Spotlight on Simplicity: synchronizing passwords with BPOS

Something commonly forgotten about when setting up BPOS for a customer that uses Active Directory – is that a new set of password management exists in BPOS.
This can exist in scenarios where the customer already has an on-premise Exchange and is now using Exchange Online, or even for peer-to-peer networks with no central password management.
What the users end up with is two passwords – one for their PC (local or AD authentication), another for BPOS.
Something new customers and partners moving to and using BPOS may not be aware of is the fact that the Directory Synchronization tool does not actually synchronize passwords – just users and groups.
So what are our options? Sure you can get everyone’s current password and match this in BPOS – however there is a default password expiration of 90 days. Very quickly you can see how this would be an inconvenience to users, and quite confusing the first time around.
Another option is to log a support case and request to disable password expiration – however this is not recommended due as it weakens your security.

Something we as a business (Paradyne) have found useful is the MessageOps Password Synchronization tool.
It is free and easy to use, and will run on your domain controller to keep passwords synchronized for your users.
This allows your BPOS environment to adhere to your existing password security policy, keep your organization & data more secure, and overall keep you users happy.

While Office 365 will support Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) – you will require significant on-premise infrastructure to support this, so it is more relevant for large businesses and enterprises.
The MessageOps tool will still be the way to go with smaller organisations that cannot support the ADFS requirements or large businesses and enterprises that can’t or don’t plan to utilise ADFS.

Happy password synchronizing!

Spotlight on Simplicity: moving file systems to SharePoint Online

One of the challenges that we as a business (Paradyne) encountered early on with BPOS was moving customers file systems over to SharePoint Online.
In a traditional on-premise SharePoint scenario there are many 3rd party tools to migrate files structures over to the SharePoint environment, however these generally require extensions to be installed on the target server.
As this is not possible with SharePoint Online we started to look at another way. One simple approach is to simply open up a SharePoint library with Windows Explorer and just drag your files over, however this can run into a couple of fairly sizeable roadblocks:
– a character in the filename that is not allowed in SharePoint
– file transfer fails due to timeout, network conditions, or is interrupted by an inaccessible file or an illegal character in the file name

So what are our choices?
Doing a lot of research, we came across a BPOS partner in the UK that had written a tool to address exactly this challenge.
Enter Files to Go from Thinkscape!
Files to Go is so simple to use that even our non-technical customers have been able to follow the instructions and successfully migrate their files over to SharePoint Online.
It effectively creates a queue of files to be migrated and performs any illegal character changes on the fly, then simply processes the list and copies your files across.
You can either migrate your files into a single library, or run several migrations into different libraries. The folder structure of your file system is kept intact during the migration so that when you open the library in SharePoint Online you are seeing a replica of your file system.
Files to Go also creates its own site within SharePoint Online where you can track the status & progress of the migration as well as view any errors that have occurred.

Overall it is an extremely simple product to use, from the instructions through to the interface. Support is also an email away!
Files to Go currently works with SharePoint Online (under BPOS) and will also be supporting Office 365 upon its release.

Happy migrating!