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CloudAlly Backup versus Exchange Online Archiving

Exchange Online Archiving Vs CloudAlly Online Backup with Amazon AWS

In this article we will compare two methods to backup and protect Office 365 data: Microsoft Exchange Online Archiving (EOA) and CloudAlly.

It is important to understand the key differences between these two Office 365 backup options and to know whether they can suffice individually or need to be used together.

Things to Look for in an Office 365 Data Protection Plan

In order to compare CloudAlly and EOA, we first need to understand what should be considered while choosing a suitable data protection service or tool for Office 365 Exchange Online.

The service should be able to retain (on a long-term basis) and preserve data for legal, compliance and archiving challenges.

It should also be able to search and retrieve the data online, namely eDiscovery. The data backup or protection tool should furthermore be able to access the data and carry out a point-in-time restore or recovery of the data for business continuity.

You may argue that recycle bins, which contain deleted items as well as recoverable items, support the recovery of deleted data.

However, these bins only help for a limited period of time and do not support long-term data retention, point-in-time recovery and data preservation.

Exchange Online Archiving

EOA is a cloud-based archiving solution that enables your enterprise to address compliance, legal, archiving and eDiscovery challenges for Office 365 data.

It is hosted on Microsoft globally redundant servers and offers compatibility with Exchange Server 2010, 2013 and 2016. What is more, it is also available as an add-on for online hosted mailboxes.

Detailed Features and Benefits

EOA offers security and reliability features for retaining and preserving emails, complying with the law and your enterprise’s policy for eDiscovery and litigation.

In-Place Archive

This feature gives all the Office 365 users in your company a native and seamlessly integrated experience to retain or keep all your email data in one place.

It provides a separate mailbox, or archive mailbox, to store all such historical email messages. This mailbox has its own recoverable items folder for deleted emails.

You can manually move or even copy the relevant mails from a primary mailbox folder to an archive mailbox folder.

Alternatively, you can use the inbox rules to automatically move or copy emails to the archive mailbox. You can even use the retention policies to move the emails.

This “in-place archiving” feature can be activated for every user. It can also have an unlimited storage limit (as per the Office 365 E3 plan) or a limit of up to 50 GB (which, in itself, is quite sufficient on an individual user level).

When this limit is reached, the users need to delete the archived items to ensure that the archiving activity resumes again.

In-Place Hold

This functionality, which is also known as the litigation hold, enables you to immutably preserve and hold electronically stored user information for discovery at a later point in time. It prevents your users from modifying or deleting the data on which the hold is placed.

The litigation hold, as available with Exchange 2010, places the hold on all the user mailbox data indefinitely or until the hold is removed.

The in-place hold, as available for Exchange 2013, works better because it does not hold the entire mailbox indefinitely. Instead, it allows you to place the hold on specific data and for a specific period of time. It is thus a time-based hold.

If you do not specify the end date for the in-place hold, it holds the data indefinitely. It is then an indefinite hold.

You can also place a hold (query-based hold) on the desired items that match specific parameters, such as dates, keywords, and sender or recipient addresses.

For both these types of holds, the recoverable items folder is used to preserve the mailbox items. They use a versioning process to maintain the history of the data for cases when the data is changed.

The storage limit for the recoverable items folder is 100 GB, because the items are preserved here indefinitely or until the hold period expires.

Your Office 365 users will not be able to permanently delete any items, empty the deleted items folder or use the versioning process, if the folder storage limit is reached.

So, you may get your held mailbox limit increased through the Office 365 support team.

In-Place eDiscovery

This enables you to search, produce and even manage across your organization through an easy-to-use web interface.

In simple terms, it helps you search your primary inbox items as well as the archive mailbox items for Mails, Calendars, Tasks, Contacts, Attachments, and so on.

The results of the search can be copied to the discovery mailbox. Alternatively, these results can be exported in the .pst format for compatibility with Microsoft Outlook.

Pricing

The full functionality of the EOA is available with the Exchange Online Plan 2 and Office 365 Enterprise Plan E3.

For all other Exchange Online plans or Office 365 enterprise plans, the EOA features are available at $3 per month for each user.

Limitations

Both the in-place hold and in-place archiving functions cease to work once the storage quota of the mailboxes is reached. Furthermore, there is no provision for unlimited storage. Moreover, both these features have to be activated for each user, which is a cumbersome task.

 

CloudAlly

CloudAlly is a cloud-based data backup service. It offers automated daily backups of not only Office 365 data, but also for SharePoint, OneDrive, Google Apps, Salesforce and others to unlimited Amazon secure storage, unlike exchange online archiving.

It is a comprehensive backup and recovery service for Office 365 Exchange Online data.

Detailed Features and Benefits

It supports business continuity through point-in-time recovery of data that has been lost or even corrupted.

CloudAlly also takes care of the operational requirements for the recovery of data that is corrupted or destroyed through an accident or through malicious or virus attacks.

Backup

CloudAlly has no storage limitation and offers unlimited retention of daily archives. This enables backups on a daily basis and helps to considerably reduce the on-premises storage requirements.

The backed up data is furthermore encrypted every day and stored on Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 storage. Every backup that is made, using CloudAlly, is a point-in-time snapshot of the relevant data.

You are capable of controlling all your backups from a single management console. This saves a lot of time for your enterprise since it does away with the admin processes that require plenty of manual effort.

The Office 365 users in your company also do not have access to the CloudAlly backups because they are entirely maintained by the administrators.

It is thus possible to activate the backups not only for individual users, but also for all the users. New users can then be activated for the backups by using the auto-detect feature.

Restore

If there is a requirement to restore any data at an individual item level or even at a higher level (folder, mailbox, and so on), it is possible to search your CloudAlly backups.

The restored data gets stored in a sub-folder named “CloudAlly Restore” with a date and time stamp. The data can then be restored directly to the user’s account.

It is even possible to restore it back to a different user account, if such a need arises.

Export

With CloudAlly, you can export the backed up data in various industry standard formats, including .vcf and .eml.

You can even do the data export in the .pst format, which is compatible with Microsoft Outlook, which is the most common email platform used in enterprises.

In a nutshell, CloudAlly backs up, restores and exports data (Mails, Tasks, Calendars, Contacts, and more.) in its entirety.

It even extends this functionality to OneDrive data and SharePoint data. Moreover, it helps to recover data from any point in time by using a non-destructive restore. And, it offers unlimited retention and storage of all backups.

Furthermore, CloudAlly adheres to data security and customer confidentiality best practices, as it is HIPAA compliant and ISO 27001 certified.

You also get the option to select servers based in the US (by default), EU or Australia.

Pricing

You can avail the Office 365 backup services from CloudAlly at a rate of $3 per month (or $30 annually) per user and less.

For every 5 GB of OneDrive or SharePoint data, you can use these services at $2 per month (or $20 per year) and less. You can even get additional discounts if you run an academic or non-profit organization or perhaps if you deal in volumes as a partner.

Limitations

CloudAlly cannot completely handle eDiscovery requirements for the appropriate search and retrieval of data.

However, it is working towards adding this functionality in its entirety. It also retains all the data and lacks any rules to retain only specific sets of data.

Moreover, no versioning is done within individual data items that are backed up chronologically.

Data is Security in the Cloud to cloud backup Solutions

A Practical Guide to Ensure Your Data is Secure in the Cloud for Cloud Backup Solutions

As more and more businesses turn to the cloud, it is vital to protect the data that is stored in the cloud. Furthermore, the transactions need to be secure and safe to ensure that the cloud-based services run smoothly and securely.

The vast expanding mobile device ecosystem spearheads the computing over clouds. Businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to SMEs to Fortune 500 companies, have started leveraging the significant advantage of the cloud to roll out more services across all areas to strengthen their businesses, especially when working with Cloud to cloud backup Solutions.

In fact, the cloud has proved to become a must-have and not only a nice-to-have for businesses to excel. But how secure is the cloud and its access? How safe is the data stored and managed? These questions still prevail and this article will present a few factors to ensure your business or data is secure in the cloud.

Cloud Whereabouts

During the time of mainframes, a huge amount of data was stored in centralized computer systems, such as mainframes, that were small enough to be placed in a single location.

However, at the moment, the data exist virtually somewhere in a corner of the world without even the user knowing where it is stored. How secure is the physical location and what sort of environmental, fire and safety measures are ensured by the cloud storage provider to keep it safe?

These things are rarely thought about as more and more businesses want to establish quickly and reach out to the market. Knowing the physical location of your data and how it is secured is an important factor to consider before moving to the cloud.

Secure Protocol

In business and financial apps, the volume of transactions becomes a prime concern. Managing such a volume has to address two things: firstly, the real-time processing of the transactions and secondly, the transaction has to be secure and free from any kind of hacker attacks.

While this may seem of little interest to the cloud-based entertainment businesses, it is the prime concern for financial companies fearing to move to the cloud.

Cloud to cloud backup Solutions show Statistics from the Ponemon institute report indicate that around 43% of companies experienced threats which originate from attacks on the data that is stored in the cloud.

The cloud provider has to ensure the use of secure protocols, such as SSL, IPsec, HTTPS or any other applicable protocol, for safer transactions and storage of the data. There are many public and private cloud providers claiming to provide a secure infrastructure, but most of these break down when the transactions reach high volumes. The providers need to be thoroughly verified for the use of the protocols and the volume of data that is being managed by their cloud infrastructure.

Strong Access Policies

There are many layers of security that have to be built when dealing with the cloud infrastructure. The first level of security has to originate from the user who accesses the cloud data on a daily basis. Almost 60% of the data that has been compromised originate from the employees who access the cloud data, according to Data Breach Industry Forecast.

Strong access policies and privileges have to be set while migrating your business to the cloud. Passwords also have to be strong enough and the level of access needs to be defined. They have to be administered by strict security policies and should be changed periodically to protect the access to the data stored in the cloud. This can be combined with a multi-way authentication of the

Adopt and Control Bring Your Own Device

As cloud-based apps mostly cater to the mobile ecosystem, it is difficult to control the device that the user will use to access his or her data stored in the cloud. This becomes a perennial challenge, since new devices are being rolled out every day by device manufacturers. Companies adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) pose a greater risk in the cloud- based work environment. This is because the IT policies are difficult to set on these devices, especially when they are new.

However, it is equally important to adopt these devices because discouraging them will hamper the cloud-based services. Security policies have to be evolved to ensure that the cloud protection measures are taken care of while adopting the BYOD for any organizations doing business in the cloud.

Encrypt the Data when dealing with Cloud to cloud backup Solutions

While this may make things a little slower and make the cloud more expensive, encrypting the data is one of the secure ways to protect your data in the cloud.With public and private key mechanisms, the data in the cloud can be kept secure and even if there is a compromise in the cloud, the data are rendered useless by the attacker.

This would still not completely protect the data arising from the physical and environmental threats, but the data remain in safe hands with the encryption keys only known to the user who uses them.

As said before, the cloud security needs to be built in layers right from the system to the user and in every part of the network nodes that sits between the user and the physical cloud.

Test Your Cloud Thoroughly

As clouds seem to be secure for smaller volumes and data, the vulnerability creeps in once the data grow and the volume increases tremendously.

The hardware and performance capability seems to throw great threats in terms of security and availability. So the cloud needs to be planned in a scalable manner and security aspects have to be built.

Test your cloud in a defined and random manner to ensure it does not break down or become vulnerable to the attacks as it grows in size. Things like the middle of men attacks, stress testing, and penetration testing will help evaluate the cloud’s security before it is put to use.

Adopt the Right Access Tools

A right key is a solution to the right lock. Similarly, the use of the right tool is the safest way to keep your data secure.

The use of VPN-based access and setting up host-based intrusion prevention systems are important to have a secure cloud environment. Furthermore, this can be administered by firewall policies to allow the apps that are intended to use the cloud environment. This will prevent unwanted access to the data that is managed by the cloud.

Get a Cloud-to-Cloud Backup Solution

You may be assured by your cloud provider that your data will never be compromised or lost. However, can you leave your businesses dependent on someone else?

Also, it is not just about data loss opportunities. Even a single downtime for a couple of minutes can break your business, especially if your business deals with a huge amount of data.

You may remember Google Drive went down the first week of October this year. This means you can face downtime even with the biggies like Google. So, an inevitable solution for this is a cloud-to-cloud backup solution.

You should get your online data backed up daily and automatically to different cloud storage. This will ensure that, even if you experience data corruption or theft with your online data such as Office 365 or Google Apps for Work, you can still recover it as your data are already backed up to a cloud storage, such as Amazon web services, as a backup.

This will thus ensure that you never have to be worried about data loss and that you can focus on your core business operations.

Data is very precious in the present day and securing it should be of prime importance to businesses running in the cloud. Thus, a secure cloud is a key to winning the confidence of your customers and a success in the cloud environment itself.

Office 365 for Education vs. Google Apps for Education

Educational Applications: Office 365 app backup and
G Suite Backup

Google apps for education backup; You will agree that education in schools is no longer confined within the four walls of a classroom.

With the advancement of technology, the demand for “anytime, anywhere” access to information is justifiable for schools and other educational institutes.

Schools have started offering collaborative access to many cloud apps and file storage services (including Office 365 app backup) for their teachers as well as students. And two of the best known cloud-based productivity tools for education are Microsoft Office 365 (O365) Education and Google Apps for Education (GAFE).

You are bound to be confused while opting for either of these as your school’s preferred cloud productivity application suite. To help you make an informed decision, we carry out an in-depth comparison of the features and products offered by GAFE as well as Microsoft O365.

Comparison of Basic Features

FeatureGAFEO365
BrowserGoogle ChromeInternet Explorer or Edge
EmailGmailExchange Online or Outlook
SpreadsheetsSheetsExcel
Drive StorageGoogle DriveOneDrive
Word ProcessingDocsWord
NotesKeepOneNote
Third-party Extensions Google ClassroomTeacher Dashboard
Instant MessagingGoogle TalkSkype
Social NetworkGoogle PlusYammer
PagesSitesSharePoint
PresentationSlidesPowerPoint
Video ConferencingHangoutsSkype for Business 

 

As can be seen in the above comparison table, most of the primary features for both these application suites are pretty similar even though the tools offered may differ a bit. You would perhaps be familiar with many of these tools, such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint from Microsoft as well as Docs, Sheets and Google Drive from Google.

The same holds true for teachers and students, as most of these tools are pretty popular among computer users for increasing productivity, improving communication and enabling better collaboration, including Office 365 app backup which is critical.

The choice between O365 and GAFE in terms of these tools for education depends on your purpose and comfort level for using them. So, let us find out which one of these two has an edge over the other in terms of the different features on offer from the point of view of schools.

Offline Usage of Productivity Apps

The comparison table shared above reveals that both these application suites offer several productivity apps for different purposes. However, you can work offline with the locally installed versions of Microsoft tools.

But, you cannot work with GAFE’s productivity apps without having an internet connection, as they run on the web browser. Clearly, one cannot expect every student and teacher to have an internet connection available at all the time.

So, in this regard, Microsoft O365 has an edge over GAFE.

Compatibility with Android Tablets and Chromebooks

One of the main reason why schools go for productivity suites to enhance the learning environment is the flexibility it offers to access information from mobile devices. Some of the popular mobile devices used across schools are Android tablets and Chromebooks. They are extremely easy-to-use and even available at affordable prices. 

The advantage here lies with Google, as it owns the Android platform and is able to control the development of apps for the platform that is made available on the Google PlayStore. Most of the Google apps are available natively with Android tablets and Chromebooks. This thus relieves you of the worries of getting them downloaded and deployed separately for the mobile devices.

This is not the case with O365 apps that has to be downloaded and deployed for such mobile devices and thereby requires extra effort from the school’s IT team or from the students and teachers.

Google Classroom vs. Office 365 Teacher Dashboard

Google Classroom is specifically designed and offered with GAFE to assist teachers in saving time within the classroom environment by having the classes in a more organized manner.

The school’s teachers can now create, share and grade assignments easily. In addition, they can manage the communication with the students more effectively by using this Classroom feature.

The Google Classroom can also be customized using the third-party extension from Hapara which adds a teaching rubric wrapper as well as the management system for a few other third-party resources in the form of exercises and assignments within the Google Classroom environment. The Teacher Dashboard extension for Microsoft’s Office 365 also offers pretty good collaboration features to teachers which they can use within the classroom environment. It further allows teachers to share assignment documents and other similar documents directly with individual students or different groups of students.

They can also keep track of the students’ assignments by being able to view the students’ folders from the dashboard.

There are not a lot of differences between these two extensions for Microsoft and Google from the teachers’ point of view who will be the ones who use them.

The only thing that works slightly in favor of Google is the extensive training it offers to use Google Classroom. Microsoft may not be able to boast about such extensive training for its Teacher Dashboard.

Enterprise Environment Experience

Microsoft clearly has more experience in dealing with the enterprise environment than Google has. In other words, unlike Microsoft, Google has never experienced being a traditional IT infrastructure layer within the enterprise.

With its great enterprise experience, Microsoft had already predicted certain issues with legacy Active Directory environments. For Microsoft, the transition to the cloud for apps with Office 365 happened along with a Hybrid Active Directory approach that enables the management of directory services on the premises. This means that some information and users continue to be on the premises, while others are moved to the cloud: a hybrid approach.

Form Builder

For the smooth functioning of any school or educational institution, you need to effectively gather and share information between the school’s IT team, teachers, students and even the parents of the students.

This is where an ad hoc form builder, for example, the Google Forms, proves highly useful. Using it, you can get parent surveys done, create comprehensive and well-detailed exam results, create cheat-proof quizzes for intra-class competitions, and so on.

If you still think that Microsoft has a similar form builder named “InfoPath”, then you will be surprised to learn that Microsoft has retired this Office software app. The reason for doing so was its lack of mobile responsiveness.

Till a new form tool is devised for O365, GAFE holds an edge with its Google Forms.

Some Other Differences Between GAFE and O365

  • While Google has a large pool of developers and educators for GAFE, Microsoft has a comparatively better support and partner community for O365.
  • GAFE has always been available free of cost. The same cannot be said about Office 365, for which you have to purchase user licenses.
  • Microsoft O365 offers the unique Student Information System (SIS) sync that gives you complete control over the student and teacher data. You can sync the data a single time for all their learning apps and allow them to cherish the single sign-on experience.

The SIS sync allows your school’s team to spend less time in setting up classes and managing admin access to class materials. This sync feature is specifically only offered by Microsoft.

  • The Microsoft O365 marketplace has fewer apps compared to the Google apps marketplace.
  • While the Office 365 tools, such as OneNote and Share Point, are more powerful than their Google counterparts, such as Keep and Google Sites, they may sometimes be too complex and have too many features for students or teachers to handle.
  • The Office 365 tools, for example, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, have existed for a very long time and the parents of the students are more likely to be familiar with them.

The same cannot be said for the GAFE tools, such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides. So, it may take some time for such parents to teach the students how to use the GAFE tools.

The Verdict

After looking at the detailed comparison between Office 365 for Education and Google Apps for Education cloud application suites, it is still difficult to rule one of them as the outright winner.

Based on your requirements, the purpose of use, consideration of costs, security and so on, you are likely to find one of them as your best option. With these two high-quality cloud services, there is no one-fit solution that will suit all educational institutes.

 

 

 

Top 10 Tips for Using Office 365 for Education

Including; Office 365 mailbox backup solution

The education community has embraced Office 365 and office 365 mailbox backup solution with its amazing features have helped both teachers and students around the world.

We know that your day is very busy, and you might have missed out on the added new features and the enhancements made to the existing features. If you are nodding to yourself right now, then these next top 10 tips are just what you need to make the best use of Office 365 for education.

1. Blogging

A class blog could be a great way to share your insights on a subject and get feedback from your

students through the comments section. Blogs can also be a great way for your students to show off

their capabilities and for you to evaluate their skills in a secured environment. Also, if you are allowed to

customize the blog to suit the subject theme or to create something that attracts your students, it can

be an awesome feature. SharePoint online provides you with just such an amazing blogging feature.

2. Multiple Co-Authoring of Office Documents

Group projects can greatly benefit from the Office Web apps and their ability to allow for multiple co-

authoring of spreadsheets and documents. This allows for true collaboration and students can thus

actually collaborate not just in their classrooms, but also from their homes by connecting to the Office

Web apps through the internet.

3. Feedback Surveys

Getting feedback from students manually can be a time-consuming and tiring process, since you would

have to formulate the feedback forms, distribute these to the students, collect all the forms back and

then sort through all the details. But, with Excel surveys provided by Office 365, all of these processes

can be automated. Creating forms is very simple and sharing them among your students, staff and other

departments is also very easy.

4. Following Content

When you have already searched the many features of SharePoint online, of which there are thousands

of sites, blogs, portfolios, files and content, it might be quite difficult to identify the relevant resource

that you are searching for. To tackle this problem, SharePoint online allows you to keep track of useful

content with its Follow feature.

5. Outlook Web App

Educational institutions are using shared mobile devices more and more to enable better access to its

educational resources. You will also be able to find an Office 365 app for this scenario. The Outlook Web

app is capable of automatically switching to the corresponding format, depending on the type of device

used, and thus saves you time and money on the manual configuration changes you would have had to

6. Multiple Calendar Views

You may find it difficult to plan all your events, such as class timings, conferences, meetings and

tutorials, with just a single calendar. For example, you may have to adjust your plans and schedules

depending on the availability of other people and this requires their calendars too. The Outlook Web

app takes away this worry by providing multiple calendar views. You can overlay many people’s

calendars and see when they are available and plan your events accordingly.

7. OneDrive for Business

Uploading files may not be the toughest job, but if there is some easier and quicker method to do the

same job, you should probably know about it. The OneDrive for Business from Office 365 lets you upload

multiple files at once with just a drag and drop option.

8. Scheduling Skype Meetings

If you cannot access your Outlook Client or if it is unavailable to you, you can still schedule your Skype

for Business meetings effectively with the help of the Skype web scheduler. You can do the scheduling

right from your browser and the new updates also allow you to schedule Skype meetings from your

9. Social Networking

SharePoint Online adds its own flavor of social networking by letting you use #hashtags, @mentions and

“likes” which are, by the way, the most popular features of mainstream social media, such as Twitter

and Facebook, to share content and conversations. You can use these features in SharePoint online to

make both learning and educating a little more fun.

10. Offline Access

We all know that it is not always possible to have an internet connection or at least not a good internet

connection. And so, not having an internet connection should not be a hindrance for you to avail the

benefits of the Outlook Web App. That’s why the Outlook Web app also works in an offline mode to

allow you to use it even when you lose internet access. Office and OneDrive for Business clients are also

available in offline mode which helps you keep up with your work at all times.

So, what’s your top tip to use Office 365 for educational purposes Video? Feel free to drop us a note below

and thanks for reading!

 

Backup Office 365 for Education

20 Ways to Use Office 365 for Education

Office 365 (and Cloudally Office 365 backup solutions) have been proven to be the most effective, efficient and preferred tool for teachers and students across the globe. It is the best collaborative platform for administering classes and to provide a better learning experience through digital means.

So, if you are a teacher or an IT administrator for educational institute, and you are interested to learn how to use Office 365 for education more efficiently then read on. Here we have highlighted the top 20 ways to make the best of using Office 365 for education,and Office 365 backup solutions.

 Use Office 365 for Collaboration and office 365 backup solutions

1. Set Up a Team Site

With the help of Office 365’s SharePoint services, you can create a team site which can serve as the center point for communicating announcements, posting documents and apps, conducting discussions and carrying out surveys. You can create team sites for staff, for students or for each class and thus make it the go-to place for all kinds of information related to a class or a lesson, such as assessments and exam announcements. You can also create subsites and make a hierarchy of sites and provide a fine- grained access to the resources.

2. Set Up a Public Website

Creating a public website using SharePoint Online  is very easy. A public website can act as a public forum for discussions and as a public resource hub where students can get access to important resources, such as student guides and schedules. You can also add social networking plugins like Facebook and Twitter to it in order to make it more interactive and insightful. Customize your website by adding themes, relevant pictures and layout.

3. Create a Community Hub

Community sites created with the help of SharePoint Online allow you to effectively conduct surveys and polls. Schools can make use of these community sites to include even outsiders like parents, caregivers and experts in the class discussions and provide feedback. You can also award students with the help of the reputed setting provided.

4. Blogging

Blogging can be a great way for information dissemination and allowing students to maintain their own blogs can be a great way to encourage them to share their ideas and achievements. It also encourages extended writing and reading. You can start your own blog and allow the students to create blogs themselves using the blog platform provided by SharePoint.

5. Make SharePoint Your Learning Platform

SharePoint is a wonderful platform with immense opportunities to make the learning fun. It comes with some useful features that let teachers and learners connect, collaborate and create in real time. You can easily locate resources and contacts and communicate to people outside the campus via Skype video conferencing and share resources using the OneDrive feature. Other features, such as calendars and shared access to documents, make collaborative learning possible in real time.

Connecting with Office 365

6. Emails

The Outlook Web app makes sending emails from Office 365 very easy and lets you send mails with just a click. It automatically syncs with your email account and allows for sending mails in bulk and by setting up distribution lists.

7. Book Shared Resources, Conferences and Meeting Rooms

The Exchange app from Office 365 lets you easily book shared resources, conferences and meeting rooms. By setting up the available resources in your institution into the Exchange app, you can check for free rooms and resources and allocate them according to your needs. Thus, this eliminates annoying clashes for using shared resources like labs and video rooms.

8. Schedule Your Meetings

The Outlook calendar can be integrated with various other apps from Office 365 and thus, by setting up events in the calendar, you can easily notify everyone involved about an event or meeting. You can also use the scheduling assistant to check for possible clashes with other people’s shared calendars and thus make better scheduling.

9. Set Up a Shared Mailbox for a Project

With the help of the admin dashboard and the Outlook Web app, you can create a shared mailbox where mails related to a particular project, class or subject can be made available to everyone involved. Thus, you can make sure the information reaches every student. You can also use this feature to send important documents and files as attachments to all the people involved in a project.

10. Invite Guests

With the help of Skype video conferencing, you can invite guest lecturers to share their expertise with your class or conduct webinars. This eliminates the extra time and travel costs involved in inviting an expert to your institution.

11. Run Revisions

By integrating the Instant Messenger, Outlook, People and Calendar apps, you can easily conduct quick revisions before exams. Instant Messenger and Outlook allow you to easily communicate with your students and clear their doubts personally while the other apps let you schedule and connect with your class.

12. Quick Polls and Q&A

You can organize quick polls and Q&A sessions with the help of Skype and Instant Messenger. These features can let you get honest feedback and opinions from your students and optimize your lesson planning and teaching methods. These features also provide an out-of-class engagement that is both interesting and insightful.

13. Newsfeeds

The Newsfeeds feature along with SharePoint can be effectively used to provide continuous updates to all the useful contacts and resources. You can use the Links app in a SharePoint site to maintain a list of the links to all the useful websites and follow these resources so that the updates from these resources will be automatically updated on your SharePoint sites. You can thus provide up-to-date and the latest information on the subject matter to your students.

Creating with Office 365

14. Use Word Docs To Improve Literacy

Assigning, collecting and assessing writing tasks can be made simpler and more effective with the help of Word docs. Word docs also allow students to work together and can thus be helpful for doing team projects in a collaborative environment.

15. E-Portfolios

The OneNote app from Office 365 acts like a virtual binder for all the resources you store in Office 365. This makes it perfect for creating students as well as staff e-Portfolios. You can record all the details of a particular teacher or student, analyze their skill levels and check the academic progress of a student.

16. Collect Data with the Excel Web App

The Excel Web app is a great tool for collecting and organizing data quickly and easily. As the data stored in the Excel Web app can be easily moved between various types of devices, like tablets, mobile phones and PCs, you can sync the files with ease and use them on the go anywhere, anytime. This is very useful when you have to record data in a class and share it with all your students.

17. Publish Student Work Online

A great way to encourage students and their creative talent is by giving them the recognition they deserve for their achievements and significant work. With the help Word and SharePoint, you can publish their work on public websites. You can set the access settings as per the institution’s norms.

18. Document Library

SharePoint allows you to set up document libraries and you can use this feature to effectively organize all your documents, presentations, worksheets and OneNote workbooks. This feature can be easily added by group admins by selecting the Document Library option from the available list of apps.

Staff Development

19. Staff Webinars with Skype

You can set up a staff learning community and arrange meetings and webinars to share best practices in learning and teaching. Skype allows you to conduct face-to-face meetings and you can hold regular webinars to reflect on the progress of each class and conduct collaborative lesson planning, by adding extra information and resources to your site.

20. Weblogs for Staff

As an educator, you can critically analyze your own method of learning and teaching by writing a short reflective blog every day. You can automate the blog as per your taste and give it a more personal appeal. These blogs also get you closer to your students and helps you deliver your ideas effectively.

The above tips will help you to make the best out of Office 365 for education needs. When using Office 365 and SharePoint Online you also need to backup any critical data, since MS doesn’t provide backup against human errors, hackers, sync malfunction and more. Read more about Office 365 backup HERE. 

View a video on Microsoft Office 365 for the Classroom

How to Avoid Office 365 Data Breaches and Migration Complexities

One of the most common assumptions about using Microsoft’s products is that there is no need for more security. 

While easy deployment of Office 365 and ease of use has already made it a popular choice among businesses of all sizes, many of them are unaware of the risk of data breaches, and migration complexities they will have to battle along their journey from an on-premise environment to Office 365.

Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the risks involved with the use of Office 365 and how you can avoid them.

Security Breaches

Cloud applications are currently battling two types of security breaches. A hard breach is when a hacker gets around your security and steals your data. Such a breach compromises application security, and that results in critical data loss.

Yet, Office 365 already has it covered in their embedded security system. What they haven’t accounted for are soft data breaches. No real defense is available to ward off the imminent security risk with soft breaches.

Office 365 users that aren’t trained in basic security practices, can often result in such soft breaches. When an attacker “tricks” you into giving them the key, you can’t do much to save your confidential data.

Hence, the best way to tackle this issue is to train your staff on some basic security best practices.

  • Enforce policies that forbid users from sharing their password with anyone without permission
  • Back your policy with sanctions to lower the risk of social engineering hacks
  • Train your Office 365 users to double and, if the need be, triple check the web address of any page
  • Help them identify any page that asks them to log in and seems fishy by the content
  • Educate them to differentiate between a regular web page and a phishing page. These pages trick people into handing over their personal information and passwords.

Tackling Migration Errors and Other Complexities

The actual migration to Office 365 is not always as easy as it seems. It becomes a challenge for large- sized business with bigger and complex environments. If you decide to move the data manually, it’s going to become a bottleneck. Depending on the data volumes you are moving, it can also bring you to a screeching halt. This is where third-party solutions come in.

Exporting legacy data is half the battle. Using a third-party solution to do the job is the rest. Exporting large chunks of data from one platform to another is almost impossible without such solutions. But, these applications can mishandle and corrupt the data while doing so due to improper configuration. 

When initiating the use of a 3rd party solution, admins grant a specific set of permissions to that application.  When they do that, they can affect an entire service or a domain: One wrong instruction can take down the entire server. The chances of losses are higher if you are running a larger, more complex environment.

It’s also common to see Exchange 2003 or 5.5 still in use. This adds another level of complexity of upgrading the solution before migrating. With so many versions of Exchange running at the same time, migrating them all without major errors is nearly impossible.

Microsoft can’t manage bad instructions from a third-party solution if you give it the keys. For all it knows, a user wants their migration tool to overwrite their data and start fresh.

Now imagine what would happen if your entire system collapsed due to one faulty instruction.One way to protect your data during migration is to have it all backed up in a secure, cloud-to-cloud backup solution, like CloudAlly

If you are considering a third-party solution to ease migration, mitigate the risk first. Then select a solution designed to support Office 365. The right solution to look for is the one that assists in getting the archive built quickly.