At MessageOps, our support team manages thousands of Microsoft 365 and Azure support tickets over the year. At the beginning of the pandemic In 2020, we saw the rise of Microsoft Teams tickets taking our number one spot, but as many have now become accustomed to using that application for their day-to-day work life, the number of requests regarding Microsoft Teams began to shrink in 2021. On the contrary, we saw growth in administration related support issues, which we can attributed to the constant updates Microsoft is making to its administrative functions for Office 365.

We have seen a similar upward utilization trajectory for Microsoft Azure. It speaks to Microsoft’s foresight to understand that the greatest need for most businesses at the time was moving email off company owned servers and place it in the cloud. As the number of Azure adopters have grown, and obviously with that, the utilization and consumption as mentioned before has grown leaps and bounds year over year. With that, Azure related support tickets are second on our list.

Below are the top 10 ticket categories that the MessageOps Service Desk have performed troubleshooting and resolved throughout 2021:

1. Microsoft 365 Administration

 With the number of Teams support tickets going down in 2021, this allowed for the administration of the Microsoft 365 platform to take the #1 spot. Now this really does feel unfair in some respects, as administration is such an ambiguous term in the IT world, but with Microsoft 365 it does come down to the applicable Microsoft admin centers the received request reflects. And many of the requests we receive typically fall within the Microsoft 365 or Exchange Online Admin Centers.

Microsoft continues to advance and invest in this platform by constantly updating and adjusting how administration functions, sometimes on a daily basis. But the speed and agility of a cloud platform and the ability to update on the fly can lead to numerous bugs or issues that weren’t present prior. So, with that, you create a perfect storm of consistent requests that require much review and troubleshooting for a very large client-base.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive related to Microsoft 365 administration:

  • New User Creation Inquiries
  • Mailbox-Based Permissions
  • PowerShell Script Assistance
  • Microsoft 365 Groups
  • Deleted Users
  • Shared and Resource Mailboxes

Inscape Manage has been created by MessageOps to assist our clients’ system administrators with the management of their Office 365 environment. Inscape Manage brings native Office 365 Admin Centers settings to the forefront to cut down on repetitive PowerShell commands, and important (but difficult to navigate) settings. Inscape Manage makes all these tasks and commands easy to find, simple one-click buttons right on the Inscape Manage front page.

2. Windows Azure

You could call it almost a beta test to gauge each organizations comfort level in utilizing another’s resources to retain sensitive information like email. Once Microsoft established that trust, they made it possible for companies to move anything else they wished up into Microsoft Azure. This could be as a hybrid disaster recovery solution, or even a full move off owning any on-premises or co-location equipment and investing fully in the cloud.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive related to Microsoft Azure:

  • Azure Backups
  • Azure Virtual Desktops
  • Virtual Firewall Appliances
  • Virtual Machine Creation
  • Virtual Machine Usage Monitoring
  • IAM/RBAC Access Control

3. Windows Server

It comes as no surprise that even with the increasing workloads being migrated to the cloud, that Windows Server continues to generate a lot of questions, especially with the recent release of Windows Server 2022. Most organizations are not yet ready to make the leap completely off physical or virtual hardware owned and operated by the business itself. Which is why we see many opting into a more hybrid model which utilizes the cloud in a way that augments the business.Therefore, the volume of cases regarding Windows Server continues to be a major source of requests that our support team fields. This could range across many different services or roles, such as Domain Controller, Exchange Server, IIS, SQL, WSUS and the list goes on.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive related to Microsoft Server:

  • Domain Controller Replication
  • Windows Server Licensing
  • Server Certificates
  • Performance Issues
  • DNS
  • Data Clusters

4. Microsoft 365 Security

Security for applications including Exchange Online, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, and Teams is an ever-expanding adventure. Microsoft continues to strive to make frequent updates in this space, an example being the Microsoft Security and Compliance tool which helps enable an administrative team to monitor and manage their environment over time. It is also highly recommended that your organization review your score once or twice a month or more. It is a very good idea for any administrator within Microsoft 365 to acquaint themselves with the Security & Compliance center as well as gaining an understanding of the Service assurance in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center capabilities.

Another important addition Microsoft made which can be easily overlooked is Conditional Access which is a set of policies used by Azure Active Directory to bring signals together, to make decisions, and enforce organizational mandates. Conditional Access is at the heart of the new identity driven control plane. Some of the key areas you should familiarize yourself with that Conditional Access looks at includes:

  • Sign-in risk
  • User risk
  • Device platforms
  • Locations
  • Client apps
  • Browsers

Lastly, Microsoft 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is a highly useful cloud-based email filtering service that helps protect your organization against unknown malware and viruses. ATP has rich reporting and URL trace capabilities that give administrators insight into the kind of attacks happening in your organization.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive related to Microsoft Server:

  • Inbound/Outbound Spam Protection
  • Implementing Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
  • User or Tenant-Based Security Breaches
  • Conditional Access Policy Inquiries
  • Phishing Emails
  • Microsoft Defender

5. Microsoft 365 Apps

The Microsoft 365 Apps suite (formerly Office Pro Plus) has been for decades now the most used product ever developed by Microsoft. With tools that range from typical end-user workloads (ex. Word, Excel, PowerPoint) to the ability to communicate and collaborate in tandem (ex. Outlook, SharePoint, Teams), its uses continue to grow exponentially. Over the many years of service, we have provided our Microsoft clients, the Microsoft 365 Apps suite of products has, and will continue to be, a significant source of issues.

With cloud-based services, the problems that arise typically come from a backend outage or bugs that are completely out of the control of the organization, barring user error or configuration missteps. But when it comes to applications that are installed locally, you open the support possibilities to the hardware and software ecosystem the application now resides in. This can change the scope of troubleshooting to become very vast very quickly and you must consider the numerous variables that would not reside in just a cloud service. This is where many of the support requests we receive are typically deriving from. Could it be due to a Windows patching issue on this particular workstation, an issue with a corrupt operating system, another application that doesn’t play nice with Microsoft 365 Apps, administrative policies not allowing certain actions, the list can go on ad infinitum.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive related to Microsoft 365 Apps:

  • Account issues with desktop clients.
  • Conflicting information between desktop clients and Microsoft 365.
  • Package download issues.
  • Licensing not accepting within an application.
  • Office Desktop Suite for Mac.
  • Replication/Sync delays.

6. Microsoft Licensing

Without a doubt, Microsoft licensing can be one of the most difficult and confusing areas to find yourself in when trying to determine what is the best fit for your organization. If you read our article from last year, the running joke we have regarding needing a PhD in Microsoft “Licenseology” only gets truer as time goes on. Though this category has dropped a couple spots compared to previous years, the questions we receive regarding which license can help each client is only becoming further obscured with the addition of new SKUs, and now the introduction of the New Commerce Experience (NCE) from Microsoft.

Determining if an organization requires a Microsoft 365 Business Premium versus an Office 365 E3 or even a Microsoft 365 E3 are not as cut and dry as they once were. Balancing what these licenses include and how that can affect a subset, or your entire organization are not small decisions and will have lasting effects for your business and how it may grow in the coming years.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive for Microsoft Licensing support:

  • Add and Remove licensure
  • Audio conferencing
  • Teams calling plan
  • Azure subscription
  • Azure reserved instances

7. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a crazy powerful tool that allows keeping communication constantly flowing between employees, managers, and clients possible. The options to communicate are plentiful and include via text, voice, or video call and Teams benefits from utilizing various other Microsoft 365 services, examples being SharePoint, OneDrive, and Excel that allow for an ease of collaboration. Having easy access to these services allows business critical and normal processes to be streamlined under one application. Teams has been stated by Microsoft to be the fastest adopted application they have created. This statement can be seen in even their decision to integrate Microsoft Teams directly within Windows 11.Our team is constantly working on ways to make it easier to manage Teams and Teams functions. Team Captain is great service to help with Teams administration work and has a very easy to use interface. No need to fear running any Team PowerShell commands as Team Captain also makes that very easy to do.Frequent questions we receive about Teams:

  • How do I create Teams channels?
  • Can I manage Private channels made by users?
  • Where is the recording stored for meetings?
  • How do I add approved apps to Teams?
  • How do I port my current phone numbers to Teams?
  • What license do I need to make outbound calls?
  • How do I setup a call queue to work with an auto attendant?
  • How many people can join a Teams meeting?
  • How do we include external users?
  • How to setup virtual users for resource accounts?

8. Exchange Online Mail Flow

Many organizations these days want to co-exist due to different scenarios. The major reason is that users are demanding more, and organizations want to cater to this ever-vocal user base. Some users might be familiar with Microsoft 365 while some might be more familiar with Google Apps. Also, the organization might want to move their future email workloads from a different platform like Google Apps to Microsoft 365 while keeping their existing email domain intact. Let’s put our learning caps on and start with the definition of the most basic terms.

When we say that we need to send mail to the “cloud,” what does this actually mean? Well, in the Microsoft 365 environment, when we say that we want to send an e-mail to the “cloud,” we mean sending e-mail to an Exchange Online based server within one of Microsoft’s many datacenters. Within Exchange Online, these server’s main responsibility is to host the Microsoft 365 user mailboxes, and the Exchange Online Protection (EOP) services responsibility is to handle mail security and communication with the public network.

There could be many reasons why a mail flow issue may occur, and the first step to troubleshooting is to the understand the path the mail went. By deducing each step along the digital trail the mail followed, we can eventually make the determination and provide the possible solution to help alleviate similar activity moving forward. This could be something simple like quarantine or spam filters, or more difficult like blacklists or third-party filtering services being involved.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive for Microsoft Licensing support:

  • Quarantined Mail
  • Spam Filtering
  • Third-Party Mail Filtering
  • SPF, DKIM, and DMARC DNS records
  • Microsoft 365 Mail Connectors

9. SharePoint

When many think about collaboration within the Microsoft Suite some might first think of Microsoft Teams or even OneDrive, but what many fail to remember is that both products are built upon SharePoint. Some organization’s utilize SharePoint to share files, some use management features to check in and out documents, and some even use it as a company intranet to post company news and communications. No matter how you use SharePoint to collaborate there will always be permissions to adjust, files to add, and retention to be set. So even though this entry may be lower on the list, the actual platform itself is used in many other technologies across the Microsoft cloud services stack and may required for advanced troubleshooting with any other product that utilizes it.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive for SharePoint support:

  • External User Access
  • Permission Audit
  • File Check In
  • SharePoint library sync to file explorer
  • SharePoint workflows
  • Document Versioning

10. Azure AD

Azure Active Directory (AD), as the name suggests, is a directory – a container for your usernames, credentials, and access rights. If this sounds like how active directory functions on an on-premises domain controller, you wouldn’t be wrong to make that assumption. Though Azure AD shares many similarities to its local relative, it has many features unique to the cloud infrastructure it is built into.

For the humble IT administrator, it allows complete and secure control over how access is utilized to applications and resources by taking advantage of security controls like Multifactor Authentication (MFA) and configurable policies like Conditional Access. Another handy utilization for Azure AD is its built-in governance controls to apply automated lifecycle management and privileged access limitations. In addition to this, Azure AD also provides administrators with the ability to automate provisioning between Windows Server Active Directory and cloud apps located within Microsoft 365.

If you’re a user or employee, Azure AD means quick and easy access to work resources, on a multitude of devices, from almost anywhere on the planet.

Below are some of the frequent requests we receive for SharePoint support:

  • Azure AD Policies
  • Multifactor Authentication
  • User Sync Errors
  • Hybrid Connectivity
  • RBAC Role Assignment
  • Azure Joined Devices
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