Microsoft has provided more details about Office 365 and the different identity options in a service description document (link at the bottom of this post).
There are two types of identities:
- Cloud Identity: credentials are separate from your corporate credentials
- Federated Identity: users can sign in with their corporate Active Directory credentials
With BPOS, there was only one type: cloud identity. Users had to logon using a Sign-In Assistant that stored the cloud credentials (name and password) and used those credentials to sign in in the background. For larger organizations, the Sign-In Assistant was a pain to install and manage so it’s a good thing it is going away.
With the new identity solution, as stated above, the Sign-In Assistant goes away and the logon experience is determined by the type of identity and how you access the service. The table below summarizes the sign-in experience:
1 The password can be saved to avoid continuous prompting
2 During the beta, with Federated IDs, you will be prompted when first accessing the services
3 Outlook 2007 will be updated to give the same experience as Outlook 2010
Note that it is required to install some components and updates on user’s workstations if rich clients are used to access Office 365. Although you can manually install these updates, the Office 365 Desktop Setup package does all that is needed. Office 365 Desktop Setup was formerly called the Microsoft Online Services Connector. Office 365 Desktop Setup supports Windows XP (SP2) and higher.
A couple of other things that are good to know:
- Office 365 supports two-factor authentication if you implement SSO with Active Directory Federation Services 2.0. There are two options to enforce two-factor auth: on the ADFS 2.0 proxy logon page or at the ForeFront UAG SP1 level.
- Active Directory synchronization is supported with the Microsoft Online Services Directory Synchronization tool. The tool is basically the same as with BPOS although there are some changes to support new features: security group replication, write back (which also enables some extra features), etc…
- Note that the synchronization tool still does not support multiple forests.
- The synchronization tool is required in migration scenarios like rich coexistence, simple coexistence and staged migration with simple coexistence.
The full details can be downloaded from the Microsoft website. If you are involved in Office 365 projects, this is considered required reading!
Microsoft has recently published updated Office 365 Service Descriptions at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=6c6ecc6c-64f5-490a-bca3-8835c9a4a2ea.
The SharePoint Online service description contains some interesting information, some of which I did not know yet. We typically receive a lot of questions about SharePoint online and storage. The list below summarizes the storage related features:
- The storage pool starts at 10GB with 500MB of extra storage per user account (talking about enterprise user accounts here).
- Maximum amount of storage is 5TB.
- File upload limit is 250MB.
- Storage can be allocated to a maximum of 300 site collections. The maximum amount of storage for a site collection is 100GB.
- My Sites are available and each My Site is set at 500MB (this is not the 500MB noted above, in essence this is extra storage for each user’s personal data).
- A My Site is not counted as a site collection. In other words, you can have 300 normal site collections and many more My Sites.
- Extra storage can be purchased (as before) at $2,5USD/GB per month.
When it comes to external users (for extranet scenarios), the document states that final cost information is not available yet. It is the intention of Microsoft to sell these licenses in packs.
Check out the SharePoint Online service description for full details.
When working with RemoteFX, it is not directly obvious in the UI that a RemoteFX session was established. The easiest way to check it is via the Event Viewer on the RDS host. Look for the following event:
You will find the above in the Applications and Services logs.
After reading the Can you connect to a Terminal Server via RemoteFX post on brianmadden.com, I decided to quickly try it out in Xylos’s lab environment. The installation, as expected, is very simple. On a Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 system, install the Remote Desktop Services role and the Remote Desktop Session Host role service. There is no need to install the RemoteFX role service because it is only required for RemoteFX in combination with the Remote Desktop Virtualization Host role service and Hyper-V (VDI scenario). Note that a GPU is not required in the RDS scenario. It is required in the VDI scenario.
After installing the role services and the reboot, you need to enable RemoteFX with a policy (for full configuration steps, see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff817595(WS.10).aspx):
Note that the policy setting below it can be used to optimize the visual experience (see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg288964(WS.10).aspx).
Now, what about the user experience? Well, I must say the difference is definitely noticeable especially when playing videos or heavy Flash and Silverlight. The performance improvement does come at a cost of extra CPU cycles as the RemoteFX encoding is done by the CPU. I actually had to give my RDS host two CPUs to get a good result.
Note that I did my tests over the LAN using a wireless connection. From home, RemoteFX also performed very well but that’s a 35Mbit down connection over a 10Mbit up connection at work.
The question then becomes if RemoteFX is worth enabling in an RDS scenario for the incremental benefits it brings to performance and user experience. That’s something only real-world testing and benchmarking will tell. In the meantime, take RemoteFX for RDS into account when designing a remote desktop solution and keep in mind that it will work with any virtualization solution.
Windows Intune, Microsoft’s cloud-based pc management service will be available for trial and purchase on March 23rd. It will become available in several countries, including Belgium.
The service can be acquired for around 11$ per computer per month. This includes a Windows 7 Enterprise license. For 1$ extra, you can acquire MDOP as well which includes App-V.
For more technical content, see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ff472080.aspx?ITPID=mscomgl. The FAQ is here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsintune/windowsintune-faq.aspx.