Office 365 Groups appear to be simple because they are just easy to create and to use. But after following all the Ignite videos, I think they are really under-estimated and richer than usually thought.
You can find great demos oriented on collaborating with files and notes in Groups at 11’ of this session,
The name of the group itself is already powerful! Only with the name of the group, you can:
- send email to the group (as it acts as a Distribution List)
- share files to the group
- start a conversion or a video conf with Skype for Business
1. More on groups as DL++
From a messaging point of view, Office 365 groups can be seen as an extended Distribution list:
Some of the benefits of Groups (especially versus DLs) are:
They appear directly in your Outlook inbox and require no context switching.
They are addressable by email, just like DLs.
They allow to focus and immerse in a subject.
They give automatically access to the history and the context of the project.
They are discoverable by default and you can join them easily.
They are very easy to create.
They enable accessing and sharing files from any conversation.
They enable natural access to the team calendar.
They allow direct launch in Skype for group meetings
They will be able to be accessed from any devices (web browser, PC and mobile)
Here is a compared view of a DL versus a Group in Outlook 2016:
2. More with Calendar:
It’s very easy to display side by side the calendar group and your personal calendar:
3. More with files
The feature called “Modern attachment” allow to share files on a centralized way (in the “Email attachments” folder of the group files):
and it is stored here :
The editing experience is done with opening Word online side by side with the message:
Other standard files features are now available like:
Recycle bin or
Individual file sharing : sharing files works as usual but you can use others groups to share, as shown here
This allows great sharing scenarios between teams. On the other group interface, the file will appear in the ”Shared with us” part of the interface:
By the way, attachments can come also from groups:
Documentation for Groups is here: http://aka.ms/O365g
From an architectural perspective, the killer benefit of groups is to define a shared identity (managed in Azure Active Directory – AAD) accross the whole suite of Office 365 products.
- All the properties of the group are stored here. This allows to not bother with complex sync logic.
- Forward sync is the way used by AAD to propagate changes to all the services in Office 365.
- As a result AAD propagate changes to services that can keep information cached locally.
- Services are loosely coupled in a sense that they could exist independently from each other, but groups allow them to connect each other.
The following schemas detail the process of Group creation:
FwdSync broadcasts changes made to the group by a user in Exchange Online:
As far as Outlook 2016 is concerned here is the detailed view of the architecture (please note the new GST groups store versus standard OST which for personal store)
Administration in the Office 365 Admin center was demonstrated at 37’ in this session.
Nothing really new at this step. This just shows how easy it is to create and manage groups. At this level there are just like Distribution Lists.
PowerShell ways to interact with groups were also demonstrated at 40’ of this session. This demo was based on a full new set of cmdlets not yet documented that you can use:
Corey Roth made an excellent blog post on this subject here: Working with Office 365 Groups using PowerShell