Office 365 and SharePoint 2010 Online Guide for On-Premise SharePoint Professionals

Last Updated on Nov 2012: Based on August 2012 Office 365 Update on Oct 3rd, 2012, Please note that this article won’t be updated after Microsoft rolls out SharePoint 2013 Online Preview to their existing SharePoint 2010 Online customers.

NOTE: Please note that unless it’s stated, this article provides overview of SharePoint Online 2010 Standard for Office 365 Enterprise Customers. I personally think, this is most common deployment model for SharePoint Online for Enterprises.

If you are experienced On-Premise SharePoint 2010 Architect and just getting into Office 365 and SharePoint Online, this article will provide high level overview and basic differences between On-Premise SharePoint implementation vs SharePoint Online features in Office 365. Since Office 365 and SharePoint online are ever-changing landscape, I will try my best to update this article as Microsoft release more updates in future.

Although you can visit my compilation of Office 365 and SharePoint 2010 resources, following three resources are most important for any one wants get up to speed with SharePoint Online. I personally think, these are must have resources for any SharePoint Online Architects.

Office 365 and SharePoint Online 2010 Overview

  • Office 365 can be licensed in one of the three models – for professionals & small businesses, for midsized businesses & enterprises, and for education, Education model is free.
  • SharePoint Online comes in 2 flavors – Standard and Dedicated, This article will highlight features from the SharePoint Online Standard
  • SharePoint Online Standard Plans in Office 365
    • SharePoint Online features in enterprise licenses
      • E1 => Basic Collaboration Portal, Office Web Apps for View Only
      • E2 => E1 + Office Web Apps for Edit
      • E3 => E2 + Advanced SharePoint Services like Excel, Access, Visio, and Forms, Office Professional Plus
    • SharePoint Online Standalone Plans
      • SharePoint Online Standalone Plan 1 included in E1 and E2
      • SharePoint Online Standalone Plan 2 included in E3 and E4 – Same as E3 minus Office Web Apps for Edit
  • Operating System and Browser – Software and Hardware Requirements
    • See Microsoft SharePoint Online for Enterprises – Service Description for Browser & Desktop Client Software Requirements by each Operating System (See Table 1 and Table 2 on Page 9 & Page 10 – August 2012 Update)
  • Tools – Microsoft Office 365 Desktop Setup
    • Free Office desktop setup tool is required for all workstations that use rich Office clients like Outlook, Word, or Excel to access documents from Office 365. It would also automatically configure Outlook and Microsoft Lync to use with Office 365.
    • It is important to note that this tool is not an authentication or single sign-in service.
  • Microsoft Office Support
    • 2007 – Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word
    • 2010 – Access, Excel, InfoPath, Outlook, OneNote, PowerPoint, Word, Visio, Project Professional, SharePoint Workspace, and SharePoint Designer
  • SLA
    • 99.9% uptime guarantee
    • SPO Data backed up every 12 hours and retained for 14 days
    • 6 hours RTO – recovery time objective, resume service within 6 hours after service disruption
    • 1 hour RPO – recovery point objective, restore copy of data that is less than 1 hrs. ol

SharePoint Online Storage Guidelines and Software Boundaries for Enterprise Tenant

  • Max storage allowed per tenant – 25 TB per tenant
  • Allocated Storage (pooled)
    • Applies to all the Site Collections per tenant
    • Initial Storage – 10 GB base customer storage + 500 MB per E1-E4 user license/internal user + No additional storage for external user (e.g. an organization with 1000 internal users and 200 external users by default would have (1000×500) + (200×0) = 500,000 MB = 500 GB + 10 GB = 510 GB initial storage)
    • Additional storage available at a cost per GB per Month, No minimal purchase limitation – $0.20 USD/GB/month
  • Maximum Number of AD Users – 500,000 AD Objects
  • External Users (PALs – Partner Access Licenses) – 10000 free PALs included per tenant
  • Site Collection storage quota –  Maximum allowed up to 100 GB Per site collection
  • My Site storage quota – 500 MB per my site, this can’t be adjusted, this does not count towards tenant’s overall storage pool
  • Sandbox resource quota – 300 + 200 per number of licensed user seats. e.g. 25 seat licensed environment, server resource quota is 300 + (200×25) = 5,300, This is fixed, can’t be purchased additional resource quota.
  • # of Site Collections Per Tenant – 300 Non-My Site Site Collections
  • File Upload Limit – 250 MB per file

Authentication and User Management

  • Anonymous Users for public sites
  • Cloud based Identity – Office 365 Accounts (
    • Only global administrator or user management administrator role can managed users
    • Manually create users in Office 365. These accounts will have @[mycompanyName] format
    • Creating Users, office 365 would assign random passwords for each users. User must change their password after they login to Office 365 very first time.
  • Identity federation with on-premises Active Directory domain
    • Either register your domain with Office 365 or Use @[mycompanyName] domain
    • Use Active Directory Synchronization (DirSync) Tool to crawl your domain and creates copies of users in Office 365
    • AD synchronization simply replicate users and provisions copies on on-premise identities in MS Online’s User Store. It doesn’t synchronize passwords and by default, it doesn’t accommodate single sign on. Users has simply two accounts, two passwords, and the federated identity is simply mapped to the on premise identity.
    • To accommodate single sign on, you can configure ADFS 2.0 server and proxy in your domain and configure Active Directory Federation trust with Microsoft ADFS 2.0 server to federate identities with the Office 365 federation gateway and facilitate single sign on for on premise users. Federated identity is not used for authentication, Authentication takes place on trusted on-premised identity provider. Exchange Online and Lync Online requires local identity to attach mail boxes.
    • DirSync can only Synchronize a Single Forest. If you have more than 1 forest in your AD, you need to pick the forest with your user accounts or plans on a forest consolidation.
  • External Sharing Identities
    • This Site Collection Level Feature enables company to invite external users to view, share, and collaborate on their sites
    • MS Supports invited external users sign in using MS Online ID services like Windows Live ID including,, or, Once external user receive their invitation from SharePoint Online, they have to login to the SPO either using Hotmail or MS Online Service ID.
    • External users can be invited on their business email address as long as their email user name associated with Live ID system.
    • External users can be invited by site collection administrators or site owners permission.
    • When you use the Partner Access feature, the accounts are licensed similarly to kiosk users and you are charged less per month, per user rather than the full office 365 license fee

Authorization, Security Groups, Security Roles, and Site Membership

  • Security Groups in SharePoint Online
    • Office 365 Global Security Groups
      • These groups created by global administrator
      • If you have many users and if they need to have permissions across more than one SharePoint Online Site Collection, this is preferred method.
      • On premise AD groups can be mapped to the Global Security Groups when AD synchronization is configured. Group membership for Synchronized groups will be updated every 3 hours
    • SharePoint Online Groups
      • Same as On-Premise SharePoint
  • Security Roles in SharePoint Online
    • Office 365 Global Administrator
    • SharePoint Online Service Administrator – Office 365 Global Administrator with SharePoint Online License
    • Site Collection Level Role – Site Collection Administrator
    • Site Level Roles – Site Owners, Site Contributors, Site Visitors

SharePoint Online Features Overview

  • URL Naming
    • URL structure for SPO sites is based on name of your company provided during sign up. This name can’t be changed. e.g. if your company name is contoso, URL would be –
    • Vanity URLs are not supported for intranet zone sites or SPO private site collection.
  • SharePoint Online Administration
    • Allows you to create Private Site Collection under two managed paths – sites and teams. Custom managed paths are not allowed in SharePoint Online.
    • Allows you to recover site collections from the SharePoint Online Admin Center Recycle Bin with in 30 days.
    • Allows you to allocate Storage and Resource Quota, Monitor Storage and Resource Quota per Site Collection.
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t support customers to use of Windows PowerShell for SharePoint Online Service Administration.
    • SharePoint Online comes with pre-defined list of blocked files. You can’t manage list of blocked file types.
    • SharePoint Online supports outgoing emails for Email Alerts & Workflow Notifications. Outgoing email and SMTP servers are pre-configured for each tenant and they can’t be managed by the SharePoint Online Administrators. SharePoint Online doesn’t support inbound emails for document libraries, discussion boards, calendars, and lists.
  • Service Applications Partitioned for Each Tenant
    • Secure Store Service
    • Business Data Connectivity Service for Windows Azure hosted WCF Connectors
    • Managed Metadata Service – You can’t manage this from SharePoint Online Admin Site
    • Search Service – You can’t manage this from SharePoint Online Admin Site
    • Since Services like Performance Point, FAST, Web Analytics Services can’t be partitioned, they are not available in the SharePoint Online.
  • Recycle Bin Capabilities
    • Items supported – Site Collections, Sites, Lists, Libraries, Folders, List Items, Documents, Web Part Pages
    • Site & Site Collection Recycle Bin capability works same as On-Premise for Lists, Libraries, Folder, List Items, Documents, and Web Part Pages Restore
    • Site Collection Recycle Bin capability works same as On-Premise Sites Restore from Site Collection Administration Section
    • New SharePoint Online Tenant specific capability – Tenant level Recycle Bin to restore Site Collection from SPO Admin Page
  • SharePoint Online Scheduled Updates
    • This is subject to change but based on my observations, all the timer jobs and scheduled updates runs as following. Major issue are search crawl and audience compilation jobs.
      • Search Crawl – Every 2-3 hours
      • Content Type Update – Every hour
      • Audience Profile Compilation – Once a week, Every Saturday for our client
      • User Profile Sync – Once a day
      • News Feed – Once a day
  • Communities – User Profiles, Audiences, & My Sites
    • Communities in SharePoint Online supports almost all the features supported in the On-Premises environment except you can’t programmatically access User Profiles, Social Tags and Notes data.
    • Supported capabilities are My Sites, My Profile, My Newsfeed, Ask me About, Status Updates, Recent Activities, Discussions, Memberships, Colleague Suggestions, Enterprise Wikis, Blogs, Note Board, Organization Browser, Content Tagging, Social Tags, Tag Clouds, Tag Profiles, Ratings, Comments, I Like It
    • Once Office 365 users are created, SharePoint User Profile Sync Service provisions SharePoint User Profiles which can be managed from SharePoint Online Administration Site. Tenant administrators can’t manage SharePoint User Profile
      Sync service in Office 365. At time of written, User Profile Sync service runs automatically every couple hours. If Office 365 user is deleted, both SharePoint User Profile and My Sites gets deleted as well. Additionally, it is important to understand that only Office 365 basic user properties are synced with SharePoint User Profiles.  Since there are no user profile web service or user profile CSOM API available for SharePoint Online 2010, these custom properties must be filled out manually.
    • You can create custom audiences in SharePoint Online based on User Profile properties for audience targeting. There is only one web part – Content Query web part supports audience targeting out of the box. It is important to understand that audiences are compiled using timer job and tenant administrator has no control over when this job would run. At the time of written, audience compilation job runs once a week.
    • Each tenant in SharePoint Online comes with pre-configured site collection for My Site Host. You can optionally disable My Site creation. By default, My Sites News feed is disabled. You must enable My Site News Feed on the SPO Admin site to enable My Sites news feed. There are various options available under User Profile section of SharePoint Administration site for My Site settings. By default, each my sites has 500 MB storage quota. It is important to note that tenant administrators can’t adjust storage quota for my sites and not added to overall tenant’s storage pool.
    • You can brand My Site Host and Individual user My Sites with Custom Sandbox Solutions. It is important to note that when users provisions their My Site first time, it would take default branding based on OOB My Site template. User must upload Sandbox solutions to apply branding to their My Sites. Individual end-users can use SharePoint Designer to update branding on case by case basis as well, which should be avoided.
  • Composites – Browser Customizations, SPD Customizations, and Visual Studio Custom Development
    • Supports methods of customizations and development are Browser Customization, BCS connection to external data sources via WCF endpoint hosted in Windows Azure, Sandbox Solutions using Server Side Object Model and Client Side Object Model, Access Databases in Access Service, No Code Solutions using SharePoint Designer 2010 including workflows, List & Library InfoPath Form Services including Sandbox Solutions with InfoPath Code, Silverlight, jQuery Integration, and Content Editor & Content Query Web Parts
    • Fully trusted Farm Level Solutions are not supported in SharePoint Online Standard. Only dedicated version allows fully trusted solutions with proper code review. In SharePoint Online standard, you can’t create timer jobs, site definitions, application pages, user controls, use administrative APIs and can’t modify web.config files.
    • Sandbox solutions would allow you to provision list definitions, list instances, site instances, web parts, workflows, event receivers, content types ,and custom columns within Site Collections using Server Side Object Model or Client Side Object Model. For Cross-Site Collection data access from the Sandbox Solutions, access to Client Side Object Model or REST API are blocked. Instead use SPServices with ASMX Services to access data across site collections.
    • BCS in SharePoint Online allows connection to external data sources via WCF endpoint hosted in Windows Azure in both read-write manner, It doesn’t support direct connection to SQL Azure (WCF endpoint is required)
    • Although Access Services is supported in SPO, Access reporting is not supported because SSRS is not available for SharePoint Online. Access Services reporting  in SharePoint 2010 requires SSRS.
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t allow publishing InfoPath forms that require full trust or farm level deployment.
    • Developer Dashboard is not available in SharePoint Online for customers. SharePoint Online doesn’t have great story regarding Error logging and Monitoring. You can write custom framework which would log errors in the SharePoint list but you can’t have much control over ULS Correlation ID. If you are getting errors in OOB configuration, only way to resolve issues is working with Microsoft Office 365 Support team and supplying Correlation ID to the support team.
    • Since you can’t run code with elevated privileges in Sandbox solutions, all the code runs in the SharePoint Online is in the logged-in user context. SharePoint Online doesn’t allow impersonation or run code with RunWithElevatedPrivileges
    • Sandbox Solutions for on-premises solutions limit accessing any APIs scoped outside of the site collection. Office 365 Sandbox Solutions puts even more restriction on which Server APIs you can access from the Sandbox Solutions. Please refer Office 365 FxCop Rules to review which namespaces are not allowed in the Office 365 sandbox solutions – Some of the assembly references  are not allowed are Microsoft.Office.Server, Microsoft.Office.Server.Search, Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles, Microsoft.SharePoint.Publishing, Microsoft.SharePoint.Search
  • Content – ECM, Document Management, Managed Metadata, and Enterprise Content Types
    • Supported capabilities are Document Libraries, Browser Based Document Editing using Office Web Apps, Managed Metadata & Term Store Management, Document Sets, Document Center Site Template, Metadata Driven Navigation, Unique Document ID Service, Content Organizer, Shared Content Types across multiple Site Collections , and Rich media management & Asset Library Template
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t support Record Management, Records Center Site Template, and Information Rights management
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t support Word Automation Services and Open XML SDK
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t support WCM publishing approval Workflow along with Variations for Internet sites. These features are available only for Private Site Collection and Intranet environment.
    • Managed Metadata Service provides multiple taxonomies and folksonomies from tenant-level Term Store service. SharePoint Online doesn’t allow administrative interface to the Managed Metadata Service. Managed Metadata service has been partitioned and pre-configured for each tenant. Each tenant will receive 1 Term Store which will be shared by all the site collection. Term store can be managed from SharePoint Online Admin Site or delegated to the Site Owners to manage term set from the Site Collections.
    • SharePoint Online does not support auditing capabilities to log the opening and downloading of files in document library.
    • Enterprise Content Types across multiple site collections can be created from content type hub. You can’t define site collection as a content type hub in SharePoint Online because it doesn’t provide administration page for managed metadata service. By default, Microsoft created content type hub at https://{rootsitecollectionUrl}/sites/contenttypehub
  • Insights – Business Intelligence
    • Insights are the least supported capabilities in the SharePoint Online
    • Supported capabilities are Excel Services with REST-based APIs, KPI Web parts, and Visio Services
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t support Performance Point Services
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t support Power Pivot for SharePoint and Excel
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t support Business Intelligence Center Site Template, Chart Web Parts, and Data Connection Libraries
  • Search – Enterprise Search, NO FAST available
    • SharePoint Online supports search across all site collections, irrespective of which site collection content resides in.
    • Supported capabilities are Basic and Enterprise Search Center Site Templates, Metadata Driven Refinement, Phonetics & Nickname Search, People & Expertise Search, Documents View In Browser, Best Bets, Synonyms, Site Collection level Search Scopes. You can configure Best Bets and Synonyms at the Search Site Collection – https://{rootsitecollectionUrl}/search
    • SharePoint Online supports only Enterprise Search, It doesn’t support FAST Search including Thumbnails & Previews, Deep refinement, Query Suggestions, Relevancy tuning, Visual Best Bets
    • By default, Search Service is partitioned and enabled for each tenant. But, no administrative access to the Search Service Application, You can’t create additional tenant level Content Sources, Search Scopes, Crawl Rules etc.
    • Enterprise Search just works without any additional configuration required by tenant. By default, all the content is index-able and searchable. You can configure content is not searchable at the document library or list level, not site level.
    • SharePoint Online only supports site collection level, user defined Search Scopes. Search service application provides out of box, cross-site collection level “All Sites” search scope which can’t be modified by the tenant administrator.
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t allow configuring custom managed properties for the crawled properties derived from document library columns to use in Keyword Query syntax. SharePoint online only supports using OOB managed properties in Keyword Query API like Site, ContentClass, ContentType, IsDocument, Author etc. Managed metadata columns are automatically mapped to the Managed properties as GUID which can be used in search syntax in query string. It is important to note that Managed Metadata columns doesn’t get mapped to the Text based Managed properties to Search index using Keyword Query syntax.
    • SharePoint Online doesn’t support Federated Search
    • SharePoint Online Standard doesn’t support indexing content outside of SharePoint.
    • Indexing occurs automatically every 2-3 hours. SharePoint Online Crawler setting is to crawl content every 2-3 hours depend upon the content.
    • SharePoint Online includes PDF iFilter. PDF documents and content with PDF files will be picked up and included in main Search Index.
  • Sites – Collaboration and SharePoint Foundation Activities
    • SharePoint Online supports most of all capabilities from Sites area including Lists, Libraries,  Large List scalabilities, Web Parts, MUI, Security Permissions Management, Audience Targeting, External Sharing, Cross-Browser Support, and Site Templates
    • SharePoint Online limits accessing list or document library data for more than 5000 items. List Threshold is configured at the 5000 items for SharePoint Online tenant and it can’t be changed from the SharePoint Online Administration page. Although you can architect solution to host millions of list items & documents, it is important to remember accessing more than 5000 items is prohibited.
  • Office Web Apps
    • Office Web Apps are included part of SharePoint Online as an preconfigured service to access and view Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and One Notes documents. Office Web Apps for read-only view is by default available for all the users with SPO licenses
    • Office Web App Edit License is required to Edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and One Notes from the browser
    • Office Web App Edit License is required to create new Office documents via the Office Web Apps in conjunction with associated document library content types and do not require Office installed on the desktop.
  • Public Site
    • Office 365 customers can create only 1 simple public web site per tenancy. Once it’s created, customers can apply a Vanity URL by registering additional domain.
    • Public site does not use SharePoint Publishing Portal framework. These features are supported only for Intranet Sites to brand Intranet Sites with master page framework in private site collections.
    • Public Web Site is configured by built-in Site Designer Ribbon Tool.
    • SharePoint Designer 2010 can’t be used to edit public web site. SPD 2010 can be used to edit only private site collection sites.

Hope this helps!!!!

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