This post is part of the overall MS-700 Exam Study Guide. Links to each topic as they are posted can be found here.
In this post we look at managing chat and collaboration in Microsoft Teams. The areas covered in this post are:
- Create and manage messaging policies
- Configure email integration from Microsoft Teams settings
- Manage cloud file storage options
- Choose an appropriate coexistence mode
Create and manage messaging policies
Messaging policies in Microsoft Teams determine what chat / IM functionality is available to users. Messaging policies are managed via the Teams Admin Center (TAC) and located under “Messaging Policies”. The settings available in messaging policies control the various aspects of Teams chat (Figure 1).
Messaging policy settings are fully detailed in the Microsoft Documentation here so I won’t go into detail on each setting in this post.
Configure email integration from Microsoft Teams settings
One of the core components of Microsoft Teams is Exchange Online. As Teams are at their heart Microsoft 365 Groups, they already contain all the email functionality that Groups entail. Outside of the standard Group mailbox (Which is hidden from Outlook by default by the Unified Group setting “HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled“) there is also the channel email functionality. Channel email allows mails to se sent and automatically posted to a specific channel. This functionality is controlled at an admin level by the Teams Settings -> Email Integration configuration (Figure 2).
Here, admins control is mails can be sent to channels in the tenant and optionally, define a whitelist of the domains allowed to send – by default all domains are accepted. In addition to the tenant level settings, each channel can be configured by the Team owner(s) by clicking the ellipses (…) beside the channel in the Teams client and clicking “Get email address”. In the pop-up menu, the channel email address is displayed along with the per-channel email settings where and admin can select who can send to the channel as shown in Figure 3. If this is configured to use a whitelist at tenant level, it cannot be changed by the Team owner.
Manage cloud file storage options
By nature, Teams uses SharePoint Online / OneDrive for file storage. For many organizations, this is fine since they are already using different aspects of the Microsoft 365 platform before they fully adopt Teams. In some cases, however, there may be a requirement to integrate another storage platform. Microsoft Teams allows for integration of the cloud storage providers shown in Figure 4 directly into a Teams files tab.
This integration is controlled by admins via the Teams Settings -> Files section of the TAC. Here, each supported provider is enabled by default (Figure 5) and can be disabled if required.
When these options are enabled, alternative storage providers can be added to a Teams channel files tab by clicking the Add Cloud Storage option in the menu shown in Figure 6.
Each provider has it’s own set up process defined in their documentation but once integrated, files from the provider will be listed in the files tab alongside regular SharePoint Online based files (Figure 7).
Choose an appropriate coexistence mode
Teams coexistence modes control the workloads split between Teams and Skype for Business. As of 2021, Microsoft have retired Skype for Business Online which makes coexistence mode an easy choice. For organizations with Skype for Business On-Premises however, this setting can be crucial. Available under Teams -> Teams upgrade settings in the TAC, the available options (shown in Figure 8) are:
- Islands – Allows Teams and Skype for Business to work independently. Messages and calls from Teams will arrive in Teams and messages and calls in Skype for Business will arrive in Skype for Business. One caveat is if a user has never signed into Teams before, messages from other Teams users will be routed to their Skype for Business account. External calls arrive in Skype for Business
- Skype for Business only – All functionality is homed in Skype for business
- Skype for Business with Teams collaboration – Group collaboration is available in Teams but all other functionality is through Skype for Business
- Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and meetings – Similar to the above but meetings are run through Teams
- Teams Only – All functionality is through Teams
For most organizations, Teams only mode will be the way to go but in a hybrid Skype for Business On-Premises, this setting will need more thought. For Hybrid environments, check out the documentation here to make the best choice for your setup.
Chat and collaboration settings are very important to get right as they are very visible to end users. It’s important to decide on what these policies should be in your organization and communicate them as early as possible in a Teams deployment to avoid user interruption and change.