I Learn Something Every Day…
And lately, I’m learning a lot! Why is that? Well… we are moving our email/calendering/contact platform from Lotus Notes over to Office 365.
So far the consultants we hired to get everything up and running have been working for 3 weeks on this and we are nearly at the point that we are able to get into our Office 365 online account(s) using Single Sign On.
Yep, 3 weeks is a long time… but it does include:
(a) the week we lost when Microsoft locked us out your own account and made us go through their own version of customer service hell to give us access back to your own account (see my previous blog titled “Lotus Notes to Office 365 Migration: Off To A Bad Start“).
(b) the other week we lost because Microsoft did not tell us a “side effect” of what they did to get us back into our account (see lesson 2).
However, I/we learned a few things along the way and I wanted to share those lessons with you…
Lesson 1: Don’t Buy All Your Licenses Right Away…
Do you like 50 000$ bills? Probably not. And would you mind paying 50 000$ for something you don’t use? You would probably be shocked… just like us.
So, “yes”, we got that bill for 50 000$ 2 days ago… we we’re not happy. We still aren’t. Here’s what happened…
At the beginning of May, we signed up for Office 365 with our preferred vendor. During our talks with the vendor, we said that we were going to need X number of licenses. Our vendor turned around and placed the order with Microsoft for that X number of licenses.
Then, the consulting team arrived and started the setup and configuration part of the project. Now that we are entering June: *nobody* in our company is setup to use Office 365.
So, imagine the surprise when we got a bill (via email) asking us to pay 50 000$ for something we were not using yet?
Seriously, it wouldn’t matter at all if our users were currently online and enjoying the various products and features of the Office 365 service… but that’s really not the case.
The lesson learned here is: only buy a few licenses to start your project (say 5 to 10 just for the people on the setup and configuration team) because it will take you a few weeks to get everything up and running. Then add the licenses you’ll need when you launch your pilot project (say a 100 to 250 users). Finally, when all the bugs have been ironed out (or the screaming stops) add the remainder of the licenses you’ll need for your global roll-out (or whoever is left still on Lotus Notes).
The only “gotcha” with this method is that you will need to pay with a credit card until you have a monthly subscription total of 500$. After that, you can ask them to send them an invoice to your Accounts Payable department. You have a valid credit card right?
Oh and “by the way”: in order for us to “not” pay for this 50 000$ bill, I had to call Microsoft and the customer service rep had to escalate it to management to see what they can/should do about this. I was told that they would get back to me within 3 business days. I can’t wait to hear what they’ll say.
Lesson 2: If They “Break The Federation” Of Your Account… You Need To Rebuild Your ADFS Server…
As I wrote previously (see this blog post), we lost all access to our account during week 2 of our project. That required a lot of phone call to Microsoft (another trip through phone support hell) and they finally had to “break the federation settings” of our instance to get us back in.
After that was done and we had access back, our consultants went back to work and continued to configure the Single-Sign-On between our our domain and the Office 365 domain. This “Single Sign On” process involves having an “in house” server that is running the Active Directory Federation Service.
And after days of working on the configuration, the consulting team just couldn’t get the Single Sign On to work. They had multiple support calls (again through phone support hell) and nobody could figure it out…
Until the middle of this week, someone at Microsoft *finally* told our consultants “Oh, when we break federation, the in-house Active Directory Federation Server that you had created is no longer valid – it’s in a revocation list and you can’t use that one anymore… you have to build a new one.”.
We were speechless… nobody had told us that about “breaking federation”.
So the lesson here is: “if Microsoft breaks your Federation settings… rebuild your in-house ADFS server and use a different name for it”. If you don’t… you’ll waste a lot of time.
Well, this is a fun learning experience… and I hope that by sharing this, it will save someone some money (see lesson 1) and some headaches (see lesson 2).
Thanks for reading!