Apr 17

Relaying Mail in Office 365

I recently worked on a project that required all email to hit Office 365 and then for some users forward that mail ontoimage an external mail account. The reason being that the organisation didn’t want to take up licenses for the users but they still needed a mail address that existed in the organisations domain.

The reason for going down this solution route is that as a default due to security concerns Office 365 will not forward email out of Office 365 for a user that doesn’t exist. What this means is that you can’t setup a rule that says for any email that arrives and the user does not exist send it to this smart host

Solution

All the users requiring their mail forwarding will be created as mail users with an alias within the organisation but have an email forwarding address that points to the external mail account for the organisation. So as an example Joe Blogs will have an email address of joe.blogs@organisation.co.uk and have a forwarding address of joe.blogs@external.organisation.co.uk all mail destined for the Google domain will also be forwarded out of Office 365 using a connector to ensure it does not bounce around MX records.

Mail Users

Creating a mail user in Office 365 is simple. Navigate to the Exchange admin page and click on Contacts

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Click the + icon and select Mail User and fill in all the details required

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Click Save and the user will appear in the list

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Connector

So now we have the mail user any mail arriving for jblogs@edutechnow.com will be forwarded to jblogs@external.organisation.co.uk and Office 365 will forward it directly to the smart host for the external organisation

From the Exchange admin page select Mail Flow | Connectors

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Click on the + icon to create a new outbound connector

The first section is fairly straight forward as shown below

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The next sections to complete are shown below, take note that for this connector I have selected that this connector will be used for criteria based routing

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Click Save to save the settings for the outbound connector

Rules

At the moment you have a mail user and an outbound connector that basically will do nothing and this is where rules come in

Navigate to Mail Flow | Rules and click on the + to create a new rule

From the menu select Create a new rule

As soon as you see the pop up window click on More options… this make sure that some of the more advanced settings are available to you from the start

Give the rule a name

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For each of the field select the following

Apply this rule if… The recipient address includes any of these words (enter external when the pop up window appears)

Do the following… Redirect the message to the following outbound connector (Select the outbound connector you created earlier)

The top half of the screen should now look like this

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Click Save to save the rule

How it works

You now have everything in place to send any mail to these particular users to an external smart host. The way it works is:

  • Mail will arrive at Office 365 for jblogs@edutechnow.com
  • Office 365 will see its an external contact and that the mail address includes the word external
  • The rule will kick in and send the mail through the outbound connector
  • The outbound connector will send the mail to the smart host for the external organisation

Its probably very rare that you will ever need to do this, in all the time I have worked with Office 365 this is the first tie for me and particular to the client. Hence the blog, for my own records as much for sharing.

Apr 16

I’m speaking at the European SharePoint Conference 2014

The European SharePoint Conference is less than three weeks away and I’m delighted to be part of such an ESPC Speaker Graphicexceptional line up. The conference will take place in Barcelona, Spain from the 5-8th May 2014 and is Europe’s largest SharePoint event bringing you great sessions and the latest innovations from Vegas.

Browse through the superb conference programme including 110 sessions, keynotes, and tutorials, including topics covering the latest news from SPC14 including what’s new with SharePoint 2013 SP1 – Office Graph/Oslo – new Office 365 REST APIs – Access Apps – Cloud Business Apps.

I will be conducting a session on “Creating BI Dashboards Using Visio 2013 & Visio Services” aimed at IT Professionals.

“Creating BI Dashboards Using Visio 2013 & Visio Services”

"This session will look at how you can use the Visio 2013 client in conjunction with Visio Services to create interactive Business Intelligence Dashboards that can be viewed and manipulated by users without the need to have the Visio client installed. We will start with a simple drill down dashboard using Visio 2013 client and Visio Services in Office 365 and move on to working with the Microsoft Visio demos for Office 365 to see its full capability.”

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The European SharePoint Conference will be run over four days and with over 1000 SharePoint attendee’s already signed up don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to mingle with the European SharePoint Community.

If you want to deepen your SharePoint expertise, to understand the trend of the SharePoint market, and to learn how to leverage Microsoft Office 365 for your business, including the revolutionary Enterprise Social wave, the European SharePoint Conference is the best place to be in 2014!

Prices start from €1150! There is also special group discounts for bookings of 3 or more people.

Book Now and I’ll see you in Barcelona in May

Jan 13

Now Hosted on Windows Azure

If you are now reading this post then the move to Windows Azure for this blog is now complete.image

The move was pretty straight forward using a Windows Azure website template for WordPress on a shared web server.

Will shut down the old site now and happily carry on the blogging with WordPress on Windows Azure

Nov 26

I’m speaking at the European SharePoint Conference 2014

In case you missed it, the European SharePoint Conference 2014 programme is now available and I’m delighted toclip_image002 announce that I am speaking at Europe’s largest SharePoint event in Barcelona, Spain from the 5-8th May 2014.

I will be conducting a session on “Creating BI Dashboards Using Visio 2013 & Visio Services” aimed at IT Professionals.

“Creating BI Dashboards Using Visio 2013 & Visio Services”

"This session will look at how you can use the Visio 2013 client in conjunction with Visio Services to create interactive Business Intelligence Dashboards that can be viewed and manipulated by users without the need to have the Visio client installed. We will start with a simple drill down dashboard using Visio 2013 client and Visio Services in Office 365 and move on to working with the Microsoft Visio demos for Office 365 to see its full capability.”

The European SharePoint Conference will be run over four days and will feature over 100 informative SharePoint sessions and 6 preconference tutorials providing you with a fantastic opportunity for learning and building your SharePoint skills. Check out the full Conference Programme to see all sessions and topics that are being covered by myself and world renowned SharePoint experts.

If you want to deepen your SharePoint expertise, to understand the trend of the SharePoint market, and to learn how to leverage Microsoft Office 365 for your business, including the revolutionary Enterprise Social wave, the European SharePoint Conference is the best place to be in 2014!

Prices start as low as €995! There is also special group discounts for bookings of 3 or more people.

Book Now and I’ll see you in Barcelona in May

Nov 14

SharePoint Saturday Slide Deck

Last week I was very privileged to present at SharePoint Saturday on Building BI dashboards using Visio 2013.

The session covered all the topics an administrator needs to know to start creating BI dashboards in Visio for use in either SharePoint 2013 or Office 365.

The slide deck contains images that are copyright so can’t be reproduced without permission, but here you can view the slides.

Nov 14

I’m Participating in European SharePoint Training Week from the 25 – 28 of November

European SharePoint Training Week (http://www.sharepointeurope.com/content/european-sharepoint-training-Training-Week-Graphicweek ) from the 25 – 28 of November will bring together some of the best speakers and trainers from around the world direct to your computer for FREE! With four days of live interactive webinars, educational eBooks, a wide range of unique blogs covering all SharePoint topics, don’t miss this one-off chance to hear the latest cutting edge content on SharePoint 2013 and chat online with these global thought leaders.

I’m delighted to be involved and am presenting a webinar on Monday, 25th November on “Installing SharePoint 2013 – Step by Step http://www.sharepointeurope.com/content/installing-sharepoint-2013-%E2%80%93-step-by-step .

Join me on Monday, 25th Nov at 03:00PM GMT and learn about service accounts for SharePoint 2013; how to install SharePoint 2013 using best practices for lowest privilege installations and about the installation of workflow server & Office web apps and how they interact with SharePoint 2013.

Register Now>> https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/127176071

With other live webinars from Agnes Molnar, David Martos, Liam Cleary, Mike Fitzmaurice, Michael Noel and Symon Garfield

Be sure to check out the agenda here>> http://www.sharepointeurope.com/content/european-sharepoint-training-week

On Thursday, 28th Nov, their will have a range of superb eBooks and insightful blogs by some of the leading experts in the SharePoint industry. Contributors include: Edin Kapic, Asif Rehmani, André Vala, Jeff Fried, Wouter van Vugt, Thorbjørn Værp, Geoff Evelyn, Bill Ayers, Eric Riz, Christian Buckley, Paolo Pialorsi, Mikael Svenson, Abi Onifade and Oliver Wirkus.

Join me at European SharePoint Training Week, 25 – 28 November

Register Now>> http://www.sharepointeurope.com/content/european-sharepoint-training-week

Oct 29

Upgrade your Windows and get a new view on your world!

In all my time working in the IT industry one of the main things I enjoy doing is writing and using timagehat writing to pass on the knowledge and experience that i have gained over the years.

One of those writing examples can be currently found on the TechNet blog site about upgrading to Windows 8.

You can read it here.

Oct 29

SharePoint Saturday UK

On the 9th November I will be presenting a slot at SharePoint Saturday UK entitled Building BI dashboards using imageVisio 2013 & Visio Services.

SPSUK is back to back brilliant sessions by some of the leading lights in the SharePoint community, if you haven’t yet registered for SPSUK then make sure you do as it will be a great event as always. You can register here

This demo rich session will go through the various stages of building a Visio diagram and presenting it to users using Visio Services in SharePoint 2013. The session will also look at some Microsoft demo’s of Visio Services to show some of the great interactive dashboards that can be built.

My session is from 4:15 pm – 5:15pm but I would also recommend that you attend Penny Coventrys session at 9:30 as her session is an introduction to Visio and so put the 2 sessions together and you should go away from the day with a great understanding of SharePoint & Visio Services.

Sep 11

Spend Less, Collaborate More – Federated Authentication

Foundation SP Guest Post

The blog post below is written by Paul Bevis, Senior SharePoint Solutions Architect. Paul’s experience spans the software development lifecycle from pre-sales consultancy and requirements gathering, through to design, development, testing and production transition. Paul is a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, and a Microsoft Certified IT Professional: SharePoint Administrator 2010

 

More and more organisations are looking to collaborate with partners and customers in their ecosystem to help them achieve mutual goals. SharePoint is a great tool for enabling this collaboration but many organisations are reluctant to create and maintain identities for users from other organisations just to allow access to their own SharePoint farm. It’s hardly surprising; identity management is complex and expensive. You have to pay for servers to host your identity provider (Microsoft Active Directory if you are using Windows); you have to keep it secure; you have to back it up and ensure that it is always available, and you have to pay for someone to maintain and administer it. Identity management becomes even more complicated when your organisation wants to give external users access to SharePoint; you have to ensure that they can only access SharePoint and can’t gain access to other systems; you have to buy additional client access licenses (CALs) for each external user because by adding them to your Active Directory you are making them an internal user.

Microsoft, Google and others all offer identity providers (also known as IdPs or claims providers) that are free to use, and by federating with a third party IdP you shift the ownership and management of identities on to them. You may even find that the partner or customer you are looking to collaborate with may offer their own IdP (most likely Active Directory Federation Services if they themselves run Windows). Of course, you have to trust whichever IdP you choose; they will be responsible for authenticating the user instead of you so you must be confident that they will do a good job. You must also check what pieces of information

about a user (also known as claims; for example, name, email address etc) IdPs offer to ensure they can tell you enough about a user for your purposes as they don’t all offer the same.

Having introduced support for federated authentication in SharePoint 2010, Microsoft paved the way for us to federate with third party IdPs within SharePoint itself. Unfortunately, configuring SharePoint to do this is fiddly and there is no user interface for doing so (a task made more onerous if you want to federate with multiple IdPs or tweak the configuration at a later date). Fortunately Microsoft has also introduced Azure Access Control Services (ACS) which makes the process of federating with one or more IdPs simple and easy to maintain. ACS is a cloud-based service that enables you to manage the IdPs used by your applications. The following diagram illustrates, at a high level, the components of ACS.

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An ACS namespace is a container for mappings between IdPs and one or more relying parties (the applications that want to use ACS), in our case SharePoint. Associated with each mapping is a rule group with defines how the relying party handles the individual claims associated with an identity. Using rule groups you can choose to hide or expose certain claims to specific relying parties within the namespace.

So by creating an ACS namespace you are in effect creating your own unique IdP that encapsulates the configuration for federating with one or more additional IdPs. A key point to remember is that your ACS namespace can be used by other applications (relying parties) that want to share the same identities, not just SharePoint.

Once your ACS namespace has been created you need to configure SharePoint to trust it, which most of the time will be a one off task and from that point on you can manage and maintain the IdPs you support from within ACS. The following diagram illustrates, at a high level, the typical architecture for integrating SharePoint and ACS.

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In the scenario above the SharePoint web application is using two different claims providers (they are referred to as claims providers in SharePoint rather than IdPs). One is for internal users and trusts an internal AD domain and another is for external users and trusts an ACS namespace.

When a user tries to access a site within the web application they will get the default SharePoint Sign In page asking them which provider they want to use.

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This page can be customised and branded as required. If the user selects Windows Authentication they will get the standard authentication dialog. If they select Azure Provider (or whatever you happen to have called your claims provider) they will be redirected to your ACS Sign In page.

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Again this page can be customised and branded as required. By clicking on one of the IdPs the user will be redirected to the appropriate Sign In page. Once they have been successfully authenticated by the IdP they will be redirected back to SharePoint.

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Conclusion

By integrating SharePoint with ACS you can simplify the process of giving external users access to SharePoint. It could also save you money in licence fees and administration costs[i].

An important point to bear in mind when planning federated authentication for SharePoint is that in order for Search to be able to index content within SharePoint, you must enable Windows authentication on at least one zone within your web application. Also, if you use a reverse proxy to perform authentication, such as Microsoft Threat Management Gateway, before allowing traffic to hit your SharePoint servers, you will need to disable the authentication checks.


[i] The licensing model for external users differs between SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013. With SharePoint 2010 if you expose your farm to external users, either anonymously or not, you have to purchase a separate licence for each server. The license covers you for any number of external users and you do not need to by a CAL for each user. With SharePoint 2013, Microsoft did away with the server license for external users and you still don’t need to buy CALs for the external users.

May 09

Visio 2013 – Using Data Graphics

In the last two posts I have covered using Visio 2013 with data and displaying it quite simply in a dashboard. This very quick post is going to cover how to use data graphics to do simple calculations and show adjust the data graphic accordingly.

Configure Data

For this example we are going to use the same data as before, except this time our students have a target and not just a grade

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We are going to use Visio to give us a graphical view of how the student is performing

Create Visio Diagram

I am not going to go over how to create the diagram as this was covered in post 1 & 2 of the series (click on the numbers to access them)

So the screenshot below shows the external data being used and the data graphics. All of this is being done in Office 365 again

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As you can see we have all the data in view but its a bit boring, plus its not immediately obvious how the students are performing

We are going to add an icon to the graphic to give us that instant feedback, to do this right click on one of the data graphics and select Data | Edit Data Graphic

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As you can see, the current data is all there just displayed as text, although I have played around a bit with font sizes and headings to make it look a little bit better

You can use fields within the data as many times as you like so we are going to add the Grade field again by selecting New Item

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Select all the options you need, in this case we are going to use the Grade data field again and I have selected Icon Set for the data to be displayed as and the style of icons I want

I want to show green if the student is above grade, red if they are below grade and a yellow triangle if they are currently at grade, lets start with above grade

Click where it says equals and select greater than

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In the next box select More Fields

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In this box select Shape Data, this will then allow you to choose from the external data choices, so in this case we are going to select Target as we want to compare the students current grade to their target

You should end up with it looking like this

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Here is the rest of the icons filled in, take note that any you don’t want to use just change the setting to Not Used

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Click OK and then OK on the Edit Data Graphic dialogue box

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Visio now shows the data but also has a very clear indication of the current status of the student using the icons I configured earlier.

Saving the file to Office 365 will also allow non Visio client users to access the drawing and view the data as well

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Conclusion

So what I have shown you in this post is how you can use Visio to carry out calculations against your data and display it in various ways or in this case as icons to give instant feedback on a students progress.

You could of course use these types of facilities to present graphical representations of stock levels against a reorder number, budgets against set warning criteria or even your personal finances against set warning levels.

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