Q&A: A Cloud Expert Shows the Power of Office 365 in Higher Ed IT

Enhanced e-discovery tools and multi-factor authentication offer benefits to higher ed institutions.

Colleges and universities are expanding cloud services on campus. And according to panelists from EdTech's webinar “Keeping Up with the Cloud,” the move is going smoothly for institutions armed with the right knowledge and tools.

After a presentation by Jeff Giacobbe, associate vice president of enterprise technology services at Montclair State University, expert Beth Bischoff discussed ways Microsoft Office 365 keeps staff and student data safe while promoting productivity.

EdTech followed up with Bischoff — a cloud productivity solution architect with CDW — to gain deeper insight into Office 365, as it’s being used on campus.

Read her answers below, and then register for the free recorded webinar to learn more about cloud considerations and returns on investment at the higher ed level.

EDTECH: What benefits does Office 365 offer an institution concerned with litigation or e-discovery of sensitive information?

BISCHOFF: The Plan 2–level Office 365 products include the ability to use eDiscovery In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold using simple web-based GUIs [graphical user interfaces]. Additionally, Office 365 [Enterprise] E3 suite includes an eDiscovery Center, which is a very end-user-friendly way of performing litigation search and hold processes. [It] includes a feature called Azure Rights Management, which allows sensitive emails and content to be protected and encrypted according to user credentials.

EDTECH: Office 365 offers multi-factor authentication. How do you see higher education institutions utilizing that feature?

BISCHOFF: Multi-factor authentication means a user proves they are who they say they are by having something they know (their credentials) along with something they own (their phone), whereby they can receive a code to input and prove that they are the appropriate user, not just someone who knows someone else’s credentials. This provides an extra layer of security. In education, this is important because of the high level of mobility of productivity workers and students. This feature can help eliminate things like cheating on homework, for example.

EDTECH: What measures can be put in place to keep multi-factor authentication from preventing legitimate access in the event of a lost or dead phone?

BISCHOFF: The user can add additional security-verification settings, such as additional phone numbers, as well as app passwords, to ensure they can connect to the Office 365 services if a single phone is not available.

EDTECH: For institutions managing thousands of users, who likely use stored and cached passwords, how does Office 365 help IT departments find the balance between convenience and security?

BISCHOFF: Most universities will integrate Office 365 with [Azure] Active Directory to provide a simple way of managing their Office 365 user ID’s and passwords. Active Directory can be synced with Office 365 to allow user ID and password management to occur within [Active Directory]. This integration maintains a very secure access method for Office 365 access.

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May 21 2015

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