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Office 365 Monitoring Comes to Microsoft's Operations Management Suite

Organizations using Microsoft's Operations Management Suite (OMS) can now preview a new capability enabling them to monitor Office 365 accounts.

OMS is a collection of Microsoft's services for organizations managing operations in public datacenters (such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services), as well as hybrid infrastructures (cloud services plus customer premises-based servers). OMS works as a standalone solution or it can be integrated with System Center Operations Manager, a capability that Microsoft enabled last year.

With the new preview capabilities, OMS can now tap an "Office 365 Management Activity API." It currently can access data from Azure Active Directory, Exchange and SharePoint, according to Microsoft's announcement last week.

In general, OMS will show the overall activities of an organization's Office 365 end users. It shows login attempts and password resets, and it can be customized to show "suspicious" user activities using data from Azure Active Directory, according to the announcement. It also can be used to monitor the activities of system administrators by tracking the configuration changes they have made.

For those organizations using Exchange, OMS will show IT pro activities, such as when mailbox permissions were added. It's also possible to monitor actions by external personnel, such as "datacenter personnel, datacenter service accounts, or delegated administrators," the announcement explained. OMS also has access to Exchange client information, which lets IT pros see problems originating from specific clients.

On the SharePoint side, OMS can report specifics about end user activities. It shows when files were accessed, allowing IT pros to see details about the document, as well as the document itself. File sharing outside the organization via SharePoint sites can be tracked.

IT pros can set up customized search queries in OMS, which can be tied to alerts. The search queries can be saved into the product's dashboard, allowing IT pros to customize their operations monitoring.

OMS is an evolving product that Microsoft currently sells in the North American market, either as a standalone tool or as an extension to System Center. Its basic functions include log analytics, automation via the Azure Automation service, backup via the Azure Backup service and disaster recovery via the Azure Site Recovery service. It also has security and compliances capabilities, per Microsoft's TechNet description.

The OMS product seemed to appear overnight at last year's Microsoft Ignite event. It's based on Azure Operational Insights, which itself sprung from System Center Advisor, a server-checking service that Microsoft at one point offered for free. A brief history of OMS can be found in this free e-book.

It's not quite clear when OMS became a "general availability" product release. Microsoft's various OMS blog announcements show multiple improvements, which happen on a monthly basis.

Microsoft seems to distinguish OMS from its System Center Operations Manager product by explaining that OMS is a management-as-a-service solution, or "IT services delivered from the cloud," according to a Microsoft brochure. OMS gets its new capabilities much faster than System Center Operations Manager, this Microsoft blog post explained.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.