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Anyone who has ever had to manage an Office 365 environment knows just how challenging doing so can be. Before the creation of Office 365, Exchange Server, SharePoint, and OneDrive were all separate products. Microsoft attempted to bring these and other applications together beneath the Office 365 umbrella by cobbling together several individual admin centers. Because of this, managing Office 365 can sometimes feel like an incredibly disjointed experience, which can be made far worse when Microsoft decides to make an unexpected change to the management interface.
CoreView simplifies the management of Office 365 by creating its own management interface in a solution called CoreAdmin. CoreAdmin not only replaces the default Office 365 GUI interface, it also provides an easier alternative to performing manual or PowerShell-based administrative actions.
CoreAdmin is a part of a suite of products called CoreSuite. This suite includes CoreAdmin, CoreSecurity, CoreAdoption, with additional options that include CoreLearning, and CoreView’s workflow automation tool CoreRPA.
Before writing this review, I was asked to provide CoreView with some basic information that allowed them to link their product to my Office 365 account. After doing so, I was soon able to sign into the CoreView portal, using my Office 365 administrative credentials. Upon logging in, I was taken to the screen that is shown in the screenshot below.
As you can see in the screenshot above, CoreView displays a really nice dashboard that gives you an overall idea of how Office 365 is being used. This is actually just one of several dashboards. CoreView has dashboards dedicated to everything from Exchange and OneDrive to Compliance and Secure Score.
As you looked at the previous screenshot, I am sure that you noticed that the dashboard is essentially empty and that nearly all of the values that are being displayed are set to zero. The reason for this is that the interface is designed to help you to understand how your users are utilizing Office 365. The Office 365 account that I used when I set up CoreView is an account that I use solely for lab purposes. There are no actual users associated with this account. That being the case, I used one of CoreView’s accounts for all of the remaining screen captures in this review. The screenshot below, for example, shows a CoreView dashboard that is displaying usage statistics for over 10,000 Office 365 users.
The CoreAdmin interface includes over 200 reports tied to various Office 365 statistics. Unlike the status reports that you get with some competing management tools, the CoreAdmin reports tend to be extremely interactive. To show you what I mean, take a look at the Mailbox Sizes report, shown in the next screenshot. The graphical portion of the screenshot shows the 10 largest mailboxes, but there are actually over 6,000 mailboxes listed within the report’s text portion.
Most admins probably don’t want to sift through 6,000-plus results within a report. However, CoreAdmin includes filtering tools that can help you to find the results that are most relevant to what it is that you are looking for. For instance, an administrator might choose to look only at shared mailboxes.
CoreAdmin’s filtering capabilities are second to none. The software lets you perform multilevel filters using almost any available Active Directory attribute. The software can narrow down a huge result set in a matter of seconds, leaving on screen only the information that you are really interested in seeing.
In spite of CoreAdmin’s awesome filtering capabilities, filtering alone isn’t what impressed me most about the CoreAdmin interface. The thing that makes CoreAdmin different from other tools that are able to search and filter the Active Directory is that the software provides actionable insights that can result in legitimate financial benefits. I’m not talking about those theoretical cost savings that software companies so often tout in their marketing pitches, but rather actual monetary savings.
To show you what I mean, check out the next screen capture. Here, Office 365 usage has been displayed by departments. The report has been configured to display both active and inactive accounts. More importantly, the report reveals the amount of money being wasted each month (on a per-department basis, no less) as a result of accounts being licensed, but not used. The company whose data is shown in the screenshot could save a little over $55,000 per year just by cleaning up some inactive accounts.
CoreAdmin can do more than just show you which users are active and which are inactive. It can also show you which Office 365 services the people in your organization are using, and which are being underutilized. Having access to this information can help an organization to significantly reduce its cost through license reassignment.
If you look at the next screenshot, for example, you can see that fewer than half of the organization’s users are using PowerBI. As such, a substantial number of users could likely be assigned an Office 365 Enterprise E3 license, as opposed to an E5 license. That would save $15 per user per month.
In addition to its search and filtering capabilities, CoreView has some relatively powerful role-based access control (RBAC) capabilities. The software allows you to assign administrative permissions on an extremely granular level. Not only can you control what information an administrator is and is not allowed to see (and what actions they are allowed to perform), the software can even restrict administrative capabilities based on Active Directory attributes. If you look at the next screenshot, for instance, you can see that a policy has been created that limits admins to viewing information about users in the Italian Sales department, as opposed to being able to look at information for every user in the entire company.
At first glance, CoreAdmin’s RBAC capabilities might seem as though they are essentially just an extension to the RBAC capabilities that are already present in Office 365. However, CoreAdmin’s approach is actually somewhat unique.
In Office 365, all admins have global credentials, even if RBAC is used to limit what those admins can do. Even so, global credentials can be dangerous, and in a perfect world should only be assigned to your most trusted admins. Conversely, CoreAdmin allows for admin accounts to be tied to specific Office 365 features rather than attempting to limit what global account holders are able to do.
Whenever I write a review for TechGenix, I like to wrap things up by giving the product a score, ranging from 0 to 5 stars (with 5 stars being a perfect score). Although I was given access to the entire CoreSuite, I am basing my review solely on CoreAdmin (which is sold as a full, standalone product). With that said, I decided to give CoreAdmin a score of 4.8 stars, which is a gold star review.
CoreView did a fantastic job of creating a truly powerful and flexible search and reporting interface. At the same time though, there is a little bit of a learning curve associated with its use. I don’t think of CoreAdmin as being overly difficult to use, but it will take the average admin a bit of time to learn his or her way around the console simply because it contains so many different options.
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