May 28, 2020

Merging Microsoft Teams using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

In this article, we will show how we merge different Microsoft Teams which till now is not possible. You got to know it first from us!

So if you have been using Microsoft Team or have been an administrator of Microsoft Teams, it is pretty much well known that two different Teams cannot be merged.

There have been various discussions, technical resource articles, and Microsoft Community questions. However, the answer is consistently the same- it is not possible as of today and we need to wait for Microsoft to provide a solution in the near future.

Well folks, the wait is over. Our flagship product – TeamsHub by Cyclotron now makes the impossible possible.

It is as easy as selecting the Team you want to migrate aka the “source” and moving it to the intended Team aka the destination. We also provide two flavors to merge – you can merge it this very instant or you can schedule a time for this merge to happen – say over the weekend.

All the data, channels and artifacts such as permissions, guest members are carried over to the merged Team.

In addition to this awesome feature, check out TeamsHub by Cyclotron for more which is a unified platform providing ease of administration and governance, employee engagement and adoption and training using expert video instructions and help center for Microsoft 365 workloads such as SharePoint, OneDrive and Outlook in addition to Teams

For more information or to schedule a demo please reach out to sales@cyclotrongroup.com

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April 29, 2020

Automate Site Provisioning with Dynamic Forms using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

Introduction

Dynamic request forms offer a robust team creation process that enhances governance and accountability for Microsoft Teams using TeamsHub by Cyclotron. In dynamic forms, the number of columns is not fixed but changes during runtime. By offering flexibility to vary columns, dynamic forms streamline data gathering, and storing. In this article we will see how to automate dynamic forms using TeamsHub by Cyclotron.

Automate dynamic forms in TeamsHub by Cyclotron, to allow capture team profile data as they come in. Before a team starts to function, the user submits a form so that administrator gets all vital details for verification. Also, users can submit team requests in various situations. For example – launching a new project, updating a project, commencing a new task, adding a new work scope, etc.

In TeamsHub by Cyclotron, administrators can create completely customizable dynamic forms without writing a line of code. Isn’t that great! They can modify the form template whenever they want as per organizational needs.

Let’s explore the benefits and technicalities of dynamic forms offered by TeamsHub by Cyclotron in the next few sections.

How Dynamic Forms Help

  • Firstly, dynamic forms help in process and workflow management.
  • Secondly, a dynamic request form clarifies the purpose of a team to an administrator.
  • Thirdly, it can trigger additional information and follow-up questions considering the requester’s input.
  • Lastly, it can help assign additional members or owners to a request considering the project for which the team is created.

Creating Dynamic Forms

To create a dynamic request form in TeamsHub by Cyclotron, click ‘Site Provision Settings’ in Settings. Then, click the link ‘Click here to update the form’. A pop-up form appears where custom columns can be added.

Dynamic forms for site provisioning

Now, click ‘Add Field’ icon to add a column, choose its type, and enter a value. You can also provide a tool tip for reference. Besides, you can mark the column as mandatory by ticking the ‘Required’ checkbox at the end.

Accessing Request Form

Now, to access dynamic form, click ‘Create a Team’ button. Thereafter, the team creation process will lead you through a few steps before you finally get team request form. The following columns are currently available in the form by default:

  • Name – It specifies team name
  • Description – It specifies a description of the team
  • Alias Name – It specifies group email id
  • Member – It specifies member(s) of the team
  • Owner – It specifies the owner(s) of the team
  • Classification – It specifies organizational classification to which team belongs

Besides, once you add dynamic columns, the team request form will look like this:

Team request form

Finally, the new request created by the user awaits the administrator’s approval.

Summary

Automating team request form is must-have functionality of modern collaboration tools. With TeamsHub by Cyclotron, administrators can automate workflows simply using a visual wizard. Creating and customizing powerful dynamic forms has never been easier.

For more information on TeamsHub by Cyclotron please visit our blog or our main site at https://teamshub.io

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April 21, 2020

Cloud Security for Financial Markets using Microsoft Teams

We explore the security considerations for financial institutions that have a ton of confidential and sensitive data. Also, we further look at Microsoft Teams and how it can help collaboration in the office or remotely for such heavily regulated industries.
Cloud Security for Financial Markets

Introduction

Cybersecurity risks have always befuddled financial institutions and capital markets when it comes to moving to the cloud. The emergence of cloud services paved a way for mobile breakthroughs and real-time data analysis. Payment card numbers, social security numbers, user passwords, business plans, financial records, and every other sensitive information can rest on the cloud. Cloud security if compromised has grave implications for financial markets.

Their concern for security and compliance regulations is understandable as protected data must not travel beyond national borders. Greatest fears that plague financial markets today are online frauds, scams, privacy breaches, money laundering, and lending discrimination.

However, organizations that chose to migrate their services to the public cloud gained a massive competitive advantage over their rivals recently. Cloud-based collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, empowered businesses by driving user engagement and productivity. In fact, continuous security improvement in the public cloud is inspiring more and more organizations to become a part of the shared platform.

So, can financial organizations and capital markets also rely on the public cloud? Can public cloud fulfill global compliance requirements for financial markets?

Cloud Security

Microsoft’s endeavor to provide an additional layer of security for organizations that need greater visibility and control over their cloud services is commendable. Let’s explore how Microsoft hardwires cloud security in its operational framework to manage risks for financial markets using Office365 and Microsoft Teams.

Service Level Security

Microsoft 365 has built-in service-level security that splits into physical, logical and data layers. Microsoft’s data centers are under high surveillance for security at a physical level. Smart cards, biometric scanners, and two-factor authentication are security checkpoints for service access. Similarly, at the network level, protocols and port numbers follow firewall rules and tiered access control lists to disallow invasion.

At the logical level, Microsoft 365 follows the software security assurance process during every stage of the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL). Automated operations on hosts and apps and Microsoft Lockbox reduce human intervention. Additionally, anti-malware software does not let malicious code corrupt the systems. Microsoft also sequesters an infected system to control the spread. It performs regular system patches such as hotfixes, perimeter vulnerability scanning too.

Microsoft also segregates co-tenant data using Active Directory for Microsoft 365. It is compliant with cryptographic standards such as SSL, TLS, AES, etc. to encrypt data in transit as well. It secures data at rest using BitLocker encryption. Updates to files ensure that the key renews thus preventing breaches.  

Email Threat Protection

Office 365 employs advanced threat protection for Exchange Online. Using Machine learning (ML), email attachments are scanned and marked safe. This prevents malicious code spread across the tenant. Real-time protection of emails detects malicious URLs and blocks them so users and data remain unharmed even if they click it accidentally. Furthermore, Microsoft scans trillions of signals across the web to detect malicious URLs and virus origination points.

Security Monitoring

Microsoft’s Operation Security Assurance (OSA) strictly adheres to regulatory standards such as ISO 27001, SSAE 16 SOC1 Type II and HIPAA. Microsoft’s operational security processes conforms to the latest business requirements and standards. Office 365 governs applications through internal and external audits for continuous monitoring and identification of operational risks.

Rights Management Service

With Azure Rights Management Service (RMS), Microsoft ensures the safety of sensitive content that is shared. This restrains users from performing critical actions on data. Also, accessing the content is not possible by external partners if their Office 365 environment is incompatible. To freely collaborate with clients, partners must migrate to Azure RMS.

Data Loss Prevention

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is yet another intelligent service that Office 365 offers to its customers. It can locate sensitive information hidden in messages or files. It then applies policy tips you configured about what action needs to be taken. Most organizations use DLP to search for credit card numbers, insurance numbers and other identification numbers.

Secure MIME

Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (S/MIME) is used to send secure emails by encrypting the data. The digitally signed message can be decrypted by the recipient with a private key so that it can’t be deciphered by anyone during transit or at rest. S/MIME offers authentication and integrity for electronic messaging, especially required in B2B, B2C and government use cases.

Transport Layer Security

For setting up secure connections with partners, Transport Layer Security (TLS) is used by organizations. TLS are cryptographic protocols that encrypt the connection between two hosts and not messages. TLS uses security certificate to ensure a secure channel of communication with a business partner who doesn’t use Office 365 environment.

Federated Identities and Multi-factor Authentication

Microsoft integrates Azure Active Directory platform with Active Directory Federation Services to extend advanced access control capability. A federation trust is established between on-premises Active Directory and Office 365 suite. Users who have federated identities can access Office 365 cloud services using their Active Directory corporate login credentials.

Cloud services are accessed by multiple devices regardless of location or network. Hence multi-factor authentication is must to create a protected layer of defense against intrusion. Multifactor authentication requires two or more login credentials from independent categories to validate user’s identity.

Assume Breach Approach

To prevent breach, Microsoft keeps enhancing its built-in security features including port scanning, network level boundaries, DDoS prevention etc. Advanced AI intelligently detects security breaches and sends alerts by monitoring internal security systems and customer actions.

Access to confidential data is instantly ceased in case of a security breach and the concerned parties are notified. Finally, to recover from the breach, the system automatically updates and audits the affected part of the system to discover system fragility and weaknesses.

Office 365 Compliance

Microsoft’s cloud services fully comply with industrial and government standards to safeguard customer’s data against illegitimate transfer or use. It has acquired accreditation namely SAS 70/SSAE 16, ISO 27001, HIPAA, EU Safe Harbor, FISMA, and PCI DSS. Microsoft is also responsible for sharing the reports of audits of information security policy conducted by experts annually.

Secure Collaboration with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based multi-function collaboration platform that facilitates seamless and secure communications for financial institutes and other organizations to transform their business operations while complying with regulations. Organizations that have adopted Microsoft Teams are experiencing a massive rise in user engagement and overall productivity in virtual workspace.

Here’s why you can trust Microsoft Teams:

Governance Controls

Managing integrated applications is a controlled process in Microsoft Teams. Hence, create collaboration spaces by trusted content owners or stakeholders. Users need to justify the purpose of their groups. Maintain collaboration best practices for access and ownership. Control third-party integrations using administrators at the team level.

Policy Enforcement

Microsoft Teams allows automating properties and naming conventions when user creates a group or team. It facilitates easier discoverability of teams and information they hold and restrain inappropriate usage of words. Also, configuring group expiration policies saves a lot of time in information lifecycle management.

Secure User Identities

Compromised identities lay a stronghold for credential leakages, anonymous sign-ins or other suspicious activities. Microsoft Teams implements Azure Risks Policies to protect user identities girding organizations to remediate potential attacks.

Intelligent Security Graph

Intelligent Security Graph uses machine learning, AI and behavioral analytics to derive rich threat insights. It helps organizations to detect cyberattacks and speed up the remediation process. It also helps Microsoft to brace its products and services. To embed threat protection capabilities, Microsoft integrates Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (OATP), Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (MDATP),  Windows Defender System Guard (WDSG), Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS), and Azure Advanced Threat Protection (AATP) security solutions in Office 365 productivity suite.

Insider Risk Management

Once again Microsoft leverages machine learning as a savior when to comes to spot insider risks. Insider Risk Management helps mitigate accidental or intentional data leakages by employees. Employees when leaving organizations are very likely to download or copy company’s legal information, marketing content, product designs or employee private data for personal use or to show them to future employers. Insider Risk Management solution intelligently identifies exfiltration patterns, analyses potentially risk user behaviors and surfaces key activities for internal investigators to examine.

Security and Governance using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

Automate most of the security and governance controls in Microsoft Teams using TeamsHub by Cylotron. Streamline administration, cloud security with Microsoft Teams for financial markets. For more information on security please read the article on Security, Document Tracking and Sharing with AIP. For more articles on governance and best practices please visit our blog

Summary

Cloud security is one of the foremost concerns for financial markets. Consequently, adopting cloud and enabling a robust and secure framework for productivity and collaboration in the office or remotely can be achieved using Microsoft Teams. Furthermore, TeamsHub by Cyclotron can enable a lot of security features with little effort.

Suggested Reading

Office365 Advanced Threat Protection

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April 20, 2020

Advanced Search using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

Introduction

Avoiding Teams sprawl and finding relevant information is an important consideration for Microsoft Teams governance. In this article we take a look at finding information using Advanced Search using TeamsHub by Cyclotron.

Performing an acute search in an organization that has thousands of collaborative teams is often overwhelming for administrators. TeamsHub by Cyclotron introduces smarter ways to find teams. We have integrated filters to streamline your search and render high quality matches in your results.

In this blog, we will discuss the following topics:

  1. Key Points
  2. How to Access Search and Create Hubs
  3. What are Filters
  4. What is Advanced Search and How to Access it
  5. Example Scenarios

Key Points

In TeamsHub by Cyclotron –

  • Search is performed based on team name, tags, and classification.
  • Advanced search can be used by both administrator and user.
  • Advanced search does not support hub creation.

How to Access Search and Create Hubs

  1. Sign in to TeamsHub by Cyclotron using appropriate user account and password.
  1. To search teams, go to All Teams and enter a search criteria in search input box.
Search criteria
  1. Use a search term – team name, tags or classification to search a team. For convenience, TeamsHub by Cyclotron provides tool tip in standard search.
Search Tags and Classification
  1. Now save the derived results as hub by giving a hub name after clicking Save Hub button.
Advanced Search: Save favorites as Hubs

Henceforth, if new teams are added to your Office 365 environment matching any search criteria in existing hubs, they get automatically added to appropriate hubs.

Filters

Filters are a set of parameters used to customize your search query to eliminate irrelevant content from your results. Filters help in finding exact information that you are looking for.

In TeamsHub by Cyclotron, to apply filters, you need to specify:

  • An Attribute to filter on
  • An Operator to set the filter condition
  • A Value to filter by

There are five types of attributes:

  1. Name – it specifies team name.
  2. Visibility – it is either public or private.
  3. Member/Owner – it specifies team member or owner name.
  4. Tags – it specifies tags used for labelling teams based on attributes such as team role, project, skill etc. For example – HR, IT, and Audit.
  5. Classification – it specifies classification labels used to categorize teams based on purpose, location or organizational structure. For example – Internal and External.

Now, there are three types of operators:

  1. Equal – this operator is used to match specified attribute with a specified value.
  2. Not Equal –this operator is used when specified attribute must not match a specified value.
  3. Contains –this operator is used to match a specified attribute with a specified value in the same sequential or contiguous order.

What is Advanced Search and How to Access it

Advanced search is a set of filters used to perform complex searches by creating a search query. A search query is formed by combining a field and a query operator as discussed above. To access advanced search in TeamsHub by Cyclotron, go to All Teams and click the Advanced Search icon next to search input box on top of the screen.

Advanced search button

Example Scenarios

Let us consider creating a search query using three different filters:

[Filter 1: Attribute=Classification; Operator=Contains; Value=”aud”]

Advanced Search Example 1

Now the results will fetch all teams with classification ‘Audit’. 

[Filter 2: Attribute=Member/Owner; Operator=Not Equal; Value=”Anton Adamson”]

Advanced Search Example 2

Now, the result returns a list of teams where ‘Anton Adamson’ is not a member. 

Let us use a combination of two filters now:

[Filter 3: {Attribute=Visibility; Operator=Equal; Value=”private”}{Attribute=Tags; Operator=Not Equal; Value=”it”}]

Advanced Search Example 3

Here, the result returns all those teams that are private and do not contain ‘IT’ tag. 

Similarly, you can refine your searches using two or more than two filters at a time.

Summary

TeamsHub by Cyclotron ensures that searching is an awesome experience for you. Gain control over your searches and get what you want in no time. If you are looking forward to make your searches straightforward, TeamsHub by Cyclotron is a perfect tool for you.

For more information on TeamsHub by Cyclotron please visit our main site at https://teamshub.io or our blog for more articles.

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April 19, 2020

Administration Management using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

In this article, we dive into managing administration using TeamsHub by Cyclotron.
Administration Management using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

Introduction

IT Administrators are an important part of any company especially as organizations grow. Similarly, a global administrator in Office 365 also plays an important role. Administration Management using TeamsHub by Cyclotron plays an important role to help ease the burden and streamline governance.

A global administrator, using TeamsHub by Cyclotron can automate collaboration settings, assign owners, manage licenses and domains, manage users and teams, customize policies, and perform many other operations.

However, a global administrator’s role can be too centralized. Therefore, dividing the administrator role can greatly ease the team workload and set up the organization to scale easily. Also, delegating rights and privileges to specific tasks can help organizations expand administration capabilities for efficient management.

Administration Management using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

In this regard, TeamsHub by Cyclotron simplifies governance through automation without complex Powershell commands and by using a unified interface to streamline governance. Additionally, TeamsHub by Cyclotron puts a structure around administration by providing three administrator roles.

  • Global Administrator
  • Teams Service Administrator and
  • Reports Reader.

Let’s explore each role one by one in the following sections

Global Administrator

In TeamsHub by Cyclotron, a global administrator can perform the following tasks:

  • Firstly, manage Teams’ creation using automated workflows. Besides this administrators can manage guests, naming policies based on standard blocked words and custom blocked words and assign organization-specific classification.
  • Secondly, global administrators can set up expiration policies for each team via a set of rules. This sends notifications to team owners on certain actions that need to be taken and provides alerts during the period of inactivity before Teams can be disposed of or archived.
  • Thirdly, automate Microsoft Teams governance for site creation and management. To achieve this, an administrator can utilize dynamic forms and external workflows and define naming policies based on custom attributes and by using templates.
  • Additionally, create and manage teams and configure access rights by applying Information Rights Management (IRM) to prevent content misuse.
  • Also, create tags for quick discovery of information and updating multiple teams in one go.
  • Perform an advanced search using filters and create hubs to save the results for organizational needs.
  • Gain real-time insights into teams through a powerful dashboard to measure teams’ performance and make informed business decisions.
  • Track popular, inactive teams or archived teams in your organization based on teams’ activity threshold. Administrators can also see the latest teams that have been added.
  • Track and manage externally shared files or documents and even revoke access for security reasons.
  • Get actionable reports based on various criteria such as metadata usage, team or device usage, etc. You can also share reports with third party contractors.
  • Finally, a global administrator can optimize voice solutions. From a user-friendly interface, create, test and troubleshoot Direct Routing Configuration.

Teams Service Administrator

In TeamsHub by Cyclotron, Teams Service Administrator has similar responsibilities like the global administrators to manage entire Microsoft Teams environment. As a Teams Service Administrator, you can utilize all tools and features except:

  • Voice routing or telephony settings
  • Managing teams creation process
  • Setting up naming conventions for teams
  • Classification of teams
  • Managing external access

Report Reader

A Report Reader helps in creating better visibility of reporting and making reports more accessible. They have a very limited access to administrator portal in TeamsHub by Cyclotron. This role is read-only and can be assigned to any Office 365 user across the organization. As report reader, you can only view dashboard and access all the reports through Analytics.

Summary

We understand that administration management for Microsoft Teams and organizational needs can be tedious and time consuming. Hence, TeamsHub by Cyclotron provides more flexible ways to administer ensuring availability, reliability, security and integrity of your cloud systems and environments.

For more information on TeamsHub by Cyclotron please visit our blog or our main site at https://teamshub.io

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April 16, 2020

Direct Voice Routing for Microsoft Teams using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

In this article, we explore automating Voice Routing features using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

Introduction

Microsoft Teams is an intelligent communication system that provides a flawless collaboration and immersive engagement experience of hi-def audio and video, calls, chat, screen-share and much more. Workgroup collaboration on projects, sharing ideas via conference meetings and delivering global live events became easier than ever. Thus, in a very short time, Microsoft Teams grew popular. Undoubtedly, Microsoft Teams is the next-gen collaboration suite that smart business leaders of today want to invest in.  

Microsoft Teams handles voice in two different ways using Microsoft Phone Systems/ 

  1. Calling Plans 
  2. Direct Routing  

Specific countries limit Microsoft Calling Plans. Therefore, configure a user’s existing phone infrastructure using Direct Voice Routing. Direct Voice Routing is one of the most important features in Microsoft Teams. It also incurs lower line costs than Microsoft’s Calling Plans.  

Direct Voice Routing

Overview

Direct Voice Routing requires Session Border Controller (SBCs) for Microsoft Teams. This enables connection to a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Firstly, you need to configure SBC as recommended by a certified SBC vendor. Secondly, connect it with Microsoft Phone System and enable direct routing and configure voice routing. Finally, translate numbers into an alternate format. Voice routing policy is a container that holds all routing elements such as PSTN Gateways, PSTN Usages, Dial Plans and Voice Routes in it. The ordering of PSTN Usages and Voice Routes is critical for sending calls in order to specific PSTN Gateways. In summary, Voice Routing Policy determines how a call is routed for that user. 

Using TeamsHub by Cyclotron

Setting up voice features for Microsoft Teams requires in-depth knowledge of complex PowerShell commands along with rigorous experience in Skype. A user-friendly interface for creating, testing and troubleshooting Direct Routing configuration reduces the utility gap, making it simple and efficient.

Let us look at some of the features that make the administrator’s job simple and easy. 

1. PSTN Gateway 

PSTN gateway enables phone and media connection between two different types of networks. Configure all protocol related settings here including information to be sent to physically deployed SBCs in the PSTN gateway. This is to add SBC as a PSTN gateway and includes the following parameters shown below

Direct Voice Routing - PSTN Gateway

Additionally, set values as shown below

Direct Voice Routing - PSTN Values

2. PSTN Usage 

PSTN usage has multiple voice associated routes to send calls to various regions.  Assign PSTN usage, different voice routing policies. PSTN usage finds a matching rule related to call permissions when user dials a number to a particular site. 

Direct Voice Routing - PSTN Usage

The field Usage Name is a text pertaining to a geographical location, for example –  US, US and Canada, International, etc.

3. Dial Plans 

Call authorization and call routing need dial plans, a set of normalization rules to translate dialed numbers to an alternate format. Different dial plans interpret the same string of numbers differently. Based on this interpretation, numbers are translated and routed. The dial plan follows a descriptive naming convention to identify assigned users. 

Create and manage a new dial plan simply by filling in the values in the given parameters using TeamsHub by Cyclotron.

  • Dial Plan Name: Global/NR2 
Direct Voice Routing - Dial Plans

4. Voice Routes 

In TeamsHub by Cyclotron, creating a voice route can be followed with simple steps. A descriptive route name can be given to the Name field. Then, Number Pattern is a regular expression to match. Once matched, it sends the call to the defined SBC(s). You can then select FQDN, the domain name for your SBC and PSTN Usage. 

For example, the values for these parameters can be set as: 

  • Name: Route1 
  • Number Pattern: [0-9]{10} 
  • FQDN: sbc.contoso.com 
  • PSTN Usage: US & Canada 
Direct Voice Routing - Voice Routes

5. Voice Routing Policy 

Using PSTN Usage(s) and their defined Voice Route(s), you can easily create Voice Routing Policy with TeamsHub by Cyclotron. 

For example, the values in the given parameters can be set as: 

  • Name: Policy1 
  • PSTN Usage: US and Canada
Direct Voice Routing - Voice Routing Policy

6. Assign Voice Routing Policy 

Assigning a Voice Routing Policy is once again pretty straight forward. In TeamsHub by Cyclotron, simply select a Voice Routing Policy and username from Select People. 

So, when a user makes a call, based the Voice Routing Policy, a list of PSTN Usage(s) is returned. The Voice Routes linked with the PSTN Usages are verified to check if the number matches. If so, then the call is sent to the SBC(s) in the route with the highest priority. However, if call cannot be routed through the SBC for whatever reasons, the remaining matching routes are used. 

Direct Voice Routing -  Assign Voice Route Policy

Thankfully, TeamsHub by Cyclotron makes voice configuration hassle-free for administrators. 

Summary 

When teams grow in large organizations, trying to work collaboratively in a fusion of several communication tools is neither practicable nor productive. It’s time to renounce old communication platforms and welcome a sleek, modern and efficient collaboration suite like TeamsHub by Cyclotron to provide you scalability and happier workforce.  

Suggested Reading

If you liked this article, please feel free to peruse our blog section for more interesting content

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April 16, 2020

A modern workplace: Unified Communications, Cloud apps & MS Teams

In this article, we take a look at the capabilities of Microsoft Teams and the evolution of the modern workplace
Unified Communications

Introduction

Unified communications makes a dynamic and productive team. Microsoft Teams introduced cloud-based conferencing tools and redefined collaboration. Consequently, organizations achieved productivity in the virtual workspace. Microsoft Teams proved that it is the powerhouse of unified communications. Additionally, It won the Best of Enterprise Connect Overall award last year. Microsoft Teams established rapid growth and popularity soon after its launch. In addition, Microsoft Teams integrates with various Azure and Microsoft365 services and apps to provide a unified platform for the next generation workplace. Furthermore, by leveraging unique features and integrations with its Intelligent Cloud suite products it became more than a unified communication application.

Currently, 500,000 organizations have adopted Microsoft Teams with around 44 million daily active users. Also, with every release, Microsoft Teams marches ahead with intelligent virtual collaboration.

Let us take a quick walkthrough at its transformative features that have contributed to the evolution of the modern workplace using unified communications, cloud apps & MS Teams.

Unified Communications

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging connects teams across any device or location instantly. Microsoft Teams allows one-on-one and group- messaging to keep the conversation private or public.

Persistent Chat

Complete chat history is available in conversation windows. Also, users can send emails using threaded conversations in a team’s channel. Thus, conversations continue seamlessly across multiple digital streams.

Emojis

Also, animated gifs, stickers and emojis add an element of fun to conversations.

Translation Services

Additionally, Microsoft Teams offers an in-line translation solution for users to converse fluidly with users in their native language.

Meetings

Teams delivers an extraordinary meeting experience through high-quality interactive videos. Users can host meetings, seminars, conferences or presentations from any part of the world. Broadcast up to 10,000 people at a time using Teams for live events.

Record meetings and calls for future reference and use. Easily share files during meetings and calls. Another point of note is that users can quickly switch between chats, audio/video and screen sharing. Furthermore, make any user a presenter or control the screen once permitted while screen sharing.

Voice and Video Calls

Video conferencing is the most preferred business communication tool. Microsoft Teams allows for seamless two-way audio and video transmissions to collaborate effectively in real-time.

Firstly, users can connect with anyone in the organization around the world with a single click. Secondly, Invite users outside the organization by searching for their phone numbers. Add them to the ongoing call as well once found.

Finally, Microsoft Teams functions as a fully qualified business phone system. Direct Voice Routing, allows organizations to integrate their existing phone infrastructure with Teams. In selected countries, Microsoft Calling plans are also available for use as an alternative.

An important point is that Teams transcribes and automatically time-codes every voice content. Search for a phrase that was spoken during a meeting, and it will take you straight to the specific audio/video moment.

Backgrounds

To enhance focus, the feature to blur background helps to cut down distraction. Also to add an element of fun, Microsoft has released a few wallpaper backgrounds as well and is in plans to release a feature where backgrounds can be customized by the end-user per their taste too.

Voice Assistant

Teams also has integrated speech recognition with Cortana. Cortana acts as a virtual assistant helping users to set up conference calls and join meetings with voice commands.

For more information on automating some of the advanced configurations in Teams using TeamsHub by Cyclotron visit our blog.

Let us take a further look at evolution of the modern workplace using unified communications, cloud apps & MS Teams.

Cloud Apps: Microsoft Teams and Azure

Using Azure DevOps, Azure Boards and Azure Pipeline with Microsoft Teams helps streamline the entire software development lifecycle.

In the following few sections, we will see the benefits of integrating Microsoft Teams with these tools:

Azure DevOps

Azure Devops is used in agile software development to cover the entire lifecycle from requirements gathering, project management, reporting, build and release management, and testing. It also provides a single source to maintain software versions, branches and builds.

With Azure DevOps and Teams, software development teams get instant access to everything they need in a single source. This brings teams, conversations, content, and tools from across together into one place.

Using these two tools can be a powerful combination to collaborate for software teams.

You can find more information here – https://www.azuredevopslabs.com/labs/vstsextend/teams/

Azure Boards

Azure Boards is a lightweight app available for Microsoft Teams to help create work activity items and track it from the Teams channel itself.

You can find more information here – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/devops/boards/integrations/boards-teams

Azure Pipelines

Azure Pipelines lets you build, test and deploy applications in Azure cloud and other supported platforms.  Using Microsoft Teams and Azure Pipelines app helps to easily monitor the events. Set up and manage subscriptions for builds, releases, YAML pipelines, pending approvals and more from the app and get notifications for these events in your Teams channels.

You can find more information here – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/devops/pipelines/integrations/microsoft-teams

Let us delve further into evolution of the modern workplace using Unified Communications, Cloud apps & MS Teams.

Cloud Apps: Microsoft Teams and Power Platform

Power Platform integration with Teams provides a single point of communication and business process improvement in a Teams channel

PowerApps and Power Automate

Firstly, Power Apps and Power Automate help companies build custom applications. These apps can automate routine processes. Microsoft Teams integrates with these services to build custom apps combining it with the conversations, meetings, and chat of Microsoft Teams.

You can find more information here – https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/introducing-the-teams-and-power-apps-whitepaper/ba-p/1005945

Power BI

Secondly, Power BI and Microsoft Teams address the data visualization scenario together to encourage a culture of data for an organization. Combining business process automation with Power App and Power Automate provides critical data that can be harvested to provide business insights. A team can interact with data in a visual format in Power BI right from their team’s site.

You can find more information here – https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-new-power-bi-tab-for-microsoft-teams/

Power Virtual Agent

Finally, add quick conversational chatbot capabilities using Power Virtual Agents with Teams with little or no code.

You can find more information here – https://poszytek.eu/en/microsoft-en/office-365-en/pva-en/pva-series-add-power-virtual-agent-to-teams/

Summary

Evidently, ultra-modern communication services are inbuilt in Microsoft Teams. It is also an industry leading unified communications platform along with robust integrations in the Microsoft cloud ecosystem. Furthermore, Microsoft Teams is fully integrated with AI and future releases will involve mixed reality. Personalization and gamification of Teams is not very far as well.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article on evolution of the modern workplace using unified communications, cloud apps & MS Teams.

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April 13, 2020

Zoom vs Microsoft Teams – Security and Privacy in a COVID-19 world

Our POV on the Zoom v Microsoft Teams debate.
Zoom v Teams - security and privacy

Introduction

In this article we take a look at the Zoom security flaws, some of Microsoft Teams strength and how we can keep video conferencing secure and private while enabling remote work in a post-COVID-19 world.

Virtual collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are phenomenal sources of unified communications. In the age of remote and mobile work, they enable continuous operability. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was an instant demand for everything to be virtual. Corporate clients, government entities, schools, and institutions; all have chosen video conferencing and live streaming to continue operations. However, when hundreds of millions of users are interacting through any platform, the security of data continues to be a concern.  

The news of bombing a Zoom meeting aka Zoom bombing scandal has been doing the rounds nowadays. Shockingly, it allowed hackers to infiltrate chat rooms with profane content. Moreover, anyone could easily access or see the shared content online through Zoom. This all sums up to show that Zoom is vulnerable to threats and data exposure as well.  

As per the latest reports, Zoom’s services are now being discarded by many due to its serious security loopholes. Consequently, people are now in a fix asking a question of which platform is right to use? Is Teams the one to bank upon for all communications and safety-related issues?  

Though Zoom and Teams equally serve their best in creating video-collaboration culture, there are security differences that set them apart. Before we read about Teams security practices, let us first demystify the underlying causes of Zoom’s vulnerability: 

Zoom

Anyone can join a Zoom meeting using a shared link without downloading any software. It is Zoom’s most enchanting feature that triggered its whopping usage worldwide.  

On the verge of making its services easy to its customers, Zoom enabled browser interface for one-touch meeting joins from standards-based video endpoints. It eventually caused Zoom connector application to create unsecured URLs lacking authentication controls to login to the Zoom cloud. Sadly, it leaves a giant room for unauthorized users to easily control video endpoints from any browser without login credentials. They can manipulate cameras, make calls and invoke device settings without permission. 

Along with other security issues, Zoom is also found to be using a weaker encryption algorithm to encode audio and video data. Needless to say, the software can be easily tampered by cybercriminals. 

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is built on Office 365 hyper-scale. The strong cybersecurity and compliance controls create a sturdy groundwork to prevent phishing attempts or ransomware attacks.  

The two-factor authentication process in Teams protects accounts from identity theft. Also, encrypted user data transmissions using Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) prevents potential data leaks. It further ensures risk-free document sharing and data storage in Teams. Teams stores sensitive data in SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Exchange, Stream, and Groups. To fetch any information from these controlled repositories, one needs eDiscovery rights. 

With Teams, attendees can be easily managed in meetings keeping the user access transparent. If you want to allow guest users to attend your meetings, you can do it while retaining complete control over your environment. You can even restrict users to share any content. Additionally, Teams integrates advanced AI for automating the detection of bullying, trolling or illicit messages through chat and conversations. All sumps up to provide you an enhanced collaboration experience covering you with safety. 

Summary

As a key player in collaboration, Microsoft Teams pledges to secure user information complying with more than 90 regulatory standards and laws. If you are using Teams for collaboration, you must remain confident that your privacy is Microsoft’s priority and commitment. Coming back to comparing Zoom with Teams, I would suggest using Zoom for having public conversations only. But if you are an organization that doesn’t compromise with security at all, then definitely Teams is a valid choice for you. Stay Safe!  

Know more about adoption, governance and automation for Microsoft Teams in our articles.

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April 08, 2020

Security, Document Tracking and Sharing with AIP

The world is witnessing a huge upswing in remote work amid the COVID-19 outbreak. One of the most important aspects in such a scenario is airtight security across an organization’s environment. TeamsHub by Cyclotron secures confidential data and prevents potential data breaches through enhanced governance using Information Rights Management (IRM), document tracking through Azure Information Protection (AIP) and external file sharing.

Introduction

TeamsHub by Cyclotron is an automated governance platform for Microsoft Teams. It saves IT departments overheads and provides secure operation continuity by integrating the best in class features from Azure and Office365. In this article, we explore the various aspects of security, document tracking, and sharing using AIP, IRM, and others.

Microsoft has published an article intended for IT professionals yesterday. It provides important privacy and security aspects for Microsoft Teams. The full article is listed here.

One particular section of interest in governance is preventing cybersecurity threats using various tools. Sensitivity labeling, cloud app security, data loss prevention, and advanced threat protection are some of them. Additionally, protecting identity and account access is another section of note in the article.

As a matter of fact, TeamsHub by Cyclotron allows many ways to automate governance and protect data using AIP and IRM for security, document tracking, and sharing. This helps with security and compliance for Microsoft Teams. As a result, heavily regulated industries such as Banking, Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, and Lifesciences will find this especially useful. Let us take a look at some of them.

Security: Sensitivity Labeling and Guest Access

Automated governance features in TeamsHub by Cyclotron particularly provides a rich set of flexible features. Firstly, create a Team as either Private or Public. Information is now accessible to either a select or large section of users because of this setting. Private access allows for team members to collaborate without sharing information. Also, you can mark the Team as confidential or restricted. A public Team’s information is available to everyone. .

Automated Governance Team Details

Furthermore, in addition to Team visibility, guest access can also be configured.

Team Governance Settings

Security and Document Sharing: Information Rights Management (IRM)

Our governance feature set provides IRM which systematically safeguards sensitive corporate data from possible leaks. Prevent unintended users from seeing, editing, downloading. sharing and printing documents. This depends on the setting of that document and auto-expires access after a specified time.

Apply IRM settings directly using TeamsHub by Cyclotron. This is through a team-level tile view. Not to mention that this is a convenient method instead of navigating to a SharePoint Document Library or through the SharePoint Admin Center.

Information Rights Management

Security and Document Tracking: Azure Information Protection (AIP)

In any organization, collaboration involves internal and external users such as vendors, contractors, and agencies. Files or documents need to be shared only with the intended audience. Protect sensitive information outside the organization. Using AIP, administrators can automate tasks. Document tracking, setting expiry dates for access or revoking access based on unexpected or unusual behaviors can all be configured. Moreover, protected document access sends a notification using AIP.

TeamsHub by Cyclotron allows users to actively monitor document access. Of course, this can be leveraged through a usage report which shows any failed access attempts.

Azure Information Protection

Security, Document Sharing and Tracking: External File Sharing

Is external file sharing different than adding a guest to the Team? Yes – share selective content with people outside the organization. Moreover, these users are not members of any team.

In such scenarios, administrators need to be vigilant of users’ activities. Moreover, administrators must monitor permissions granted on shared content and time limit before expiry.

TeamsHub by Cyclotron provides a unified interface to bring up all externally shared files. This is one of the key governance aspects for administrators

TeamsHub by Cyclotron provides two types of interfaces. First of all, a unified view of all externally shared files across the tenant. Furthermore, a team-level interface that shows externally shared files by that team.

Document Sharing and Tracking

Provide access via a link to the document or to the document itself as below

  • Can Edit – shared for collaboration with read-write access.
  • Can View – read-only access to the document
  • Stop sharing – mistakenly shared documents or suspicious activities detected.

Finally, it is imperative more than ever to upgrade to virtual collaboration across geographical boundaries. This helps the organization to operate without any slowdown or worse shut down during emergency situations or crises. Consequently, automating governance and streamlining administration can help in creating a remote workforce very rapidly.

TeamsHub by Cyclotron understands these needs and has inbuilt security for collaboration and compliance. This along with simplified governance enables your organization’s productivity to remain unscathed and uncompromised.

Other Reading

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April 07, 2020

Microsoft Teams for US Government and DoD

Microsoft announces rapid enablement of Teams for US government entities
Microsoft Teams for US government an DoD

As you may have noted, Microsoft recently announced the rapid deployment and enablement of Microsoft Teams for the US government and DoD. This was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in both a health and economic crisis. You can find the full article here.

Microsoft has released a Teams Guide for Rapid Enablement in GCC, GCCH & DoD. You can also access this via the link –  https://aka.ms/TeamsGovFastPath

You can find a webinar released by Microsoft on Youtube via the link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI4s3LE9lEY

If you are a government entity and would like to leverage Microsoft Teams Cyclotron has offerings to meet your needs. We also cater to regulated industries such as Financial Services and Banking as well as Healthcare and Lifescience organizations.

Additionally, we automate Microsoft Teams’ governance and engage users with our flagship product – TeamsHub by Cyclotron.

TeamsHub by Cyclotron is a unified platform that simplifies, automates and streamlines governance. Also, with employee engagement features we provide a rich set of features along with governance. Furthermore, you can find more information in our blog articles.

Finally, to know more about TeamsHub by Cyclotron please contact – sales@cyclotrongroup.com. We are totally committed to keeping our country safe and working 24X7. #MAGA. We look forward to hearing from you.

About Cyclotron

Cyclotron was proudly founded in San Francisco in 2014 with the sole intent of accelerating the success of our clients. We solve mission-critical business and technology challenges, through a proven network of industry-specific frameworks. We’re a trusted strategic partner to many innovative organizations in the financial, health and life sciences, public, retail, and technology sectors. Our solutions combined with your investment with us boost productivity, enhances collaboration, and integrates intelligence across your entire enterprise.

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