Microsoft last week made some significant announcements at WPC 2014 around its Office365 product line that make it appealing to many more organizations. Over the last few months, Centrify has delivered several key enhancements to Centrify for Office365 – an IDaaS solution that has been adopted by many Office365 customers & partners, and is gaining rapid traction. Given its strong momentum with Office365 solutions and a strategic partnership with Microsoft, Centrify has been invited to participate and showcase its products today and Friday at MGX – Microsoft Global Exchange, the annual conference for Microsoft sales employees. Visit us at booth # 226 if you are at MGX this week.
Through this blog post, I want to provide more color and a perspective on Microsoft and Centrify’s updates with Office365, what that means for customers, and close with thoughts from a mutual customer.
Over the past week, Microsoft executives met with their partners from around the world in Washington, D.C., at its Worldwide Partner Conference (aka WPC 2014). Below is a round-up of the key news items that Microsoft announced last week related to Office365:
- Three new Office 365 plans are now available for small and medium-sized businesses.
- Increased Public Folder limits in Office 365 by tenfold – from 10,000 to 100,000.
- Yammer Enterprise has been added to Office 365 Midsize Business and Education plans, to improve collaboration for those customers.
So what do these announcements mean if you are an Office365 customer or an organization considering Office365?
The good news is that the changes are all positive. With the new plans, Office365 is now more affordable, more flexible, and provides more value – especially for businesses with up to 250 employees. For existing SMB customers of Office 365 – you will have your subscription somewhat upgraded at no extra cost. For businesses with Office 365 “Midsized Business” subscriptions, the news is even better – you’re about to realize a significant price reduction.
Centrify also recently announced enhancements to make its Active Directory SSO, User & App provisioning integration much more compelling for Office365 customers. What does this mean for organizations looking to deploy and adopt Office365? Let me break it down:
#1 Fast Track your Office365 deployment with simple AD federation – If you’re an organization that is going to rely on and make on-premises Active Directory identities as the “single source of truth” versus “password syncing” them to Azure AD identities, then ADFS has been the only choice so far. Centrify provides an easier alternative with instantly being able to connect on-premises Active Directory to Office365 without a long wait to pilot Office365 and then deploy AD federation. The result is all your users can begin using Office365 within a matter of a few hours with their existing AD credentials = faster Single Sign-On (SSO) to Office365.
#2 Centrify runs on Microsoft Azure and is a strong Microsoft partner – Centrify for Office 365 is a Microsoft-validated, Azure cloud service – meaning Centrify is “on strategy” with Microsoft and its Office365 customers by being aligned and delivering an IDaaS (Identity as a Service) that runs on Microsoft Azure – the same platform which Office365 runs on. In addition, Centrify is a Gold Certified Partner and has also passed Microsoft’s rigorous program for being validated as a “Works with Office 365” partner.
#3 Provisioning Office365 users from Active Directory without DirSync – To attain complete AD based federation to Office365, customers don’t need to setup DirSync for provisioning. Centrify’s cloud service automatically synchronizes Active Directory contacts and distribution lists to Office 365, provides account provisioning, and automatically assigns user licenses without the complexity and limitations of DirSync. Again, Centrify delivers this with the power and simplicity of an Azure-based cloud tool versus an on-premises tool like DirSync. So you are still in good hands with a Microsoft powered tool from Centrify.
#4 Integrated mobile app & device management for Office Mobile apps – Centrify provides a nice way to do full user & app lifecycle management for the mobile apps of Office365. That means when new users are added to Active Directory, all their corporate enrolled mobile devices instantly get provisioned with the Office Mobile, Lync, OneNote and OneDrive apps = automatic installation of Office mobile apps. This rounds out the feature of automated addition of new user accounts in the Office365 cloud service itself (mentioned in point #3 above). Additionally, many self-service and IT managed enterprise mobile device management (EMM) features are available as part of this Centrify service.
#5 SSO to 2500+ SaaS apps using your Active Directory credentials – Centrify provides a rich catalog of pre-integrated cloud apps. Using the personalized Centrify User Portal, users can simply log in once with their AD credential and then point, click and launch all their SaaS, mobile and on-prem apps (like Docusign, Concur, Box, etc.) without having to remember their username and password for each app.
But seeing is believing, so see and hear for yourself from Morehouse College, an Office365 customer on why they adopted Centrify to make Office365 deployed quickly across desktop, Mac and mobile device users.
To summarize, Centrify can truly fast track your deployment of Office 365 without the hassles and delays of traditional AD federation, combined with the added value of integrated mobile management features – all from one vendor. Like Morehouse College, hundreds of Office365 customers are realizing that no other SSO vendor nor Microsoft solves their complete Office365 lifecycle needs around AD based SSO, user provisioning & Office mobile app management — they are choosing Centrify which is a trusted partner aligned with Microsoft. Centrify is the Active Directory expert, helping 5000+ organizations over the past 10 years to centrally secure and manage more than one million server, application and endpoint resources.
I welcome your feedback and thoughts – if you’re an Office365 sales or partner specialist, stop by our booth #226 at MGX in Atlanta this week!