The new Office Garage Series: Get your Office tenant on, FastTrack deployment of the new service

Episode 4 out of a 6 part special filmed in New Orleans, host Jeremy Chapman is joined by Office 365 Principal Service Engineer, Keith Laborde, to explain the latest FastTrack onboarding approach and demonstrate the new IDFix tool to help prepare for Single Sign On with Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS). With an emphasis on getting up and running quickly, then adding integration along the way, Jeremy and Keith will walk through the FastTrack approach and tools. Jeremy will also hit the streets of the Big Easy as he determines if it’s faster to set up a demo environment with 100 users in Office 365 or on a local install of Exchange 2013. 

Jeremy: In our last show we covered the very latest in data protection with eDiscovery and Data Loss Prevention across Cloud and Hybrid environments using SharePoint and Exchange. On this show we look at the newly-minted FastTrack process for getting started with Office 365. We just launched the experience to help.

Keith: That’s right. As part of the transition to services, the IT department can get caught in the middle. Some people have gotten used to Exchange migrations and getting to the desired end state before the service is even turned on. With Office 365, we saw a lot of people trying to deploy it almost like on premises software with all the hooks into Active Directory, local authentication services and hybrid configurations of Exchange running.

Jeremy: And the desire to get all of that integration running before you turn on the service would sometimes mean it might take several weeks to get started.

Keith: Exactly. So we wanted to build an approach that got Office 365 pilots up and running in a matter of hours, then layered in integration later. The FastTrack approach we developed has three phases:

1. Pilot,
2. Deploy, and
3. Enhance.

Each phase builds on the previous one, so you don’t lose time configuring anything throwaway and you can experience Office 365 as you go.

The Pilot phase is really about signing up for an Office 365 trial account, setting up your pilot domain, adding users, connecting email accounts and setting up a team collaboration site for the pilot itself. The cool thing is that the site is actually pre-populated with training contents to help you prepare pilot users and run the pilot. This can take less than an hour to set up.

The Deploy phase is really about transitioning to a production service. Here you convert your trial tenant into a production tenant, set up your real domain (no longer using the default [companyname] URL) including password synchronization, and start adding more users. At this point, you can also deploy Office 365 ProPlus desktop applications and build out SharePoint site collections and groups for the larger number of users. Everyone in the organization can start using Office 365 with their PCs, Macs and mobile devices. The Deploy phase will typically take a few days to set up.

The final phase is Enhance and this is where the higher end integration work is performed. In this phase, you can set up a single sign on experience with ADFS. You can also set up a hybrid architecture with on premises and online Exchange services, configure Exchange Online Protection and customize SharePoint services.

Jeremy: In the Deploy phase, you would configure Directory Synchronization manage user accounts. And Keith, you demonstrated a new tool called IDFix to help speed up the process. That tool helps identify any potential issues with Active Directory attributes and suggest ways to fix them.

Keith: And importantly you can also perform remediation as required to prepare your directory services and in cases where you may want to back out of any changes, IDFix has a way to revert changes at the object level. This tool should save a lot of time when integrating on premises Active Directory with Office 365 user account management.

Jeremy: We also took to the streets of New Orleans as Alistair Speirs and I tried to find out if setting up an Office 365 trial with 100 user accounts could be faster than building an Exchange 2013 demo environment. You’ll have to check out the video to see how that turned out.

On our next show, we’ll take a look at how all of the Office pieces are integrated together and I will head out to the Louisiana Bayou to test whether Office 365 can keep me productive even in the most dangerous and off-the-beaten-path settings.

We’ll see you then!

Jeremy and Keith

More resources

FastTrack Deployment Resources for Office 365

IDFix Tool Download

Garage Series Video Channel

Garage Series Season 1 Blog Archive

Follow @OfficeGarage on Twitter

About the Garage Series hosts

By day, Jeremy Chapman works at Microsoft, responsible for optimizing the future of Office client and service delivery as the senior deployment lead. Jeremy’s background in application compatibility, building deployment automation tools and infrastructure reference architectures has been fundamental to the prioritization of new Office enterprise features such as the latest Click-to-Run install. By night, he is a car modding fanatic and serial linguist. Keith Laborde is a Principal Service Engineering Manager at Microsoft and is responsible for the Office 365 Customer Onboarding experience. Keith’s background in cloud deployments and services architecture has been fundamental in engineering improvements such as FastTrack.  In the off hours, Keith enjoys a variety of music from Blues to Zydeco (and everything in between) and staying close to his south Louisiana heritage by cooking his favorite Cajun dishes for friends and family.