The Best Unknown Add-on for Office 365

MS Office 365Microsoft Office 365, from the entry level Exchange Online plans through the Business and Enterprise plans, includes a robust infrastructure for spam/virus protection. As we have blogged about on numerous occasions, cyber attacks continue to get more sophisticated and are using social engineering to trick and trap more people than ever.

Advanced Threat Protection

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), a little know add-on for Exchange Online and Office 365, offers additional protection against cyber attacks. Using a secure “sandbox”, ATP tests and validates links within email messages and tests attachments for malware and other threats before the message makes it to your inbox. With minimal latency, ATP can block messages or strip them of the offending item(s).

With the increasing threats of ransomware and identity theft, ATP is well worth the nominal per user fee.

If you want to add ATP to your ecosystem, please contact us.


All Cloud Computing SLAs are Not Equal

SLA’s, or Service Level Agreements, establish provider commitments for service performance, availability, and reliability.  When considering online services, understanding the SLA can make a world of difference.

For Google Apps Premier and Education Editions, Google offers a 99.9% availability SLA for the core services.  This is based on an expectation of no downtime at all, not even for scheduled maintenance.

For Microsoft’s Exchange Online service, the 99.9% availability SLA seems comparable, but it only covers downtime outside of scheduled maintenance windows.

The difference is important since scheduled maintenance can still impact your business.

So far in August 2010, there have been two (2) scheduled maintenance windows on Saturdays, running from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM EDT.   These maintenance windows easily impact businesses that operate on Saturday, as the windows extend through the morning until mid-afternoon.  And yet, they do not count against the SLAs as they were “scheduled”.

A quick check of  Microsoft’s Online Service Notification feed indicates at least six (6) unscheduled outages Exchange Online over the first 23 days in August.  While outages do count towards the SLAs and may result in credits, having a more reliable service is preferred.