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Cloud Services Thread, Is Office 365 what I want? in Technical; Further to my thread about dropbox: http://www.edugeek.net/forums/behind...need-help.html thanks to everyone who replied, I have managed to point out the issues ...
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    witch's Avatar
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    Is Office 365 what I want?

    Further to my thread about dropbox: http://www.edugeek.net/forums/behind...need-help.html

    thanks to everyone who replied, I have managed to point out the issues and at least some seem to have actually been listened to although SLT are still clinging to the dropbox scenario.
    However, I now have a meeting to discuss various IT issues and one of them is the offer from SWGfL to migrate our Easymail to Office 365 for free.
    The HT has asked that if we did this, could we use the free version of Office 365 to allow teachers to send planning docs to SLT in a secure way? Would this mean everyone would have their own Office 365 account or is there some sort of team account they could have which would work without the issues that everyone sharing the same Dropbox account has brought.
    Looking for something simple - remembering that the DH didn't like the idea of the teachers using the web portal for Dropbox as they would have to sign in... I believe Office 365 has integration with AD?

    Would this be a good thing to do? This would only be the free version and the school is NOT prepared or able to pay anything so please don't suggest anything that costs money!
    I would be grateful for any advice on how we could use Office 365.

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    TheScarfedOne's Avatar
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    Yes is the answer. It's all down to how you structure your areas...which are sharepoint areas incidentally. I have an area leaders section where the people with the right group membership can access and add files as needed.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Office 365 is great for e-mail and calendar sharing, as well as working on the move using Push mail with Smartphones and tablets. SharePoint on the other hand is overly complicated. I'm at the point of giving up as Microsoft provide little resources on how to customise it and make it user friendly for schools. Have a look here

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    Michael's Avatar
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    I forgot to say also - if you're looking at using Office 365 with your local AD, remember your server then potentially becomes the weakness in the chain. If your server goes offline, no one can then sign in to Office 365, as logons are processed/authenticated against your server. Same also goes if your LA (for example) performs maintenance on your internet connection. Again, if your server cannot be connected to from the outside world, logins to Office 365 will fail.

    I've used CSVs for Primary schools for these reasons and there's been fewer problems. Primary's generally have one or two DCs at most with a single internet connection. Multiple connections and multiple DCs are highly recommended if using Office 365 with your local AD.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Oh dear. We are a middle-deemed-secondary but only have one server. So can I use Office 365 without AD? I am getting more confused by the minute.
    The main use would be email (as above) and this shared area so that SLT can see everyone's planning.
    I need it user-friendly - for me, never mind the teachers!
    I don't even know where to start! Would you be able to help me @TheScarfedOne? I think I need an idiots guide that starts right at the beginning...

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Oh dear. We are a middle-deemed-secondary but only have one server. So can I use Office 365 without AD? I am getting more confused by the minute.
    The main use would be email (as above) and this shared area so that SLT can see everyone's planning.
    I need it user-friendly - for me, never mind the teachers!
    I don't even know where to start! Would you be able to help me @TheScarfedOne? I think I need an idiots guide that starts right at the beginning...
    Office 365 can be used as a "standalone" system, where you import user details into it and it creates accounts for those users that are stored in the cloud. The advantage of this is that its real simple to set up, and it doesn't rely on access to your local AD to make sign-in to a user's office 365 stuff available.

    The disadvantage is that if you don't integrate with AD then it becomes yet another account that both users and yourself have to sign into and manage (you can of course tell your browser to remember your password for this site the same as any other, so its arguable how much of a problem this really is for someone using roaming profiles and/or sitting at the same machine all the time)


    It can also be integrated with AD. The advantage of this is that there's only one account to manage for both you and the user. The disadvantages are that its a tremendous pain in the hoop to set up and that if your local AD is unavailable (e.g. internet connection is down, you're working on the AD servers, etc) then no one can sign into Office 365.

    As to what you get with the free academic edition, this gives you Sharepoint/SkyDrive Pro, which gives each user about 7Gb of space and makes sharing between people very simple, both in terms of sharing documents in one's own space with others and in terms of setting up shared areas that are designed for "collaboration" from the start. You can set these shared areas up, which keeps them simple to use from the end user's point of view.

    You also get access to Exchange, Lync and the online version of office (the latter is useful for editing documents in skydrive pro from tablets and other devices that don't directly support office or have it installed at that moment, and you get all of these things configured to work with one another "out of the box". It's not a bad deal at all, but it does require some thought about how to implement it - both as a short term and long term proposition.
    Last edited by Roberto; 7th May 2013 at 08:31 AM.

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    witch's Avatar
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    I think the standalone system is the way to go for us. Presumably there will be some sort of admin user who can set up these group sites etc. How would the mail work? Would they have to sign in just once and then be able to access their mail or would it be a second signing in?
    I will have a look at in in more depth when I get to the school that wants it, later today

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    I think the standalone system is the way to go for us. Presumably there will be some sort of admin user who can set up these group sites etc.
    Yes - the first user created in your office 365 account is an admin and that account can (and should!) nominate other admins for different Office 365 areas and tasks.

    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    How would the mail work? Would they have to sign in just once and then be able to access their mail or would it be a second signing in?
    I will have a look at in in more depth when I get to the school that wants it, later today
    Once you're signed in to any part of the Office 365 suite you're signed into all of it, so its not all bad in that sense.

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    I’m using it at 4 large Primaries as standalone and it works well. Depending on staff turnover, once you have done the initial setup, adding additional users down the line is just a 5 minute job via the admin web interface.

    Initial import can be done via CSV. Users then just change their password on their first login to the web app and that’s it. Groups are easily created via the admin web interface and users can easily setup Outlook and phones etc. themselves which reduces the pressure on you.

    If you do go with it I have a quick start guide that you can mail merge with users details.

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    witch's Avatar
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    thanks all. Yes, @SYSMAN_MK I would like that. Do you have something set up where people can share files as SLT want?

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    SYSMAN_MK's Avatar
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    No problem, drop me a PM with your email and I'll send them across. As for sharing files, yes but not using Office 365. I use Ranger Outpost for home access to network shares.

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    I agree, using Office 365 as standalone seems the way forward for most schools, importing users via CSV. As for Sharepoint, (as I wrote above) I'm finding it overly complicated and no one on these forums (it appears) are actually using it day to day.

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    Hmmm. So how will I share files etc through the web interface? Would that be with Sharepoint or what.
    It isnt a shared area as such, it is an area where people can upload their plans for SLT to see - so not really access to network shares
    Still unsure if I can do what they want using the free edu version of Office 365 - and I can only see where to download a trial?
    Is the team sites what I want?


    *edit Sorry, I sound a bit pathetic, don't I? But after jumping up and down yelling about the fiasco that is one dropbox account for everyone and the docs stored in the profiles, I really want to get this right otherwise I will look a complete fool. I want to be able to say at my Thursday meeting, "here you go, THIS is what you want and THIS is how it will work"
    Last edited by witch; 7th May 2013 at 09:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Hmmm. So how will I share files etc through the web interface? Would that be with Sharepoint or what.
    Yes, SharePoint Online. You could create a site, only give permission to staff, and they can upload, create and share documents in it.

    If they're looking at sharing "privately" (i.e. 1:1) then they could equally upload content to their personal SkyDrive Pro area, and share that content to specific individuals.

    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Still unsure if I can do what they want using the free edu version of Office 365 - and I can only see where to download a trial?
    You don't download Office 365!

    Every enrollment includes a 30-day trial of the normally-paid-for A3 plan, but you can add the free A2 licences and use as normal.

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    Boredguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Oh dear. We are a middle-deemed-secondary but only have one server. So can I use Office 365 without AD? I am getting more confused by the minute.
    The main use would be email (as above) and this shared area so that SLT can see everyone's planning.
    I need it user-friendly - for me, never mind the teachers!
    I don't even know where to start! Would you be able to help me @TheScarfedOne? I think I need an idiots guide that starts right at the beginning...
    You can use Office 365 without AD integration. Just setup their logon accounts in the cloud interface and away you go. If you have Office 2010 or ideally 2013 you can then have that account linked to your sharepoint folder so as far as staff in school are concerned the "sharepoint" is just another folder they can save to. For example in my Excel 2013 when I click Save As, I get a option for Skydrive, Computer and Our School SharePoint and the 2 team sites I've recently accessed.

    You can also link AD user credentials to Office 365 without the Microsoft SSO route, as RM have a tool that can sit on your server and capture the password change request before it hits the AD, and then syncs that with it's cloud database and that inturn updates Office 365 for that user... Only downside is you have to pay around 500 per year for that, and their free version doesn't do the password sync.

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