Partner Technical Services Blog

A worldwide group of consultants who focus on helping Microsoft Partners succeed throughout the business cycle.

March, 2011

  • Sending e-mails from Microsoft Dynamics CRM

    (post courtesy Sarkis Derbedrossian)

    I often meet Microsoft CRM users who don’t know how sending e-mail works within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Most users think that when they create an e-mail in CRM and hit the send button, the e-mail is sent automatically. Neither Outlook nor CRM can send e-mails without a post system e.g. Exchange server. Below you will learn how e-mail within CRM works with and without Outlook

    E-mail in relation to CRM

    Once you've created an e-mail activity in MS CRM and click the Send button to send the e-mail, this mail is handled differently depending on the settings of each user is set to in MS CRM.

    E-mail can be handled through Outlook or directly through CRM ... but neither Outlook nor MS CRM can implement the physical handling of the e-mail. This is done by a mail server (Microsoft Exchange Server or another mail system).

    Sending an E-mail in MS CRM

    Do not make a fast conclusion and think that MS CRM can neither receive nor send e-mail. You should understand that the above task requires an e-mail system to accomplish.

    When you send email from MS CRM it usually happens by the following steps:

    1. The user creates an e-mail activity and clicks on the send button. The e-mail is now saved with the user as the recipient
    2. The e-mail gets synchronized to the user’s Outlook
    3. The users Outlook sends the e-mail to the mail server (Exchange)
    4. Exchange sends the e-mail through the internet

    What if the user does not have the Outlook client open? This will result in the mail will not be sent until the user logs into Outlook. For some situations this can be insufficient. Fortunately installing the e-mail router can solve it.

    Sending e-mail via the e-mail router

    If you want to be independent of Outlook, and thus could send email directly from MS CRM without using Outlook, this can be done by installing and configuring an E-mail Router.

    The e-mail Router is free software that comes with MS CRM. The software can be installed on any server that has access to a Mail Server (Exchange Server or other mail system (POP3/SMTP)) and MS CRM.

    When you send email from MS CRM using an E-mail Router it often happens by the following steps

    1. The user creates an e-mail activity and clicks on the send button. The e-mail is now saved with the user as the recipient
    2. The e-mail is sent to the e-mail router
    3. The email router sends the e-mail to the mail server (Exchange)
    4. Exchange sends the e-mail through the internet

    E-mail settings in CRM

    Depending on how you want your organization to send e-mails, remember to check the following settings:

    1. In CRM, Settings, Users
    2. Open the user form
    3. In the configuration section of the e-mail access, select the desired setting


    Configuring e-mail access

    It is possible to choose one of the following settings from the option list:

    Outlook cannot be used for sending and receiving e-mails which is related to MS CRM

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook
    Outlook is responsible for sending / receiving e-mail. Integration with MS CRM for Outlook must be installed and configured. E-mails sent / received only when Outlook is active (open)

    E-mail router
    E-mail is sent and received with MS CRM Email Router. If this element is selected, a dialog box allows entering credentials. Check the box if you want to specify credentials

    Forwarded mailbox
    E-mail forwarded from another e-mail address. The e-mail Router is responsible for sending / receiving e-mails.

    More Information:

  • Configure Power Management with SCCM 2007 R3

    (Post courtesy Anil Malekani)

    In this post I’ll explain how to configure Power Management with SCCM 2007 R3. The post is divided in three parts; prerequisites and dependencies, enabling power management on site and clients, and configuring reports for power management.

    The power management feature in SCCM 2007 R3 provides the following capabilities:

    1. Collect power usage information from clients in the site and calculate cost of power consumed during a specific period.
    2. Enforce Power Policies on clients in different collections. Each collection of clients can have different power plans for peak and non-peak hours.
    3. Monitor power plan applied on clients in a collection.
    4. Displays reports of carbon emissions saved over a specified time period.

    Part 1: Checking Prerequisites and Dependencies for Power Management


    • Make sure hotfix KB977384 ( ) is installed on computers running the following components of SCCM 2007 SP2:
      • Primary and secondary site servers
      • Remote administrator console servers
      • Remote provider servers
      • Client computers
    • Make sure SCCM site servers are running SCCM 2007 R3.
    • SQL Server Reporting Services must be installed and configured. This feature is required to view reports related to Power Management.
    • Inventory Client Agents should be configured and inventory collection should be working on clients.


    • Client computers must be capable of supporting different power states as defined by the power management policy.

    Part 2: Enable Site and Clients for Power Management and Deploy Power Policies on a Collection

    1. Install KB977384 on the site server and create a package for deployment to SCCM clients machines.

    a. Locate the file SCCM2007-SP2-KB977384-ENU.msi on the SCCM 2007 R3 install media and start installation.

    b. During installation it will prompt to create a patch install package for clients. Select the first option to create the package and Press Next.

    c. Press Next or modify the package name for the Patch.


    d. Press Next twice.

    e. Click Finish.

    This process will create a package and a program in the SCCM console. Open the console and verify that it is present under packages. Now you can create an advertisement and target the patch install program on a collection of workstations. Make it a mandatory installation and it won’t require a restart on machines.

    2. Enable the Power Management Client Agent setting on the Site server.


    On the SCCM client workstation, you’ll find the new Power Management Agent component under the Configuration Manager Properties. This will appear only if you have patch KB977384 installed and policy updates have been received from the site server after enabling the power management agent.


    3. Enable Power plans for a collection of machines.

    a. Right-click a collection of machines and select Modify collection settings.

    b. Click on the Power Management tab and select the option to Specify power management settings for the collection.

    c. Define Peak hours and select a Peak plan.

    d. You may select any of predefined power plans or modify the Customized Peak plan.

    e. Similarly for Non-peak plan you may customize the Non-peak power plan and press OK.


    Part 3: Configure Reporting for Power Management

    1. Make sure SQL Reporting Services component is installed and configured. Use the Reporting Services Configuration tool to configure Reporting Services.

    2. Install Reporting Services Point as a new site role in SCCM



    3. Specify the Report Folder Name and press Next twice.

    4. Go to Reporting Services under Computer Management > Reporting. Right-click the Reporting Services server role and select Copy Reports to Reporting Services.


    5. Select Database server name and database instance name for SCCM.

    6. Select database authentication method to gain access to connect to database and press Next.

    7. Select the second option to Import Reports from a cabinet file, and click Browse.


    8. Browse to "%ConfigMgr install folder%\Reports\Power Management" folder and select file.


    9. This will list all Power Management reports which will be imported.

    10. Press Next twice.

    11. To view reports, open IE and type URL http://%servername%/Reports.

    12. Click on ConfigMgr_%SiteCode% Folder and select Power Management Reports.


    These Reports may also be executed from SCCM server console.

    More Information

  • Going to MMS?

    (post courtesy Iftekhar and cross-posted from his blog).  If you are going to the Microsoft Management Summit, make sure to say hi!

    MMS 2011 Design

    Hello Everybody,

    This is again a part of year where Microsoft reaches out to all its customers, partners, IT Pros and developers through its back to back technical conferences with some great announcements, Technical Sessions and demonstrations of its latest and cutting edge products and solutions.

    Year 2011 will start with Microsoft Management Summit 2011 next week in Las Vegas, followed by TechEd North America 2011 in May and then Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 (WPC) in July.

    MMS 2011 is expected to be all about Private Cloud, Datacenter Automation and Virtualization Management. The products which I am really looking forward to at MMS this year are VMM 2012, Opalis and Service Manager

    I’ll be working at MMS 2011 in Las Vegas next week as a product specialist for Virtual Machine Manager 2012. So all you partners, customers and IT Pros, Virtualization enthusiasts who are interested in Next Gen capabilities of Virtual Machine Manager 2012 and learn how it helps creating and doing end to end management of Private Cloud can find me at VMM Booth at Microsoft Pavilion.

    In addition to my booth duty, I am really looking forward to presenting and meeting some of my customers, partners whom I work with and discuss their Virtualization and Private Cloud Practice, also hanging out with some old friends and explore Vegas..

    Though MMS 2011 is completely sold out for general attendees but here are other options.

    For those who are not attending but would like to be updated with what's happening in Vegas, I am planning to do some heavy duty tweeting..

    See you in Las Vegas.



  • SharePoint 2010 Administration with PowerShell: Automating Central Admin Backup

    (post courtesy Priyo Lahiri)

    Out of the box, SharePoint 2010 doesn’t have the capability of scheduling a backup. Fortunately, we have the mix of PowerShell script and Windows Task Scheduler to do the job. In reality it’s just a single line script:

    Backup-SPFarm –Directory YourBackupDirectory –BackupMethod Full / Differential

    How can we make this backup script more special?

    The script below will send an email if an error occurrs during the backup with the error description so that every morning (or whatever your backup schedule is) you don’t have to open up Central Admin and see if the backup went fine or not (assuming you check the backup status / integrity…. I know a lot of people who don’t!) and hopefully it gives you an idea on what went wrong.

    *Note: The following script is given as a sample, and should be customized and tested in a lab environment long before it is ever run in production. The domain “LZENG” is used in the examples below.

    The PowerShell cmdlet that we can use to send the email is a simple one:

    Send-MailMessage -From "" -To "" -Subject "Error captured" -Body “Error Message Here” -SmtpServer YourSMTPServerFQDN

    (more parameters are available for the Send-MailMessage cmdlet here:

    So I created the simple script below to first see the error message being displayed from PowerShell:


    Unfortunately, the error message is not very helpful. It tells me that the backup was not successful but doesn’t give me any pointers as to why. No point sending this to the SharePoint admin. Let’s take a look at the spbrtoc.xml from the backup directory:

    <SPStartTime>02/24/2011 18:15:15</SPStartTime>
    <SPFinishTime>02/24/2011 18:15:41</SPFinishTime>
    <SPFailure>Object lz_Admin failed in event OnBackup. For more information, see the spbackup.log or sprestore.log file located in the backup directory.</SPFailure>

    Now that makes a little more sense, I can now see that the Admin Content Database failed during the back-up. So how about sending this to the SharePoint Admin so that he knows exactly what’s going on? To make this more useful, we will also attach the backup log from the SPBackupDirectory with the email so that the SharePoint admin knows everything he needs to about the error.

    Here is how we do it… (in pseudocode)

    Read the spbrtoc.xml file and pull up the First <SPHistoryObject> block and get the path of the spbackup.txt from <SPBackupDirectory> and attach it to the email.

    Here is a script sample

       1: $xmldata = [xml](Get-Content 'C:\SPBackup\spbrtoc.xml') #loading spbrtoc.xml as XML datatype
       3: # In the statement below I am getting the block of <SPHistoryObject> where SPErrorCount is more than zero and the #SPHistoryObject was created today and storing it in $Node
       5: $Node = $xmldata.SPBackupRestoreHistory.SPHistoryObject | Where-Object {$_.SPErrorCount -gt '0' -and $_.SPStartTime -gt (Get-Date -DisplayHint Date)}
       7: # Getting the SPFailure Message and the spBackup.Log path and creating the body of the email
       9: $FailureMsg = $Node[0] | % {$_.SPFailure}
      10: $Att = ($Node[0] | % {$_.SPBackupDirectory}) + 'spbackup.log'
      11: $msgBody = 'An Error occurred while trying to backup your SharePoint Farm. Details : ' + $Failuremsg + '
      12: Attached is the Error Log for additional reference.'
      14: # Finally sending the email
      16: Send-MailMessage -From 'administrator@lzeng.local' -To 'Administrator@lzeng.local' -Subject 'Error Occured in SharePoint Backup' -Body $msgBody -Attachments $att -SmtpServer mail.lzeng.local

    And here is the result:


    Here is the full script:


       1: Clear-Host
       2: $Error.Clear()
       3: ###################################################################################################
       4: #################### POPULATE THE VARIABLES BELOW ##################################################
       5: ###################################################################################################
       7: $BackupDir = '\\app02\SPBackup' # Your backup directory here. Recommended to use \\server\share
       8: # NOTE: DO NOT put '\' after the above path
       9: # Ensure SharePoint Timer Service Account and SQL Service Account has Full Control on the above Path
      10: # More Information: 
      12: # Variables below required for Sending Email.
      13: $FromAccount = 'administrator@lzeng.local' # valid domain account or an account with Send As rights
      14: $ToAccount = 'administrator@lzeng.local' # Recipient email address
      15: $smtpServer = 'mail.lzeng.local' # SMTP / Exchange / SMTP Relay Agent FQDN
      16: # If you need other parameters like CC Field or if you exchange uses SSL refer here:
      17: ######################################### START SCRIPT ##############################################
      19: # Start Loading SharePoint Snap-in
      20: $snapin = (Get-PSSnapin -name Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell -EA SilentlyContinue)
      21: IF ($snapin -ne $null){write-host -f Green "SharePoint Snap-in is loaded... No Action taken"}
      22: ELSE { write-host -f Yellow "SharePoint Snap-in not found... Loading now"
      23: Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell
      24: write-host -f Green "SharePoint Snap-in is now loaded"}
      25: # END Loading SharePoint Snapin
      27: # Starting Backup
      28: Write-Host -f green "Staring Backup process"
      29: Backup-SPFarm -Directory $BackupDir -BackupMethod full -BackupThreads 10 -Force -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
      30: Write-Host -f green "Exit: Backup process"
      32: IF($Error[0] -ne $null){
      33: # Loading toc file
      34: $xmldata = [xml](Get-Content ($BackupDir +'\spbrtoc.xml'))
      35: $Node = $xmldata.SPBackupRestoreHistory.SPHistoryObject | Where-Object {$_.SPErrorCount -gt '0' -and $_.SPStartTime -gt (Get-Date -DisplayHint Date)} 
      36: # Grab SPFailure Msg and Path to attachment
      37: $FailureMsg = $Node[0] | % {$_.SPFailure}
      38: $Att = ($Node[0] | % {$_.SPBackupDirectory}) + 'spbackup.log'
      39: # Create msgbody
      40: $msgBody = 'An Error occurred while trying to backup your SharePoint Farm. Details : ' + $Failuremsg + '
      41: Attached is the Error Log for additional reference.'
      43: # Send email
      44: Send-MailMessage -From $FromAccount -To $ToAccount -Subject 'Error Occured in SharePoint Backup' -Body $msgBody -Attachments $att -SmtpServer $smtpServer }
      46: Write-Host -f Green "Operation Complete"
      47: ############################################## END SCRIPT ##############################################

    A workable script is attached with this post that you can download and use. All you need to do it specify values for the variables below and follow the instructions to create a task in Windows Task Scheduler.


    Variables to populate in the script:

    $BackupDir = '\\app02\SPBackup' # Your backup directory here. Recommended to use \\server\share

    NOTE: DO NOT put '\' after the above path

    $FromAccount = 'administrator@lzeng.local' # valid domain account or an account with Send As rights
    $ToAccount = 'administrator@lzeng.local' # Recipient email address
    $smtpServer = 'mail.lzeng.local' # SMTP / Exchange / SMTP Relay Agent FQDN

    If you need other parameters like CC Field or if you exchange uses SSL refer here:

    Instructions to configure the task:

    1. Put the ps1 file in a folder (for example C:\scripts)
    2. In your task scheduler, configure the task to run in highest privilege and choose the option to “Run whether user is logged on or not”
    3. Now on the Action tab specify this as the Program / Script
    4. “powershell -command C:\Scripts\BackupFarm.ps1”
    5. Windows will change it to this:
    6. In the Trigger create a schedule to run the task every night at 2 AM (or whatever suits your schedule).

    You are all set.

    If you want, you can create 2 copies of this script and change the second one to run Differential backup every night and Full Backup every Sunday or whatever your backup strategy is.

    Ok so now you know I can read the xml file from PowerShell which means I can also remove some lines from it and may be have a cleanup script for backup retention and remove all those failed backup listed in the central admin? You are right on… but that’s for the next post.

    Stay tuned.

    Cheers Smile


    More Information

  • Using SCCM R3 Pre-staged Media to prestage OS Deployments

    (Post courtesy Anil Malekani)

    In this post I’ll demonstrate how to use System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3 to create prestaged media, and then prestaging the operating system (OS) image on a fresh hardware using a Task Sequence.  Afterwards, we will install the operating system using the prestaged OS media.

    Part 1 : Creating Prestage Media using Task Sequence

    • Right Click on the Task Sequence and select Create Task Sequence Media


    • Select option to Create Prestaged Media


    • Specify Publisher Information
    • Specify Name and Destination of the output file. This file will be used as Prestaged OS Image later



    • Select Boot Image and OS Image to be used. Make sure to select both Images of same architecture.



    This process will create an output WIM file under the location you specified in the Wizard.

    Part 2: Add Prestaged Operating System Image

    Once the WIM file is created, next step is to create an OS Image under Operating System Deployment node.

    • Right Click on Operating System Images and select Add Operating System Image


    • Input the UNC path of the WIM file captured in Create Prestage Media part


    • Add General information about the Image



    Part 3: Create a task sequence to Prestage the OS Image on a machine

    • Right Click on Task Sequences and select New Task Sequence
    • Select Custom Task Sequence on first page of the Wizard
    • Give it a name and select the Boot Image and hit Finish


    • Add First Task to Format and Partition Disk
    • Go to Partition Properties and provide Inputs against Partition Name and Variable at the end. Allocate disk space to the partition and select File System.


    • Goto Add > General > Run Command Line


    • Give it a Name and Input Command Line as following

    %SystemRoot%\system32\bootsect.exe /nt60 %OSPartition%

    • %OSPartition% here is the variable value we defined under Partition properties


    • Select Add > Images > Apply Data Image


    • Select Image Package (Created in Part 2)
    • Select Destination “Logical Drive Letter Stored in a variable” and Provide ‘OSPartition’ as Variable Name (this is the variable name provided under Partition Properties)


    • Add a new Command Line and input following command

    X:\windows\system32\wpeutil.exe shutdown


    • Add another command line with command cmd.exe /k


    Part 4: Apply an OS Image using Prestaged Media from Disk without downloading from the Distribution Point

    In Part 3, we created a Task Sequence to prestage an OS Image on a fresh machine. Now in this part we’ll apply an operating system to that machine by using the prestaged media on the disk. By just adding a Condition we can skip the OS Image download process. Prestaged media on creation will set _SMSTSMediaType = OEMmedia and we can use this variable as a condition to be checked before partitioning the disk and downloading OS Image from the distribution point.

    • Open a Task sequence to Deploy OS to fresh hardware. Go to Options tab under Format and Partition Disk Step. Select to Add Condition and select Task Sequence Variable


    • Add Variable Name, Condition and Value as in the picture below


    This is all you need to change in the Task Sequence used to deploy Operating System to new hardware (with Prestaged OS Image) and it will not download OS Image from the network!

    If you are a Microsoft Partner, contact the Partner Technical Services team for presales assistance and advisory services:

    More Information

  • Get Started with RemoteFX Deployment

    (Post courtesy Iftekhar Hussain)

    Windows Server 2008 R2 VDI Logo

    Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is getting momentum and more and more organizations are looking at VDI to remotely provide the Operating system environment to their users.

    One of the challenges that VDI is facing today is the ability to provide the same graphic experience of the desktop operating system as they have today on their physical PC.


    • Amazing Windows 7 Aero features
    • The ability to run 3D applications
    • Silverlight and Flash video etc.

    If you are following this blog and read my last post about features like RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory brought in by Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2, you probably already know what RemoteFX is.

    Just to recap,

    "RemoteFX adds new capabilities to the Remote Desktop Services platform by delivering a full-fidelity Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and high-density, scalable, client-agnostic session virtualization capabilities, shifting delivery intelligence to host-based systems running RemoteFX. Through a new graphics payload purpose-built for RemoteFX and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), the session virtualization platform is tightly integrated with the RDP protocol, which enables shared encryption, authentication, management, and local device support."

    In layman’s terms, RemoteFX extends the capabilities of GPU on your server hardware into your Virtual Machines running Windows 7 so that you can get rich graphic capabilities which are on par with a physical desktop running Windows 7.

    RemoteFX leverages the power of virtualized graphics resources and advanced codecs to recreate the fidelity of hardware-assisted graphics acceleration, including support for 3D content and Windows Aero, on a remote user’s device. This allows for a local-like, remote experience.



    RemoteFX USB Device Redirection

    RemoteFX also provides redirection of virtually any USB device.  Some of the features of RemoteFX device redirection are:

    • Redirects devices at the USB Request Block (URB) Level.
    • No client drivers necessary
    • One method that works with many devices
    • Only one session can use a USB device at a time
    • Optimized for the LAN


    Microsoft has recently released bunch of documentation on Remote FX deployments and I would like collate all these documentations right here for you.

    Before I take you through the documentations, let me touch briefly on the deployment guidelines of RemoteFX.

    • RemoteFX for VDI is targeted at new deployments, so your existing Server Hardware, processor, GPU and OS may not really work with RemoteFX. It requires the latest hardware:
      • Processor supporting SLAT (Second Layer Address Translation)
      • PCI-E x16 based server motherboards
      • Compatible GPU on Server hardware , few compatible GPUs (not limited to) are listed hereclip_image011
    • The RemoteFX encoder is optional and can be installed for additional scalability on the Microsoft® RemoteFX™ server,
    • Latest Operating systems :
      • Hyper- V Host
        • Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 (Hyper-v, Standard, Enterprise, and DataCenter editions)
      • VDI Virtual Machine
        • Windows 7 Enterprise with SP1
        • Windows 7 Ultimate with SP1
      • Remote Client Device
        • Windows 7 with SP1
        • Devices with RDP 7.1

    Now lets review some of the great documentation released a few weeks ago about RemoteFX deployment.

    Microsoft RemoteFX for Remote Desktop Virtualization Host Capacity Planning Guide for Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1

    This white paper is intended as a guide for capacity planning of Microsoft RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1. It describes the most relevant factors that influence the capacity of a given deployment, methodologies to evaluate capacity for specific deployments, and a set of experimental results for different combinations of usage scenarios and hardware configurations.


    Deploying Microsoft RemoteFX on a Single Remote Desktop Virtualization Host Server Step-by-Step Guide

    This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of setting up a working virtual desktop that uses RemoteFX and is accessible by using Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) in a test environment. Upon completion of this step-by-step guide, you will have a virtual desktop with RemoteFX that can be connected to by using Remote Desktop Connection. You can then test and verify this functionality by connecting to the virtual desktop from a client computer as a standard user.


    Deploying Microsoft RemoteFX for Virtual Desktop Pools Step-by-Step Guide.

    This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of setting up a working virtual desktop pool that uses RemoteFX in a test environment. Upon completion of this step-by-step guide, you will have a virtual desktop pool with RemoteFX that users can connect to by using RD Web Access.


    Deploying Microsoft RemoteFX for Personal Virtual Desktops Step-by-Step Guide

    This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of setting up a working personal virtual desktop that uses RemoteFX in a test environment.Upon completion of this step-by-step guide, you will have a personal virtual desktop with RemoteFX assigned to a user account that can connect by using RD Web Access. You can then test and verify this functionality by connecting to the personal virtual desktop from RD Web Access as a standard user.



    This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of setting up USB redirection with RemoteFX in a test environment. Upon completion of this step-by-step guide, you will have a personal virtual desktop with RemoteFX assigned to a user account that can connect by using RD Web Access.


    Microsoft RemoteFX for Session Virtualization: Architectural Overview

    This paper provides an architectural overview of RemoteFX in the context of session virtualization—using a new Windows Server role called the Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) designed specifically for modern session virtualization environments using Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.


    Deploying Microsoft RemoteFX on a Remote Desktop Session Host Server Step-by-Step Guide

    This document walks you through the process of setting up a working Remote Desktop Session Host that uses RemoteFX and is accessible by using Remote Desktop Connection in a test environment.


    I believe the documentations provides some very useful information about the best way to deploy RemoteFX, In case you need more information or clarification, please feel free to contact me directly.



  • Planning for General Availability of Office 365

    (post courtesy Bryan Petersen)

    Microsoft Office 365

    Office 365 is the next iteration of Business Productivity and Online Suite (BPOS). Office 365 will connect the Office desktop suite to the cloud-based versions of our next-generation communication and collaboration services. These are Exchange Online 2010, SharePoint Online 2010, and Lync Online.

    With the General Availability date of Office 365 fast approaching, it’s important to begin planning for transitions from BPOS to Office 365 and/or moving customers from on-premise environments to “The Cloud”. This blog post will address some key requirements with the Office 365 release that need to be considered during the planning phase. Also provided are key resources that can be referenced during each step.

    Think about the lifecycle of a product/service in the following sequence. With this posting we emphasize the Plan phase to help partners streamline those initial conversations with prospective customers, and help eliminate surprises in the phases that follow.


    Step 1: Features (Requirements)

    A. Walk-thru the Office 365 Service Descriptions with your prospective customer.

    A good understanding of what each service provides will allow the customer to know what they’re getting in to with Office 365, as well as provide guidance in helping them make decisions throughout the deployment process.

    Office 365 Service Descriptions

    Note: The Appendix section at the end of each Service Description provides a feature comparison between on-premise and online.
    Note: These are currently in Beta form so some of the details are subject to change.

    Business Productivity and Online Suite (BPOS) Service Descriptions
    This information is for comparison purposes to Office 365 only.

    Note: The Appendix section at the end of each Service Description provides a feature comparison between on-premise and online.

    B. Review the System Requirements for Office 365.

    Office 365 will present a new set of requirements for those customers moving from on-premise to online or transitioning from BPOS-S to Office 365. Some of the key requirements are as follows, focusing on the systems/software that WILL NOT BE SUPPORTED - I start on the systems/software that will not be supported because those requirements are typically overlooked and are the basis for many of those surprises we’re trying to eliminate.

    Not Supported

    • Windows Server 2003 or earlier
    • Microsoft Office 2003
    • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
      - Outlook 2003 access via Outlook Anywhere (RPC/HTTP) is not supported.  
      - Outlook 2003 access via POP/IMAP is technically possible but also not supported.

      If customers choose to remain on Outlook 2003 via POP/IMAP, they will not get calendar support, free/busy information, Global Address List, push e-mail, and many other features that are typically essential to the Outlook experience.

      Customers have 12 months to opt in to a platform upgrade of BPOS.  So a customer who is on BPOS Standard and needs Outlook 2003 support could have it for up to 12 months after Office 365 platform upgrade if the customer chooses to stay on the current platform. However, they will not receive the benefits of Office 365.
    • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (IE6)
      Internet Explorer 6 will not be supported with the release of Office 365. This could present some application compatibility issues with customers who have developed applications on top of IE6. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the public guidance below for Internet Explorer 6:
      KB Article: Running Multiple Versions of Internet Explorer On Single Operating System is Unsupported

      Solutions for Virtualizing Internet Explorer

      Engage Application Compatibility Factory (ACF). The Application Compatibility Factory (ACF) program is an initiative that teams Microsoft with Service Partners to help customers overcome application compatibility.

      Note: You will need a Connect login to get to this information.
    • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007


    The complete list of software requirements can be found in the Office 365 online help.

    Note: The information is currently for the Office 365 Beta release so is subject to change by General Availability.

    Step 2: Pricing

    Office 365 pricing and fact sheets are publicly available. They can be found off the primary Office 365 site at

    Office 365 for Enterprises -

    Office 365 for Small Businesses -

    Office 365 for Education -

    Step 3: Availability

    Office 365 will be generally available in 2011. Expect more communication about Beta plans and General Availability in the weeks to come. The best way to stay in touch is through one/all the following outlets.

    Office 365 Blog, Office 365 Facebook , and Office 365 Twitter

    If customers are interested in moving Online, but don’t want to wait for Office 365 they can certainly move to BPOS and then transition to Office 365 when the time comes. There is an excellent resource available to users who are currently using BPOS and need to plan for the transition to Office 365. The Office 365 Transition Center:

    Step 4: How to Buy

    Word on how to buy is just around the corner. Customers should begin conversations with their Microsoft Partner’s for focusing on Steps 1-3.

    Step 5: Find a Partner (or how ‘bout, Become a Partner)

    Part of the planning portion of the lifecycle is finding a partner, but for this audience I felt information on how to become an Office 365 partner and providing additional partner ready resources was more important.

    Please review the Office 365 Partner Program

    If you are a Partner, contact Microsoft Partner Technical Services for assistance with planning deployments of Office 365