Bulletproof Office 365 with an Email Security Layer

Office 365 is a great tool for most businesses. Its value extends beyond hosted Exchange mailboxes with OneDrive storage, SharePoint collaboration, Skype communication, and a growing list of other options.

It’s Still About the Messages

Email remains the main attraction of the Exchange Online service. The shift from on-premise to the hosted option has changed the way MSPs manage and deliver email support to their clients. Despite that transformation, the end-user experience, for the most part, is not really any different. People still want and need reliable messaging.

In the “good ‘ole days,” when Small Business Servers and Exchange installations were the norms, providers usually put an email security solution in front to protect users from spam, malware, and viruses. That was accomplished using a UTM firewall or by installing software. More recently, cloud-based anti-spam and email filtering has taken over that role.

As clients migrated to Office 365, some started believing that extra layer of email security was no longer necessary. Unfortunately, what Microsoft includes with Exchange Online is very basic protection. While it performs a decent job sending spam to the junk folder, its filtering management is limited and somewhat difficult to control.

Increase Help Desk Efficiency

The biggest problem is end-users look to MSPs when they have email problems. Unless that provider is deeply skilled in Exchange with a thorough understanding of Office 365’s administration tools, troubleshooting those email flow problems can be especially tricky.

Microsoft focuses on building productivity solutions for the general population. Anti-spam and email flow transparency are not high priorities since few users understand the technical aspects of their computing systems. MSPs can offer better alternatives to meet the more demanding protection and availability needs of their business clients.

It makes sense to put email security solutions in front of Office 365. Not just for end-users, but for the MSPs who support their client’s varied work activities and compliance needs. Enhanced filtering solutions simplify the management process and improve the overall user experience.

Improve Ease of Use, Increase Adoption

Office 365 offers solutions for archiving and encryption as well, but those can be difficult to implement, manage, and get end-users to accept as a standard business practice. That final point is critical ‒ the value of an application increases when it has a measurable effect on work performance. Those who have ever tried implementing Litigation Hold on Office 365 will understand the struggle. The simpler it is for people to use, the more they will use it.

Email security solutions that sit in front of Office 365 should make archiving almost transparent to the end-user. Intuitive and seamless. Similarly, encryption should be easy for both the senders and the recipients and never limited to specific platforms, operating systems or devices.

Email’s Ubiquity Still Offers Valuable Opportunities

Those features increase the value of what some see as a ubiquitous service. MSPs can boost the perception of email as a critical business tool by enhancing the end user experience and increasing back-office efficiencies. That “value-add” will not only drive higher profits but improve customer satisfaction and retention.