10 third-party tools to suit your Office 365 needs

From migration to monitoring, third-party tools and partners help you make the most of Office 365

Office 365 Support Ecosystem
Credit: Digital Vision

Office 365 is a rich solution, offering a bevy of built-in communication, collaboration, and productivity features. But the idea that Office 365 offers everything you might need, leaving nothing for third-party partners to add, is far from the truth. As with every other Microsoft product, a supportive ecosystem surrounds Office 365, providing meaningful and often customized ways to improve the overall Office 365 experience.

In my role as a consultant for Mimecast, which offers a bolt-on solution for Office 365 that provides additional security, archiving, and continuity features, I am often intrigued by the inventive ways third-party development companies enhance what Microsoft provides as a base in Office 365.

From migration to security to monitoring and beyond, the following 10 Office 365 support solutions show that a vital ecosystem of essential tools and services is rapidly evolving around Office 365. Become familiar with these and the myriad options radiating out from them to see how they might suit your particular Office 365 needs.

CodeTwo Office 365 Migration and Backup for Office 365

When it comes to migrating legacy environments to Office 365, gotchas abound. Thankfully, several tools and services are available for easing the challenges. Microsoft-certified partner CodeTwo offers one such tool, in the form of CodeTwo Office 365 Migration.

CodeTwo Office 365 Migration provides an easier method for moving from Exchange (or Google) to Office 365. In addition to mailbox migration, which includes all items types, you can also migrate public folders using guided wizards that walk you through the process.

CodeTwo Office 365 Migration uses an Exchange Web Services connection to migrate data from your on-premises environment to Office 365. The company also offers Code Two Backup for Office 365, which allows for offline Office 365 mailbox backup and restore. Office 365 itself does not have a backup solution and relies on native data protection. With Code Two Backup for Office 365, you can back up entire mailboxes or selected types of mailbox data to your local drives.

BitTitan MigrationWiz and accompanying tools

BitTitan is another company offering robust solutions to assist in migrating to Office 365. Included in its lineup are MigrationWiz, for data migration; UserActivation, for onboarding to Office 365; DeploymentPro, for configuring Outlook clients for Office 365; and DataEncryption, for automatic encryption of messages and secure messaging.

BitTitan’s solutions are entirely cloud-based and aimed at migrating data and onboarding users to Office 365 with zero downtime throughout the process. MigrationWiz supports migrations from on-premises Exchange 2003+, Zimbra, Lotus Notes, GroupWise, Google Apps, and more.

Binary Tree E2E/CMT

Binary Tree is another migration solution company known for assisting with migrations from on-premises Exchange to Office 365, as well as from Lotus Notes and Domino. In fact, Binary Tree software is used exclusively by Microsoft for onboarding customers from Notes to Office 365, according to the company.

For Exchange to Office 365, Binary Tree offers E2E Express and E2E Complete. E2E Express is aimed at small businesses to streamline migrations directly to their target environment, for example, when migrating from a hosted solution to Office 365 or between tenants. Binary Tree’s E2E Complete application handles the movement of mailboxes and public folders, but it also automates the entire enterprise migration processes. In addition, E2E Complete provides scheduling, forecasting, user communications, tracking, reporting, and much more. Users have access to online functionality for rescheduling their individual migrations, and they receive automated notifications when their migration is complete, helping them stay informed and productive throughout the entire migration process.

Lotus Notes and Domino migrations to Office 365 are performed using a variety of Binary Tree tools, including CMT for Exchange.

Sharegate

Mailboxes aren’t the only items you’ll likely migrate to Office 365. For SharePoint migrations, check out Sharegate, a migration and management tool that offers the ability to migrate site collections, sites, subsites, lists, libraries, views, workflows, and more. Granularity migration is important when working with a SharePoint move to Office 365. One detail I like about Sharegate: It offers a bottomless migration, so you don’t have to worry about every gigabyte you move.

Riverbed SteelHead SaaS

Keeping users humming after you’ve migrated them to the cloud is an important facet not to be forgotten. Here, Riverbed’s SteelHead SaaS can help.

SteelHead SaaS improves Office 365 performance via WAN optimization. It is geared toward eliminating network latency woes that can frustrate users when working with a cloud-based solution like Office 365. Riverbed’s WAN optimization appliances sit right in Microsoft’s data centers to help accelerate delivery of Office 365 to your users, but with less bandwidth.

ENow Mailscape

Office 365’s built-in monitoring and reporting tools have room to grow in terms of robustness. For anyone seeking to fill the monitoring gap, several tools and services are available. Among the standouts, especially for hybrid environments, is ENow Mailscape.

ENow Mailscape is easy to deploy and use in both hybrid Exchange and full-cloud Office 365 setups. The solution provides real-time monitoring of your environment to ensure services are available, including network components, directory, mail clients, mobile devices, and so forth. It even monitors Active Directory Federation Services and DirSync.

Kaseya 365 Command

Kaseya’s 365 Command is an intriguing cloud-based solution for gathering and analyzing data and reporting for Office 365. Rather than requiring PowerShell scripts, the tool uses HTML5. In this way, 365 Command provides great graphical return.

What’s more, 365 Command pushes into other areas with regard to reporting, including OneDrive, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. It’s easy to see why many third-party reporting solutions focus solely on Exchange Online, but Office 365 goes beyond that. Solutions that also look at SharePoint, Lync, OneDrive, Yammer, and the rest will be increasingly essential as more folks take up these tools as part of their daily Office 365 diet.

Exoprise CloudReady Monitor

Outages can cause significant angst for Office 365 users -- or more specifically, outages that occur without adequate notifications. Here, many admins are looking for assistance in monitoring their Office 365 environments. Exoprise’s CloudReady Monitor is one to check out.

CloudReady Monitor provides cloud-based application performance monitoring for any SaaS application, including Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce, Dropbox, and so on. It tracks the speed and reliability of these solutions and provides IT with end-to-end visibility into their availability, so you will know when an app is down before a user calls screaming.

Citrix Enterprise Mobility

Microsoft recently added MDM for Office 365, offering a subset of its Intune services to Office 365 customers. Still, there are enterprise-grade third-party MDM solutions offering a greater set of control features that are worth a look. It’s good to note that it’s not an exclusive situation.

Much like Office 365’s Exchange Online Protection solution, you can go with a layered approach to email security and MDM control. In the modern BYOD world, we see a need for an “enterprise mobility management” solution, and Citrix is one vendor with a solid reputation in this regard. Citrix Enterprise Mobility helps you manage and secure a compliant mobile fleet, essential in the Office 365 cloud/BYOD world.

Other MDM vendors of note include Sophos, Good Technology, MobileIron, and VMware AirWatch.

Sangoma Express for Lync

Lync Online (now called Skype for Business, aka SfB) provides a variety of solid features for Office 365, such as IM, presence, videoconferencing, screen sharing, whiteboarding, and file transfer. But it doesn’t include enterprise voice (aka telephony connectivity) beyond SfB-to-SfB in-network calls. To make that happen you have to connect SfB to the PSTN (public switched telephone network), and that can be a heavy load. Enter Sangoma’s Express for Lync, an all-in-one server appliance that includes all the pieces necessary to establish an on-premises connection to enable enterprise voice for Office 365 users.

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