Considerations for Setting Up Office 365 Cross-Tenant Collaboration

Two Isn’t Always Better than One

Patrick Renzi

In today’s business landscapes, acquisitions and mergers are happening at a seemingly accelerated rate. Coupled with the fact that 85% of Fortune 500 companies are leveraging Office 365, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a major uptick in multi-tenant scenarios. In the on-premises world, migrating or integrating two environments was always something that took a little fine tuning and elbow grease, but was doable. In the world of Office 365 and cloud computing, however, it’s not so cut and dry.

When an organization enters an agreement with Microsoft to use Office 365, it establishes what is known as a tenant. This is essentially a silo-ed instance that exists within Microsoft’s Office 365 Platform. Tenants on their own don’t necessarily restrict sharing and collaboration—quite the contrary, actually. Microsoft has built in feature sets that allow for basic free/busy calendar sharing through Exchange Online—and that’s more or less it.

Cross-tenant contact sharing, rich co-existence in calendars, and address book sharing are features not supported out of the box. Users may have to change their email addresses, since sharing custom email domains between Tenants isn’t allowed. A simple way to solve that is to have all users in the same Office 365 Tenant. But what about those cases where this cannot be done? Whether for admin reasons, country of usage compliance laws, short-term partnerships, or recent acquisitions, a single tenant is often not an option for organizations. Not to worry; your organization will not have to deal with depreciated features.

Related: Office 365 Multi-Geo: Multi-Geography Collaboration Made Easy

Solutions to the problems of tenant sharing include add-ons (both from Microsoft and third parties) that allow you to customize your Office 365 deployment in a manner that fits your organization. There are GAL sync tools, rich free/busy sharing across tenants, even split domain and mail forwarding feature sets. Utilizing these tools can allow you to realize the full complement of Office 365 features without having to sacrifice the strategies that help make your organization function at its best.

Connection has worked to build partnerships so that we can make these tools available for you to experience firsthand. If you have been thinking of Office 365, but are not sure how to best architect your deployment, give us a call. We have the expertise to help you make the right decision the first time, both in the short term and the long.

Patrick is a Solution Architect for Microsoft Cloud Services at Connection. He specializes in Microsoft Office 365, Intune and Azure Active Directory. In his free time, he enjoys Skiing, Golfing, Gardening and Hiking.