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Microsoft Delays Guest Access in Teams, Adds File Storage Options

Organizations that now use or are considering the Microsoft Teams chat tool offered with Office 365 business and enterprise subscriptions received both good and bad news last week. The good news is that Microsoft Teams can now integrate with third party cloud storage and file sharing services such as Box, Dropbox, Citrix ShareFile and Google Drive. The bad news is support for guest access that will allow external users to participate in Microsoft Teams groups will arrive later than expected. At the time Microsoft Teams was released in March, the company had targeted adding the guest access capability by the end of June.

The delay in support for adding external users to Teams should be brief, according to Suphatra Rufo, a Microsoft program manager for Microsoft Teams, who provided notification of the delay in a support forum. Although Rufo didn't provide an exact timeframe, she insisted the company still plans to deliver the feature, which will allow groups to add outside contractors, partners, customers and suppliers.

"We just are hitting some technical issues," according to Rufo's explanation. "The next date is not too far from the original June target. This is a top priority, so trust me when I say you will have it soon!"

Several posters on the forum commented that "soon" is too vague for their liking.  "I'm about to launch a multisite project about lean manufacturing," according to a comment by someone identified as Gerald Cousins. "Nearly 8 companies, 20+ project leaders to coordinate / inform / communicate. A good opportunity to use Teams. Have you any expected date for availability?  So that I can decide to delay ... or to postpone."

Marco, who apparently works for a school district, also was hopeful the delay would be brief.  "This is becoming a real problem now. You 'committed to June' and I relied on this and made commitments for it to my customers. There are school migrations planned during July that rely on this feature. School starts again in August. So, will we be able to use Teams with external access or not."

Providing access to external users obviously must be delivered correctly to ensure customers aren't introducing security risks. Based on Rufo's comments, it appears the feature will arrive in a relatively short timeframe, but it's understandable those that have made commitments are left holding the bag.

As for the good news, Microsoft is extending the storage and file sharing options for Teams, which, until now, required organizations to draw from OneDrive and SharePoint. Now Microsoft Team members can now also integrate with Box, Citrix ShareFile and Google Drive. Office 365 Admins can configure the individual storage providers in the Office 365 Admin Center, according to the announcement posted by Katharine Dundas, a Microsoft senior product manager for Office 365.

"By bringing content from Box into Teams, organizations can share their files more easily and collaborate on projects in real time, all while keeping their content securely managed in Box," said Jon Fan, a senior director for product management at Box, in his post announcing the integration with Microsoft Teams.

Ross Piper, VP of enterprise at Dropbox, added that integrating Office 365 and Microsoft Teams with Dropbox, set to be available next month, will make it easier to find, share and gather feedback in a chat without having to leave the conversation. "Once the integration is authorized by an administrator, users will be able to add Dropbox folders to a channel," according Piper's announcement. "From there, they'll be able to upload files to conversations, and create Office files directly on a shared Dropbox folder in Teams."

 

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/26/2017 at 11:39 AM


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