Microsoft Expands Office 365 Administrator Options

Two new tools help users of Microsoft System Center, and other IT management tools keep an eye on their Office 365 environments.

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Office 365 admin options

Microsoft has rolled out new monitoring and alerting options for administrators that improve visibility into Office 365 environments, particularly those that are already invested into the company's IT management ecosystem.

The company released Office 365 Management Pack for Microsoft System Center, announced Lawrence Chiu, senior product marketing manager for the Office 365 administrator experience. In addition, the new Office 365 Service Communications API extends the platform's service communications to IT monitoring systems.

Available for download now, the Office 365 Management Pack for Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 embeds Office monitoring capabilities into the company's Windows-friendly IT management software. Microsoft System Center "is an integrated management platform that helps you manage data center, client devices and hybrid cloud IT environments," explained Chiu in a statement.

The add-on grants System Center users "access to the status of your subscribed services, active and resolved service incidents, and your Message Center communications," said Chiu. In a departure from the company's packaged software past, organizations can license Microsoft's cloud-enabled productivity suite on a per-user subscription basis.

Administrators can opt to be notified when specific conditions, including outages, affect their cloud-delivered Office 365 services. And Microsoft is no stranger to service outages. Last month, the company's Exchange Online service was hit by an extended outage, a day after data center glitches caused headaches for some Lync Online customers.

"You can configure these alerts so they trigger email notifications, keeping you in the loop on the status of your environment," said Chiu. The Office 365 monitoring dashboard offers at-a-glance views of a given service's health along with the status of services like SharePoint Online and their components. Users can also view active and resolved incidents.

In a separate blog post, the company noted that the management pack "enables in-depth monitoring for its individual services, showing you the number of active incidents for each individual services, such as Lync Online, Exchange Online and Identity Services." Views include a Service Status pod that "displays a tree of Office 365 services and features for the selected subscription and corresponding active incidents count and an integrated Message Center showcasing important service information."

For other management environments, Microsoft has made available the Office 365 Service Communications API. "With this new admin tool, you now have the ability to create or connect your tools to Office 365 service communications, potentially simplifying how you monitor your environment," said Chiu.

The application programming interface (API) grants access to real-time service health services, enabling compatible tools to display "service incidents and ongoing maintenance events," he said. Further, it can be used to deliver communications that appear in the Office 365 Message Center for administrators as well as early notification of planned maintenance.

Service provider partners can also leverage the tech, said Chiu. "The Service Communications API also supports administrators who manage Office 365 environments on behalf of others, for example, partners."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...