Analyzing Updates for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook Since June 2016


The hot spots of change inside Office 365

One of the touted advantages of cloud services is the delivery of “evergreen” software. In other words, users don’t have to do anything to upgrade their software because it all happens in the cloud. Normally, this is a good thing because the updated software delivers new functionality and features. However, the constantly changing nature of the software can also be disruptive for administrators and users alike, especially when something is updated without warning.

In the case of Office 365, the author team for the “Office 365 for IT Pros” eBook keep a vigilant eye on what’s happening across all elements of the service plus associated technology like Azure Active Directory. We observe, learn, analyze, and then figure out whether any changes are required in the content of the eBook. Updates are then published weekly to incorporate changes and customers who have bought the current edition of the eBook can download fresh copies from exchangeserverpro.com (EPUB and PDF versions) or Amazon (Kindle). Well, we let Amazon know that a new version has been published. They make the decision whether to advise purchasers whether an update is available.

Given that we track changes made to the chapters in the eBook, I thought it would be interesting to analyze the change log for Office 365 for IT Pros to determine the “hot spots” or places where most change has occurred since the third edition was first published on June 1, 2016. Here’s the distribution of the 160 recorded updates over the 23 chapters in the eBook up to and including the version released on December 10, 2016.

updatesjun-dec

Some of the changes Microsoft applied to Office 365 in that period don’t show up in our data if we didn’t cover them. We have to apply a certain amount of editorial control over what we cover as otherwise the book would be even larger than its current 430,000-word 900-plus page size. In addition, some of the changes that we’ve recorded are relatively small and insignificant whereas others (like the introduction of Microsoft Teams) are very large and important. Nevertheless, taken as a whole, the change log does identify the major hot spots pretty accurately.

The top 10 chapters in terms of updates since June are:

Chapter Title Updates
9 Office 365 Groups 27
23 Doing more with Office 365 14
19 Reporting and Auditing 13
22 Delve and MyAnalytics 11
1 Introduction to Office 365 9
5 Managing Office 365 9
18 Security and Compliance Center 9
7 Managing mailboxes 8
10 Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Teams 8
2 Making the move 7

It’s easy to explain why so many changes were made to some of these chapters. For example:

  • Chapter 9: Lots of change has occurred for Office 365 Groups, including the provision of guest user access, the new AAD-based policy for group settings, the introduction of Microsoft Teams, and lots of experience gained from managing groups in the field.
  • Chapter 23: The introduction of SharePoint modern team sites. The introduction of Microsoft Stream as a long-term replacement for Office 365 Video. The advent of Yammer Groups based on Office 365 Groups. The introduction of Microsoft Teams as yet another way to collaborate within Office 365.
  • Chapter 19: The addition of new audit event sources for the Office 365 Audit log. The introduction of Advanced Security Management (ASM). The addition of Activity Alerts.
  • Chapter 22; Subtle changes in the Delve user interface including a new way of displaying user profile information. Changes in the Delve cards. Renaming of Delve Analytics to be MyAnalytics. New information from real-life deployments about the effectiveness of MyAnalytics in the field.
  • Chapter 1: More information about Office 365 user numbers and revenues. Introduction of the U.K. datacenter region. Comparison between Office 365 and Google G-Suite. New mobile applications.

Apart from providing insight into where change is most frequent inside Office 365, the exercise gives us some guidance as to where we should focus coverage for the fourth edition, which we hope to publish in March 2017. It also tells us where we need some structural change (for instance, chapter 9 is now far too big and needs to be split) and where we can cut (chapter 17 covering eDiscovery for Exchange and SharePoint can probably be discarded now). The focus for eDiscovery inside Office 365 is now firmly on the functionality exposed through the Security and Compliance Center that applies to multiple workloads, so that’s what we will concentrate on in future.

A similar case could be made for chapter 16 as Microsoft is pressing forward with the development of data governance policies to replace retention policies for all workloads. However, the development of the new data governance policies is less advanced than the eDiscovery functionality, so chapter 16 might be retained (no pun intended) for another edition.

This data underlines the constant change that’s occurring inside Office 365. It would be impossible to cope with this degree of upheaval through a printed book. I’m glad we went down the eBook route…

Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna.

Want to know more about how to manage Office 365? Find what you need to know in “Office 365 for IT Pros,” the most comprehensive eBook covering all aspects of Office 365. Available in PDF and EPUB formats (suitable for iBooks) or for Amazon Kindle.

About Tony Redmond ("Thoughts of an Idle Mind")

Exchange MVP, author, and rugby referee
This entry was posted in Cloud, Delve Analytics, Exchange Online, Office 365, Office 365 Groups, SharePoint Online and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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