Running the new Office 365 Hybrid Configuration Wizard

As you all know, the latest Hybrid Configuration Wizard now runs from O365 irrespective of the previous versions of Exchange where HCW is embedded with the on-prem product. With this addition you will get the latest wizard every time you download it, which means that  you don’t have to wait for the next CU to resolve issues with the current HCW.

I recently updated my Exchange 2013 SP1 to CU16 and is about to run the new wizard:

First, I have to enable Exchange Hybrid on the on-prem server.

You will be asked to log in to your O365 tenant.

The wizard will redirect to O365 sign in page.

Once logged in, click on Enable again and a new tab will open with the link to download the HCW.

Download and run the HCW tool.

Below is the launch page of the Office 365 HCW. Click Next to proceed.

The HCW detects the optimal on-prem server to be the Hybrid Server (in this case, its the Ex 2013 server). You can also manually select a server of your choice. Also specify the type of O365 Organization. Click Next.

Next you have to provide your windows and Office 365 tenant credentials. Once done, click Next to proceed.

 

In next stage, the wizard will gather and confirm the configuration information. Once the test is successful, click Next.

The wizard will ask how the hybrid environment has to be configured for mail flow. If your organization uses Edge servers, you may have to select the second option.

Click on the Advanced button to list additional features. You will then see a check box that says ‘Enable centralized mail transport‘, the description also provides information about what this feature does. If you enable this, all your e-mail flow will happen through the on-prem environment. Once the options are selected, click on Next.

Choose the on-prem Exchange server that should host the receive connector for secure mail transport. Click Next.

Now, choose the on-prem Mailbox server that should host the send connector for secure mail transport. Click Next.

Select the transport certificate to be used for secured mail flow trusted by an external CA. Click Next.

Specify your Organization FQDN for mail flow. Click Next.

Make sure your external URL’s are configured on all virtual directories prior to running the HCW. Click Next.

Since, I already have an Exchange 2010 SP3 Hybrid in place the wizard detects the same and asks to update the configuration. Click Update.

The configuration starts as shown below. Click Stop to cancel.

The HCW process completes. If any configurations are pending it will be shown as below. In this case, my endpoint (Exchange 2010 hybrid server) is offline due to which the notification was received.

The server was turned on and DNS records were confirmed. On re-running the HCW, no issues were reported indicating that procedure completed successfully.

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Disable Clutter folder in Office 365

Office 365 has added a new feature called Clutter starting from June 2015. A new folder called Clutter will be available, if you have an Exchange Online mailbox. It performs intelligent email filtering and based on the behavior of an individual, moves low priority mails to this folder.

You can see it as a great feature, at the same time some people feel it is unnecessary. This blog post hence will describe how to disable the clutter folder or de-clutter your inbox.. 🙂

For an individual, this can be achieved through your OWA settings. Once logged into OWA, select Options -> Mail -> Clutter.

If clutter is enabled, you will see the below screen

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You can just un-check the above boxes and save the settings to disable this feature.

A point to be noted, even-though you disable the feature, the clutter folder still remains in your mailbox and all the mails which were previously in this folder will remain there itself. Since you disabled the feature, new mails wont be moved to this folder. 

An administrator can disable a user’s clutter folder through PowerShell as follows:

Set-Clutter -Identity user@domain.com -Enable $false

In order to globally disable the clutter feature, use the below cmdlet [this may consume some time]:

Get-Mailbox | Set-Clutter -Enable $false

Administrators at some point may have to disable this feature for a certain set of people in your organization, based on some parameters or attributes. For example, the Company attribute. In that case you can use the below cmdlets

For simplicity, we can assign all the user mailboxes in Contoso company to a variable and then call the variable and disable clutter.

$contosousers=Get-Recipient -filter {company -eq “Contoso”} | where {$_.recipienttype -eq “usermailbox”}

In the next step, execute

$contosousers | Set-Clutter -Enable $false

This may also take some time depending on the number of mailboxes.

PowerShell commands to connect to Exchange Online

As more and more businesses are moving to Office 365 for email, IM etc managing their respective service lines is a day to day task for an IT Engineer. Similar to managing your environment through the Office 365 portal, admins also use PowerShell for more flexibility every now and then. In order to perform any complex admin tasks on Exchange Online, admins need to connect to their O365 tenant. The below commands can help you achieve the same :

$UserCredential = Get-Credential

Click Enter Key after the above command. You will be asked to supply your O365 tenant credentials.

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$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

Import-PSSession $Session

The modules will be loaded and you will be connected to Exchange Online.

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Step by Step : Migrate to Office 365

As we all know Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud hosting platform which is much popular now. Most of the small business organizations are planning to or have already migrated to Office 365.

The popularity of Office 365 in the small business sector is mainly because its hosted in Microsoft Datacenter in cloud and that your company does not have to spend money on IT and IT support. You can leverage Office 365 to use Exchange Online, Sharepoint Online, Lync online, Office web apps etc..

If you currently have an on-premise Exchange Server, or if you are setting up your infra for the first time the following steps will help you for the same:

  • First purchase the Office 365 subscription of your choice.

You can either use the default domain which Microsoft provides ie, @companyname.onmicrosoft.com or the domain which you have already purchased from any of the registrar’s. Here, I assume you have your own domain in hand.

  • Log in to your Office 365 account with the credentials provided from Microsoft
  • Select Manage Domains from the Admin console

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  • In Manage Domains section, at first you will see the default domain provided by Microsoft ‘@companyname.onmicrosoft.com
  • As we will be adding a new domain to Office 365, select Add Domain tab in the console

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  • There will be a list of steps which needs to be performed for adding the domain as shown below-

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  • You will have to specify the domain name first and then click on Next

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  • Next part is the domain verification process. office 365 will confirm whether you are the owner of the domain or not. For this you will have to create either a TXT record or an MX record on your domain’s DNS. Usually Office 365 will ask to create any of the below records :

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Once you have created either of the records in your domains DNS console, your domain will be verified.

  • Next, you will have to create users for the domain and assign licenses

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  • The next step is to create the DNS records provided by Office 365 in your domain’s DNS. If you are planning to use all the Office 365 services, you will have to create the below records :

 

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Note: It’s always better to keep your old MX records as a backup with low priority and the Exchange Online MX record with higher priority. Make sure you proceed with the domain set up only after creating the relevant records. Office 365 will not proceed if any records are missing.

Once all records are created, click Finish and your domain will be now added to Office 365.

  • Select the new domain under Manage Domains, and select Set as default, to make it the default domain
  • If you have only one license, assign the license to the new user account

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  • Next step is to change the primary email address to the new domain. For this edit the user account and select Primary Email Address.

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  • Assign the new user Administrator privileges so that the new user will also have access to the Admin console. This can be done from the settings of the user account.

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  • Check and confirm that the mail flow

Office 365 also lets you access office apps like MS Word, MS PowerPoint etc as well as OneDrive. You will have to download the app for the same from office 365 console to be installed on your PC.