Archive for Data Management
February has been filled with updates for the entire Office family. Two services have been renamed and enhanced: Office Web Apps is now Office Online; and SkyDrive Pro is now OneDrive for Business. This has also been a big month for security and compliance related updates with improvements to authentication for Office 365 and Yammer, anti-spam and anti-malware enhancements, new email encryption options with S/MIME and Office 365 Message encryption, and new Data Loss Prevention features. Power BI for Office 365 has exited preview and is now ready for all organizations to start visualizing their data. Leave us a comment to let us know what your favorite new feature is. If you missed last month’s updates, see January’s What’s New.
Office 365 Home Premium & Office 365 University updates:
Introducing Office Online – Office Web Apps – Excel, Word PowerPoint, and OneNote – are being renamed Office Online. You still have all of the recent improvements from January and real-time coauthoring, now with a new name.
OneNote Online update – New OneNote.com experience helps you manage your notebooks. The navigation pane has been updated with new visual cues and new columns for both sections and pages.
Office 2013 Service Pack 1 – Office 365 customers are automatically receiving all fixes and enhancements related to SP1.
Office 365 for business updates*:
Introducing Office Online – Office Web Apps – Excel, Word PowerPoint, and OneNote – are being renamed Office Online. You still have all of the recent improvements from January and real-time coauthoring, now with a new name.
OneNote Online update – The navigation pane has been updated with new visual cues and new columns for both sections and pages.
Office 2013 Service Pack 1 – Office 365 customers are automatically receiving all fixes and enhancements related to SP1.
Multi-factor Authentication – Now any users can be required to provide a second level of verification when logging into Office 365. Users can opt to receive a call, SMS, or use a mobile app to verify their identity. Multi-factor authentication adds an additional level of security to prevent unauthorized access to documents and email.
Exchange Online Protection enhancements – Multiple enhancements including: directory-based edge blocking, increased Office 365 domain limit, Message Trace extended for 90 days, improved mail protection reporting, Remote PowerShell for EOP standalone customers, and junk mail reporting for OWA and OWA for devices.
S/MIME encryption now supported – S/MIME standard now supported in Exchange Online across Outlook, OWA, and EAS so that organizations can send and receive S/MIME encrypted and digitally signed email from any compliant device.
Data loss prevention capabilities extended – Two new capabilities help organizations protect sensitive information. First, document fingerprinting lets organizations match and apply polices to documents derived from the same template. Second, Policy Tips are added to OWA so that you can see compliance policies related to your mail before it is sent.
Hierarchical Address Book now available – Organizations can setup the Address Book in Outlook to show an organizational hierarchy, for purposes of helping users navigate the organization.
New start page in the Exchange Admin Center – A new dashboard view provides direct links to the most common administrator tasks and speeds up admin page performance.
OneDrive for Business for iOS – SkyDrive Pro is now OneDrive for Business. The iOS app has been updated to OneDrive for Business and enabled for authenticating with certain SharePoint Server 2013 configurations.
Power BI now generally available – Now available as an add-on service for Office 365 customers or standalone. Power BI for Office 365 is a new service that enables you to search and access data from both internal and external sources, do natural language queries on that data, automatically refresh data, and create and share interactive dashboards.
Lync 2013 desktop client updates – The update adds an on or off option for displaying pictures in the sender/receiver view, adds support for high-res displays with 200% scaling, and adds the ability to transfer files and pictures in a Persistent Chat room.
Lync Mobile update for Android – This update gives you the option to rejoin a meeting or call you recently left or potentially dropped from, and lets you pick up an IM conversation right from where you left it, even if from another device.
Simplified login to Yammer – When Yammer is enabled as the default social experience in Office 365 the service will automatically map Office 365 users to their Yammer accounts. This mean when users click Yammer from the navigation bar they will not to sign-in again.
Updated Yammer App for SharePoint – SharePoint site owners who have installed the Yammer App for SharePoint should install the latest update to ensure continued functionality with SharePoint Online. Yammer App for SharePoint brings Yammer conversations inline to into context of the team site.
Please note that some of the updates may take time to show up in your Office 365 account, because they’re being rolled out to customers worldwide.
– Andy O’Donald @andyodonald
*Not all updates apply to every Office 365 plan; please check the individual post for specifics.
Office Online is more than the new name for the free, browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote that anyone can use on multiple devices. We’ll show you how to collaborate with others in real time and store documents in the cloud (yes, we’ll explain that too) with OneDrive and 7 GB of free storage. We start our Office 15-Minute Webinar at 9:15 am Pacific Time, with a Q&A to follow. Click the link below or go to http://aka.ms/offweb for more information on how to join the series.
If you are on Windows 7 or Windows 8, you will join via the free Lync Web App. For other computers, you may need to call in for audio: 888.320.3585, Conference ID: 84172528.
A video of the webinar will be posted shortly after the webinar. You can add the webinar series to your calendar.
What you will learn at Tuesday’s webinar
- Yes, Office Online is different than Office 365
- Storing docs with OneDrive
- New things with Office Online (templates, anyone?)
- Working on a doc with someone else at the same time
References for this webinar
- Office Online Home Page
- Get started with Office Online (how-to & video)
- Webinar: New Word Online features (blog post and video from November)
- Webinar: New Excel Online features (blog post and video from November)
- OneDrive Home Page
- Sign into OneDrive
- Need more storage space? Check OneDrive Plans
- See OneDrive for Business
With the new availability of Power BI for Office 365, Project users now have the ability to schedule workbook refreshes. For example, set it to update the data early in the day, so that your team can see fresh data instantly. Among the other project management features introduced by Power BI, you will also find the ability to add your workbook to the self-service Q&A to allow querying your data results using natural language.
You can add Power BI for Office 365 to your existing Office 365 subscription, or sign up for a standalone subscription to try it out. To get started, go to your Office 365 admin portal, and in the left column, click Purchase Services, then select the Power BI for Office 365 trial. Et voila, the simplicity of adding a feature to Office 365 at work.
With Power BI for Office 365, you get 25 licenses that you can distribute among your users. To assign licenses, go to your Office 365 portal and on the left column, click Users and groups. Select the user to whom you want to grant Power BI access, and then click the Microsoft Power BI checkboxes. Additionally, select the SharePoint Online Plan 2 license if you did not already grant it to that user via another SKU.
In order to use the full power of Power BI, remember to use Power BI Sites on Power BI for Office 365. (You can find the Power BI app on the Site Contents page.) Fire up Power BI sites, and now you have a great way to find and share workbooks, as well as easy access to all the capabilities in Power BI for Office 365. Learn more details here.
Some new features to interest the data analyst in you
Scheduled data refresh. That’s right, you can have your online workbooks refreshed while you sleep and the reports ready to be consumed by employees as they arrive at the office. No need to wait for the data to refresh anymore. You can configure a data refresh schedule for an Excel 2013 workbook that has a Data Model uploaded to BI Sites. A workbook must have at least one data connection in the Data Model, and not exceed 250MB in size. In addition, a workbook must conform to the list of supported features in the web browser. For more information about the Data Model in Excel, see Create a Data Model in Excel.
Here are things you need to schedule data refresh for a workbook:
- At least Write permissions on the workbook to create a data refresh schedule.
- Access to the external data sources during data refresh.
- Credentials with permission to access those data sources.
- A data source location accessible over a network connection.
- The workbook checked in when the refresh starts. The server places a lock on the workbook at the end of data refresh, when the file is saved, rather than when refresh starts.
- The workbook connects to the external data using Power Pivot– not the Excel client and not Power Query.
Larger workbooks. Use Excel Online in Power BI for Office 365 to view, edit and interact with Excel Workbooks up to 250MB in file size. Note that when a workbook exceeds 30 MB in file size, it must be enabled in order to display in a browser window with Excel Online. More information on file size limits in SharePoint Online with Power BI for Office 365 can be found here.
Ask questions of your data in natural language. With the Q&A features, people can type questions they have of the data in natural language and the system will interpret the question and present answers in the form of interactive visualizations.
After enabling your reports for Q&A integration, click the Q&A search link on the top right.
Now you can use natural language to create your own search queries, and the system will always repeat what you wrote in a simple sentence that can help you make sure you are doing the right search and learning the correct syntax. Your best searches can be saved as Featured Questions and available for everyone to use. Create your graphs interactively with a few words.
Stay connected with mobile access to your reports. With the new HTML5 support and the Power BI Windows app, you can stay connected from anywhere with new HTML5 support and the Power BI Windows app.
More about Power BI
Every year at the National Retail Federation (NRF) convention, a lot of attention is focused on the retail store associate, who is the face of the retail experience for many of us. Retail store associates are the friendly people who welcome you as you enter the store, help you find what you need, and answer your questions tirelessly all day long. For them, customer service comes first.
Because of their customer-facing positions, retail store associates play a critical role in the retail business. Highly effective retail store associates assume that every customer who walks into the store is there to buy something. They work hard to build relationships so they can understand customers’ specific needs and match them to the products they wish to purchase. Store associates put service first and constantly listen to customers’ suggestions to help with planning and to increase sales.
With a business that is highly seasonal and built upon customer relationships, retail organizations are constantly searching for ways to help store associates perform their jobs more effectively. They are looking for better ways to integrate store associates into the rest of the organization without compromising the productivity and efficiency of the operation. For such organizations, Microsoft Office 365 offers the choice and flexibility to help them seamlessly integrate people who perform a variety of different roles into their core business.
Headquarter and store employees can use the capabilities in Office 365 enterprise plans, including the Office applications, to build business strategies and plans, perform in-depth data analyses, and draw insights from the data. Office 365 kiosk plans and Yammer enterprise are very effective for store associates. They can use capabilities in Yammer Enterprise to quickly share expertise and best practices with associates in other stores or teams at corporate headquarters. With Office 365 kiosk plans, they can use mobile devices to quickly review Office documents with full fidelity of their files.
The infographic below shows how a store associate is more effective using Office 365 and Yammer Enterprise versus Google Apps. Check it out for yourself!
Click here to download the infographic.
Mark Kashman (@mkashman) is a senior product manager on the SharePoint marketing team.
SkyDrive Pro is now OneDrive for Business. And with this change, we’re introducing the most recent update, OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2.
We introduced SkyDrive Pro for iOS v1.0 in June 2013 and SkyDrive Pro for iOS v1.1 in October 2013. OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2 delivers on our promise to continue bringing you innovation that fuels your productivity.
OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2 does more than simply introduce the new branding for OneDrive for Business, replacing SkyDrive Pro branding. It enables a broader range of customers to connect to their OneDrive for Business content—by making it accessible to SharePoint Online dedicated customers and some on-premises configurations. We’ve also fine-tuned the OneDrive for Business for iOS app to run better on iOS 7.
Let’s see how it works.
The iOS app gets the new OneDrive for Business branding
The new OneDrive for Business branding, already on our revamped OneDrive for Business website, is starting to land in the various platform apps. The OneDrive for Business for iOS app is one of the first out of the gate, in addition to the OneDrive for Business for the Windows Store, with all other platforms—including the web interface in Office 365—coming soon.
The OneDrive for Business for iOS app login screen.
The main screen for working with files in your OneDrive for Business for iOS app.
OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2 now supports SharePoint Online dedicated customers
Previous versions of OneDrive for Business for iOS focused on connecting to the multi-tenant environment of Office 365. Office 365 for dedicated systems are separate from the multi-tenant infrastructure and use both Windows NT LAN Manager (NTLM) and forms-based authentication (FBA) protocols. Now, with v1.2, SharePoint Online dedicated customers can download the iOS app from the App Store and seamlessly connect to their personal OneDrive for Business files and folders.
Support of common on-premises authentication configurations
If your SharePoint 2013 on-premises server is configured using NTLM (including Windows Claims) or FBA authentication for sign-in, then you will be able to configure your environment to be available to the OneDrive for Business for iOS app. These authentication types are additive to what was previously supported in previous versions – the Office 365 Org-ID (with or without federated ADFS).
Soon, we’ll be publishing configuration documentation to TechNet that further explains the supported authentication types and configurations methods. We’ll update this post once the article is live.
Please review the full OneDrive for Business for iOS authentication matrix.
The user authentication process for NTLM.
The user authentication process for FBA.
Learn more about NTLM and FBA on TechNet.
Improved iOS 7 support
We continue to refine the experience on the iOS platform as iOS updates roll out. Many of the improvements have been made in the user interface and performance. For example, we made the look and feel more consistent, we improved the user experience based on user feedback, we redesigned the toolbar layout, and we refreshed the app, share, and offline icons to more align with the iOS design patterns.
What do you want to see next from OneDrive for Business for iOS? Let us know in the comments section below, after you play with the latest version. Help shape the future of file, sync, share.
Q: Which Office 365 multi-tenant plans can use the OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2 app?
A: The OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2 app is designed for Office 365 for business users who have usage rights to OneDrive for Business. Specifically, these plans are: Office 365 Small Business (P1), Office 365 Small Business Premium (P2), Office 365 Midsize Business, Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, and E4, Office 365 Education A2, A3, and A4, and Office 365 government G1, G3, and G4. Please note that Kiosk users and external users do not have usage rights for OneDrive for Business personal storage.
Q. Does this announcement apply to Office 365 dedicated subscribers?
A. Yes. The OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2 app does support Office 365 dedicated plans.
Q. Does this announcement apply to customers who have deployed SharePoint 2013 on-premises?
A. Yes. The OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2 app does support some SharePoint on-premises configurations (NTLM & FBA). We are committed to providing customers access to their OneDrive for Business in SharePoint 2013 on-premises. We also recently introduced new capabilities in SharePoint 2013 SP1 to more seamlessly connect on-premises investments to OneDrive for Business in Office 365. More information to be shared at SharePoint Conference 2014 (March 3-6 in Las, Vegas); we will link to the relevant information once it has been posted next week.
Q. Does this announcement apply to Office 365 Home Premium subscribers?
A. No. OneDrive for Business is not the same as OneDrive. The “for Business” is based on SharePoint, enterprise-grade content management. Thus, this article does not apply to Office 365 Home Premium, which combines the latest Office applications with 20 GB of OneDrive storage, which can then be accessed via the OneDrive for iOS app.
Q. If I already have the SkyDrive Pro for iOS v1.1 app installed, do I need to uninstall it first?
A. No. Users will get a standard update notification and OneDrive for Business for iOS v1.2 will install (overwrite) the previous SkyDrive Pro for iOS v1.1. In fact, on iOS 7 the default setting is to auto-update apps when new updates are available, so for many users this will happen in the background.
Q. Does the OneDrive for Business for iOS app support multi-factor authentication (MFA)?
A. The OneDrive for Business for iOS app does support App passwords. If the user knows ahead of time that they need to request an app password, they then can use it to login instead of their original user name and password combination.
Q. What is OneDrive for Business?
A. OneDrive for Business is personal cloud storage for the employees of organizations. With OneDrive for Business, you can upload, browse, and share files across all of your devices, including accessing your most recently used files. And you get all of the security and tools that SharePoint Online offers to help you be more productive at work. To learn more, please visit the new OneDrive for Business website.
Recently, we published a blog post that outlines how strongly committed we are to protecting our customers’ information. A key aspect of our strategy is to expand encryption across all our services. Earlier this month, we announced Office 365 Message Encryption, a new service that allows you to send encrypted mail to anyone. As part of our ongoing focus on encryption, we announced yesterday that we’re bringing S/MIME capability to Office 365 and Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1. With this release, customers will have S/MIME support across Outlook, Outlook Web Access (OWA), and Exchange ActiveSync clients. S/MIME for Outlook and EAS is already available on Exchange Online and S/MIME on OWA is being rolled out and is expected to be completed by early April.
S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) is a standard for public key encryption and digital signing of MIME data, and it is defined in a number of Requests for Comments (RFCs): 3369, 3370, 3850, and 3851. S/MIME allows a user to: (1) encrypt an email and (2) digitally sign an email, and thus provides cryptographic security services such as authentication, message integrity, and non-repudiation of origin (using digital signatures). It also helps enhance privacy and data security (using encryption) for electronic messaging. You can learn more about S/MIME in this technet article.
After S/MIME is enabled, customers who have a hybrid setup of Exchange Online and on-premises Exchange Server 2013 can have their online and on-premises users send S/MIME emails to one another. This means that online and on-premises users will be able to:
- Compose, send, receive, encrypt, and decrypt S/MIME-encrypted email via Outlook, OWA, and Exchange Active Sync (EAS) clients that support S/MIME.
- Send and receive digitally signed email via Outlook, OWA, and EAS clients.
Let’s look at how this works in OWA.
Using S/MIME in OWA
In OWA, users can choose different options to encrypt the message and/or digitally sign it using S/MIME.
You can select the S/MIME options to encrypt or digitally sign the message when you send a message in OWA.
When a digitally signed S/MIME mail is sent, the receiver sees the valid digital signature on the received message.
When you receive a digitally signed and encrypted S/MIME email, the digital signature is displayed on the message.
Users are also able to select and make changes to their S/MIME settings in OWA.
In OWA, to change your S/MIME settings, click the down arrow next to your name and select S/MIME settings.
You can choose to encrypt all the messages you send or digitally sign all messages with S/MIME. In addition, the S/MIME settings page provides a link so you can reinstall S/MIME control directly through OWA.
On the S/MIME settings page in OWA, you can change your settings and reinstall S/MIME.
Online scenarios, a new OWA control, and options for administrators
For online scenarios, DirSync is used to synchronize certificates from on-premises to the Exchange Online Active Directory. When DirSync is used, certificates are pushed from the on-premises Active Directory to Azure Active Directory. Microsoft Exchange then syncs the user certificates from Active Azure Directory to Exchange Online Active Directory. Additionally, we’re introducing a new OWA control that helps in creating and consuming S/MIME mails.
We’re also including options for administrators to manage OWA/SMIME behavior by using PowerShell commands for both Exchange Online and Exchange Server 2013 SP1. In the past, these settings were managed by registry keys on individual clients.
Admins can now use PowerShell to manage OWA/SMIME behavior.
We’re excited to bring S/MIME to Office 365 and Exchange Server 2013 for you as we continue to invest heavily in encryption technologies to help secure your data.
Frequently asked questions
Q. What are the technical requirements for using S/MIME?
A: In order to use S/MIME, you must meet following technical requirements:
- Set up a Certificate Authority (CA) to issue certificates for users on-premises for S/MIME purposes.
- Publish the user certificate in an on-premises Active Directory account in the UserSMIMECertificate and/or UserCertificate attributes.
- Use an appropriate version of DirSync to synchronize certificates from on-premises Active Directory to Azure Active Directory. These certificates will then get synchronized from Azure Active Directory to Exchange Online directory and will be used when encrypting a message to a recipient.
- IT administrators need to configure their tenant in Exchange Online with certificate information, including information about about the CA who issues their signed certificates and any intermediate certificates. This information is used by OWA when validating the signature of an email and ensuring that it was signed by a trusted certificate.
Q: How is S/MIME different from Office 365 Message Encryption?
A: S/MIME requires a certificate and publishing infrastructure that is often used in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) scenarios. It is also a requirement for certain government business cases. The user controls the keys in S/MIME. Outlook searches the local client machine (trusted root CA store) to perform digital signing and verification of the signature.
Office 365 Message Encryption is a policy-based encryption service that can be configured and enforced by an administrator to encrypt mail sent to anyone inside or outside of the organization. Office 365 Message Encryption also provides additional capabilities, such as the capability to customize the mail with organization’s brand.
Q. How does S/MIME work across different browsers?
A: S/MIME is supported by Internet Explorer 9 and above. Currently S/MIME is unsupported for Firefox, Opera, or Chrome.
Today’s post was written by Captain Mike Meade, Chief Executive Officer, M3 Marine Group.
As a DP Master Mariner, I worked at sea for many years before gaining experience in the marine brokerage and consultancy side of the marine business, where I dealt with major oil companies and offshore marine and engineering service providers. When I founded M3 Marine Group in Singapore in 2005, it was just me and a laptop. But I was lucky: that year there was a distinct uptick in marine services. Today, M3 Marine is a US$7 million annual turnover marine consultancy and broker business with 30 employees.
My vision for M3 Marine is to expand our Asian-centric operations and grow the business into a global company. To achieve this goal, I needed business productivity tools that would amplify the core competencies of the brokerage and consultancy sides of the business. Staff at M3 Marine travel frequently across Indonesia, China, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia. So in order to provide expedient service as we expand our operations, we need communication and collaboration tools that work on our laptops and mobile devices across any time zone.
I learned about cloud-based IT services a few years ago, and I wanted to go that route to save money and reduce servers in the office. This turned out to be a bit of a journey because our original IT provider wasn’t interested. We used Google for a while, but we didn’t like the interface and it didn’t do what we wanted. We tried a ship broker’s proprietary database and messaging service, but it was a nightmare. Then, in 2012, I went to a luncheon hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce Small Business Group. I met our current IT provider, eVantage Technology, who talked about Microsoft Office 365. It’s an easy-to-use, enterprise-quality tool that doesn’t force you to learn anything new. We get the familiar Office programs and all the reliable messaging, calendaring, and collaboration tools that we’ll need to grow the business.
I run two sides of the business, each with its own office, so I’m always moving around. Office 365 supports the way I like to work: at home, in a coffee shop, attending meetings in our Singapore offices, or meeting with customers in another country. No matter what device I use, I can access information when I want, where I want. Our brokers can create better deals for customers now that they have better access to historical data in archived emails, and our consultants can expedite report development by collaborating on the same document simultaneously, even if they’re working in different countries.
I was at a business lunch a few weeks ago and, after the speaker finished, we sat around the table and talked about Office 365. People expressed concerns about connectivity and security. I told everyone that I had no worries on that score, that the data in my archived Outlook files is more secure with Microsoft than it ever was sitting in our office. I’m confident that we have the business tools to create a cohesive, global network of employees working together to grow M3 Marine into a worldwide business.
For more on M3′s move to Office 365, read the full case study.
Today we’ve released Service Pack 1 (SP1) for the 2013 set of Office products including Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Exchange Server 2013. SP1 delivers greater stability, expanded functionality, security enhancements and improved compatibility with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Office 2013 customers will begin to get notifications of SP1 availability through Windows Update within the next 30 days. Exchange Server 2013 and SharePoint 2013 customers can download SP1 at the Microsoft download center. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, you are always on the most up-to-date version of Office products so you are all set! To learn more about what’s included in SP1, you can check out the Office Sustained Engineering blog and the Exchange Engineering blog.
Network diagrams visually represent a network’s communication flow. Visio 2013 Professional can help IT administrators to create network diagrams so people can understand the complexity of the existing network and see which areas might become problematic in the future.
Participants will learn how to use a variety of networking templates to document their network topology. Learn how to import and link shapes to external networking data and create data reports, data graphics, and legends. This Session would be beneficial for anyone in IT who uses or would like to learn how to use Visio 2013 Professional to visualize IT network topology data and take advantage of the new features to help maximize your productivity and share diagrams across the enterprise utilizing SharePoint and Visio services.
Register now, attend, and fill out the evaluation for a chance to receive a fully functioning perpetual copy of Visio 2013 Professional!
Presenter: Matt Roderman – Tips & Techniques L.L.C
To view the complete Visio Webcast agenda, go to aka.ms/VisioWebcastSeries
Hurricane Sandy provides the catalyst for improved communications at Community Healthcare Network
It was an October like any other … until the hurricane hit. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms in US history, hit the entire eastern seaboard, and the greater New York City area was affected particularly hard. Streets and subway lines flooded, millions of citizens were without electricity, and more than 80 people died in New York and New Jersey alone.
Fire, police, and emergency medical personnel were called upon for help. As one of those first responders, Community Healthcare Network (CHN)—a not-for-profit organization that treats more than 75,000 members of underserved, vulnerable populations throughout New York City each year—needed to spring into action, not just to handle its regular case load but also to stay in constant contact with government organizations so that together they could help victims throughout the storm. Because CHN provides everything from mental health care and social services to primary and dental care, it was critical that the organization stay poised to respond to patients in need.
The Eye of the Hurricane
CHN administrators typically rely on email to broadcast information to clinicians and support staff at its 12 health centers about staffing, operating hours, and emergency procedures. But Sandy wreaked havoc on the organization’s email servers. “We lost power on Sunday and spent a couple of days completely out of our comfort zone without email—we depend on it as our most business-critical communication channel,” recalls Catherine Abate, CHN’s President and CEO. “With multiple staff members calling multiple locations to deliver messages, our senior executive team worried that the integrity of the information was getting lost in translation. We didn’t want to confuse our patients or our staff. We also weren’t as available to our emergency service partners as we’d like to be.”
A Safety Net
By that Wednesday, CHN’s IT team had developed a plan. “We were able to quickly restore email capabilities by leveraging Microsoft Office 365,” explains CHN’s Assistant Vice President of Technology, Jason Pomaski. Of course, this leap to cloud computing for CHN wasn’t out of the blue, according to Pomaski.
“We had been considering a move to the cloud for quite some time for disaster recovery and business continuity, but the key with Office 365 is that it enables us to be HIPAA compliant, which is critical for us as a healthcare organization.”
With email capabilities at the ready, CHN executives and members of its Emergency Management Committee could give clear instructions and stay available to other emergency service providers. “We had no real learning curve—Office 365 was easy to grasp and use from iOS, Android, and Windows phones and laptops, so we could get right to work coordinating efforts to serve patients,” says Pomaski.
The Calm After the Storm
Following the hurricane, CHN could have returned to business as usual, but the organization’s experience with Office 365 spurred it to move forward with a full-scale adoption, not just for email but for a range of other capabilities, including web conferencing, sharing and syncing documents in the cloud, and presence functionality, which displays each individual’s level of availability, making it easy for anyone in the CHN system to instantly find a colleague and use the best method to reach that person. “Now, if disaster strikes, we have powerful communication options,” says CHN’s Vice President of Administration, Chris Quiñones. “Even during regular circumstances, we can be more connected while still protecting patient information.
For example, our community outreach coordinators immediately save a record of each patient interaction to Office 365, so those records are available right away to clinicians who need them.”
Adds Dr. Gregory Taddeo, Director of Dentistry at CHN, “I appreciate all the tools that I have at my fingertips for communicating with reporting dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants, all of whom are spread across several locations. I use Office 365 for videoconferencing with them, and I look forward to using it from my Windows Phone, which will add to my flexibility.”
CHN is taking further steps to improve its already excellent standard of care. “Using Office 365 significantly reduces our capital expenses, so we can buy better clinical equipment and improve patient facilities,” says Quiñones. “Plus, we are taking advantage of federation with other healthcare organizations, giving us seamless communication and collaboration that enhances patient care.”
For example, CHN care managers in the Health Homes Program act as the central point for directing care, which may be provided through several outside services. Care managers use federated Office 365 capabilities to send encrypted emails and securely share patient data for consistent, coordinated care.
The goal of CHN is to help patients get well and then keep them healthy, regardless of obstacles. Everybody at CHN hopes that they never experience a storm like Hurricane Sandy again, but if they do, they’re ready. “We believe that using advanced communication technology such as Office 365 puts us in a position to continue to serve our community with excellence, not just during emergencies but during day-to-day business,” says Pomaski.
The Technologies Involved
CHN uses a number of Office 365 products to help the organization support its variety of employees and the populations they serve. The organization’s email capabilities come from Microsoft Exchange Online, staff and providers conduct web conferencing through Microsoft Lync Online, and they share, sync, and collaborate on documents using Microsoft OneDrive for Business.
Visit the Microsoft news center to read the CHN Office 365 news release.