New URL & IP Provisioning Service for Office 365


03 April 2018

Today I've got some excellent news to share around improvements Microsoft have made in the connectivity space for the Office 365 service. This consists of two elements, a preview of a new method to provide the URL & IP requirements for the service which will help our customers manage and automate the requirements, and secondly, as part of this new service, we've added an improved categorization of the URLs required. This second element is designed to help customers optimize traffic which really warrants special treatment, then allowing the rest to go via the standard egress model. This second element is outlined in more detail here.

In this post I'll cover new method for the management of URLs & IPs for the service. Currently, the place to go for connectivity requirements to Office 365 has been our URL & IP page which consists of three elements:

 

  1. The web page itself, for human review of the requirements broken down per service
  2. The XML file which can be used for device configuration
  3. The RSS feed for change notification

     

The change cadence we aim for in this space is updates once a month, at the end of the month, with one month's notice and this cadence will continue with the new solution.

We also publish example PAC files via a link from this page to help customers with common splits in traffic handling (All URLs, IP provisioned and non IP provisioned, and ExpressRoutable URLs).

We do have a challenge with this solution however. As the Office 365 service has grown, the number of URLs and IPs required to access the service has obviously increased in line with this growth, also the number of connection options has also increased with the addition of Expressroute. Customers have been reporting to us that they are running into administrative challenges keeping pace with the rate of change in this space and the current solution to provide this data is not meeting their needs as it often requires manual management of the changes.

Another challenge is around how the URLs need to be handled, some have IPs provided, some don't, some live on Microsoft infrastructure, some don't, some are required, some aren't, some can use ExpressRoute for Office 365, some cannot. The XML file just doesn't provide the data in a way which allows customers to deal with these attributes as they require, nor automate or script based on this information.

We have therefore been working in the background to improve how we provide this information to meet our customers' needs moving forward and im pleased to say that we have a new solution in preview as of 2nd April 2018. The official source of this information, and the place to monitor for updates, and provide your much desired feedback is here.

Data is now provided in JSON format and is tagged with various attributes to allow you to script and manage the data as you see fit, some of these attributes are new, such as the 'Optimize', 'Allow', 'Optional' tags plus Expressroute. (More on this in another blog post here)

Benefits for administrators from the Office 365 IP Address and URLs web service and the new categories include:

  • Automation of Office 365 endpoint data and changes publishing
  • System readable data for direct network device integration that is also script friendly
  • Data available in JSON for scripts or CSV format for Excel
  • Includes the first release of new Optimize, Allow, Default categorization of Office 365 endpoints
  • Includes ExpressRoute routable flag for each endpoint
  • Version change notification published alongside the data
  • All provided attributes are supported by owning development teams

We're also working on automated PAC file provisioning based on your requirements.

This new solution is in preview and should not be used for production just yet, rather be used for testing and analysis about how it can help improve how you handle this information moving forward, we will aim to ensure the data is accurate however during the preview.

What we would love however is your feedback on the new solution. Whilst we constantly work with customers to help them connect to the service and thus understand the challenges in this space and have therefore endeavoured to address them in the new solution, we'd love to hear if the solution indeed addresses them for you, or if there are additional requirements you have which the solution does not yet provide.

As noted, the official place for more detail, following the progress of this solution, and providing your feedback is over on the Microsoft Tech Community and we look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible!

Paul


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