Chapter 3: Configure Moodle 2.0 to use Microsoft Exchange

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Moodle 2.0 like most applications has a email services that can email course updates and password resets but one of the ways you can register with Moodle for a course is using email authentication but this must be configured first.  This involves a SMTP relay server which Moodle users to send any mail.

You may have installed Moodle on a LAMP based system but wish to send mail through you internal mail Microsoft Exchange system.

Chapter 3 navigates you through the configuration of a send receiver in Exchange 2010 allowing you to use this email service to send all Moodle mail.  Once you have it configured in Exchange you can use all the great features in Microsoft Exchange to send emails to different email services such as Office 365 and live@edu.

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If you are interested in this chapter it can be purchased with the rest of the ebook in PDF, epub and mobil version for the BFC Networks shop.

http://www.bfcnetworks.com/products-page/moodle/ebook-moodle-2-with-microsoft-technologies/

DNS Records in Office 365

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When we create an Office 365 instance and we want to use our domain name for authentication and web services, we are asked to verify that we own the domain.

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When we have proved that we own the domain and we are ready to use Office 365 we then need to create a set of DNS records using different DNS types.  These then allow different services to run smoothly.  But are they?

Here is a list of what you create and what they done.

Exchange Online

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There are 2 main DNS records for Exchange Online but you only require 1 to run mail on your own domain.

The MX record is where email is sent to.  If you emailed @bfcnetworks.com a search is run for the MX record of bfcnetworks.com, mail is then sent to the IP address for the hostname (points to address).  In Office365 we are pointing the mx record to outlook.com

The CNAME record you see above helps in the configuration of Outlook Exchange and on mobiles with Active-Sync.

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When we create a new Outlook Profile the first thing we are asked to do is provide is our name, password and email address.

When we click Next, Outlook tries to find all our settings for us.  This could be pop3, imap or an Exchange Server.  Autodiscover is a service built into Exchange which will send all the configuration settings to the client machine so we, as users don’t have to worry about setting it all up.  Settings are not downloaded unless you are authenticated, which is why we are asked to provide our password.

By creating the CNAME for autodiscover, users receive a better experience when configuring their Outlook.

Lync Online

There are 2 DNS records for Lync Online.

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The first is _sip.  This is for users who are using Lync client.  When they open Lync and asked for their Sign-in Address.  When a domain name has been entered, Lync does a DNS search for the _sip address and then forwards the request to the Lync Server (the target address).

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_sipfederationtls doesn’t have to be configured to Lync Online to work but is still recommended even if you are not going to use federation services.

If you want to allow users to use lync with other organisation that are outside of your Office 365 it will use this DNS for federation, authentication and configuration settings required.

BFC Networks Migrate Email to Office 365

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Since the release of Office 365 Beta we have been evaluating the services and the benefits where we can use it within our business.  With 3 main services we will use each of these to our requirements and use them in a unique way and we will share these to you in the future as we implement them.

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We currently have 2 hosted Exchange email accounts with another supplier and there are 3 main reasons for moving to Office 365 and Exchange Online from a mail point of view.  We employ different contracts for different roles and assign them bfcnetworks.com email accounts.

We can’t say anything wrong with my old hosting company and have no other reason to migrate to Office365 other than these 3 benefits.

Mailbox Size

With our current hosting provider we are issued with 10GB mailbox limits.  At the moment 1 mailbox is 75MB and the other is 1GB and even though we know we won’t reach the 10GB limit any time soon, with the company being small and productivity being key we don’t want to reach the 10GB limit and then have to start spending time archiving mail instead of working with our clients.

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Cost

Each Exchange host mailbox costs us £100 per user per year with our old provider.  With Office 365 for Small Business each mailbox will cost us £4 per month saving us over 52% each year but included in that cost we get SharePoint and that is key part to our business productivity and ensure we store document in a control format that are easy to find and tag.

Flexibility

Depending on the project we are currently working on we will employ contracts to help in the delivery with our customers.  As the previous hosting company only allowed us to purchase Exchange mailboxes by per year this was not flexible enough for our business and different contractors each month.  The flexibility of the pricing in Office 365 allows us to purchase a monthly license for each of our contractor and close the accounts straight away saving us money.

As we come to close of our financial year we will be building our SharePoint Online within Office 365 with our quote and invoice system available in the browsers and storing data around a taxonomy for each customer.

Office 365 and live@edu

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In the past week Microsoft have released news regarding their new BPOS (Business Productivity Online Services) which is their online services available to business which include Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint.

Previously in the year Microsoft released the latest versions of their productivity suites such as Office 2010, Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010.  These services are now being made available on their BPOS system under the new name of Office 365.

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There has been a lot of talk about live@edu and its integration with SharePoint 2010 ( Microsoft’s live@edu to add SharePoint) since November 2009 but it has now been announced and the transition of the current live@edu services to Office 365.

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When live@edu has been transitioned into the new Office 365 what are we going to get?

  • Microsoft Office 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint 2010
  • Microsoft Exchange 2010
  • Microsoft Lync 2010

You can read more on the live@edu website http://www.microsoft.com/liveatedu/learn-about-office-365.aspx

Introduction to the Microsoft Learning Gateway

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The Microsoft Learning Gateway (MLG) consists of many products from Microsoft from Windows Operating Systems to the Office System.  SharePoint is a product that is required to make up the MLG but other products that can be added, these are not necessary to make up your MLG.

What does Microsoft say on the Learning Gateway?
“The Learning Gateway from Microsoft is a solutions framework that helps improve education by integrating the tools you already use and putting them to work connecting people with the information and processes they need to teach and learn more effectively. “

It’s all about using Microsoft technology in teaching and learning.  How it is used depends on the school/college/university and the processes within the school.

What products does it include?
Well it could be any of the Microsoft products – it depends on how you use it in teaching and learning.  SharePoint is the main product as it can deliver content to the pupil through a web page but here is a possible list.  Learning Gateway Version 3 includes the below list but you can use previous versions as they can be integrated as well.

ú         Windows 2003 Server

o   All products are installed on the latest Windows Server technology

o   www.microsoft.com/windows2003/ 

ú         Active Directory

o   AD is used as the log on service for all users

o   www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/technologies/directory/activedirectory/ 

ú         SQL Server 2005

o   The database server used for SharePoint, SharePoint Learning Kit as well as other products

o   www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/

ú         Exchange 2007

o   Email Service for all pupils/staff

o   www.microsoft.com/exchange

ú         Office Communications Server 2007

o   Instant messaging including voice and webcam services

o   office.microsoft.com/en-us/communicationsserver/

ú         SharePoint 2007

o   Main delivery point of content through a web page

o   www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/

ú         SharePoint Learning Kit

o   Microsofts Virtual Learning Environment solution

o   www.codeplex.com/slk

ú         Internet Accelerator and Security 2006

o   Firewall protection

o   www.microsoft.com/isa

ú         Microsoft Learning Gateway Web Parts/Templates for SharePoint 2007

o   www.codeplex.com/lg

Client Software 
You can use previous version but for full functionality for the above products you need.

ú         Windows XP/Vista

o   Client OS

o   www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/

o   www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/

ú         Office 2007

o   Microsoft Office system including, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook (not necessary for Exchange 2007), Publisher, Access, InfoPath, Groove, OneNote.

ú         Internet Explorer 7.0

The extent of the Microsoft Learning Gateway is never ending.

I would like to blog somewhere else for the Microsoft Learning Gateway as it is more than just sharepoint.  Can anyone recommend anywhere?

You thoughts and views are always welcome.