Review: Microsoft Office 365 Administration Inside and Out

Book Cover

It is a common misconception that cloud-hosted services and infrastructure (SaaS and IaaS) are turn-key propositions that require less skill than self-hosted platforms to plan, deploy, operate and maintain. The reality is that a well-rounded book on the topic - like MSFT O365 Administration - must spend roughly 200 pages discussing planning tools and directory services, before even touching on O365 management. If considering an O365 deployment, you want this book in the arsenal.


The book is written for "Information Technology (IT) system architects who need to integrate Office 365 with existing on-premises technologies," but it is equally useful to everyone in the traditional TechNet audience, including IT Operations teams and infrastructure experts (IT Pros). Extensive attention is given to System Center monitoring and management (via SCOM, DPM, VMM, SCO, etc.), and SCOM alerts. Another chapter helps you install Orchestrator. Another covers Service Manager automation. By this time we're 400 pages deep and getting into remote administration with PowerShell.


But wait, there's more! At this point the tenancy is configured complete with monitoring and management, but we haven't gone deep on any of the actual services - SharePoint Online, SkyDrive Pro, Exchange, and Lync. The content is roughly proportional to the pain: Exchange integration gets the heaviest treatment, followed by SharePoint and Lync.


The SharePoint online coverage is terrific in describing SP's topology and constraints, and the App Store model used to add features. The book does not attempt to cover user-scoped topics like governance, information infrastructure, or social features (perhaps because it was mostly written during beta, and prior to Microsoft's announcements about Yammer integration). So you also won't see discussion of common issues with hybrid scenarios, including Search and Social.


So what you have is a great book with the insights of experience to get you into the game, plus a wealth of tips and tooling to ease the road ahead. The book is (almost surprisingly) well-written and concise with many step-by-step sections including full screen shots. I didn't work through them all so there may be corrections as these products are updated, but in the cases I read, the high-level plan is discussed first, terms are explained, risks are identified and troubleshooting guidance is provided; minor changes in the UI should not trip up anyone using this book as a reference. With a service established and integrated, the team can then look to other resources to go further into planning governance, information architecture, user experience, and App development. Well done and strongly recommended.


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