But Office 365 is just the same as on-premises functionality!

Clearly the title of this blog post is incorrect, but I had to raise it as recently someone made this comment to me. Their view was that they can run Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, and Skype for Business Server on-premises which would deliver the same functionality as Office 365.

What does Office 365 provide that you simply CANNOT deliver with on-premises systems? Focusing on the core feature set (without bringing in Project Online, Dynamics 365, EMS or others into it), it’s not a small list:

Product Description Where you see it
Exchange Online Protection Mail filtering service built into Exchange Online Behind the scenes
Advanced Threat Protection Protection against unknown malware & viruses, real-time protection against malicious URLs at time-of-click Behind the scenes
Exchange Online Archiving Yes you can have archiving on-premises, but not unlimited Client & web
Office 365 Groups Mix of document library, OneNote, Planner, Skype for Business, and SharePoint team site functionality Desktop, web & mobile
Microsoft Teams Chat-based workspace integrated with Office 365 Groups Desktop, web & mobile
OneDrive for Business Similar to Exchange Online Archiving, organisations can run OneDrive for Business on-premises but not provide unlimited storage Desktop, web & mobile
Skype Meeting Broadcast Host online meetings for up to 10,000 attendees Behind the scenes
Clutter / Focused Inbox Email sorting using machine learning, based on individual mail habits Behind the scenes
Delve Personal search & discovery of content Desktop, web & mobile
MyAnalytics (formerly Delve Analytics) Behavioural analytics based on mail & calendar Web
Yammer Enterprise social network platform Web & mobile
Office 365 Video Share & manage business videos Web & mobile
Planner Manage tasks on graphical boards (similar to Trello) Web
Sway Visual storytelling service Desktop, web & mobile
Power BI Interactive business intelligence dashboards Desktop, web & mobile
PowerApps Build mobile apps & logic flows Desktop, web & mobile
Microsoft Flow Automating workflows across apps and services (not just Office 365) Desktop, web & mobile
Office Graph Machine learning mapping connections between people & content Behind the scenes

 

Kirsty McGrath of OnPoint Solutions has created a wheel of the Office 365 services available, building on a similar one from Sharegate.

First experiences with Skype Meeting Broadcast

Recently I was invited to the Preview of the Skype Meeting Broadcast. Naturally I nominated the Paradyne tenant in Office 365 and sat back and waited.

A few days later I received an email to confirm that I had been accepted, and that the Paradyne tenant had been enabled. However when I received that email I realised something – we don’t actually use Skype for Business Online as part of Office 365 as we use a hosted Enterprise Voice service that runs Lync Server 2013 behind the scenes.

I thought out preview test was over before it started.

The first issue we found was that when scheduling a meeting in Skype Meeting Broadcast the user needs to have a SIP address. In our case that wasn’t possible as our user objects have no SIP details within the proxyAddress attribute. We worked around that by creating an account that utilised Skype for Business Online, however quickly found the next issue was we couldn’t add “event staff” (aka presenters) as we had the same problem – Skype for Business Online doesn’t know of their existence.

In a normal hybrid scenario this wouldn’t be an issue as directory synchronisation would populate the SIP address in the object within Azure Active Directory / Office 365, however would simply show the Skype for Business server to be elsewhere (as in NOT using Skype for Business Online). As we are cloud-only this didn’t apply to us, however Microsoft do provide some guidance on configuring an on-premises implementation of Skype for Business Server 2015 to support the Skype Meeting Broadcast service.

So our conundrum – we can schedule broadcasts but can’t participate in them as presenters. What to do?

Well as the service effectively uses the Skype for Business client – we found that all we had to do was add a Paradyne person (using their SIP address of user@paradyne.com.au) to the contact list and we were then able to invite them into the meeting. Once in the meeting we could promote them to presenter. This got us around the issue of the fact that we couldn’t add them to the broadcast event as a presenter / team member.

We did however try to invite an external person into the meeting to see if we could make them a presenter however they were not able to join:

smb-external-user

 

(Thanks to Darrell Webster for being our guinea pig there.)

One of the things we also noted quite quickly is that there is a delay of approximately 28-29 seconds which is by design.

We did try to get Yammer and Bing Pulse integration into the meeting but were unsuccessful.

Another quirk was that we couldn’t actually start the broadcast until someone’s video was set as active. Even if we added a presentation (as guided by the UI as being enough of a starting point) the ability to start the broadcast did not show up – it was only after we marked the video as active.

One thing I would like to see added soon to the service would be attendee tracking – as we had no visibility of whether anyone attended the broadcast or not.

Overall I see this service as being something very needed as Skype for Business currently falls behind the mainstays of broadcasts/webcasts such as GoToWebcast and WebE.

I’ll aim to do a few more posts about the service as it matures.