Posted on June 3, 2014 by Mack Ratcliffe
Microsoft Office 365 is a powerful tool for driving productivity and collaboration within your enterprise. Even so, as a cloud-based application, many organizations are concerned about security and meeting regulatory compliance requirements. That’s to say nothing about the challenges of supporting Office 365 in the context of a broader SaaS management strategy.
The good news is there are a number ways to address these obstacles. Here’s a look at four of the most common concerns around migrating to Office 365, along with some of the cloud-based solutions we recommend to help you move forward with confidence.
1. Compliment Office 365 with enhanced security, email archiving, and 100% guaranteed uptime for email.
Office 365 offers a 99.9% reliability SLA. Small as it may be, there is still the risk of unplanned downtime. For organizations where this is an issue, we recommend a cloud-based email management platform called Mimecast. Used in conjunction with Office 365, Mimecast guarantees 100% uptime for email – even if Office 365 is unavailable.
Here’s how it works. By simply pointing your DNS MX record to the Mimecast cloud, all inbound and outbound email is automatically captured and stored in Mimecast before being sent to or from Office 365. A lightweight Microsoft Outlook plug-in automatically detects when Office 365 becomes unavailable and instantly redirects email activity from Office 365 to Mimecast so that users can continue to send and receive emails. Once the Office 365 service is restored, the Outlook plug-in redirects the user back to Office 365. This capability can be particularly valuable during an email migration where there is often increased risk of email service interruption.
Mimecast also offers data encryption at rest with eDiscovery; dedicated, geo-specific and immutable storage with full audit trail; mobile device access with full search capabilities; and bottomless personal archives for email, SharePoint, and Lync data. You also get broad spectrum security with granular policy controls including Targeted Threat Protection to guard against spearfishing attacks.
2. Look to third-party solutions for extra layers of (required) security.
Many organizations are rightly concerned about putting sensitive data in the cloud – especially if they work in highly regulated sectors such as finance and healthcare.
For extra security over and above what’s already included in Office 365, it’s worth looking at third-party encryption solutions like CipherCloud. Using a reverse-proxy architecture, CipherCloud encrypts email, calendar, contacts and attachments using AES-256 encryption – the highest commercially available level of encryption – before data is stored in the cloud. Encrypted data is fully searchable by end users using a Desktop or Mobile client, and detailed audit monitoring provides unmatched visibility into all your protected data. With CipherCloud for Office 365, you can have peace of mind knowing that all of your data residing in the cloud is fully protected while ensuring that the process is completely transparent to end users.
3. Ensure you have a strong security and governance solution in place.
Employees have become accustomed to having complete control over their digital lives. So if they want to use an app, they will use it – regardless of whether IT gave them permission to do so.
A recent Softchoice study found that on average organizations unknowingly support a whopping 40 public cloud services. That leaves IT in the dark when it comes to knowing what apps people are using and where corporate data is being stored.
One way to ensure security and governance is through the Softchoice Cloud Portal Identity Management solution. The Softchoice Cloud Portal provides a comprehensive Single Sign-on and identity management solution for over 2,000 pre-integrated SaaS applications – including Office 365 – as well as web apps running behind the firewall. Using Active Directory as the sole authoritative user store, employees only have to remember a single password to gain access to all of their cloud-based productivity tools. And if an individual leaves the organization, IT simply disables the user’s AD account to shut off access to any and all applications.
The Softchoice Cloud Portal also provides a comprehensive view into application usage and activity patterns so that you know exactly who is using which applications at any time.
4. Promote better collaboration inside (and outside) the organization
For clients that want to enable better collaboration both inside and outside the organization, we recommend Box. Using Box as a complementary solution to SharePoint lets you take advantage of Box’s cloud-based file sharing and mobile app while maintaining control over your data using SharePoint’s data management, search and document workflow capabilities. Box is fully supported by Softchoice Cloud, offering single sign-on options that simplify the end-user experience while providing better security and control for IT.
Box also enables employees to share data with external audiences. With Box, you’re able to specify exactly what content external audiences can see. It really provides full control and visibility into who has access to what.
Understanding the SaaS ecosystem will help you address some of the concerns that arise when moving to Office 365. After all, despite the pace of change, one thing remains certain: no two organizations and no two Office 365 migrations are alike.