Build a crisis management site to connect people and information

Build a crisis management site to connect people and information

Am a keen follower of Microsoft's SharePoint Blog and proud to provide this direct from the Microsoft Tech Community:

Change agents, from virus outbreaks like COVID-19 to unexpected weather emergencies, highlight the importance of establishing and keeping open the lines of communication. The goal: to ensure everyone stays briefed on the situation and any business impacts.

 

To address crises, meetings move online, daily guidance email updates get sent, and dedicated sites emerge to consolidate news, related resources and topical Q&A.

 

This ‘how to’ post addresses the latter, to guide you through simple steps and configuration to establish a crisis management site based on a SharePoint communication site. You, too, will also find additional links to helpful guides and videos at the end.

 

“Crisis Management” SharePoint communication site with top navigation and seven web parts laid out to provide access to people and information from inside and outside the organization.“Crisis Management” SharePoint communication site with top navigation and seven web parts laid out to provide access to people and information from inside and outside the organization.

Note: tenant admins can provision a pre-configured crisis management site using this new look book design: “Crisis Communications – announcements, news, resources, communities and calls-to-action.” Kudos and thanks to  & .  

 

How to create a crisis management site

Beyond reading this blog, getting from concept to live site should take no more than two hours. And before you commit to a single pixel, we suggest you take a few minutes to draft a wireframe of the site to identify desired content and information placement; this is what you see as #1 in the below four-image graphic; this, too, will start to describe what SharePoint web parts you will need.

 

Back of the napkin, check. Let’s get to it.

 

Create the site

 

  1. Go to your SharePoint start page
    • Note: Use this common URL pattern to go right to it, or click the SharePoint tile within the Office 365 app launcher (aka, the waffle in the upper left of Office 365 user interface): https://[yourcompany].sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/sharepoint.aspx 
  2. Click + Create site
  3. Choose Communication site [Support article: “Create a communication site in SharePoint Online“]
    • Note: This is what you see as #2 in the below four-image graphic.
  4. Choose the Topic design, enter site name, and click Finish.
    • Note: You’ll then see your new communication site with placeholder content. This is what you see as #3 in the below four-image graphic.

Create the SharePoint communication site in four steps: 1) draw wire frame content layout plan, 2) create the site from SharePoint start page, 3) edit and rearrange text, words, links, sections, layouts off of template, and 4) finalize design, content and permissions.Create the SharePoint communication site in four steps: 1) draw wire frame content layout plan, 2) create the site from SharePoint start page, 3) edit and rearrange text, words, links, sections, layouts off of template, and 4) finalize design, content and permissions.

Note: if you are unable to create sites within your Office 365 tenant, send a request to your SharePoint admin to create the site and assign you as a site owner. Once created and assigned, you can move to the next steps described in this post.

 

Adjust section layouts and add useful web parts

 

From here, it’s all about actualizing your wire frame; if it has a coffee stain on it by now – that just adds character. It’s now time to add sections, select useful web parts and content layout.

 

On the new crisis management site, click the highlighted Edit button. Hover your mouse below the title area and you’ll see a “+” appear: this applies to both section layouts (the “+” sign appears when hovering near the left side of the page) and when adding web parts (the “+” sign appears more in the middle of the page, and then under each added web part).

 

Hover near the left side of the page makes the "+" sign appear to add section layouts.Hover near the left side of the page makes the “+” sign appear to add section layouts.

Hover more in the center of the page to make the "+" sign appear to add web parts.Hover more in the center of the page to make the “+” sign appear to add web parts.

Click + to add content like text, documents, video and more; learn more about how to find and use web parts & add sections and columns.

 

Now, make the site useful and actionable.

 

Add your content, and update it any time

In the above example crisis management site (first larger graphic in this post and #4 in the above four-image graphic), it uses top navigation (mega menu), a two-column section above a single column section – all to the left of a vertically laid out section, and a total of seven web parts.

 

Going left-to-right, top-down, the crisis management site uses the following web parts:

  • Hero – use this to highlight the most important, or newest, content on the site. The one in the example uses the carousel layout.
  • Text – use the rich-text editor to add and update the main intent of the site, or an important message. You can use and adjust color, font size, hyperlink and tables.  
  • Quick links – call out primary resources. These can be internal sites, pages, documents, videos, FAQs, and can be external links, too.
  • Yammer Conversations – create an associated “Crisis Management” community and take questions and manage feedback directly from the site.
  • News – publish daily and weekly news posts. They will appear here on the site and flow into everyone SharePoint start page where News from sites appear.  
  • Twitter – pull in feeds from public Twitter handles; the above example (per COVID-19) highlights @CDCgov and I also suggest: @CDCemergency & @WHO.
  • People – indicate the right people dedicated to the specific crisis. This is tied to Azure Active Directory and on-hover, visitors of the site will be able to see all their contact information.

There, too, are web parts to showcase videos, BI dashboards, lists and more; see all web parts in production (scroll down to the “Available web parts” section of this help article).

 

You can adjust content at any time. You can rearrange where content is placed – aka, drag’n’drop web parts as you need. And know that everything will look great across web and mobile, resizing to the screen your people are using to get to the information.

 

Categorize top navigation with important pages, sites and more

Mega menus enable site navigation to be displayed at-a-glance. This increases the ease of use and exposure of more key content. You can put up to three levels of hierarchy, both enabling visual buckets of information and increases the likelihood of resources being discovered.

 

SharePoint mega menus enable site navigation to be displayed at-a-glance.SharePoint mega menus enable site navigation to be displayed at-a-glance.

Click Edit to the right of the default navigation elements to begin to add, adjust, delete and rearrange nav items. To Add a new header or sub-link, hover above header labels and select the + icon that will appear. To EditMovePromote, and Remove select the ellipses next to the menu topic. Move and Promote headers and sub-links until they are in the desired position and select Save. Once you’ve arranged the hierarchy that works, click the upper right gear icon (site settings) and select Change the look. Select Mega menu and then select Save.

 

Make the top nav work for you. Make it your own. Learn more how to create and adjust a mega menu in SharePoint communication sites.

 

Last step: Share your site, aka, give the right permissions

You set permissions to grant people access to the site. And you can broadly communicate to raise awareness about the new crisis management site.

 

Above the site, in the upper right, you’ll see a gear icon. Click it, select Site permissions, and then click Share site. Now you can type in broader security groups, Office 365 Groups or individuals (possibly others to help you manage the site; give them Edit permissions). For a site like this, it’s common to use the “Everyone” or “Everyone except external users” and ensure they are given Read permissions so that the most users in your organization can access the site in the right way once it’s ready; this then denotes them as Site visitors. Note: I typically uncheck the “Send email” option and rather use Outlook or Yammer to broadly communicate or Teams chat to raise awareness to my teams. Once you’ve decided on the right

 

Share the site to give permissions to all or select users and groups you wish to have access to the new site.Share the site to give permissions to all or select users and groups you wish to have access to the new site.

Learn more how to manage site permissions.

 

OK, on to additional materials out there to help best assess, learn and move forward.

 

‘How to’ webinar [now on-demand; embedded below]

TitleSharePoint: how to build a crisis management site

Description: This ‘how to’ webinar walks you through how to establish a *crisis management* site using a SharePoint communication site in Office 365, both manually and with a pre-configured site design from the Microsoft Look Book. 

Date of recording: March 27, 2020

Webinar PowerPoint presentation: PDF

 

Two of the FAQs from the webinar that were not yet covered in this blog post:

Q: Is it possible to create multiple crisis managements sites within the same tenant?

A: Yes. You can create multiple crisis management type sites so long as you use different names for each site; aka, unique URLs.
Q: I want to create a portal for external people. Is that possible?

A: Yes. Make sure to work with your SharePoint administrator to help enable external sharing for the new site, inline with your external user governance plan before inviting guests.

 

Helpful, related reads and resources

Stay safe out there, wash your hands (Thanks, ellentube), and be kind to your neighbor at work and at home. Create your site. Share what you know and ask about what you don’t.

 

We’re here to help,

Mark Kashman, senior product manager – Microsoft

The above is kindly provided by the Microsoft Tech Community!

Deploy Office 365 ProPlus to remote workers

Deploy Office 365 ProPlus to remote workers

This blog post will address the enterprise IT admin’s challenge on how to deploy Office 365 ProPlus to remote workers without saturating the company’s VPN connections. It will show you how to implement a tactical approach which allows an IT admin to stay in control and quickly relief the pain of VPN congestion by offloading content distribution to the Microsoft Content Delivery Network (CDN). Maybe you are in the process of moving off legacy versions of Office and want to keep the pace with e.g. the Office 2010 end-of-support approaching fast. There are multiple strategic solutions available (e.g. Intune and Windows Autopilot), but for now we focus on a quick fix.

 

Overview of blog post series

This blog post is part of a three-part series, which is brought to you by the ProPlus Rangers at Microsoft, a group of most senior deployment experts. The series provides guidance on how to offload content distribution to the Microsoft CDN across the lifecycle of an Office 365 ProPlus installation:

 

We hope this will help you to minimize the impact of deploying, servicing and managing Office 365 ProPlus on your own network and your user’s VPN connections.

 

The Concept

With the approach described below, we want to achieve two things:

  • Keep IT admins in control what happens when by continue using your enterprise management solution like Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (formally known as System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM))
  • Offloading the content distribution to Microsoft’s CDN to allow remote user to leverage their local internet connection instead of pulling large source files from your ConfigMgr Distribution Points over VPN connections

We will walk you through the process on how to adjust an existing Office 365 ProPlus deployment package for a hybrid approach, update your sources and ensure that the source file download will bypass your VPN.

 

Step 1 – Adjust your deployment package

To allow remote users to leverage their local internet connection for source file access, we have to remove the source files from the Configuration Manager application. Navigate to the folder which is holding your software sources, locate the “office” folder and delete it:

Deploy_O365PP_to_Remote_workers_2.jpg

In the above example, 11 Language Packs were included in the deployment package, bumping the size up to 6+ gigabytes. Keep the setup.exe as well as any configuration files located in the folder. This reduces the size of your deployment package to less than 10 megabyte. That’s a huge saving on your VPN connections.

In case you don’t have an Office 365 ProPlus installation package yet, you can use the built-in wizard to create one. Maybe you want to adjust the handling of languages, instead of hard-coding those you might want to use MatchOS or MatchPreviousMSI. After that, apply the steps above.

 

Step 2 – Update the content sources

If your application was already synced to Distribution Points, those still have the larger package cached. Navigate to Software Library > Application Management > Applications, select your application, switch to the Deployment Types Tab, right-click the appropriate entry and click Update Content.

Deploy_O365PP_to_Remote_workers_3.jpg

This will re-sync any changes to your Distribution Points, so those will now also have the smaller deployment package ready to sync to devices.

 

Step 3 – Verify VPN configuration and deploy

Once a client has received the smaller deployment package through ConfigMgr and kicks off the installation, it will download the source files directly from the Microsoft CDN. It is important to ensure that your devices can actually reach out to those endpoints directly and don’t backhaul through the VPN tunnel. We published guidance on how to enable so-called VPN split-tunneling, the endpoints relevant for Office 365 ProPlus source file download are listed at Office 365 URLs and IP address ranges as entry #92.

If you already have an active deployment of the newly-updated package, clients will start receiving it after the Distribution Points have finished syncing the changes. If you want to start with a fresh deployment, just follow the regular guidelines in your organization.

 

FAQ

Q: We usually controlled which build is installed by embedding the matching source files. How can I control this now?
A: By default, setup will fetch the latest build available for the specified update channel. You can use the version attribute in the configuration file to specify a build. This might be important if your organization is wants to deploy the older SAC feature release.

 

The Authors

This blog post is brought to you by  from the Office 365 ProPlus Ranger Team at Microsoft. Feel free to share your questions and feedback in the comments below.

How to quickly optimize Office 365 traffic for remote staff & reduce the load on your infrastructure

How to quickly optimize Office 365 traffic for remote staff & reduce the load on your infrastructure

Over the past few weeks, Microsoft, and more specifically the Office 365 Network team have seen a large influx of questions from customers around how best to optimize their Office 365 connectivity as they work diligently to plan for a large amount of their userbase suddenly working from home. We’ve also seen similar queries from customers looking for best practice whilst rapidly enabling their Office 365 benefits, Free Teams plans or free 6 month E1 trial recently announced to rapidly roll out Teams to allow their business to continue to function and allow users to collaborate effectively without being in the Office.  

 

The recent COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak has caused many customers to rapidly enable, or proactively plan for the bulk of their employees working from home. This sudden switch of connectivity model for the majority of users typically has a significant impact on the corporate network infrastructure which may have been scaled and designed before any major cloud service was rolled out and in some cases, not designed for a situation when it is required simultaneously by all users.

Network elements such as VPN concentrators, central network egress equipment such as proxies, DLP etc, central internet bandwidth, backhaul MPLS circuits, NAT capability and so on are suddenly put under enormous strain due to the load of the entire business using them, with the end result being poor performance and productivity coupled with a poor user experience for those users forced to adapt to working from home.

A simple diagram of a traditional network model can be seen below, where remote user’s connectivity is forced in and back out of the corporate network to reach critical resources as well as branch offices using MPLS circuits to reach the services offered at head office. It is an incredibly common network model for businesses around the world, but it was designed to be effective for a pre-cloud world.

A traditional enterprise network, which does not work well in a cloud first worldA traditional enterprise network, which does not work well in a cloud first world

This model made perfect sense and worked very well when the bulk of applications, data and services resided within the corporate network (the dotted line in the diagram), but as enterprises shift to the cloud, it rapidly becomes a cumbersome environment which doesn’t scale well or provide the organization with any agility to react to situations such as that we face today. Many customers report to Microsoft that they have seen a very rapid shift of network traffic which used to be contained within the corpnet now almost exclusively connecting to some external cloud-based source.

 

Fortunately, Microsoft has been working closely with customers and the wider industry for many years to provide effective, modern solutions to these problems from within our own services, and also aligned to industry best practice. Solutions that apply very simply and effectively to remote workers as much as they do to branch offices. Microsoft has designed the connectivity requirements for the Office 365 service to work efficiently for remote users whilst still allowing an organization to maintain security and control over their connectivity.

 

Below we will outline the simple steps an organization can take to drastically reduce the impact Office 365 traffic has on the traditional corporate infrastructure when we have a large percentage of users working remotely all at once. The solution will also have a significant impact on user performance and also provide the benefit of freeing up the corporate resources for elements which still have to rely on it.

 

Most remote users who are not using a virtualized desktop will use a VPN solution of some sort to route all connectivity back into the corporate environment where it is then routed out to Office 365, often through an on premises security stack which is generally designed for web browsing.

 

The key to this solution is separating out the critical Office 365 traffic which is both latency sensitive and that which also puts enormous load on the traditional network architecture. We then treat this traffic differently and use the user’s local internet connection to route the connectivity directly to the service. To do this we need to follow a simple set of actions:

 

1. Identify the endpoints we need to Optimize

 

Microsoft has already identified these endpoints and marks them very clearly for reference. In the URL/IP list for the service these endpoints are marked as “Optimize”. There are just four URLS which need to be optimized and nineteen IP subnets. In just this small group of endpoints we can account for around 80% of the volume of traffic to the service and it also includes the latency sensitive endpoints such as those for Teams media. Essentially this is the traffic that we need to take special care of and is also the traffic which will put incredible pressure on traditional network paths.

 

URLs in this category have the following characteristics:

 

  • Are Microsoft owned and managed endpoints hosted on Microsoft infrastructure.
  • Have IPs provided
  • Low rate of change to URLs/IPs compare to other two categories
  • Expected to remain low in number of URLs
  • Are High volume and/or latency sensitive

 

You can also query the REST API Web Service for this information, and a PowerShell example script which does this and outputs the URLs/IPs/Ports for all three endpoint categories can be found using the link above.  

 

 

Endpoint to Optimize

Port/s

Use

https://outlook.office365.com

TCP 443

This is one of the Core URLs Outlook uses to connect to its Exchange Online server and has high volume of bandwidth usage and connection count. Low network latency is required for online features including: Instant search, Other mailbox calendars, Free / busy lookup, manage rules & alerts, Exchange online archive, Emails departing the outbox.

https://outlook.office.com

TCP 443

This is use for Outlook Online web access to connect to its Exchange Online server and network latency. Connectivity is particularly required for large file upload and download with SharePoint Online.

https://<tenant>.sharepoint.com

TCP 443

This is the primary URL for SharePoint Online and has high volume of bandwidth usage.

https://<tenant>-my.sharepoint.com

TCP 443

This is the primary URL for OneDrive for Business and has high volume of bandwidth and possibly high connection count from the OneDrive for Business Sync tool.

Teams Media IPs (no URL)

UDP 3478, 3479, 3480, and 3481

Relay Discovery allocation and real time traffic (3478), Audio (3479), Video (3480), and Video Screen Sharing (3481). These are the endpoints used for Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams Media traffic (Calls, meetings etc). Most endpoints are provided when the Microsoft Teams client establishes a call (and are contained within the required IPs listed for the service).

UDP is required for optimal media quality.

  

 

<tenant> should be replaced with your Office 365 tenant name. For example contoso.onmicrosoft.com would use contoso.sharepoint.com and constoso-my.sharepoint.com

 

At the time of writing the IP ranges which these endpoints correspond to are as follows. It is strongly advised you use the script referenced previously or the URL/IP page to check for any updates when applying the policy, and do so on a regular basis.

 

104.146.128.0/17

13.107.128.0/22

13.107.136.0/22

13.107.18.10/31

13.107.6.152/31

13.107.64.0/18

131.253.33.215/32

132.245.0.0/16

150.171.32.0/22

150.171.40.0/22

191.234.140.0/22

204.79.197.215/32

23.103.160.0/20

40.104.0.0/15

40.108.128.0/17

40.96.0.0/13

52.104.0.0/14

52.112.0.0/14

52.96.0.0/14

52.120.0.0/14

 

 

note.png

  • TCP ports 80/443
  • UDP ports 3478, 3479, 3480, 3481

 

IPV6 endpoints can be ignored if not currently required, i.e. the service will currently operate successfully on IPV4 only (but not the other way round). This will likely change in future but IPV4 only is possible for the time being.

 

2. Optimize access to these endpoints via the VPN

 

Now that we have identified these critical endpoints, we need to divert them away from the VPN tunnel and allow them to use the user’s internet connection to connect directly to the service. The vast majority of VPN solutions allow split tunnelling, where identified traffic is not sent down the VPN tunnel to the corporate network but rather sent direct out the user’s local internet connection. The VPN client should be configured so that traffic to the above, Optimize marked URLs/IPs/Ports are routed in this way. This allows the traffic to utilize local Microsoft resources such as Office 365 Service Front Doors such as AFD as one example, which deliver Office 365 services & connectivity points as close to your users as possible. This allows us to deliver extremely high performance levels to users wherever they are in the world. There is also Microsoft’s world class global network which is very likely within  a small number of milliseconds of your users direct egress, and is designed to take your traffic securely to Microsoft resources wherever they may be in the world, as efficiently as possible.

The solution would look something like that below.

 

A client's VPN connection with split tunneling enabledA client’s VPN connection with split tunneling enabled

 

Sounds simple? It is in most cases, but for an enterprise, this shift in connectivity invariably raises questions about security. In the traditional network approach security is often applied inline to network traffic as it egresses to the internet. Proxies and firewalls perform inspection on the traffic to check for data exfiltration, viruses and so on. By bypassing this we are removing this layer of protection we have come to rely on when connecting to the internet. The good news is, for the highlighted endpoints above, Microsoft has numerous features in place which means your security with the modern approach may well be higher than available previously. We will run through some of the common solutions below, not all will be relevant or necessary to all customers, but we will cover the majority of common concerns that come up when implementing modern network connectivity.

 

3. Common questions when implementing local breakout and split tunnelling for Office 365

 

It should be noted that the two steps above are all that is necessary to solve the performance/scalability issues if you need to move very quickly given the current situation. The elements below can be added as needed and as time allows or you may have them in place already.

 

Q1. How do I stop users accessing other tenants I do not trust where they could exfiltrate data?

 

A: The answer is a feature called tenant restrictions. Authentication traffic is not high volume nor especially latency sensitive so can be sent through the VPN solution to the on-premises proxy where the feature is applied. An allow list of trusted tenants is maintained here and if the client attempts to obtain a token to a tenant which is not trusted, the proxy simply denies the request. If the tenant is trusted, then a token is accessible if the user has the right credentials and rights.

 

So even though a user can make a TCP/UDP connection to the Optimize marked endpoints above, without a valid token to access the tenant in question, they simply cannot login and access/move any data.

 

Q2. Does this model allow access to consumer services such as personal OneDrive accounts?

 

A: No, it does not, the Office 365 endpoints are not the same as the consumer services (Onedrive.live.com as an example) so the split tunnel will not allow a user to directly access consumer services. Traffic to consumer endpoints will continue to use the VPN tunnel and existing policies will continue to apply.

 

Q3. How do I apply DLP and protect my sensitive data when the traffic no longer flows through my on-premises solution?

 

A: If required, endpoints can be protected with Office DLP if required and it’s much more efficient to provide this feature in the service itself rather than try and do it in line at the network edge. Azure Information protection can also be used to provide a high level of information protection if required.

 

Q4. How do I evaluate and maintain control of the user’s authentication when they are connecting directly?

 

A: In addition to the tenant restrictions feature noted in Q1, conditional access policies can be applied to dynamically assess the risk of an authentication request and react appropriately. Microsoft recommends the Zero Trust model is implemented over time and we can use Azure AD conditional access policies to maintain control in a mobile & cloud first world. Conditional access policies can be used to make a real-time decision on whether an authentication request is successful based on numerous factors such as:

 

  • Device, is the device known/trusted/Domain joined?
  • IP – is the authentication request coming from a known corporate IP address? Or from a country we do not trust?
  • Application – Is the user authorized to use this application?

 

We can then trigger policy such as approve, trigger MFA or block authentication based on these policies.

 

Q5. How do I protect against viruses and malware?

 

A: Again, Office 365 provides protection for the Optimize marked endpoints in various layers in the service itself, outlined in this document. As noted, it is vastly more efficient to provide these security elements in the service itself rather than try and do it in line with devices which may not fully understand the protocols/traffic.

 

For the Exchange endpoints listed above, Exchange Online Protection and Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection do an excellent job of providing security of the traffic to the service.

 

Q6. Can I send more than just the Optimize traffic direct?

 

A. Priority should be given to the Optimize marked endpoints as these will give maximum benefit for a low level of work. However, if you wish, the Allow marked endpoints are required for the service to work and have IPs provided for the endpoints which can be used if required.

 

There are also various vendors who offer cloud based proxy/security solutions called secure web gateways which provide central security, control and corporate policy application for general web browsing. These solutions can work well in a cloud first world, if highly available, performant, and provisioned close to your users by allowing secure internet access to be delivered from a cloud based location close to the user. This removes the need for a hairpin through the VPN/corporate network for general browsing traffic, whilst still allowing central security control.

Even with these solutions in place however, Microsoft still strongly recommends the Optimize marked Office 365 traffic is sent direct to the service.

 

Q7. Why is port 80 required? Is traffic sent in the clear?

 

A. Port 80 is only used for things like redirect to a port 443 session, no customer data is sent or is accessible over port 80. This article outlines encryption for data in transit, and at rest for Office 365 and this article outlines how we use SRTP to protect Teams media traffic.

 

Q8. Does this advice apply to users in China using a worldwide instance of Office 365?

 

A. No it does not. The one caveat to the above advice is users in the PRC who are connecting to a worldwide instance of Office 365. Due to the common occurrence of cross border network congestion in the region, direct internet egress performance can be variable. Most customers in the region operate using a VPN to bring the traffic into the corporate network and utilize their authorized MPLS circuit or similar to egress outside the country via an optimized path. This is outlined further in this article https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/enterprise/office-365-networking-china

 

Finally, please ask any questions you may have in the comments section below and we will do our best to answer as quickly as possible.

 

4. Further reading

 

General best practice for Office 365 connectivity:

http://aka.ms/pnc

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/archive/blogs/onthewire/__guidance

 

Recorded Ignite sessions

https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/81561?source=sessions

https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/videos/64276

https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/videos/64275

 

Office 365 Partner Program

https://resources.techcommunity.microsoft.com/networking/

Current partners are Citrix, Netfoundry, NTT, SilverPeak and Zscaler

 

Network Connectivity performance testing

https://connectivity.office.com/

This tool runs some tests against Office 365 endpoints including the Optimize marked ones and give you some clear feedback around how connectivity looks for those endpoints and anything you can do to improve the connectivity.

 

Bandwidth planning

https://aka.ms/bandwidth/

This tool is one mechanism you can use to monitor user’s Office 365 network traffic volumes to get a clear figure for bandwidth requirements for the wider business.

Configuring Office 365 ProPlus updates for remote workers using VPN

Configuring Office 365 ProPlus updates for remote workers using VPN

Due to the dynamic situation with COVID-19 many IT pros are being challenged to assess ways to configure Office 365 Client to update directly from Microsoft CDN. Today, the majority of customers I engage with manage updates using Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr), predominately on-premises. The objective of this posting is how to minimize internet egress through customer VPN network for Office updates.

 

Network considerations

There are an infinite number of ways customers configure network access, no two customers are identical in configuration.  Speaking generally, the VPN client needs to support split tunneling or be configured so network traffic destined for Office 365 are directed to internet and are not required to pass through VPN Server.  Microsoft provides a list of all Office 365 URLs and IP address ranges in the following document.  Some customers have VPN clients dynamically aware of Office 365 Services using Microsoft Graph API, some support URLs and others only support IP exclusions.  You’ll notice item(s) 90 and 92 which provide specific URLs used by the Office 365 Client to perform updates.

90

Default
Required

mrodevicemgr.officeapps.live.com (Description: Device Management Service (DMS) is used to advertise the C2R builds to the machines which are non-admin managed based on the meta data passed by the machine.)

TCP: 443

92

Default
Required

officecdn.microsoft.com, officecdn.microsoft.com.edgesuite.net (Description: Office CDN where content is downloaded)

TCP: 443, 80

Tip: Please review blog posting How to quickly optimize Office 365 traffic for remote staff & reduce the load on your infrastructure

Tip: Please review blog posting Managing remote machines with cloud management gateway in Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager

 

Background on how Office 365 Client works by default

Office 365 ProPlus is designed by default to update from CDN.  A scheduled task called “Office Automatic Updates 2.0” uses a trigger to routinely check for updates as advertised by DMS service.  The Office client will always move to the latest versionbuild available by assigned channel documented hereDocumentation around what to expect from a user experience when updates are delivered from CDN can be found here.  If ConfigMgr Office 365 Client Management integration is enabled by Configuration.xml during initial installation, ConfigMgr Client settings, or Domain Policy, the scheduled task will continue to execute but will only perform software updates from ConfigMgr. 

 

Options available to update from CDN

Option 1: Cloud managed

Steps:

  • Disable OfficeMgmtCOM (required if previously ConfigMgr managed)
    • On the next restart of Microsoft Office Click-to-Run Service, Office COM application will de-registered.  Allows Office Client to do its thing and get updates from the CDN.  
    • This can be done by changing client settings in ConfigMgr or by Group Policy.
  • Set UpdatesEnabled GPO to True (optional)
    • Allows the client to resume normal update checks from the CDN
  • UpdateDeadline GPO as an integer (optional) in days (ex. 12) to ensure the client is updated to ensure compliance.  Using an integer value allows the admin to not have to continually change the date to a future date/time for every update.

Option 2: SCCM managed but offload content distribution

Use normal deploy software updates wizard within ConfigMgr console selecting deploy option. When completing deployment package screen, it is important to select option “No deployment package”. In this way, clients will download content directly from CDN but keep existing controls and user experience during software update workflow.

Steps:

Deploy1.png

NoDeployPackage.png

FAQ:

How can I verify ConfigMgr integration is disabled?

Start -> Run ->dcomcnfg.exe and look for presence of OfficeC2Rcom application.

COMEnabled.png

COMDisabled.png

Where in the Office logs can I confirm Office updates are coming from CDN?

Use http://aka.ms/office365logcollector to collect Office logs or search for files in C:windowstemp which have your NetBIOS name like MININT-314VFT4-20200318-0857.log.  (There will be a bunch of them).  Use your favorite text editor to search for strings like ‘officecdn.microsoft.com’ or the build number you deployed.

 

Starting with version 1902, ‘Prefer cloud based sources over on-premise sources’ allows IT Pro to prioritize Cloud content.  Does this feature extendsupport Office 365 Client updates?

No, this appear to be a bug which is under investigation.  Workaround is to ensure Distribution Points used by VPN clients do not host Office 365 Client updates resulting in error 404.  If the software deployment has selection ‘If software updates are not available on distribution point in current, neighbor or site boundary groups, download content from Microsoft Updates’, this should allow new location of CDN fallback to be used.  I will update this item with updates when available.

 

The Authors

This blog post is brought to you by Dave Guenthner and Martin Nothnagel, two ProPlus Rangers at Microsoft.  We’re looking forward to your questions and feedback in the comments below.

Microsoft 365 & SharePoint PnP Weekly – Episode 76

Microsoft 365 & SharePoint PnP Weekly – Episode 76

Am a keen follower of Microsoft's SharePoint Blog and proud to provide this direct from the Microsoft Tech Community:

episode-76-promo.png

 

In this session of PnP Weekly, hosts – Vesa Juvonen (Microsoft), Waldek Mastykarz (Rencore), and typically a special guest from the PnP Community, discuss the latest news and topics around Microsoft 365 development. This week, Vesa and Waldek are joined by Brett Lonsdale – Office Apps and Services MVP, owner of UK based Lightning Tools developing “gap filler” products like BDC Meta Man and Lightning Conductor for the Microsoft 365 Suite.

 

Topics of discussion included: 

 

  • Decreasing time between release and adoption
  • Improved product use experience as a result of adopting SPFx
  • Building personal apps (including Social-Squared – discussion forum tool) for Microsoft Teams
  • Using Microsoft Graph to connect with apps and data across the M365 suite.

 

This episode was recorded on Monday, March 23, 2020

 

Got feedback, ideas, other input – please do let us know!

The above is kindly provided by the Microsoft Tech Community!

Migrating your localization settings from AIP to MIP

With the announcement earlier this month that we plan to deprecate the AIP (classic) client and label management from the Azure Portal, customers are actively working to migrate their label management from the Azure Portal to the M365 Compliance portal. 

 

This is the aim whether your plan for Windows clients is to use the Azure Information Protection (AIP) unified labeling client , or use the Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) features built-in to Office Pro Plus. This isn’t a concern For non-Windows platforms as they leverage the features built-in to our Office products.

 

As a recap, we discuss the strategic options for which client to use on Windows in our recent migrating to Unified Labeling webinar and the client comparison matrix in our Microsoft documentation.

 

After activating unified labeling one of the challenges your organization might have is the need to configure the localizations you had in AIP for MIP clients. The AIP CXE team has recently published a great blog post that can help you tackle this challenge. You can read the post here.

 

Thanks!

@Adam Bell  on behalf of the MIP and Compliance CXE team

 

Excluding and re-including applications within the Office 365 ProPlus Suite

Excluding and re-including applications within the Office 365 ProPlus Suite

When installing Office 365 ProPlus using the Office Deployment Tool (ODT), the standard configuration includes the entire suite of applications by default. In some cases, IT Pros need to exclude one or more of the apps or add back previously excluded ones. The article will go over the various scenarios and provide guidance on how to implement them. These scenarios include:

  • Exclude apps during initial install
  • Remove specific apps after initial install
  • Re-including apps that were previously removed
  • Adding Visio and/or Project after initial ProPlus installation

So, let’s look at each of these scenarios:

 

Exclude apps during initial install

There are two main ways how admins can control which apps are excluded at the initial install of Office 365 ProPlus. First, using the Office Customization Tool (OCT) at https://config.office.com, admins can simply toggle the buttons for the apps they wish to exclude from the initial install:

 

apps.png

 

This will craft the configuration file with the necessary exclusions for you. You can either export and save the file locally or to the cloud and reference this file during setup.

A second way that admins can control which apps are installed at the initial install of Office 365 ProPlus is to leverage the <ExcludeApp ID=”APPNAME” /> attribute in the ODT configuration file directly. The names of all the app values are as follows:

  • ID=”Access”
  • ID=”Excel”
  • ID=”Groove” (This is the old sync client for on-Premises SharePoint)
  • ID=”Lync” (Skype for Business)
  • ID=”OneDrive”
  • ID=”OneNote” (OneNote 2016, Win32 app. NOT the UWP Windows 10 app)
  • ID=”Outlook”
  • ID=”PowerPoint”
  • ID=”Publisher”
  • ID=”Teams”
  • ID=”Word”

A sample configuration file with Groove and OneNote excluded from the install would look like this:

 

 

<Configuration>
<Add OfficeClientEdition=”64″ Channel=”Monthly”>
<Product ID=”0365ProPlusRetail”>
<Language ID=”MatchOS” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Groove” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”OneNote” />
</Product>
</Add>
</Configuration>

 

With either method at install time, Office 365 ProPlus will be installed with the selected apps excluded. You can verify by looking at this registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftOfficeClickToRunConfiguration
O365ProPlusRetail.ExcludedApps
registry.png
Or simply by checking the start menu and noticing those applications are not present.   

Remove specific apps after initial install

If Office 365 ProPlus is already installed on a device or devices and you need to remove one or more of the apps, you can use the same method as above. However, there are a couple things to keep in mind.

  • You can use Version=”MatchInstalled” to eliminate the need to keep track of the Architecture and Servicing Channel as this attribute will read the existing values and honor them. This can cut down on the number of configuration files needed in environments with multiple Office 365 ProPlus configurations.
  • Setup.exe and the configuration file will need access to the Office source files. Either from the Microsoft CDN (Recommended) or internally by including them in a Configuration Manager application. Click-to-Run Office does not cache source files like the MSI version did in the MSOCache location.

warning.png
If you had previously excluded an app or apps at initial install time, and wish to keep them excluded, you must continue to exclude them via the <ExcludeApp…/> section of the new configuration file you create along with whichever app or apps you now also want to exclude. Failure to do so will result in those applications being present and usable by your users.

 

The below example configuration file, leveraging “MatchInstalled” would remove Access from the device after initial install:

 

 

<Configuration>
<Add Version=”MatchInstalled”>
<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>
<Language ID=”MatchOS” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Access” />
</Product>
</Add>
</Configuration>

 

 

Like the warning pointed out, running the above configuration will result in Access excluded and ONLY ACCESS EXCLUDED. If you had previously excluded apps such as Groove or OneNote 2016 from your initial install and now wish to exclude Access while keeping Groove and OneNote 2016 also excluded, you must have all three applications called out like in this example:

 

 

<Configuration>
<Add Version=”MatchInstalled”>
<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>
<Language ID=”MatchOS” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Access” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Groove” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”OneNote” />
</Product>
</Add>
</Configuration>

 

Re-including apps that were previously removed

This is very similar to the above scenario. Since Office 365 ProPlus does not include or exclude applications in the traditional sense, but rather asks “what do you want the suite to look like after this configuration?” So therefore If you excluded an app at initial install or post install and now wish to add it back in, you will use a similar configuration to the above example leaving any other apps still excluded you want to remain that way.

Consider this scenario: The IT Pro excluded Access, Groove and OneNote 2016 at initial install and now wishes to add OneNote 2016 back into the suite but leave Access and Groove still excluded. The example configurations would look like this:

 

 

Initial install Configuration:

<Configuration>
<Add OfficeClientEdition=”64″ Channel=”Monthly”>
<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>
<Language ID=”MatchOS” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Access” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Groove” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”OneNote” />
</Product>
</Add>
</Configuration>
Second install Configuration:

<Configuration>
<Add Version=”MatchInstalled”>
<Product ID=”O365ProPlusRetail”>
<Language ID=”MatchOS” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Access” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Groove” />
</Product>
</Add>
</Configuration>

 

Adding Visio and/or Project after initial ProPlus installation

Visio and Project operate in a different manner as they are different Product ID’s. These products cannot be added or excluded with the <ExcludeApp/> attribute. They can be added after the initial install by using a configuration file with Visio and/or Project as the <add Product ID> value. You must match the servicing channel and version of Click to Run architecture (64/32-bit) to prevent making unwanted changes. Better yet, you can leverage the power of the CDN and the new <MatchInstalled> attribute to do the heavy lifting here. Deploying Visio and/or Project from the Microsoft CDN after installing Office 365 ProPlus is very bandwidth friendly as most of the shared files are already installed.

Here is an example configuration of adding Visio and Project to device after Office 365 ProPlus has already been deployed:

 

<Configuration>
<Add Version=”MatchInstalled”>
<Product ID=”ProjectProRetaill”>
<Language ID=”MatchOS” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Groove” />
</Product>
<Product ID=”VisioProRetaill”>
<Language ID=”MatchOS” />
<ExcludeApp ID=”Groove” />
</Product>
</Add>
</Configuration>

 

warning.png

Notice in the above example I have excluded Groove from both Product sections. Groove, OneDrive and Teams operate slightly different at install time and if not excluded from each product they will get installed along with Office 365 ProPlus, Visio and Project Click-to-Run.

 

The Author

This blog post is brought to you by Eric Wayne, a Sr. Office Deployment expert and ProPlus Ranger at Microsoft. Feel free to share your questions and feedback in the comments below.

SharePoint mobile app will now allow admins to customize their tenant theme with branding

SharePoint mobile app will now allow admins to customize their tenant theme with branding

Am a keen follower of Microsoft's SharePoint Blog and proud to provide this direct from the Microsoft Tech Community:

More of your employees are working remotely and depending on their mobile device for important company information. The current world climate and the concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus have only amplified this need.

 

For many organizations their intranet is the hub for knowledge and information, and the SharePoint mobile app is the best way for employees to access this from any mobile device. A request we have heard from you is to allow the SharePoint mobile app to be more customizable and enable you brand it with your company’s guidelines easily. We are happy to announce that the SharePoint mobile app will now allow admins to customize their tenant theme in the Microsoft 365 admin center. The SharePoint mobile app will allow users to view their tenant theme on the app if admins have configured in on the Microsoft 365 admin center. This ability is available today for both iOS and Android devices.

 

Company branding with the SharePoint mobile appCompany branding with the SharePoint mobile app

For more information on how to customize your tenant them see Customize the Office 365 theme for your organization.

Administrators can configure the following for the SharePoint mobile app:

  1. Logo Image: Logo of SVG format (Images uploaded in any other format will not display in the app)
  2. Nav Bar Color: This is background color that appears in the background of the nav bar for all 3 tabs. (Please note sites will not be impacted by this nav bar color input).
  3. Text and Icon Color: This section input affects text and icons color on the navigation bar
  4. Accent Color: This input will affect buttons, links and other elements defined on the app for branding.

If you have already configured this information employee will automatically start seeing the branded app after they update the mobile app to latest version.

 

Customize for your organizationCustomize for your organization

Download or update the SharePoint mobile app from iOS and Android app store today to experience company branding.

The above is kindly provided by the Microsoft Tech Community!

Trainable classifier auto-labeling with sensitivity labels webinar

Trainable classifier auto-labeling with sensitivity labels webinar

This classification method is particularly well suited to content that isn’t easily identified by either the manual or automated pattern matching methods. This method of classification is more about training a classifier to identify an item based on what the item is, not by elements that are in the item (pattern matching). A classifier learns how to identify a type of content by looking at hundreds of examples of the content you’re interested in classifying

 

trainable-body.PNG

 

References:

This webinar was presented on Tue Mar 17th 2020, and the recording can be found here.

 

Attached to this post are:

  1. The FAQ document that summarizes the questions and answers that came up over the course of both Webinars; and
  2. A PDF copy of the presentation.

Thanks to those of you who participated during the two sessions and if you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out our resources available on the Tech Community.

 

Thanks!

@Adam Bell  on behalf of the MIP and Compliance CXE team

Insider Risk Management and Communication Compliance Webinar

Insider Risk Management and Communication Compliance Webinar

Insider risk management is a solution in Microsoft 365 that helps minimize internal risks by enabling you to detect, investigate, and take action on risky activities in your organization.

 

Communication compliance is part of the new insider risk solution set in Microsoft 365 that helps minimize communication risks by helping you detect, capture, and take remediation actions for inappropriate messages in your organization.

 

IRMCC-Teaser.PNG

 

References:

This webinar was presented on Tue Mar 10th 2020, and the recording can be found here.

 

Attached to this post are:

  1. The FAQ document that summarizes the questions and answers that came up over the course of both Webinars; and
  2. A PDF copy of the presentation.

Thanks to those of you who participated during the two sessions and if you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out our resources available on the Tech Community.

 

Thanks!

@Adam Bell  on behalf of the MIP and Compliance CXE team