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My Microsoft Teams Federation Notes

In this post I’ll describe how federation towards federated partners can work. I’ll not describe meetings and guest access for Teams which are great capabilities for modern teamwork across companies but not subject for this post. Teams provides options for federation with external organisations like suppliers, clients and partners.

Basically there are eight federation scenarios I’d like to describe below. The federation scenarios are based on Microsoft Teams as well as Skype for Business.

Skype for Business Federation

Let’s take a look on federation with Skype for Business. In Microsoft Skype for Business Server / Online (hereinafter: SFBx) there are two major federation types:

  • open federation: Users can communicate openly to everyone except users behind blocked domains.
  • closed federation: Users can communicate only to federated domains configured by the SFBx admin.

Teams Federation

Now, with Microsoft Teams federation is similair to SFBx federation but not 1:1 alike.

You can decide to federate with everyone, openly, except towards blocked domains (blacklist).

Or you can decide to federate only with allowed domains (whitelist).

Another thing to keep in mind is what’s your current Teams upgrade mode or status?

In Microsoft Docs there are five modes listed but not all are available by now.

  • Islands: All workloads on SFBx + Teams
  • Skype for Business-only: SFB for all workloads. Single client.
  • Teams-only: Teams for all workloads. Single client.
  • (not in Admin Center, Feb. 2019, TAP customers-only) Skype for Business with Teams (collaboration-only): SFB for chat, calling and meetings. Teams for collaboration.
  • (not in Admin Center, Feb. 2019, TAP customers-only) Skype for Business with Teams (collaboration and meetings-only): SFB for chat and calling, Teams for meetings and collaboration.

Scenario 1a+1b

You are on Microsoft Teams.

You can federate with other organisations having a) SFBx or b) Microsoft Teams, too.

Scenario 2a+2b

You are still on SFBx.

You can federate with other organisations having a) SFBx or b) Microsoft Teams, too.

Scenario 3a+3b

You are on SFBx as well as Microsoft Teams but your Teams Upgrade mode is “Islands”.

Your users are having two clients installed and only the SFBx works for federation communication.

You can federate only via SFBx with other organisations having a) SFBx or b) Microsoft Teams, too.

Scenario 3c+3d

You are on SFBx as well as Microsoft Teams but your Teams Upgrade mode is “Islands”.

Your users are having two clients installed and only the SFBx works for federation communication.

Your users cannot have an internal cross-client chat or else c) from SFB to Teams or d) from Teams to SFB.

Drawn via Microsoft Whiteboard App by Erik

Conclusion and summary

Teams federation provides the ability to federate with external organisations similair to what we’ve used to from SfBx. Nevertheless we need to pay attention to the user experience and federation experience which migh be slightly different during a coexistence of SFBx and Teams.

Further Ressources

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Microsoft Teams Backup and Restore?

In this blogpost I’d like to describe on a high level what you can do regarding backup (and restore) Microsoft Teams chats and files (January 2019, this might be subject to change).
Do you need backups of Teams (data) stored within a global hyperscaler cloud infrastructure? Shouldn’t it be resilient and highly available based on the SLAs …? Well, there is no one-size-fits-all-answer. It depends on your requirements and needs. However, in my opinion, it’s not a bad idea to have a (working) backup in place in case data was deleted or became inaccessible, anyhow.

Where are my Teams conversations and files located?

We need to differentiate between actual Teams and Chat (see screenshot below, I’ll call it hereinafter “Personal Chat”). “Personal Chat” are direct one on one (1:1) as well as one to many (1:m) chats or conversations. The difference is what’s being used under the hood. Let’s dig in a bit deeper.

“Personal Chat”

Your chats are stored on your Exchange Online (EXO) Mailbox in an hidden folder (not on Exchange Server). The hidden folder “TeamChat” on your EXO mailbox is underneath of the “Conversation history”-folder. By default the chat copies are available for 14 days in the Deleted Items folder in Outlook.

Teams Chat

Teams are Office 365-based, i.e. Office 365 Groups with SharePoint Online and Exchange Online are utilized.

For Teams Chats almost the same as for “Personal Chat” applies: Due to the fact that we therefore have Office 365 Groups, its mailbox hidden folder on EXO (not Exchange Server) are the storing the chats.

“Personal Chat” Data

If you exchange files it will be stored in your OneDrive For Business\Microsoft Teams Chat Files.

Teams Data

If you share files in a Teams Channel it will be stored in its associated SharePoint Online Document Library Folder of the Teams channel.

By default deleted files on SharePoint online are available for 93 day to be restored if no other configuration was set or quotas are applied and excceeded.

What backup and restore limitations do I have (after a “soft-delete”period)? (January 2019)

If a Team was deleted and you notice this or get requested to restore a Team after the “soft-delete” period of 30 days (default) the content is permanently deleted and cannot be restored, see link at the bottom “Restore a deleted Office 365 Group”.

You cannot restore a Team 1:1 after its 30 days “soft-delete” period.

Chat even if you have the data cannot be restored or at least I did not find a way to accomplish this easily. I was thinking about importing chats based on scripts in a newly re-created Team and it’s channels but it seemed to be a way to cumbersome to quickly test it with some lines of ps script code.

What backup options are there?

Option 1: Archive Teams

Archiving is not backup. However if you archived instead of deleting it, you can restore it easily via the Teams Admin Center or via the Teams Client, see link at the bottom “Archive or restore a team”.

Option 2:  Office 365 Security and compliance center (eDiscovery cases, retention policies)

You can maintain copies of chats  by using eDiscovery cases/litigation/inplace hold/retention policies. You can set this up to store the copies hidden in the mailbox. Either for a certain periode of time or indefinitely.

You can configure retention policies to retain files longer and to be stored in the preservation hold library. However, you might search and access the retained chat/files but not within Teams as it were before the “permanent” delete.

Option 3: Thirdparty solution/s?

Most of the thirdparty backup solutions are offering options to backup Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive For Business data. Some providers also mention capabilities to restore Office 365 groups but it needs clarification if they have working restore procedures to recover a deleted Teams after the default “soft-delete” period of 30 days. If you consider to leverage a thirdparty solution you should take this into account for your Microsoft Teams evaluation and proof of concept phase.

Conclusion and summary

If a Team get’s (soft) deleted you can restore it within 30 days by default.

Beyond 30 days, there no default or extend restore procedure to get the deleted Team to 100 % recovered as it was before.

Thirdparty solutions might provide an exception to a certain extent and add value based to extensible restore capabilities which should be thoroughly examined during an evaluation or proof of concept phase.

In case you have certain security and compliance requirements you should evalute features provided by the Office 365 security and compliance center, Teams Lifecycle Management options based on the Graph API (https://3k09.wordpress.com/2018/11/20/whats-new-in-managing-microsoft-teams-11-2018/) as well as thirdparty backup solutions.

Further Resources

What might be next in Microsoft Teams for 2019?

First of all, happy new year! I’m looking forward to all the new opportunities, features, services and integrations around communication and collaboration at the modern or digital workplace. The fresh new year will bring us some new capabilities to do more with Microsoft Teams as well as related apps or services.

To me, the most noticeable Microsoft Teams capabilities which we’ll probably see in 2019 are (01/01/2019 might be subject to change):

  • Shared Line Appearance – Allows multiple calls on a single phone number with delegates who can answer the calls.
  • Call Park – Park a call “on hold” and grab the call from another endpoint to resume the call by using an unique code, e.g. #150.
  • Location Based Routing (LBR) – Route PSTN voice calls based on the location, e.g. emergency call outbreaks for roaming users…
  • Group Call Pickup – This enables a group of users to pickup / grab an incoming call for a colleague.
  • Yammer Tab in Teams (Preview) – Easily access Yammer via a tab
  • SharePoint web parts as tabs in Teams – Direct access SharePoint web parts via a tab in Teams
  • Screen sharing in a private chat session – Without calling you can share you screen
  • Support for Oracle SBCs in Direct Routing
  • Safe Links Protection for Microsoft Teams – Protects users from opening bad / malicious links
  • Create an org-wide team (for up to 2,500 users) in Microsoft Teams
  • Broadcast Meetings – Town-hall-stlye / large meetings via Teams
  • Team Templates – Pre-define Teams and re-use this template to provision a team
  • Manage Teams from Admin Center
  • Compact Mode – A lightweight client experience for users who might not need all the rich experience elements as in the default client view (https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/17408641-compact-mode)

The above mentioned features and capabilities might be subject to change. This post is just a list to quickly recognize what we could get soon with Microsoft Teams. For more, stay tuned here or directly on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap:

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