BPOS 2010 aka Wave 14


BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), Microsoft’s Online Services offering has been somewhat successful over the last year or so, but it is about to become a much more robust platform. Over the next few months the “Wave 14” rollout will begin, with an aim to being completed by the end of 2010.

The biggest update is that the products will match the versions that are available to purchase “on-site”. That is, BPOS will offer Exchange 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 with near feature parity; removing one of the biggest hurdles to BPOS adoption…at least in my experience.

However, there are a number of other additions and improvements coming…

Identity and authentication has been an issue for many people, as this whole area is quite clunky & “un-modern”. As Program Manager Dan Kershaw says:

“the password policy isn’t configurable, you can’t use the same credentials used inside the company for single sign-on with BPOS so admins have to maintain separate credentials, there’s no two-factor authentication and no role-based administration”.

The fact that Microsoft recognise these limitations is great as that means they’re also working on fixes. The update will bring:

  • Password Policy controls
  • Five admin roles
  • Federated ID’s w/ 2 factor authentication for single sign-on
  • New Admin Console
  • Service connector for managing Pcs & apps.

 

Powershell is definitely the way forward for 21st century system admins and, while it can be used for certain things with the current iteration of BPOS, more is coming soon.

I covered off some of the new features of Sharepoint Online 2010 in this post but now there is more information on what’s coming for Office Communications Online (OCO) over the next year.

Currently OCO gives IM and presence, along with peer to peer video, only within the customer’s domain. One of it’s biggest limitations is the inability to “federate” with on-premise OCS servers…this slightly puzzling block will be removed with Wave 14.

It’s said there will be “full integration” with Exchange & Sharepoint, both on-site and online.

This will lead to:

  • using the calendars on Exchange/Sharepoint to determine someone’s IM availability
  • voicemail in Exchange Online
  • IM functionality in OWA 2010.

One of the biggest questions people have is whether Office Comms Online will have VOIP/Voice capabilities.

"it might be more than a year later," says Ziv Fass, Senior Product Manager in the OCS team "but it won’t be years".

From a reseller AND a customer point of view, the updated versions of Microsoft’s Online Services will be a real benefit to us all.

MS BPOS Connectivity Test


The Microsoft Online (BPOS) team have released an excellent tool, which measures the upload/download speeds of your connection to show how it would fare with using BPOS services.

This tests the speed of your connection:

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This looks at the routes:

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This analyses the capacity:

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Details:

This tool helps you understand the quality of the Internet connection between your environment and Microsoft Online Services. It does not measure your environment compatibility with Microsoft Online Services. The tool performs three tests:

  • Speed: This test measures your actual download and upload speeds, quality of data, and TCP efficiency. It uses TCP/20000 for download testing and TCP/20001 for upload testing.
  • Route: This test validates your connection quality, including packet loss, latency, round trip, and ISP peering points. It uses Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP).
  • Capacity: This test measures your potential maximum download and upload speeds. It uses UDP/8090.

 

Thoughts:

Potentially this is going to be very useful when speaking to customers about BPOS, as one of the big worries that many people have is there connection not being good enough. They worry that suddenly throwing all their internal email, as well as Sharepoint uploads/downloads could be too much for their existing networks; this could be an easy way of showing exactly what it can and can’t handle. The reason I say “potentially” and “could” is this:

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The results seem to be aimed solely at VOIP traffic for using Office Communications Online (OCO). However, it still shows them that their bandwidth etc is, so it’s definitely useful but it would be nice if it had a separate answer for each of the products.

That said, the above does point towards something else…currently OCO only contains the Presence and Instant Message (IM) features. I’ve heard on the grapevine that VOIP calls will be coming to OCO but this is the first definite sign that this is underway 🙂

Being able to use Office Comms Online for Voice calls will be a huge selling point for customers as the on-site version (Office Communications Server (OCS)) can be quite tricky to install and get running correctly. Normally I’d guess we’ll see this in the US first and not here for a while but the URL for this tool is:

http://speedtest.emea.microsoftonline.com/

Note the EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) part…looks like we’ll be getting it pretty soon too…I’ll see what further info I can find out from MS 😉

As Paul from Worktivity points out in the comments, if you’re outside of EMEA the links you need are:

For the APAC region: http://speedtest.apac.microsoftonline.com/
For America’s region: http://speedtest.microsoftonline.com/

Thanks to @worktivity who’s tweet alerted me to this…

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