great vendors who provide this service in the market like Exoprise, Agile IT, Mailscape (Enow software)  etc. all of these are good options providing advanced functionality but, most of the customers prefer to use their in house tools already adopted for monitoring the environment and most common one is SCOM.  Microsoft team recently released their new management pack for monitoring Office 365 for System Center 2012 R2 along with Office 365 Service communication API that allows you get real time updates on Service Availability from Microsoft.

More information is available here: New Office 365 admin tools

Availability of other resources is quite critical when you use Office 365 in a Hybrid environment where your Monitoring task expands across both your On premises and Cloud Organization unified as one, Most of the Large Enterprise customers use Office 365 Hybrid with SSO using ADFS and some customers prefer Dirsync Password hash for same sign-on.

When we go for Hybrid as stated earlier every component involved in the setup is critical, It begins with your Network devices, firewall and proxy which underlines the connectivity  between your environment to the cloud, you can refer my earlier blog post "Troubleshooting Outlook Connectivity and Performance issues with Office 365"and review few important articles I referenced to know how good you need setup and monitor these key resources, even this applies to your fully hosted environments with Office 365.

Next its your Hybrid servers these servers availability are crucial for your Org relationship to work and mail flow between both the environments. Most Organizations use two or more Hybrid servers for high availability and if you use loadbalancer ensure that its highly available too. Monitoring this comes as part of your On premises Exchange server monitoring, ensure that you put additional care over these servers and take necessary action on time when you get a alert or alarm before it breaks and impacts the environment.

Next comes your Dirsync server, I put this one before ADFS because this is the most simplified way of achieving same sign-on experience for users, With Dirsync Password hash users can have same password across On premises and Office 365 with out any additional server requirement. Organizations who need same sign-on alone and doesn't require any complexity or enhanced security except password protection this is the prominent solution. We can use Only one active Dirsync server at a time for directory synchronization and you can still have a standby server to take up the active role in cause of primary server failure. Ensure that you install Dirsync on a separate highly available server, its still supported to install on a Domain controller but having it as a separate standalone box is advisable and ensure that you monitor this server availability as you regularly monitor other servers. Though this server is down you will not have a huge impact because Synchronized objects will still continue to work and new changes made to the existing object along with newly created objects in On premises will not sync to cloud until this server comes live which will cause issues at some point, This is crucial if you enable password hash because users will not be able to use their new password once changed in on premises for accessing cloud applications before it gets synched.

Up next is your ADFS Servers, When you decide to adopt federated Identity your ADFS server becomes a very Critical component on the entire setup, Organizations that require true SSO with complex requirements, enhanced security and control over user access adopt this model, When you go for ADFS you need to implement ADFS internal servers and ADFS proxy servers and some Organizations use TMG in place of ADFS proxy servers, With the latest deployments where Organizations use ADFS 3.0 we have some new benefits and ADFS proxy servers are replaced by Web Application Proxy (WAP) which comes a part of Windows Server 2012.

ADFS server farm is created with multiple servers both internally and externally with traditional ADFS 2.0 based deployment for high availability, When you decide to have multiple ADFS servers in the environment you can use SQL server instead of WID and go for SQL server high availability. Monitoring these servers can be achieved by your own traditional monitoring tools like SCOM. Having a highly available ADFS Infrastructure ensures that your environments stays highly available to end users most of the time.

One more to add is your Smart hosts, some Organizations still use Smart hosts with in the Hybrid mail flow, Microsoft doesn't recommend this per design guideline and if you still use one then ensure that server is monitored well for High availability.

Use Remote Connectivity Analyzer test for Office 365 to test how well your environment is setup with the service, this is the best tool per my knowledge that shows you how things are setup and the first tool that helps to identify potential issues in time with simple steps for corrective action.

Check here: Microsoft Remote Connectivity Analyzer

Finally, Ensure that you use Supported Clients in your environment to access the service inline with Office 365 System Requirements and if you still have unsupported clients within the environment you will have performance issues which is inevitable and also stay in an unsupported scenario, you can know more on this by reviewing  my blog post above on troubleshooting outlook connectivity. Monitoring this can be achieved by using various scripts available in the community which assists you in analyzing the type of clients and operating system used within the environment and also the new reports included to the Office 365 reports collects this information proactively and provides this data for our action.

I tried to cover the critical components in a nutshell, which you need to monitor effectively in your environment everyday and I will update this post as and when I get some new information on the topic. Stay tuned...


Microsoft team recently released few great tools for Monitoring Office 365 Service health status, review the below Office Blogs post to know more

Review here : New Office 365 admin tools

One more below,

Client library for Office 365 admin reporting web service now available