Email has long been the primary communication channel for organizations of all sizes, and this is unlikely to change in the near future. Although headlines often spell doom for email and appoint its successor, email usage is actually increasing at a global scale. That's not to say email is without its problems. Lately we have seen a lot of focus on reducing the amount of time spent in Outlook, with features such as Clutter, Focused Inbox, sweep rules/actions and My Analytics.
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With the ever-increasing number of services and features in Office 365, keeping up with all the changes can be a challenge. Keeping an eye on all the different ways a user can do harm, either willingly or by mistake, is not an easy task, either.
While the on-premises versions of Exchange and SharePoint do offer some form of auditing, many organizations were surprised to find out that things were quite different after their move to the cloud. There was barely any auditing in the beginning, even for tasks performed by administrators, and in other areas it was very limited. (For example, until recently, auditing owner actions was not possible in Exchange Online). It took several years for Microsoft to address those issues, but now we have a role-based, searchable, exportable, unified log across (almost) all Office 365 workloads and operations, as well as the corresponding APIs. In case you are not familiar with the unified audit log, the article "Search the audit log in the compliance center" is a good starting point.
What is Focused Inbox?
Focused Inbox is a feature that came from Microsoft acquisition of Acompli in December 2014. Focused Inbox has been a part of the iOS Outlook app since it was launched shortly after Acompli was brought into Microsoft.
Forwarding might not be one of the most used features when it comes to email, but it’s certainly common enough. I know I’ve had to deal with it in a lot of related cases back in my support days. While most of the issues you might run into are easy enough to solve, there are so many different ways to configure forwarding that oftentimes people get confused. In this article we will review (some of) the forwarding-related options and introduce you to a recent change in handling forwarding in Office 365/Exchange Online.
Spam is the bane of all messaging administrators, as well as a major pain for all email users. Using email means a consistent battle against spam, malware, and unwanted nonsense flooding your inbox. There are a number of different tools and tactics we, as administrators, can use to reduce the impact of these attacks and recently Microsoft has added another one to the toolboxes of Office 365 customers. In this blog post I'm going to explain what DKIM is, and how you can use it to help make the world a safer place for legitimate email messages.
A little over two years ago, I wrote about an issue I encountered with a KEMP load balancer and how Microsoft performs hybrid mailbox moves. More specifically, the issue evolved around a seemingly different interpretation between KEMP and Microsoft regarding the implementation of the expect 100-continue header. As I noted then, the workaround was to configure the KEMP load balancer to ignore the 100-Continue rules as described in RFC 2616.
A while ago, my good friend Bhargav Shukla reached out to me informing me that KEMP had tracked and solved the problem I described back then. As it turns out, Microsoft had based their interpretation of the expect 100-Continue header on RFC 7231 which superseded RFC 2616. I believe KEMP based itself on the latter, ultimately leading to the issue I described. This illustrates that it’s not always easy to keep up with the fast pace in the tech industry…
Over the past few years, Microsoft has made many attempts to do away with public folders. If you have had the pleasure to work or are still working with Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010, I’m sure you’ll remember the many rumors about Public Folders being deprecated in “vNext”. Yet, they still exist today in Exchange 2016 –although not in exactly the same form as in earlier versions of Exchange. Not only do they still exist, but Public Folders are still widely used! It’s not unheard of that a company has several million public folders representing terabytes worth of data.
Many administrators reacted surprised when Microsoft first announced “Modern Public Folders” back when Exchange 2013 was introduced to the world. Modern Public Folders offer the same exact user functionality as traditional public folders, but align with Microsoft’s efforts to improve high availability using Database Availability Groups. Traditional Public Folders, which were stored in separate Public Folder databases, did not fit into that paradigm. Even more so, because of that architecture with separate databases and no real HA story, Microsoft could not really support Public Folders in Office 365. To be honest, I am almost certain that Microsoft made the changes to the Public Folder architecture so that they would be able to offer them in Office 365. The fact that on-premises customers can now take advantage of those advancements is an added bonus.
Hybrid environments are complicated. Microsoft has done tons of work over the years to try to simplify the hybrid experience—a huge task when you remember that hybrid Office 365 deployments can cover Active Directory, Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype, along with cloud-only services such as Office 365 Groups. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of the wizards of Redmond, running a hybrid deployment leads to situations that we call Hybrid Headaches… problems that "on-prem only" environments won’t encounter but which can be incredibly frustrating obstacles in a hybrid environment.