BYOD Basics: Mobile Device Enablement Via Office 365

In Canada, and in many other countries around the world, small businesses equate to more than half of the organizations contributing to said country's bottom line.  What has been interesting observation as of late is the ability of many small businesses to compete alongside larger sized incumbents.  Being smaller is no longer a challenge, rather an opportunity to be more nimble by adopting strategies to compete.

One said strategy, that has become very prevalent within the small business community, has been rapid adoption of Office 365.  While the benefits around increased collaboration and communication are realized almost instantly, some small businesses are beginning to discover an additional advantage. Namely that Office 365 contains a starter toolset to capitalize on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) enablement.

Office 365 includes the latest version of Exchange ActiveSync.  The very same ActiveSync found in server installed versions of Exchange. ActiveSync provides enforceable mobile device policies. These policies keep your company data secure and ensure the devices connected stay secure regardless if they are Windows Phone, iOS, Android and/or even BlackBerry 10 devices.

So what is offered in Office 365 for mobile enablement?

  • Device wipe policy – The ability to wipe the device's memory  remotely if lost or stolen or to be wiped after multiple failed password attempts
  • Device password policy – The ability to configure several options for device passwords such as complexity, length and history
  • Device encryption policy – The ability to enforce encryption requirements on both device and on additional external storage cards
  • Advanced Policies – Additional policies include device quarantine, the ability to enable or disable attachments and / or invoke attachment size limitations and Information Rights Management enablement

Enablement of said polices is simple and can be invoked in a few steps:

Steps to Enable

Block, allow, wipe, or delete a device

Exchange admin center: recipients > mailboxes tab > select user > click View details under Mobile Devices.

Configure access rules for specific device families and models

Exchange admin center: mobile > mobile device access tab > Device Access Rules.

Configure device mailbox policies, such as mobile device password requirements and security settings

Exchange admin center: mobile > mobile device mailbox policies tab

Configure Exchange ActiveSync access settings (including Allow, Block, or Quarantine)

Exchange admin center: mobile > mobile device access tab> Exchange ActiveSync Access Settings > edit

Enable or disable Exchange ActiveSync

Exchange admin center: recipients > mailboxes tab > select user > click Enable Exchange ActiveSync or Disable Exchange ActiveSync under Mobile Devices.

View device details

Exchange admin center: recipients > mailboxes tab > select user > click View details under Mobile Devices > select device > click Details.

View detailed reports about the devices in your organization (Browser used and Operating system used reports)

Office 365 admin center: reports > devices

Office 365 provides great starter capabilities in enabling BYOD for small business.  However understandably some small businesses may require a more robust solution for mobile enablement.  Those organizations looking to further enable their employees might want to trial Windows Intune as their next step.

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